Appleby Grammar School

Coordinates: 54°34′55″N 2°29′30″W / 54.5819°N 2.4916°W / 54.5819; -2.4916
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Appleby Grammar School
Appleby Grammar School.jpg

CA16 6XU

Coordinates54°34′55″N 2°29′30″W / 54.5819°N 2.4916°W / 54.5819; -2.4916
Local authorityWestmorland and Furness
Department for Education URN137251 Tables
Head teacherElaine Sargent
Assistant HeadteacherKristian Moore
Staff28 + Support Staff
Age11 to 18
Houses  Hastings
Colour(s)    Black and red

Appleby Grammar School is a mixed secondary school and sixth form in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria for students aged 11 to 18. Since 2011, it has been an Academy. Until 2013, the school was a registered charity.[1]


The origins of Appleby Grammar lie in the three chantries established in the town's two medieval churches; those of the Blessed Virgin Mary (founded c.1260 by William de Goldyngton, Mayor of Appleby) and of St Nicholas (founded in 1334 by Robert de Threlkeld), both in the Church of St Lawrence,[2] and that of the Virgin Mary (founded by William L'English before 1344) in the Church of St Michael, Bongate.[3] These chantries, constituted to celebrate masses for the souls of their founders, were also endowed (as deeds of 1478 and 1518 [WSMB/A] and 1533 show)[4] with monies to enjoin the chaplain to teach a free grammar school in the borough, initially in the church itself, as a part of his duty.[citation needed]

The first mention of a school in Appleby is shown by the sale in 1452 of a burgage house made by John Marshall, Vicar of St Michael's, to Thomas Lord Clifford (also responsible for erecting the greater part of the present Appleby Castle during the reign of Henry VI). The property was described in the sale as "on the west side of Kirkgate extending in length to a certain narrow lane called School-house Gate".[citation needed]

In consideration of the loss sustained by the dissolution of the chantries in the time of Edward VI, Queen Mary granted to the school at Appleby a yearly rent charge of £5 10s. 8d., its revenues being replaced by a grant payable from the income of the Rectory of Crosby Ravensworth. Further bequests were made from the wills of Robert Langton (Archdeacon of Dorset 1486–1514, educated in Appleby) and Dr. Miles Spencer (d. 1569). These legacies enabled the Borough to purchase Royal Letters Patent, endowed by Queen Elizabeth I in 1574, and so provide a firm basis for the continued establishment and survival of the grammar school, "with ten governors, who are to appoint successors, nominate the master and usher, make statutes for the regulation of the school, and receive lands and possessions, so as they exceed not the clear yearly value of £40" (though this limitation has been greatly exceeded).[citation needed]

The incumbent headmaster in 1574, John Boste, later a Catholic convert and martyr (canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales) was followed in 1580 by Reginald Bainbrigg, a considerable scholar, who made tours of Hadrian's Wall in 1599 and 1601 and corresponded with William Camden and Sir Robert Cotton on antiquarian matters. On his death (c.1613) he bequeathed some 295 volumes to the school library, which grew considerably in size as witnessed by the catalogues of 1656, 1782 and 1847. Its funds were augmented each year by contributions from departing pupils. The library is now in the care of the University Library of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.[citation needed]

Official criticism of the school in 1869 by the Schools Inquiry Commission (1864–1868), which examined endowed grammar schools under the chairmanship of Lord Taunton, revealed an uncertain future as a high grade classical school. In 1868, there were only 16 pupils attending but by 1880 there were 80 boarders alone.[citation needed]

Fruitless proposals were made by the governors to rebuild and amend the existing buildings, and in 1887 construction of a new school was completed at Battlebarrow,[5] on the outskirts of the town, on a site provided by land purchased from St Anne's Hospital[6] and Lord Hothfield. A new scheme for the administration of the school along more modern lines was implemented in 1891. Thereafter, there followed a steady growth in pupil numbers, from 45 in 1887, 68 in 1914, 135 in 1940 to 170 in 1955, when girls were first admitted.[7]

In the early 1950s, because of the large size of the catchment area and problems students would face under adverse weather conditions, there were Government proposals for comprehensive education to be provided on larger sites, for pupils of all academic abilities, offering modern and technical courses. Westmorland County Council (1889–1974) suggested a development plan for North Westmorland, which was considered and agreed upon by the governors of both Appleby and Kirkby Stephen Grammar Schools, for defined catchment areas to be set in place. Appleby would take pupils from an area including Appleby, Asby, the fellside villages and villages west of the A66. The catchment area would eventually extend to Cliburn, Morland, Newby, Reagill and Sleagill.[citation needed]

