King's School, Worcester

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The King's School, Worcester
Kings-Worcester Logo.jpg
5 College Green


TypePublic School
Independent day school
Cathedral school
Mottoτα μεν διδακτά μανθάνω,
τα δ' ευρετά ζητώ,
τα δ' ευκτά παρά θεών ητησάμην.
I learn what may be taught;
I seek what may be sought;
My other wants I dare
To ask from Heaven in prayer.

— Sophocles apud Plutarch (Moralia)
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1541; 481 years ago (1541) (refoundation)
FounderHenry VIII (refoundation)
Department for Education URN117037 Tables
ChairmanHugh B. Carslake
HeadmasterGareth Doodes (2020-)[1]
Staffc. 140
Age2 to 18
Houses9 (+ 3 discontinued)
Colour(s)Navy blue and white    
PublicationThe Vigornian
AlumniOld Vigornians

The King's School, Worcester is an English independent day school refounded by Henry VIII in 1541. It occupies a site adjacent to Worcester Cathedral on the banks of the River Severn in the centre of the city of Worcester. It offers mixed-sex mainstream education that follows the UK National Curriculum to around 1,465 pupils aged 2 to 18. At age 11, approximately two thirds of pupils join the senior school from its two prep schools, King's Hawford and King's St Albans, while others come from maintained schools in the city of Worcester and the surrounding areas that include Malvern, Redditch, Kidderminster, Evesham and Pershore.[2]


The King's, Worcester group consists of three different schools. These include:

  • King's Hawford: (ages 2–11, c.320 pupils), formerly an autonomous fee-paying prep school named Hawford Lodge, purchased by King's in 1992, situated north of central Worcester. No recommendations were made in the 2008 inspection.[3]
  • King's St Alban's: (ages 2–11, c.215 pupils), formerly the Cathedral Choir School, amalgamated with King's in 1943, situated adjacent to the senior school. St Alban's includes a pre-prep department for ages 4–7, opened September 2009.
  • King's Worcester: (ages 11–18, c.930 pupils), the senior school.

The senior school is situated on Worcester's College Green, next to Worcester Cathedral and on the east bank of the River Severn. Many of the school's buildings on the Green are leased from the cathedral, including College Hall (formerly the monastic refectory, for many years the school's only teaching hall, and currently an assembly hall) and Edgar Tower, the medieval gatehouse to College Green, which for many years housed the school library. The school and the cathedral maintain a close relationship, with the school providing cathedral choristers and using the cathedral for major services. The most senior members of school staff, the cathedral choristers, and the school's King's and Queen's Scholars are ex officio members of the cathedral foundation, while the school is required by statute to have the cathedral Dean and Chapter represented on its governing body.

The school owns extensive land next to New Road cricket ground across the river, used as sports pitches and fields. The school also owns an outward bound centre, the Old Chapel near Crickhowell in Mid Wales.[4]

View of the school from the cathedral tower
(photo Bob Embleton)


Following the dissolution of the monastery in 1540, the new cathedral foundation included provision for a choir school for ten cathedral choristers and tuition for forty King's Scholars. The school was one of seven "King's Schools" established or re-endowed by Henry VIII following the dissolution. On 7 December 1541, Henry VIII appointed the school's first headmaster, John Pether, by means of a letter to Richard Rich. One early headmaster, Henry Bright is mentioned in Thomas Fuller’s Worthies of England,[5] and is commemorated in Worcester Cathedral.

The school was managed by the cathedral Dean and Chapter until 1884, when Headmaster W.E. Bolland's New Scheme introduced governance by a separate Governing Body, on which the Chapter nonetheless retained a majority. From its inception until the construction of School House in 1888, all teaching was conducted in College Hall, the former monastic refectory.[citation needed]

From 1945 to 1976, the school participated in the direct grant scheme, accepting pupils funded by central government on a competitive basis. The school first admitted girls in small numbers to the sixth form in 1971, prior to the establishment of College House in 1977, which housed 21 girls. In 1989 the decision was made to make the school fully co-educational, with girls entering the Lower Fourth (Year 7) in 1991. Having accommodated boarders since its inception, the final boarders left in July 1999.[6]


The school has an artist-in-residence and actor-in-residence, provides one-to-one LAMDA tuition and has several performance venues, including the Keyes Building, College Hall and the John Moore Theatre. Art exhibitions, plays, musicals, dance showcases and other performances are staged across the age range. Partly due to its links with the cathedral the school has a musical tradition.

The school has achieved success at rowing with the King's School Worcester Boat Club, and maintains a boathouse on the River Severn. The school also has an indoor swimming pool on the junior school campus and an outdoor pool at Hawford. Several sports undertake regular tours abroad.

