A BRIEF HISTORY OF CIRENCESTER GRAMMAR SCHOOL AND ITS FORMER PUPILS ASSOCIATIONS
IN THE BEGINNING
1457 John Chedworth endowed ‘a school’ with a £10 per annum salary for ‘a schoolmaster’, the money coming from land owned by Winchcombe Abbey.
1509-1523 Thomas Ruthall, Bishop of Durham, was educated at the school and later made further endowments. The location of the early school is unclear.
1539 The Winchcombe Abbey funds ceased
1548 The people of Cirencester wished the school, now in Park Lane, to continue and the government guaranteed the sum of £7 per annum.
1560 Queen Elizabeth I restored the master’s salary and increased it to £20 per annum.
1620 Statutes (rules) for the school were drawn up
THE ERA OF THE ‘MEDICAL MEN
1756-1764 Headmaster – William Matthews BA
1764-1805 Headmaster – The Rev. Dr John Washbourn BA
Under these two headmasters during the 1750s and 1760s the school had as it pupils five boys who were to become distinguished medical men:
John Heathfield Hickes
Caleb Hillier Parry
Charles Brandon Trye
These five pupils were contemporaries. A sixth, but much younger pupil, at the school in the 1770s was a boy who achieved distinction as a physician and chaplain at the British Embassy in Constantinople:
1846-1880 Rev. W Bartram BA MA Headmaster
1868 The ‘Endowed Schools Commission’ classified the school as being “a second-class, semi-classical school of fairly successful” character.
1880-1900 Rev. GR Faulkner BA MA BD DD appointed as Headmaster.
1881 The school moved to new purpose-built premises in New Road.
Picture of the school in Victoria Road in 1881
1887 New Road renamed “Victoria Road” to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
INTO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
1900 – 1903 Mr S Elford BA appointed Headmaster.
THE HIGH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
1900 Canon Sinclair and Wilfred Cripps bought, for use as a private girls school, Leaholme College in The Avenue from its owner. Renamed the High School for Girls, it was opened in September 1901.
The premises were subsequently deemed to be unsuitable for a school! It was then proposed that the premises be converted into a boarding house and headmaster’s residence and that the Victoria Road premises be extended to accommodate the girls there.
The head master was to exercise general supervision over the new dual school with a headmistress (Miss BJ Hay) acting as principal of the girls side. The segregation of the sexes would be rigorously enforced and the playground divided by an eight foot high oak fence!
To further emphasize the segregation, a new school prospectus was drawn up making it clear that the school was ‘dual’ in character and not ‘mixed’. It assured parents that ‘boys and girls attending the school (except brother and sister) might not accompany one another to or from school’!
1903.1915 Mr ACK Toms MA appointed headmaster.
ENTER – THE GIRLS TO VICTORIA ROAD !
1903 Extensions to the school completed and pupils of the Girls High School transferred to Victoria Road, as a separate school, within the same premises. As a result of that amalgamation the number of pupils reached 180.
1904 Opening of the Bingham Library
1908 Opening of the Bingham Hall
1910 The Old Boys Association formed – Christmas Day
1911 First Annual Dinner of the Old Boys Association – Boxing Day
THE GREAT WAR
1914 / 19 World War I – The ‘Great War’ with the loss of 36 Old Boys -predominantly in ‘the trenches’.
1915-1945 Mr Thomas Frazer MA appointed headmaster
THE ERA OF THE CRICKETERS
1918-1920 Walter Hammond was a boarder at the school. An accomplished all round sportsman he played cricket for Gloucestershire CC and captained the MCC during the 1930s. Other future county cricketers were to follow eg Charles Barnett and William Mitchison.
1919 / 28 Marks a lapse in the history of the Old Boys Association
1928 Reforming of the Old Boys Association. Formation of the Old Girls Association.
1931 A memorial to the 36 Old Boys commissioned and affixed.
THE ERA OF THE SCIENTISTS
Mr Frank Miles served the boys’ side of the school as Science Master throughout the 1920s,1930s, 1940s and beyond. His brilliant style of teaching enthused all his pupils and, in particular, some scientifically minded boys who were, in their professional career, to achieve eminence. For example:
Dr Edward Burge who became a director at CERN.
Dr Vernon Ellis Cosslett, physicist and former President of the Association of University Teachers and the Royal Microscopical Society. He was also at the forefront of the development of the electron scanning microsope.
William Court, Professor of Economic History at the University of Birmingham from 1947 to 1970 and President of the Economic History Society 1969-1970.
Professor Clement John Tranter CBE, mathematician.
WORLD WAR II
1939 / 45 World War II with the loss of 39 Old Boys – predominantly aircrew. Women at war included the Gough girls, Joy and Wendy, and others.
1944 Passing of the Education Act declaring secondary education for all from the ages of 11/15 – thus leading to thoughts of a new ‘secondary modern’ school in Cirencester.’
1945 Death of Mr Frazer. Mr W Weech MA appointed as interim headmaster.
1945 – 1950 1945.1950 Major PMS Gedge MA appointed headmaster
1950-1954 Mr DH Whiting appointed headmaster.
THE DAWN OF A NEW APPROACH TO EDUCATION IN CIRENCESTER
1952 Nissen huts of the former American hospital in the Deer Park were used for a ‘new’ secondary modern school.
1954-1961 Mr JV Barnett MA appointed headmaster.
