Sir William Borlase's Grammar School

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Sir William Borlase's Grammar School
Motto Latin: Te Digna Sequere
(Follow things worthy of thyself)
Established 1642
Type Academy grammar school
Headteacher Peter Holding
Founder Sir William Borlase
Location West Street
England England Coordinates: 51°34′13″N 0°46′54″W / 51.57021°N 0.78163°W / 51.57021; -0.78163
DfE URN 136781 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 991
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses      Britons
Website [*[1]%20*[2] * *]

Sir William Borlase's Grammar School (commonly shortened to Borlase or SWBGS) is a selective state grammar school accepting girls and boys aged 11–18 located in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England.[1] It is situated on West Street,[2] close to the town centre and also accepts students from nearby towns. It has around 1000 pupils, including a sixth form of about 380.


Front of SWBGS


The School was founded on its present site in 1624 by Sir William Borlase[2] in memory of his son Henry Borlase, MP for Marlow, who died in that year.[3]

Sir William Borlase[edit]

Sir William Borlase was descended from Taillefer of Angoulême, who fought on the side of King William at the Battle of Hastings. John Borlase, his father made his fortune in London and this enabled his son to establish himself in Marlow as a country gentleman. He lived at Westhorpe Manor House in Little Marlow and became not only Sheriff of Buckinghamshire but was a Member of Parliament for Aylesbury. In 1603 he was knighted by James the First. In 1624 and in memory of his son Henry who died that same year, Sir William decided to build a "free school" in the town in order "to teach twenty-four poor children to write, read and cast accounts, such as their parents and friends are not able to maintain at school". Boys entered the school between the ages of ten and fourteen and at the end of two years, six of the best were given two pounds each to apprentice themselves to a trade. Sir William died in 1629 but the school has survived to this day.


The school has served the town of Marlow and its surrounding district, including High Wycombe and Maidenhead, for over three centuries. In 1987 the school became co-educational when girls entered into the lower sixth.

Specialist status[edit]

In September 2005 the school was awarded specialist school status as a Performing Arts College, by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).[4] The school planned an application for science & maths status as well before the scheme was discontinued. In September 2007, the school moved to a two week timetable, with five one hour periods a day, two before morning break, two after break, and one after lunch, in line with most other schools. This is to facilitate individualised learning.

Academy status[edit]

In June 2011 the school became an Academy.[5]

The Pink Clock Tower[edit]

Pink Tower

The Pink Clock Tower at Borlase was a remnant of a Leavers' Day prank in 2004. It was later re-painted white.[6]


  • 1624 – ....Smith

(Records Destroyed)

  • 1721 – 1735 ....Roe
  • 1735 – 1759 Thomas Heather I
  • 1759 – 1782 William Heather
  • 1782 – 1793 Thomas Heather II
  • 1793 – 1809 Rev.H.H.Gower
  • 1809 – 1814 Rev.Stephen Gage
  • 1814 – 1835 William Francis
  • 1835 – 1844 George Gale
  • 1844 – 1850 Charles Wethered
  • 1850 – 1880 Edwin Segrave
  • 1881 – 1895 Rev M. Graves BD
  • 1896 – 1901 E. W. Clarke
  • 1901 – 1904 E. H. Blakeney
  • 1904 – 1927 Rev A. J. Skinner
  • 1927 – 1956 W. S. Booth
  • 1956 – 1974 E. M. Hazelton
  • 1974 – 1988 R. R. Smith
  • 1988 – 1988 D. C. W. Banner
  • 1989 – 1997 L. A. Smy
  • 1997 – 1998 Mrs A. Crittenden
  • 1998 – Date Dr. P. Holding

This work was completed by a Borlase's Grammar School pupil, involved in a documentary about the school.

Physical Layout[edit]

The school has a collection of facilities of varying vintages. The school office and reprographics room is housed in the original flint building, which was unveiled in 1624. Since then the school has added a Victorian cloister, and an Edwardian era Chapel, which has gradually been added to over a period of about 40 years. These classrooms were until recently used to teach mathematics.

In the 1970s further expansion occurred. A new school hall and several classrooms were built.

In the late 1980s a new sports gym was added, followed in 1992 by new modern languages facilities and library in a new building facing onto West Street.

In 2000, after the school started admitting Year 7s, the "Audrey Moore Building" (named after its chief benefactor) was built to house new classrooms, a sixth-form common room and a new canteen, replacing the old sports pavilion and canteen.