The school has an active Combined Cadet Force with army and RAF sections.[7][better source needed]

The school produces three pupil-authored publications: Stepping Fourth (for the Fourth Forms, years 7–8), The Removes' Gazette (for the Removes, years 9–10) and Term Time a Sixth Form magazine, first published in summer 2010, as a replacement for the defunct King's Herald newspaper. The King's Herald was an annual newspaper written, compiled and formatted in a single day and submitted to a national competition which it won three times.[8][better source needed] The school also runs a creative writing club and annual competition, and regular Sixth-Form Soundbites evenings devoted to literature, music and wine.[citation needed] The debating club meets weekly, and pupils regularly participate in regional and national debating and public speaking contests.[citation needed]

Year classification system[edit]

The school uses its own class nomenclature. In the main section of the school (ages 11–18), the classification runs as follows:

Year Year Name Notes
7 Lower Fourth (L4) The Start of the Senior School.
8 Upper Fourth (U4) The Year which determines who are awarded King's and Queen's Scholarships.
9 Lower Remove (LR) The start of the house system.
10 Upper Remove (UR) The start of the GCSE course.
11 Fifth Form (FF) GCSE exams taken.
12 Lower Sixth (L6) AS-level exams taken.
13 Upper Sixth (U6) A2-level exams taken.


Upon reaching the 'Lower Remove', pupils are assigned to one of the following houses (listed with their respective colours):

House House Colours Eponym Type & Timespan
Henry Bright,
Headmaster 1589–1627
Day, 1961–
Castle House building
(named for Worcester Castle)
Boarding, 1902–1995;
Day, 2015–
William Haighton Chappel,
Headmaster 1896–1919
Day, 1936–
Dark Blue
Choir House building
Boarding, 1948–1995;
Day, 1995–
Cuthbert Creighton,
Headmaster 1919–36 & 1940–42
Day, 1936–
Light Blue & Yellow
F. Ronald Kittermaster,
Headmaster 1942–1959
Day, 1984–
Red & White
Saint Oswald,
Bishop of Worcester 961–992
Day, 1984–
Light Blue
School House building Boarding, 1888–1991;
Day, 1991–
Saint Wulstan,
Bishop of Worcester 1062–1095
Day, 1961–
Discontinued Houses
House House Colours Eponym Type & Timespan
The Hostel building Boarding, 1903–1999
College College House building Girls, Boarding, 1977–1999
Eliot Peter Eliot,
Archdeacon of Worcester 1961–1975
Girls, Day House, 1986–1991

Castle, Choir, Hostel and School Houses, all former boarding houses, are named for the buildings which originally housed them. As boarding diminished during the 1990s, these houses either converted to day houses (School and Choir), or were discontinued (Castle and Hostel). The remaining houses, which originated as day-boys' houses, are named for former school headmasters (Saint Oswald and Saint Wulstan, both Bishops of Worcester, being regarded as "headmasters" of the former monastic school).

Old Vigornians[edit]

All former pupils are considered to be Old Vigornians, and can use the post-nominal letters OV. Predecessor institutions are not considered: only those who attended King's from its refoundation in 1541 onwards are listed below.

