Today's St. John's Vestry Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School is a building, a landmark that everyone in Tiruchi knows. But hardly does anyone know that the school is one of the oldest in the city and that its history could be traced back to the 17th Century when the missionary, Christian Frederick Schwartz, came to India to work at the Danish mission at Tranquebar. It was in 1763 when a gunpowder magazine exploded in the then Tiruchi Fort killing a few native and English soldiers. The orphans of the killed men were entrusted to the care of Rev. Schwartz along with a sum of 600 pagodas that the soldiers in the garrison managed to get. The Nawab too extended a helping hand to the missionary, who had by then got the services of a teacher to whom he gave a few instructions and teaching materials. This was Vestry School in its nascent form. In 1771, the school — the little English school — which functioned in the Christ Church premises at the foot of the Rock Fort, was run by the church fund, which Rev. Schwartz and others named Vestry fund. A few more orphans joined the school when a second explosion killed a few more soldiers in 1772. Soldiers again managed to raise a fund and handed it over to Rev Schwartz.