Bishop Wordsworth's School

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Bishop Wordsworth's School
BWS Badge.jpg
Motto Veritas in Caritate
Truth in Charity
Truth in Caring
Established 1889
Type Grammar school;
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Dr. S. D. Smallwood
Chaplain Rev. J. A. Bersweden
Chairman of the Governing Body Mr. N. A. Beer
Founder Rt. Rev. John Wordsworth
Location The Close
Coordinates: 51°03′53″N 1°47′51″W / 51.0647°N 1.7975°W / 51.0647; -1.7975
DfE number 865/5405
DfE URN 136500 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 907 as of 2011
Gender Boys
Ages 11–18
Houses Jewell, Martival, Osmund, Poore[1]
Colours Dark Blue and Silver
Publication Wordsworth magazine
Former pupils Old Wordsworthians
Website School homepage

Bishop Wordsworth's School is a Church of England boys' grammar school in Salisbury, Wiltshire for students aged 11 to 18. The school is regularly amongst the top-performing schools in England, and in 2010 was the top school performer for the English Baccalaureate.[2][3] It was granted academy status in March 2011 and is an Additional Member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. It is located on the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral, adjacent to the Cathedral School. It has four houses, Poore, Osmund, Jewell and Martival.

Its full name is Bishop Wordsworth's Church of England Grammar School for Boys, shortened to BWS, known colloquially as Bishop's, and its students as Bishop's Boys. The school's motto is Veritas in Caritate, translated as "Truth Through Caring" or "Truth Through Charity", and originates from the epitaph of Bishop Wordsworth's father.


Bishop Wordsworth's School, No. 11 The Close. The cathedral spire is visible in the background.

The foundations of the school came in June 1889, when the Bishop of Salisbury, John Wordsworth, announced to his friend Canon Woodall, "I should like to see Salisbury a great educational centre. I should like to found a school which shall be equal to the greatest and best of our public schools." His initial desire that working class boys were not to be admitted caused much controversy. Fees were initially set at £1.10s.0d, and boarding fees were £2 per term; however, the fees were raised to £9 in 1894 to meet the unexpected costs of the school. During the first year, classes were taught in the bishop's palace of Salisbury itself. Bishop Wordsworth personally donated £3000, which was used to purchase an area of land in the cathedral close and to build the school's first buildings. After Bishop Wordsworth's death, the school was renamed Bishop Wordsworth's School, having been previously known as "The Bishop's School".

In 1905, the school became a grammar school, its buildings consisting of the current Chapel Block and Bishopgate. Between 1905 and 1927 the School also used buildings in the Friary and also on New Street in Salisbury. Until 1928 the school admitted both boys and girls, but from 1927, with the founding of a girls' grammar school in the city called South Wilts Grammar School, the school admitted boys only.

In 1931 a hall, science laboratories and a library were built. By the 1930s, the school had achieved a reputation for pioneering educational work, and in 1936 became a public school. In 1948 the governors accepted voluntary controlled status, which meant being funded by Wiltshire County Council as local education authority and accepting its supervision. Boarding at the school in the Bishopgate buildings ended in the 1950s, and the buildings were used for teaching thereafter. During the Second World War, pupils from the Priory School in Portsmouth moved to BWS to avoid the bombing of the city.

The school now educates boys aged 11 to 18, with some exceptions. Sixth form classes are shared with students from South Wilts Grammar School as part of a large scale collaboration.

In 2002, a major redevelopment of the school's site and buildings commenced. Since then, a new classroom block and drama studio have been followed by an extensive sports hall and physical education facilities, and the new sixth form block was finished in July 2010. The old sports hall was converted to house the art department, and the design technology block has been expanded. In 2011 a new cookery room was completed.

In 2004 the school was awarded its first specialism in Languages, and this has led to broadening of the curriculum and further opportunities for overseas trips. In 2008 the school achieved an additional specialism in Science. As part of its specialist work the school has supported all of the city primary schools in Salisbury in Languages, and many with Science too.

The school converted to academy status in 2011.

The school enjoys termly services held in the cathedral, along with a number of other events including Prize Giving and Founder's Day being held in the historic site.


Entry to the school is regulated by the eleven plus examination.[4] Applicants sit the test in Year 6, at the age of 10 or 11. The exams are held in September at the school itself. There are also limited twelve plus and thirteen plus admissions, similarly by examination. Sixth Form admission is administered by the head of Sixth Form, and is granted on the basis of GCSE results, a personal statement and recommendation from the candidate's former head of school. Current pupils must achieve more than six A*–Bs (including Maths and English) in their GCSEs to continue their studies in Sixth Form, as well as a relatively high grade in the options they propose to take.[5]

Notable staff[edit]

William Golding's Plaque at Bishop Wordsworth's School.jpg

Sir William Golding, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was a schoolmaster teaching Philosophy and English in 1939, then just English from 1945 to 1962. Lord of the Flies was Golding's first book, written in 1954, and it is widely believed that its main characters were based on Golding's students, some of whom are alive to this day. Golding also regularly sang with Bishop Wordsworth's School choir. He was known affectionately as "Scruff" by the pupils due to his sometimes unkempt hair and beard and his carefree dress sense.[6] After Golding's death in 1993, the school choir sang at his memorial service in Salisbury Cathedral. In March 2005 a plaque was placed at the school to commemorate Golding's time as a teacher.[7]

Headmaster Happold was also noted for the foundation of the "Company of Honour and Service". Father Kenelm Foster O.P. wrote "[the Company is] a sort of modernist Grail (for Boys) or Solidarity which Dr Happold founded in 1935 at Bishop Wordsworth's School, Salisbury. This is his nucleus, his 'order', his new aristocracy, which is to permeate England: a little cohort of leaders, of seers, of doers." (Cited in Happold, 1964, pp. 33).

