Appleby Grammar School

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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; -2.4916Coordinates: 54°34′55″N 2°29′30″W / 54.5819°N 2.4916°W / 54.5819; -2.4916
Department for Education URN137251 Tables
ChairMichael Saint
Head teacherElaine Sargent
Staff44 + 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 August 2011, it has been an Academy.

Until 9 September 2013, the school was a registered charity.[1] The current headteacher is Andrew Lund, replacing Terry Hobson, who announced his retirement from the school in July 2007, after starting as head of biology in 1974, before becoming deputy head in 1995, then becoming headteacher in 1997.[2] Mr. Lund announced he would be leaving Appleby Grammar at the end of the academic year in November 2019.[3] In February 2020 Elaine Sargent was announced as Lund's replacement, becoming the schools first female head teacher.[4]


The origins of Appleby Grammar School 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 St Lawrence's Church, Appleby,[5][6] and that of the Virgin Mary (founded by William L'English before 1344) in the Church of St Michael, Bongate.[7][8]

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)[9] 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.

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

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, and 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 on 22 March 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", but this limitation has been greatly exceeded.

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 being augmented each year by contributions from leaving pupils. The library is now in the care of the University Library of Newcastle upon Tyne.

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 eighty boarders alone.

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,[10][11] on the outskirts of the town, on a site provided by land purchased from St Anne's Hospital[12][13] 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.[14]

In the beginning of the 1950s, due to the extended width 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 to the west of the A66. The catchment area would eventually extend to Cliburn, Morland, Newby, Reagill and Sleagill.

With the addition of an extension at Appleby to accommodate Domestic Science, Woodwork, Science and Art Rooms, and a girls' cloakroom on the ground floor level, plus the new school finished at Kirkby Stephen, as well as both schools becoming co educational, the autumn term of 1955 was to see significant changes to secondary education in the Eden Valley. Appleby was to lose all its boarders at the end of the summer term that same year.

On 3 September 1959, whilst retaining the title of Grammar School, Appleby and Kirkby Stephen schools became comprehensive and expanded rapidly, so that by 1974, four hundred years after the establishment of the Elizabethan post chantry Grammar School, there were over 560 pupils on the school roll.[15] In January 2008, Ian Holloway, the headteacher of Appleby Grammar School from 1980 to 1997, became a town councillor.[16]

George Washington[edit]

The father and half brothers of the founding President of the United States, George Washington, all attended the school.

On the death of Washington's paternal grandfather, Lawrence Washington of Virginia, his widow Mildred (née Warner) married George Gale. The Gale family were the chief tobacco merchants of Whitehaven, Cumberland. In 1700, carrying child, she moved with her new husband and three children, John 6, Augustine 3, Mildred infant, to Whitehaven.[17] In 1701, Mildred Gale died in childbirth; she was buried in St Nicholas's Churchyard in Whitehaven.

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.

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 Washington would have almost certainly followed in their footsteps to Appleby Grammar School.[18]

Ofsted and academic performance[edit]

In October 2008, Appleby Grammar School was one of five Cumbrian schools presented with the DCSF International School Award for recognition of links with schools abroad.[19] In an inspection in November 2008 by Ofsted, the school was rated "Good".[20] In September 2011, the school was rated as "satisfactory".[21] In November 2013, and again in May 2016, the report from Ofsted determined the school "Requires improvement".[22][23]

Notable former pupils[edit]

(in alphabetical order)


  • Edgar Hinchcliffe (1974). Appleby Grammar School: From Chantry to Comprehensive. J. Whitehead and Son (Appleby) Limited for the Governors. ISBN 0-9501747-3-4.
  • 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Charity Commission - Appleby Grammar School". Charity Commission.
  2. ^ "Grammar school head standing down after a decade at the helm". 5 July 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Appleby Grammar head decides to move on". 22 November 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  4. ^ "New head for Appleby Grammar School". 21 February 2020. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  5. ^ Parish Church of St Lawrence - detailed Grade I listing
    Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1312067)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Parish Church of St Lawrence, Boroughgate (north side) (1312067)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  7. ^ Church of St Michael - detailed Grade II listing
    Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1137750)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  8. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Michael, Bongate (west side) (1137750)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Cumbria Record Office, Kendal - Borough of Appleby". The National Archives.
  10. ^ Main Building at Appleby Grammar School, Battlebarrow - detailed Grade II listing
    Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1312225)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  11. ^ Historic England. "Main Building at Appleby Grammar School, Battlebarrow (1312225)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  12. ^ St Anne's Hospital Chapel at St Anne's Hospital - detailed Grade II listing
    Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1145571)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  13. ^ Historic England. "St Anne's Hospital Chapel at St Anne's Hospital, 7-13 Boroughgate (east side) (1145571)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  14. ^ RootsWeb: ENG-WESTMORLAND-L Re: [WES] Re: appleby grammar Washington Family - From: Jill Wilbraham - 13 February 2003
  15. ^ Judith Sowerby. "Class of '59 – 50 Years of Comprehensive Education at Appleby Grammar School". Newsletter Vol: 85, September 2009. Appleby-in-Westmorland Society. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.
  16. ^ "Former headteacher co-opted to town council". 16 January 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  17. ^ RootsWeb: ENG-WESTMORLAND-L Re: [WES] Re: appleby grammar Washington Family - From: Chris Dickinson - 12 February 2003
  18. ^ "George Washington and Appleby Grammar School". Cumberland and Westmorland Herald. 25 September 2009.
  19. ^ "8/10/2008 - International Awards for Cumbrian Schools". Cumbria County Council.
  20. ^ 2008 OFSTED
  21. ^ "2011 Inspection" (PDF). Ofsted.
  22. ^ "School Report, Appleby Grammar School". OFSTED. 18 December 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 April 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  23. ^ "School Report, Appleby Grammar School" (PDF). OFSTED. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]