In 1955, an extension at Appleby was completed to accommodate domestic science, woodwork, science and art rooms, and a girls' cloakroom was added to the ground floor. A new school was also completed at Kirkby Stephen, both schools becoming co-educational for the 1955–56 academic year and Appleby ceasing to take boarders.[citation needed]

In 1959, while retaining the title of grammar school, Appleby and Kirkby Stephen schools became comprehensive and expanded rapidly so that, by 1974, 400 years after the establishment of the Elizabethan post-chantry grammar school, there were over 560 pupils on the school roll.[8]

George Washington[edit]

The father and step-brothers of the founding President of the United States, George Washington, both attended the school.[citation needed]

On his death, the widow of Washington's paternal grandfather Lawrence Washington of Virginia, Mildred (née Warner), married George Gale. The Gale family were the chief tobacco merchants of Whitehaven, Cumberland. In 1700, pregnant, Mildred Gale moved with her new husband and three children, John (6), Augustine (3), and Mildred (an infant), to Whitehaven.[9] In 1701, Mildred died in childbirth; she was buried in St Nicholas Churchyard in Whitehaven. Midred's sister, Mary, is an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II. George Gale sent the boys to board at Appleby Grammar until custody of the children was successfully challenged by the Washington family, and the boys returned to Virginia, to live near Chotank Creek.[citation needed]

Washington's father, Augustine, chose to enrol his two sons from his first marriage to Jane Butler, Lawrence and Augustine, at Appleby Grammar. George was the first son of his second marriage to Mary Ball. Were it not for the sudden death of his father in 1743, on reaching the age at which the two older boys had made the long voyage from Virginia, George would have most certainly followed in their footsteps.[10]

Ofsted and academic performance[edit]

In 2008, Appleby Grammar School was one of five Cumbrian schools presented with the DCSF International School Award in recognition of links with schools abroad.[11] It was rated 'Good' in its Ofsted inspection in the same year.[12] In the 2011 Ofsted inspection, the school was rated as 'Satisfactory'.[13] In 2013 and again in 2016, Ofsted report's determined that the school required improvement.[14][15]

In April 2022, the school was graded as 'Good' in all areas.

Notable former pupils[edit]


  • Edgar Hinchcliffe (1974). Appleby Grammar School: From Chantry to Comprehensive. J. Whitehead and Son (Appleby) Limited for the Governors. ISBN 0-95-017473-4.
  • John Flavel Curwen (1932). The Later Records Relating to North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby. Volume 8 of Record series. Titus Wilson & Son.
  • Andrew Connell (2013), 'John Robinson (1727–1802), Richard Atkinson (1739–85), Government, Commerce and Politics in the Age of the American Revolution: "From the North"'. Northern History, Volume L. No.1 (March 2013), pp. 54–76. Many Publishing, University of Leeds.


  1. ^ "Charity Commission – Appleby Grammar School". Charity Commission.
  2. ^ Historic England. "Parish Church of St Lawrence (Grade I) (1312067)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  3. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Michael (Grade II) (1137750)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  4. ^ "Cumbria Record Office, Kendal – Borough of Appleby". The National Archives.
  5. ^ Historic England. "Main Building at Appleby Grammar School (Grade II) (1312225)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  6. ^ Historic England. "St Anne's Hospital Chapel at St Anne's Hospital (Grade II) (1145571)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  7. ^ RootsWeb: ENG-WESTMORLAND-L Re: [WES] Re: appleby grammar Washington Family – From: Jill Wilbraham – 13 February 2003
  8. ^ Sowerby, Judith. "Class of '59 – 50 Years of Comprehensive Education at Appleby Grammar School". Newsletter Vol: 85, September 2009. Appleby-in-Westmorland Society.
  9. ^ RootsWeb: ENG-WESTMORLAND-L Re: [WES] Re: appleby grammar Washington Family – From: Chris Dickinson – 12 February 2003
  10. ^ "George Washington and Appleby Grammar School". Cumberland and Westmorland Herald. 25 September 2009.
  11. ^ "8/10/2008 – International Awards for Cumbrian Schools". Cumbria County Council.
  12. ^ 2008 OFSTED
  13. ^ "2011 Inspection" (PDF). Ofsted.
  14. ^ "School Report, Appleby Grammar School" (PDF). OFSTED. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  15. ^ "School Report, Appleby Grammar School" (PDF). OFSTED. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016.

External links[edit]