Alan Harwood was a notable organ scholar and taught music at Bishop Wordsworth's School. After Harwood's death in 2003, composer Sam Hanson MA ARCO (organist/director of music at St Peter's Church, Bournemouth, formerly organ scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge), dedicated a requiem to him.

Former headmaster Clive Barnett HMI (who left the school in 2002) is patron of the charity EdUKaid, a role he shares with Baroness Kinnock.


1890–1928 Mr. Reuben Bracher

1928–1960 Dr. Frederick Crossfield Happold D.S.O.

1960–1964 Mr. Ernest Ethrin Sabben-Clare

1964–1974 Mr. Robert Cabot Rowsell Blackledge[8]

1974–1992 Mr. Glyn Evans

1992–2002 Mr. Clive Barnett

2002– Dr Stuart Smallwood

Notable alumni[edit]

The "Old Wordsworthian" AGM and lunch is traditionally held after the Cathedral service and Founder's Day celebrations in July.










  • Happold, Frederick Crossfield, Bishop Wordsworth's School 1890 – 1950. Privately printed for Bishop Wordsworth's School, 1950, 124pp.
  • Happold, Frederick Crossfield, Religious Faith and Twentieth-Century Man. Pelican Original, 1964.
  • 'Roman Britain in 1954: I. Sites Explored: II. Inscriptions', The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 45, Parts 1 and 2. (1955), pp. 121–149.
  • United Kingdom Census 1901
  • British Army Medals & Honour Rolls 1914-1920


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  2. ^ "Performance tables 2010". Department for Education. 
  3. ^ "Performance tables 2011". Department for Education. 
  4. ^ "Admissions Overview". BWS website. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Admissions – Sixth Form Entry". BWS website. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Ramtuhul, Claire (13 March 2012). "Preview: The Dreams of William Golding". Cultural Capital. New Statesman. Retrieved 5 Aug 2014. 
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  10. ^ "Canadian Mounted Rifles - 'Pop'". 
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  15. ^ "Tom Edwin Adlam's burial location". The Victoria Cross. 
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  21. ^ "Tom Heathcote". Bath Rugby official website. 
  22. ^ "New Trade Envoys and Business Investment to Boost Trade Links". The National Archives. 12 November 2012. 
  23. ^ Berens, Jessica (April 26, 2003). "Down to a Fiennes art". The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney). 
  24. ^ "Tony". Klitz Family History. 
  25. ^ "Canon's son acts evil" (PDF). Salisbury Cathedral website. November 2010. 
  26. ^ Robinson, David (16 February 2005). "Otto Plaschkes obituary". The Guardian (London). 
  27. ^ Hassan, Mamoun (5 March 2005). "Old-school film producer". The Independent (London). 
  28. ^ Bones, James (7 March 2005). "Film producer whose 'Georgy Girl' helped to set the tone for Sixties Swinging London". The Times. 
  29. ^ "Andy returns to his roots". Salisbury Journal. 30 April 2009. 
  30. ^ "Nigel Shore Bio". Berlin. 
  31. ^ Light, Vivienne (20 February 2011). "Peter Thursby obituary". The Guardian. 
  32. ^ "Staff List - Prof. Andrew Copp". UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. London. 
  33. ^ "Professor Andrew Tym Hattersley FRS". The Royal Society. 
  34. ^ "Head of The Exeter Diabetes Genetics Centre". University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School. 
  35. ^ "Staff Profiles". University of Exeter - Medical School. 
  36. ^ "Contact Us". Diabetes Research dept. and the Centre for Molecular Genetics at the Peninsula Medical School and Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. 
  37. ^ Vallis, David (19 April 2007). "Scientist helps find 'fat' gene". Salisbury Journal. 
  38. ^ Vallis, David (4 January 2007). "New Years Honours For Local People". Salisbury Journal. 
  39. ^ "Supplement to the London Gazette, 20 July, 1943 - Pg. 3270" (PDF). 
  40. ^ "The Very Reverend Frank Curtis obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 30 May 2005. 
  41. ^ "Supplement to the London Gazette, 4 June, 1934 - Pg. 3559" (PDF). 
  42. ^ Streat, Sir Raymond; Dupree, Marguerite (1987). Lancashire and Whitehall: The Diary of Sir Raymond Streat. Manchester University Press. p. 263. ISBN 0-719023-90-4. 
  43. ^ McNeal, Peter (14 August 2002). "Sir Graham Smith obituary". The Guardian (London). 

External links[edit]