1955-1960 Miss LA Wulff appointed Senior Mistress / Deputy Head.
1958 The Grammar School celebrated its Quincentenary with a grand civic occasion. And was honoured by the attendance of HRH The Princess Alexandra.
1959 A secondary modern school for girls opened in a new building on the Deer Park site with Miss Davis as its head.
Merging of the Old Boys and Old Girls Associations.
1959 – 1962 Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, laterMaster of the Queen’s Music, was music master at the school.
1960-1955 Miss DW Butcher appointed Deputy Head.
1961-1965 Mr PBG Miller MA appointed headmaster.
1962 A secondary modern school for boys opened in new buildings at the Deer Park with Mr Turner as the head.
1960/64 Further extensions to the Grammar School in Victoria Road completed.
1965-1966 Mr BD Dance appointed as the school’s last headmaster.
1966 Decision made to amalgamate the Cirencester’s grammar school and two secondary modern schools at the Deer Park so as to form a single new ‘comprehensive school’.
1968 The last issue of The Cirencestrian published.
1970 The Grammar School premises in Victoria Road ceased to be used – all children of secondary school age being now accommodated at the Deer Park.
Mid 1970’s The County Infants School and County Junior School were transferred from Lewis Lane to the former Grammar School premises in Victoria Road – still operating as two separate schools
The demise and re-birth of the Old Grammarians Associations
1975 Winding up of the Old Grammarians Association.
1988 Formation of the Reunion Committee for Classes 1949/1951 which held a reunion at The Royal Agricultural College attended by 180 members and guests.
1988/9 A reunion was held at Syde Farm attended by 80 former pupils and members of staff and resulting in the formation of the Cirencester Old Grammarians (1940s) Association.
1992/3 The 1940’s Association researched the Old Grammarians who lost their lives in the two World Wars and recorded their findings in a typescript book – now in the Bingham Library.
1993 1940’s Association commissioned a permanent memorial to the Old Grammarians who lost their lives in World War II.
Publication of the ‘first’ true ‘History of Cirencester Grammar School’ by John Ireland BA, compiled and illustrated by Edwin Cuss.
First Grand Reunion held under the auspices of the newly formed Reunion Committee.
First edition of the Reunion Committee Newsletter published under the editorship of 1940s committee member Ralph Wilkins.
1996 Second Grand Reunion held to mark the 30th Anniversary of the closure of the school.
Publication of ‘Looking Back at Cirencester Grammar School’ by Edwin Cuss, a follow-up to the 1993 publication.
1998 Tenth anniversary of the 1940s Association.
1999 Reunion Committee’s first website went on line.
INTO THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY
2000 Third Grand Reunion held to mark The Millennium.
The 1940s Association reclaimed the school bell from a skip, restored and re-hung it in its original position.
2001 The 1940s newsletter was replaced by a new magazine, The New Cirencestrian, taking the same format as The Cirencestrian which had been the school’s magazine from the 1920s to the 1960s. As of 2019 a total of nineteen editions had been published.
2003 Fourth Grand Reunion held – celebrating the centenary of the birth of Walter Hammond.
2004 1940’s Association first website went on line.
2006 Fifth Grand Reunion held celebrating 40 years since the school closed.
An archive for Grammarian documents etc established at the Bingham Hall
2007 First publication of the 1940s Bulletin – an on-line way of keeping Old Grammarians up to date.
2008 Twentieth anniversary of the formation of the 1940s Association.
2008 Sixth Grand Reunion held celebrating the 550th anniversary of John Chedworth’s licence / endowment and the Centenary of the Bingham Hall.
2010 On September 1st Cirencester Primary School was created by combining of the County Infants and County Junior schools.
2010 The seventh Grand Reunion was held celebrating the centenary of the formation of the Old Boys Association in December 1910 and the 82nd anniversary of the formation of the Old Girls Association in 1928.
2011 This present website went on line replacing the two separate websites and serving both the Reunion Committee and the 1940s Association.
In the snow – December 2010
2012 The eighth Grand Reunion celebrating Olympic year and the Diamond Jubilee of H.M. The Queen was held in the Bingham Hall on 6th and 7th October.
2013 The 1940s Association appointed Dr Brian Gegg to the office of President of that association.
2014 Life Membership of the 1940s Association was awarded to Dr Brian Gegg and Mr Michael Rose for their long and outstanding service as Chairman and Hon. Treasurer respectively.
2014 The Ninth Grand Reunion, attended by 120 members and guests, was held on Saturday 13th September at Down Ampney Village Hall.
2015 Life membership of the 1940s Association was awarded to Wendy Veitch (Hon. Secretary) and Peter Rowe (editor of the New Cirencestrian and the Old Grammarian Website)
2016 saw the 50th Anniversary of the change to comprehensive education for the whole of Cirencester bringing to an end over 500 years of Cirencester Grammar School. The 1940s Association celebrated this at its Summer Luncheon on 15th June at Minchinhampton Golf Club while the Reunion Committee held its Tenth Reunion at the Bingham Hall on 10/11th September.
2018 The 1940s Association celebrated its 30th anniversary at its Autumn lunch of 20th September. Two days later the eleventh Grand was held.
2020 A sad start to the year. Our Chairman, Rosemary Waring passed away at the beginning of March.
Additionally the 12th Grand Reunion scheduled for September had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus epidemic and subsequent closure, until further notice, of the Bingham Hall.
2021 Watch this space!