Royal School for Deaf Children

Margate, Kent, England, UK

Closed 2015

The Disappointed Tourist: Royal School for Deaf Children, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

Oldest school for the deaf in the UK. Beautiful old school. Anon.

The Royal School for Deaf Children (originally, the Asylum for the Deaf Children of the Poor) was founded in 1792 in London and was the first public institution to provide free education for deaf children. It opened a branch in Margate in 1876 so pupils could benefit from the sea air and moved entirely from London to Margate in 1905. In conformity with the recommendations of the influential Milan Conference of 1880, the school’s education was based on the oral method and did not support the use of sign language. According to the British Deaf and Dumb Association, this suppression of sign language significantly damaged deaf children. The school also housed Westgate College, which provided education for 16 – 22 year-olds. In 1915, the school was rated inadequate by the Office for Standards in Education and after having to register as a care home in September 2014, the Care Quality Commission also rated Westgate College as inadequate. The school and college both closed in 2015. The building is currently slated for demolition to make way for a new secondary school. The painting is based on an old postcard marked L.L.