Henry Raine was a wealthy brewer who owned a well-established family business in the semi-rural area of Wapping-Stepney, just to the east of the Tower of London. He was the son of Rowland Raine, himself a brewer, of the thames-side hamlet of Wapping-Stepney. His mother was Elizabeth Barrett from Caulcot, Oxfordshire. He had a younger brother,John with whom he entered a partnership in 1723. He initially lived close to what was a substantial group of buildings, which he either owned or rented, before following the example of many of his wealthy contemporaries, having a mansion built for himself and his family in Woodford, Essex.
For several years prior to the foundation of his own school, Henry Raine had been a trustee of the Wapping Charity School, which was founded as part of the movement to bring some education and training to poorer children, thereby enabling them to be permanently employed after leaving school. Prior to 1719, Henry Raine had maintained the charity school financially but in that year he started fund the school totally. His financial support meant that he was able to appoint both the schoolmaster and mistress; he was involved in setting the curriculum and ensured that the school was run on Christian principles based on his High Church principles which were also followed by many of his contemporaries.
He created a school where poor children could get an education for free, so that they could go into skilled labour when they left. In 1719, the school opened in Charles Street. Old Gravel Lane, London where education was provided for fifty boys and fifty girls, who joined aged eight or nine and stayed for four years.
The children had to live in parishes close to the school and had to come from families who were practicing Anglicans - non-conformists and Roman Catholics were strictly excluded. The 1719 school building still stands and is now the oldest non-ecclesiastical building in Tower Hamlets.
In 1736, Henry built an additional residential school or asylum for girls, who were given a further four years education, to ensure that they would then go on to domestic service. When Henry died in 1738, the provisions of his will ensured that the schools, which would be managed by a large group of local worthies and members of Henry's immediate family, would be able to continue by utilising the income from his property and the stocks which he left to finance the project. The asylum building, which was demolished in the 1920s, was used as a school until the 1890s after which and despite being condemned, it became part of the Stepney Workhouse complex.
Henry Raine was one of the most important people in the foundation of the parish of St George's in the East in 1729 and he established his charitable foundation in such a way as to link the school and parish for many years to come.
In 1880, premises were acquired in Cannon Street Road, only yards from where Henry is buried. Henry Raine had made a good sum of money from selling alcohol. However he was a devout Christian, and he knew that he should use his wealth for good. In 1736 Raine's Asylum, or Hospital, was established nearby as a boarding school for 40 girls, selected after two years education at the charity, or lower, school and trained by a matron for four years for domestic service. The Asylum was endowed with freehold lands in Blackfriars and Castle Street, Stepney and stock from the South Sea Company; this was to provide for the board and clothing of the girls, together with £210 annually for two marriage portions and two wedding festivals.
On 13 August 1724, Henry had married Sarah Petre, whose family lived in Mile End Old Town, at St Dunstan's Church, Stepney, Sarah was a member of one of the most important Roman Catholic families in the country. There were no children of the brief marriage. Sarah died on 26 February 1725 after which, uncommonly for that time, Henry never remarried. Sarah and other members of Henry's family, were buried in the Raine's family tomb.
The School's achievements, based on the legacy of Henry Raine are impressive. It still maintains its mix of foundations and non-foundation pupils. The school had long since dropped its insistence that only practicing Anglicans be admitted and increasingly the school population reflected the mix of people and religions in the East End.
The Foundation itself is the oldest charitable foundation in Tower Hamlets and it still provides financial support for pupils to attend university.
Here lies near the remains of his beloved wife, Mr Henry Raine of this Parish, Brewer, who died April 18th 1738 aged 59.
Also Mr William Duffin, his nephew who died December 15th 1744 age 33 and three of his children, viz. Richard, Elizabeth and Richard who died in their infancy.
Sarah Petre Raine