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William Radcliffe, Alderman and Member of Parliament for Stamford, dies childless and wills that his fortunes be used to endow the foundation of a grammar school. Its first schoolmaster is Libeus Byard. One of its earliest pupils is William Cecil, who later becomes Lord Burghley, chief advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. During the 1540s, Edward VI closes the chantries. Cecil secures an Act of Parliament in 1548 which ensures the survival of Stamford School.
When Stamford School is established, teaching takes place in the Corpus Christi chapel of St Mary’s, Stamford. In 1553, the school moves to a remaining portion of St Paul’s, Stamford. This church dates as far back as the Domesday Book of 1086 and was once the headquarters of the Guild of St Katherine (of which Radcliffe was a member). It is converted into a schoolroom. Boys arrive for lessons, kiss the Old Man above the door on the west wall, and pass through the door, thus submitting themselves ‘to the discipline of learning’.
During the 1860s, Stamford School is subjected to an investigation made by the Schools Inquiry Commission. On 30th October 1871, the Stamford Municipal Charity Trustees act on a suggestion in the subsequent report and write to the Governors of Browne’s Hospital to ask if they would consider placing some of their surplus revenues at the disposal of the school. The Trustees put forward a scheme for three schools under the same Board of Governors. This is finally approved by Queen Victoria in 1882, thus ensuring the future of Stamford School. The Stamford Endowed Schools are established. The Board of Governors is founded in 1872. The schools adopt the crest and motto of Browne’s Hospital: “Christ us Spede”.
Stamford High School is founded on the south side of the town, using some of the surplus revenue from Browne’s Hospital. It first opens its door on 10th May 1877. Its first headmistress is Miss Mary Chervet, but she leaves after just one term. The role is subsequently filled by Miss Margaret Monro. Its first pupils include Frances Chapman (OS 1884) who later became piano teacher to the famous composers, Sir Malcolm Sargent (OS 1910) and Sir Michael Tippet (OS 1922).
Stamford School’s first magazine, The Stamfordian, is published in 1885. Due to financial difficulties, it ceases publication in 1891. The magazine is revived in 1899 but sinks into retirement again in 1906. In 1913, publication of The Stamfordian begins for a third time and it still flourishes to this day. Stamford High School starts its own magazine in 1922.
The Old Stamfordian Club is founded in 1889 by Joseph Philips (OS 1840) who compiles a register of former pupils from the previous fifty years. Stamford High School establishes its Old Girls’ Guild in 1905.
In 1913, Canon Day takes over as Headmaster of Stamford School. At the end of his first year, the First World War breaks out. In 1916, a cadet corps is established under Canon Day’s command. Over time, this is renamed the Combined Cadet Force and Army, Air, and Naval sections are formed.
Stamford High School celebrates its fiftieth anniversary by the staging of a pageant. It depicts ten scenes from the history of Stamford from the surrender of the Danes to the Saxons in 922 to King Charles I’s last night as a free man in 1648. The student body consists of 272 pupils, and everyone takes part in this pageant.
In 1919, Canon Day decides to convert the old schoolroom into a chapel as a memorial to Old Stamfordians who fell during the First World War. Funds for the project are obtained via fundraising events. But the project cannot commence until Stamford School acquires Northfields and Brazenose Houses to accommodate the growing student body. The conversion finally begins in 1929-30. It is consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln on 21st June 1930.
During the 1930s, Stamford High School undergoes a major refurbishment, including the construction of a new assembly hall and domestic science lab. Stamford School gets a new assembly hall, cricket pavilion, and library. Further building projects are disrupted by the Second World War. After the war, Miss Lomax takes over as Headmistress of Stamford High School. Every year of her tenure sees a new addition to the site; hence she calls herself ‘The Building Headmistress’. It begins with the purchase of a house once owned by the Philips family which becomes Welland House. Other notable additions are the construction of the Ancaster and Exeter blocks. Stamford School expands further, including a new Science School, which is opened by HRH The Duke of Gloucester in 1957.
On 19th June 1961, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visit Stamford as part of the town’s quincentenary celebrations. In total ‘some three thousand five-hundred boys and girls from the age of five to nineteen’ from all the local schools of Stamford gather on the Stamford School playing field and cheer as the Queen and Prince Philip made a whole circuit in a Land Rover.
By 1970, the Governors consider the construction of a new school on Kettering Road to accommodate the Junior School pupils. Building begins in 1973 on the site of St Michael’s Nunnery. The project is delayed by the discovery of the remains of its drainage system. Stamford Junior School finally opens on 2nd December 1974.
Stamford School celebrates its 450th anniversary with a ‘truly remarkable spectacle of pageantry and drama’. Gaudeamus Igitur (“Let us therefore rejoice”) depicts the history of Stamford School from its formation in 1532.
The Stamford School cricket pavilion originally opened in 1938 to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of Canon Day’s appointment as Headmaster. In 1993, it undergoes a major refurbishment, becoming a memorial to Day’s successor, Basil Deed. The new pavilion is opened by renowned cricketer, M.J.K. Smith (OS 51).
The role of Principal of the Stamford Endowed Schools is established as the result of a planned restructuring of Stamford School and Stamford High School. The role is first filled by Dr Peter Mason. The changes he introduces to SES include the establishment of Stamford Nursery School in November 1998, and a co-educational Junior School and Sixth Form.
The introduction of a new A Level structure gives the Stamford Endowed Schools an opportunity to extend the choice of subjects available to Sixth Form students from Stamford High School. From 2001 onwards, boys and girls begin to travel between the sites. The first cohort of co-ed Sixth Form students left the Schools in 2002.
A new DT block, named Gretton, is constructed in the space of nine months and at a cost of £1.7 million. It opens on Speech Day 2004 and consists of five large DT classrooms and an IT Suite.
The new sports centre, overlooking Mainfields on the Stamford School site, is opened by Lord Sebastian Coe. It contains a 25m swimming pool, replacing the outdoor Memorial Swimming Pool, which opened in 1956.
Like all other schools in Britain, Stamford Endowed Schools is forced to close in March 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The Schools reopen in June, are closed again in December, and then reopen during the spring of 2021.
The Millennium Pavilion was opened opposite Stamford Junior School in 2000. By the late 2010s, it has been decided that the building and its facilities have become dated and a new Sports Centre will be built in its place. The opening ceremony takes place on 2 December 2022 with Principal Mr. Will Phelan and pupils from Stamford School, Stamford High School and Stamford Junior School.
In May 2022, the Governors of Stamford Endowed Schools voted unanimously to transition to co-educational learning at all stages. The process begins in 2023, with the aim to be co-educational in all year groups by September 2024.