Bishop Vesey's Grammar School

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Bishop Vesey's Grammar School
Lichfield Road/ Boswell Road

, ,
B74 2NH

Coordinates52°34′08″N 1°49′16″W / 52.569°N 1.821°W / 52.569; -1.821Coordinates: 52°34′08″N 1°49′16″W / 52.569°N 1.821°W / 52.569; -1.821
TypeGrammar school;
MottoesDextra Dei Exaltavit Me (Latin)
Inspiration and Excellence
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1527; 493 years ago (1527)
FounderJohn Vesey, Bishop of Exeter
Local authorityBirmingham
Department for Education URN137988 Tables
Chairman of the GovernorsDr John Craggs DL PhD FCMA[1]
Head TeacherDominic Robson BA (Hons) NPQH
StaffApprox. 110
Co-educational (16+)
Age11 to 18
HousesBlue, Gold, Red, White, Purple, Emerald

Bishop Vesey's Grammar School (BVGS) is a selective state grammar school with academy status in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. Founded in 1527, it is one of the oldest schools in Britain and the third oldest school in the West Midlands, the first two being Bablake School (founded in 1344) and Wolverhampton Grammar School (founded in 1512). The school had boarders until 1969 but is now a day school only.

The school was founded in 1527 by the Bishop of Exeter John Vesey (formerly John Harman) who was a friend of Henry VIII and tutor of his elder daughter Queen Mary I, and it currently has approximately 1025 pupils. The current headteacher is Dominic Robson, who was appointed to the position in September 2012. In 2004 BVGS became a Language College and, in 2007, the school gained Training School status. Former Assistant Headteacher Steve Baugh served as Head of the Training School and Continuing Professional Development. The school is also houses a co-educational sixth form college. It is situated on the A5127, next to Birmingham Metropolitan College (former Sutton Coldfield College) and the Cross-City Line.


16th century[edit]

The first foundation deed set up by Bishop John Vesey in 1527 provided an endowment from property income of £7 a year and twenty-one people were appointed Trustees to manage the school and pay a fit and proper person to teach Grammar and Rhetoric. Many of the trustees were related to Vesey including his brother Hugh Harman and his brother-in-law William Gibbons, among others. William Gibbons was appointed as the first warden under the Charter of Incorporation, yet no schoolmaster was ever appointed by the trustees of the deed at this time. Because Vesey was not living in Sutton at the time, he did not oversee the trustees duties and obligations. There is no evidence the original trustees carried out their duties of the school.[2]

By 22 August 1540 a second deed was established by Vesey providing for the endowed properties to be held by the Warden and Society of Sutton. The deed states that the schoolmaster must be a layman. Between 1527 and 1540 many developments had occurred in relation to the English Reformation and this stipulation highlighted Vesey's intent to retain Catholic tradition at the time. John Savage was appointed as the first headmaster in 1540. Tuition was free, with traditional, academic subjects such as logic, rhetoric and grammar being taught to the local boys. Until 1544, St Mary's Hall was used as a schoolroom and then a school was built close to the church on Blind Lane, behind where the Masonic Buildings (the former Town Hall) are located.[2]

On 5 October 1546 John Savage died and Lawrence Nowell of Brasenose College, Oxford was appointed as his successor.[3] The Corporation started court proceedings to remove him from office due to neglect of the school, presumably because Nowell prioritised his research work. The course decided that he could not be dismissed "except if any notable crime could be proved against him". Nowell won the case, but still agreed to resign the post in early 1548. The Corporation paid him a gratuity of £10 of which Vesey contributed a third to encourage him to leave. Nowell was a supporter of the Reformation which increased the will to remove him from the position.[2]

When Vesey died in 1554, for eighty years after his death the trustees disregarded their obligations for personal gain. School land was leased to friends and family members at low rents which prevented schoolmasters from receiving enough income to maintain the school.[2]

17th century[edit]

In 1617 Robert Blakesley exhibited a bill against the Warden and Society of Sutton. A commission was established and found that lands with an annual value of £67 had been taken by former wardens and as little as £10 annually was given to the headmaster. The commission advised the Corporation that proceedings should be made to recover the school land but because Blakesley did not live in Sutton the Court settled against Blakesley. The Corporation did not take action to improve the school's finances.[2]

Complaints relating to the diligence of the Trustees and the Corporation came before the Chancery Court which ordered in 1636 that control be transferred to a new board of fourteen Trustees.

20th century[edit]

In November 1981, 13-year-old John Haddon was abducted on his way to school from nearby Sutton Park and subsequently murdered. His body was found near Fenny Drayton. Two males, Paul Corrigan aged 30 and 15-year-old Derek McInnes, were charged with his murder in December 1981.[4]

In the 1990s, the rugby pitch at the Tamworth Road end of the playing fields was sold for residential development, to fund various projects such as the "Randon Design Centre". The Randon Design Centre was constructed in 1990 at a cost of £1.5 million. The block houses the art and design and technology departments and was designed by Birmingham-based Associated Architects. The library, which was located on the site of the Randon Design Centre, was moved into an extension constructed on the main school building.[5]


In April 2008, Isaac of Bath Rugby and the Samoa national rugby union team announced he was to retire and take up the head of rugby position at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School.[6][7]

Head teachers[edit]

Although founded in 1527, the first headmaster was not appointed until 1540, when a new foundation deed specified that the schoolmaster must be a layman.[8]

  • John Savage (1540–1546)
  • Lawrence Nowell (1546–1549)
  • John Heath (?–?)
  • John Michael (?–?)
  • John Savage (?–1639)
  • William Hill (1639–1647)
  • John Elley (1647–1659)
  • William Chancy (1659–1687)
  • William Sandars (1687–1724)
  • Paul Lowe (1724–1764)
  • William Webb (1764–1817)
  • Charles Barker (1817–1842)
  • James Eccleston (1842–1849)
  • Josiah Wright (1849–1863)
  • Albert Smith (1863–1902)
  • Herbert Jerrard (1902–1926)
  • Richard William Wright (1926–1929)
  • Abel Sylvanus Jones (1929–1947)
  • Geoffrey John Cross (1947–1965)
  • Arthur John Johnson (1965–1974)
  • James Philip Nelson (acting, 1974–1975)
  • Reginald John Harvey (1975–1988)
  • Marie Elaine Clarke (1989–2002)
  • David John Iddon (2003–2012)
  • Dominic Robson (2012–)

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ "Governors". Bishop Vesey's Grammar School. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Osborne, Kerry. A History of Bishop Vesey's Grammar School - The First 375 Years (1527-1902).
  3. ^ Warnicke, Retha M. "Nowell, Laurence". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/20380. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Chadwick, Edward. "From the Archives: Paedophile acted out evil fantasy by killing schoolboy". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  5. ^ "The Randon Design Centre" (PDF). Associated Architects. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  6. ^ "Feaunati hangs up his boots". Sky Sports. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  7. ^ "Balshaw extends, Feaunati retires". Planet Rugby. 30 April 2008. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  8. ^ "Old Big School - Honours Boards". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  9. ^ Nicol, W. D. (April 1948). "Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy" (PDF). Postgraduate Medical Journal: 199–206.
  10. ^ "Stuart Cheshire". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  11. ^ a b Hammond, Nick. "THE FRENCH AMBASSADOR – the unique succession". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  12. ^ "Ken Miles: a legendary OV". Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  13. ^ Considine, Tim (25 June 2019). "Foul play in Ford's 1966 Le Mans 24 Hour photo finish? 'Yanks at Le Mans' extract". Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  • The History of Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, Kerry Osbourne

External links[edit]