Archive centreKendal
ReferenceWDS 46
TitleAppleby Grammar School
DescriptionThe origins of Appleby Grammar School lie in the three chantries established in the town's two medieval churches; those of the Blessed Virgin Mary (founded c1260 by William de Goldyngton, Mayor of Appleby) and of St. Nicholas (founded in 1334 by Robert de Threlkeld), both in the Church of St. Lawrence, and that of the Virgin Mary (founded by William L'English before 1344) in the Church of St. Michael, Bongate. These chantries, constituted to celebrate masses for the souls of their founders, were also endowed (as deeds of 1478 and 1518 [WSMB/A] and 1533 show) with monies for the maintenance of salaried priests who gave instruction to the boys of the town, initially in the church itself. The first specific mention of a school occurs in a deed of 1452/53, when John Marshall, then appointed Vicar of St. Michael's sold to Thomas Lord Clifford a burgage in Appleby "extending in length to a certain narrow street called school house gate".
The school was not severely affected by the passing of the Chantries Act in 1547, its revenues being replaced by a grant payable from the income of the Rectory of Crosby Ravensworth, and further bequests were made from the wills of Robert Langton (Archdeacon of Dorset 1486-1514 and educated in Appleby) and Miles Spenser (d. 1569). These legacies enabled the Borough to purchase Royal Letters Patent in 1574 and so provide a firm basis for the continued establishment and survival of the Grammar School, by instituting ten governors to manage its revenues and appoint a master and under-master. The incumbant headmaster in 1574, John Boste, later a Catholic convert and martyr (and canonised in 1970) was followed in 1580 by Reginald Bainbrigg, a considerable scholar, who made tours of Hadrian's Wall in 1599 and 1601 and corresponded with William Camden and Sir Robert Cotton on antiquarian matters. On his death (c.1613) he bequeathed some 295 volumes to the school library, which grew considerably in size as witnessed by the catalogues of 1656, 1782 and 1847, its funds being augmented each year by contributions from leaving pupils. The library is now in the care of the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The records show further supplements to the Master's incomes were derived from the rentcharge of £20 from the Manor of Newton Garths, Co. Durham (purchased in 1575), the rents of New Hall, Sandford (purchased in 1684) and the tithes of Drybeck (first leased in 1661 to the Governors). More recently, two former pupils James Whitehead (Lord Mayor of London 1888-89) and John Percival (Bishop of Hereford 1895-1918) provided important legacies to the school. The school archives also display the long connection between the school and Queen's College Oxford, whose foundation statutes in 1341 permitted the preference of natives of Cumberland and Westmorland. The school devised the appointment of Masters onto the college provost in 1671, and the majority of Masters between 1573 and 1886 were Queen's graduates. The creation of Hastings scholarships in 1739 allowed further opportunities for Appleby boys to attend the college.
When eventually, the fifteenth century "little school" in School House Close, Chapel Lane, became inadequate, Reginald Bainbrigg acquired land in Pear Tree Garth for the construction of a new school, completed around 1607. A Head Master's house facing "School Wynde" (now Low Wiend) was constructed in 1671. Further extensions and modifications to provide boarding accommodation were made in 1826. Official criticism of the school in 1869 by the Schools Inquiry Commission revealed an uncertain future as a high grade classical school. In 1868 there were only 16 pupils attending but by 1880 there were 80 boardeds alone. Fruitless proposals were made by the governors to rebuild and amend the existing buildings, and in 1887 construction of a new school was completed at Battlebarrow, on the outskirts of the town, on a site provided by land purchased from St. Anne's Hospital and Lord Hothfield. A new scheme for the administration of the school along more modern lines was implemented in 1891. Thereafter, there followed a steady growth in pupil numbers, from 45 in 1887, 68 in 1914, 135 in 1940 to 170 in 1955, when girls were first admitted. In 1960, the school became a comprehensive institution and expanded rapidly, so that by 1974, 400 years after the establishment of the Elizabethan post-chantry Grammar School, there were over 560 pupils on the school roll.
Date1490-1989
Extent21 series
Access conditionsAdmission registers, log books and punishment books subject to 90 (Secondary), 93 (Juniors) and 97 (Infants) years closure.
Catalogue levelFonds
Subject termsEducation
Schools
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Appleby Grammar School

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CodePlace names
PAX137Appleby/Appleby/East Ward/Westmorland
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