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History of the RGS

The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe was founded in the middle of the 16th century out of the medieval Hospital of St John - a semi monastic house “founded for the relief and comfort of poor people.” The Hospital was dissolved in 1548, and its building was used to house a schoolmaster and his pupils. A royal charter was granted on 21st July 1562.

Meanwhile some of the Hospital endowment was used to provide almshouses for poor persons close to the school. Over the centuries the school struggled rather than flourished - its classical curriculum was not appreciated locally, and its masters barely had enough to live on. In 1700 the master had £20 a year, though many of the masters combined the post with curacies at nearby churches.

A revival in the school’s fortunes started with a bequest by Mary Bowden in 1794. The interest was to provide education for 30 boys at the School, the rest of the income going to the poor of Wycombe. In 1838 the Wycombe Charity Trustees were set up, the Master’s salary was raised to £50, the school building was repaired and in 1852 a new head, Rev. James Poulter, curate of High Wycombe was appointed. He was master until 1879 and devoted himself to developing the school and teaching his pupils. He organised cricket matches, instituted external examinations of boys’ progress, and an efficient school started to emerge.Staff in the 20's

Under his successor, G. J. Peachell, a new school building was built behind the old school - which was largely demolished. Only the twelfth century arches and pillars, and a section of later medieval wall survive. The new building had accommodation for 100 boys, though when Mr. Peachell died in 1905, the numbers had dwindled to 46 day boys and 10 boarders.

G.W. Arnison was Headmaster from 1905 - 1933 and, with financial help since 1902 from the County Council, he was able to expand the numbers of pupils and the scope of the curriculum. A new school was built 1914 - 1915 a mile outside the town centre for 200 pupils. By 1933 there were 330 and by 1963 1000 boys. 

Under E.R. Tucker the school acquired a large Sixth Form and great success in university entrance examinations. His successors since 1964 have fostered scholarship, excellence in the arts and in games as well as a vast array of extra curricular activities.

New buildings have accommodated ever increasing numbers of staff and pupils. Boarding is no longer in the headmaster’s house, but in a new building named after the school’s two VCs: Frederick Youens and Ian Edward Fraser.

The Royal Grammar School continues to build on this rich heritage through capital development projects, which will benefit your son throughout his time here.

View the History of the RGS Gallery

Did you know?
Headmaster Arnison retired -...
Over 1000 pupils now attended...