Politics and Law:
Edward Winslow (1595–1655) Pilgrim Father, Governor of Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts
Sir John Vaughan (1603–1674) Judge and statesman, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
Lord Somers (1651–1716) Lawyer and statesman, Lord Chancellor
John Porter-Porter (1855–1939) Politician, Senator (Ulster Unionist) in the Senate of Northern Ireland
Sir Stephen Tomlinson (1952–) Judge, Lord Justice of Appeal
Sir Julian Flaux (1955–) Judge, Lord Justice of Appeal, Chancellor of the High Court
Richard Bacon (1962–) Politician, MP (Conservative) for South Norfolk
Sir Ashley Fox (1969–) Politician, MEP (Conservative) for South West England, leader of the Conservatives in the European parliament
Public Service:
Sir Jack Longland (1905–1993) Educational administrator, mountain climber, broadcaster
Sir Richard Tilt (1944–) Director General of HM Prison Service, Chairman of the Social Security Advisory Committee
Lord Garden (1944–2007) RAF Air Marshal, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff; Director of Chatham House
Roger Maynwaring (1582–1653) Dean of Worcester and Bishop of St David's, chaplain to Charles I
Thomas Warmestry (1610–1665) Dean of Worcester
Anthony Williams (1892–1975) Bishop of Bermuda
Seiriol Evans (1894–1984) Dean of Gloucester
Sir Philip Strong (1899–1983) Bishop of New Guinea and Archbishop of Brisbane
Alistair Magowan (1955–) Bishop of Ludlow
Academia and Education:
Robert Harris (1581–1658) President of Trinity College, Oxford, member of the Westminster Assembly
Hannibal Potter (1592–1664) President of Trinity College, Oxford, royalist
William Dugard (1606–1662) Schoolmaster, textbook writer and publisher, associate of John Milton
Thomas Good (1609–1678) Master of Balliol College, Oxford
Thomas Hall (1610–1665) Schoolmaster, radical presbyterian clergyman
Alexander Pearce Higgins (1865–1935) International law scholar; Professor, London School of Economics, University of Cambridge
Martin Lowson (1938–2013) Aeronautical engineer; Professor, University of Bristol
Godfrey Hewitt (1940–2013) Evolutionary biologist; Professor, University of East Anglia
Anthony J. Culyer (1942–) Economist specialising in health policy; Professor, University of York, University of Toronto
Commerce and Industry:
Dr John Wall (1708–1776) Physician, founder of the Royal Worcester porcelain company
Tony Garrett (1918–2017) Businessman, Chairman of Imperial Tobacco
Lord Wolfson (1927–2010) Businessman and philanthropist, Chairman of GUS
Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy (1942–) Businessman, Chief Executive of Kingfisher plc
Samuel Butler (1613–1680) Poet and satirist, author of Hudibras
Treadway Russell Nash (1724–1811) Worcestershire antiquarian and historian
Jonathan Raban (1942–) Travel writer and literary critic
Edward Kemp (1965–) Playwright and theatre director, Director of RADA
The school produced several notable musicians under the organist Harry Bramma (Director of Music 1965–76).
Hugh Blair (1864–1932) Organist of Worcester Cathedral and Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone; composer
Sir Stephen Cleobury (1948–2019) Organist, Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge
Nicholas Cleobury (1950–) Organist, conductor of the Britten Sinfonia and the Oxford Bach Choir
Andrew Millington (1952–) Organist, Director of Music at Guildford Cathedral and Exeter Cathedral
Stephen Darlington (1952–) Organist, Director of Music at St Albans Cathedral and Christ Church, Oxford
Jonathan Darlington (1956–) Conductor of the Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director of Vancouver Opera
Adrian Partington (1958–) Organist, Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral and Artistic Director of the BBC National Chorus of Wales
Geoffrey Webber (1959–) Organist, Director of Music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Jonathan Nott (1962–) Prinipal conductor of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
Acting and Comedy:
Samuel Foote (1720–1777) Comic actor and dramatist
Clifford Rose (1929–2021) Actor: Secret Army, Wallis & Edward
Rik Mayall (1958–2014) Comedian and actor: The Young Ones, The New Statesman, Bottom
Jonathan Dow (1965–) Actor: No Job for a Lady, The Bill, Cardiac Arrest
Journalism and Broadcasting:
Clive Everton (1937–) BBC snooker commentator, journalist and author
Chris Tarrant (1946–) Television and radio broadcaster, host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Jeremy Thompson (1947–) Journalist, news presenter for Sky News
Mark Webster (1953–) Journalist, news correspondent for ITN
Will Buxton (1981–) Formula One presenter and reporter for Liberty Media
Brian Brain (1940–) Cricketer for Worcestershire County Cricket Club
Derek Bell (1941–) Racing driver
Duncan Hughes (1970–) rugby union player for Newport, Worcester, Droitwich
David Townsend (1955–) Rower, Bronze medallist at the 1980 Olympics
Luke Narraway (1983–) Rugby union player for Gloucester Rugby, USA Perpignan, London Irish, Coventry R.F.C. and England
Zac Purchase (1986–) Rower, Gold medallist at the 2008 Olympics and Silver medallist at the 2012 Olympics
Hayley Simmonds (1988–) Racing cyclist
Josh Tongue (1997–) Cricketer for Worcestershire County Cricket Club
Sir Edward Kelley (1555–1597/98) Occultist and spirit medium
Francis Potter (1594–1678) Clergyman, theorist on the Number of the Beast and on blood transfusion
Tim Dinsdale (1924–1987) Loch Ness Monster hunter

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "King's Announces New Headmaster". King's Worcester. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  2. ^ ISI report October 2005[permanent dead link]. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
  3. ^ 2008 Hawford Kindergarten Ofsted Report Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ The Old Chapel Archived 2012-08-03 at Retrieved on 2010-12-24.
  5. ^ Fuller, Thomas (1840) [1662]. Nuttall, P. A. (ed.). The History of the Worthies of England. Vol. 3. London: Thomas Tegg. p. 376. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  6. ^ Payne, Danny, ed. (2015). The King's School, Worcester - From 1541 into the 21st Century. The King's School, Worcester. pp. 70–72, 59. ISBN 9780952350781.
  7. ^ CCF Archived 2012-09-03 at Retrieved on 2010-12-24.
  8. ^ Clubs and Societies. Retrieved on 2010-12-24.
Secondary sources

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°11′15″N 2°13′14″W / 52.187533°N 2.220671°W / 52.187533; -2.220671