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History of RGS High Wycombe

With a proud history of over 450 years, the leading selective state school known as the Royal Grammar School High Wycombe can trace its roots to a refuge for the needy.

From medieval poor house to school, 1200s to 1562

The Hospital of St John the Baptist, established in the 13th century in Easton Street, was run as a brotherhood to care for the elderly poor of Wycombe. In the 1530s, Henry VIII seized numerous religious institutions in his bid to oust the influence of Catholicism. Continuing confiscations rendered ownership of the Hospital unclear. Eventually it was made over to the Borough of Wycombe in April 1549 by Master of the Mint, Sir Edward Peckham, on proviso that, “a Grammar School to be founded” within two years. A Preliminary Charter was rushed through in 1551, followed by the Royal Charter in 1562.

A grammar school for over 450 years

After the English Reformation, grammar schools exclusively taught Latin and Greek – the clerical languages – which didn’t find favour in High Wycombe. The 1800s saw new impetus with an increased annual salary of £50 for the master, reinvigorated teaching and new buildings in the 1880s.

Three decades later the School needed more space. The current site on Amersham Hill opened in 1915 with provision for 200 boys, quickly becoming oversubscribed. New buildings have been added over the last century and the School now educates over 1,400 day boys and boarders.