In 2004, as part of the school's bid for Arts Award status, a new performing arts theatre (to house facilities for music, drama and dance) was built on the site of the old swimming pool. The building also houses purpose-built IT labs and metal and woodwork facilities. It was opened on 7 December 2004 by HRH the Duke of Gloucester. As a result of this building work, other space within the school was adjusted with a rolling programme, and a new style eatery called "Mimi's Café" was added, along with a new Sixth Form Centre. At the beginning of the 2006 Autumn term, the headmaster announced that the Library was to be renamed the "Learning Centre".

The school has a modern gym that houses resistance machines, free weights and cardiovascular equipment. This is used primarily for rowing, a sport that is at the school.

In 2009 the old "greenhouse" was replaced with a new building to house pupils' lockers.

At the end of the 2010 summer holidays the school started building a new cookery building on the area where the decking once stood, this was completed in 2011 with the addition of a large English room above the kitchens.

The school now contains a theatre, a music and technology block, and an art centre. Many performances have been staged in the theatre including 'Fiddler on the roof' and 'Pirates of Penzance'. The school recently put on a production of 'Les Miserablés'.

Coat of arms[edit]

The school coat of arms is emblazoned on all school literature and on the school uniform. Originally, the Taillefers of Angoulême had a crest of a ghostly hand emerging from a cloud. It is holding a badelaire to give one power in a struggle, be it sporting or academic. Behind this, on the background, can be seen eight stars.

Then, in the era of Henry VIII, the addition of the other arm gripping a horseshoe (replacing the former sword) showed[citation needed] how one must rise above conflict, and work together to overcome an adversary.

It is also noted that there is a knights' visor above the logo. The one on which it was based can be found to this day, with the rest of the armour, in the Board Room at the school.[citation needed]

The motto Te Digna Sequere means 'follow things worthy of thyself', and it was added in the Victorian era as an additional banner.[citation needed]

Plaque outside Sir William Borlase's School, Marlow.jpg

In addition to the coat of arms the external walls contain this plaque with a biblical quotation.


Sir William Borlase's Boat Club is one of the best boat clubs in the country, with many of its members reaching international events. Sir William Borlase's Grammar School won the Fawley Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in both 2012 and 2014. The j16's pre-qualifyed for the Princess Elizabeth Cup, this is a great achievement as the PE is a J18's event. However they lost to Abingdon, the champions by 3 lengths.

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ "About the School". Sir William Borlase's Grammar School. Retrieved 19 April 2006. 
  2. ^ a b "Marlow Town Highlights". Marlow Society. Archived from the original on 12 January 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2006. 
  3. ^ Wheals, Brian Brenchley (1984). Theirs Were But Human Hearts. Self published. ISBN 9780950905303. 
  4. ^ "Specialist Schools Home". DfES. Retrieved 20 April 2006. 
  5. ^ "Open academies map and schools submitting applications". Department for Education. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ 12:05AM GMT 18 Feb 2002 (2002-02-18). "Bunny Allen". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  8. ^ Andrew Saint (8 June 2000). "AW Cleeve Barr | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  9. ^ "Prof Richard Britnell Authorised Biography – Debrett’s People of Today, Prof Richard Britnell Profile". 1944-04-21. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  10. ^ "Sir Graham Burton, KCMG Authorised Biography – Debrett’s People of Today, Sir Graham Burton, KCMG Profile". Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  11. ^ "Mr Jeremy Cresswell Authorised Biography – Debrett’s People of Today, Mr Jeremy Cresswell Profile". Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  12. ^ "Prof Tony Culyer, CBE Authorised Biography – Debrett’s People of Today, Prof Tony Culyer, CBE Profile". 1942-01-07. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Manjoo, Farhad. "Hawk-Eye saved tennis from bad line calls: Paul Hawkins’ invention, designed for cricket, has moved to other sports. - Slate Magazine". Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  15. ^ "Dowager Duchess of Devonshire visits childhood home". Wycombe District Council. 28 May 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Ken Snakehips Johnson Story". Ken Snakehips Johnson. Retrieved 19 April 2006. 
  17. ^ "Marlow's History". Marlow. Retrieved 19 April 2006. 
  18. ^ "LEE, Phillip James". Who's Who. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  19. ^ "Science Board Member - Justin Wark". STFC. 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  20. ^ Cowe, Roger (16 February 2002). "Obituary: Garry Weston. Penny-wise entrepreneur at the head of Associated British Foods". London: The Guardian Newspaper. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 

External links[edit]