The Leys School was opened in Cambridge in 1875; just two years after non-Anglicans were admitted to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It was intended to be "the Methodist Eton". The Leysian Mission was founded by the Old Boys of The Leys School at a General Meeting in the Mission House, Bishopsgate Street, on October 7th 1885. They were concerned about the social and housing conditions in the East End of London.
The Wesleyan London Mission gave them premises at 199 Whitecross Street, rent free, which were used from April 1886, for a Sunday School, a Boys' Brigade, a Girls' Parlour, etc. New, larger, premises were built in Errol Street and opened on Sunday 23 April 1890 with 200 Sunday School children in the Hall. Here the same activities continued and were expanded with a brass band.
By 1902 the Sunday School had nearly 700 children registered, with an average attendance of 480. Again larger premises were required and the Mission moved into grand purpose-built premises in Old Street. Here was a large hall seating 2,000, a small hall, club rooms for men and women, boys and girls, a gymnasium, classrooms and vestries with natural light and ventilation. The Queen Victoria Hall was opened by the, soon to be, King George V and Queen Mary on July 11th 1904.
The post-WW2 Welfare State changed the Mission's purpose so the buildings were sold and it merged with Wesley's Chapel in 1989. Throughout links with the Leys School have been maintained. A Wesley scholarship offers a number of children from the city the opportunity to attend as boarders at the Leys School in Cambridge. There are an annual Cricket Match, regular visits (in both directions) and special events.
"Leys" comes from the name of the Cambridge estate in Trumpington Road bought by Robert Sayle (department store creator and philanthropist) in 1865 to build the school.