History of St John’s

The plans for St John’s Beaumont were drawn up by the famous Architect, J F Bentley, who later went on to design Westminster Cathedral. Unlike so many preparatory schools, it was purpose-built, originally for 60 boarders, and was opened in 1888. Its name is taken from St John Berchmans, a young Jesuit who was canonised in that year.

St John Berchmans (1599-1621) was born in Diest in Belgium and was only 22 years old when he died. He was a deeply loving character with excellent intellectual gifts and was much respected by his fellow Jesuits. During his short life, he was known for his great love of God, charity to his neighbours, willingness, generosity and cheerfulness.

St John’s Beaumont was opened and operated as the junior school for the college called Beaumont College until Beaumont College amalgamated and moved north in 1967. Numbers in the School are at 325. The School is a member of IAPS (Independent Association of Preparatory Schools) and the CISC (Catholic Independent Schools’ Conference) and ISCis.

St John’s Beaumont is a Jesuit School. The Jesuits are one of the most famous religious orders within the Catholic Church. The School and property is owned by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and is governed by a Governing body made up of Jesuits, old pupils of the School, former parents and others who bring expertise to the running of a school in the twenty-first century.

The Jesuit Order was founded by St Ignatius of Loyola in 1540 and, in this sense, St John’s Beaumont has a history and a tradition going back to the sixteenth century. St Ignatius wanted Jesuits (men who joined the religious order to work for the greater glory of God) to move from place to place, wherever the need was greatest; he was convinced that institutions would tie them down and prevent this mobility. But, very soon, the Jesuits became involved in education and that meant schools as fixed institutions and the demand for them was so great that even in the lifetime of St Ignatius, over 40 were founded. The schools followed a plan of studies called the Ratio Studiorum, which was first produced in 1599. It was, in fact, the first planned programme of studies and pedagogical method that the world had ever seen. Their early schools were staffed almost entirely by Jesuits. They derived their character from the Jesuits who worked in them who had themselves spent many years learning to be Jesuits.

But during recent years, the number of Jesuits in schools has declined, and the work the Society does has been extended, so that nowadays there may be only two or three in a school which is much larger than the schools of the nineteenth century. At present, St John’s Beaumont is served by the Jesuit Community at Mount Street, Mayfair.