King's School, Gloucester

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The King's School, Gloucester
Pitt Street

, ,

England England
TypeIndependent day school
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Establishedc.12th century
Local authorityGloucestershire
Department for Education URN115780 Tables
HeadmasterDavid Morton
Age3 to 18

The King's School, Gloucester is a co-educational independent day school in Gloucester, England. It traces its heritage to a school for choirboys founded on the grounds of Gloucester Cathedral as early as the 12th century and was one of the seven 'King's Schools' established, or re-endowed and renamed by King Henry VIII in 1541 after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.


The current school was officially founded in 1541 as a direct consequence of the English Reformation, by a direct royal proclamation of King Henry VIII. However, prior to that date, there was a school on the grounds of Gloucester Cathedral ever since it was first built as the Abbey of St. Peter around the year 1100.[1] Today the junior school still educates the choirboys of the Cathedral.

In 1540, during the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII closed down the Abbey of St. Peter at Gloucester. In its place, by statutes of 1545, Henry established the Cathedral and a school known as the "College School". Henry VIII's statutes required the master of the school to be "skilful in Latin and Greek, of good fame, and a godly life, well qualified for teaching, who may train up in piety those children who shall resort to our school for grammar". In 1616 the controversial reformer William Laud was appointed Dean of Gloucester. As a result, the school became a victim of the religious disputes which led to the outbreak of the Civil War by 1642. Laud was later executed during the war. In 1649, Parliament, following its victory in the Civil War, abolished Deans and Chapters. However, the school was considered too valuable a resource to dispense with.

After the enduring a tumultuous time during the 17th century, the school experienced significant growth from the 18th century onwards. Under headmaster Maurice Wheeler, reforms were instituted throughout the school. Choristers at the Cathedral was fully integrated as pupils; previously they were educated in separate classes. Physical education was introduced as a mandatory "subject". It was during his term that the school began to be referred to as "The King's School".

In the second half of the 19th century the school went into an unfortunate decline, mainly due to financial difficulties, the rise of other public schools and the unwillingness of the Dean and Chapter to maintain more than a "music school". Through the efforts of then headmaster Francis Gillespy, funds were raised and the pupil roll gradually increased again. More buildings were bought and added to the campus and Archdeacon Meadow was upgraded.[2]

In 2010, the ISI Inspection Report described the school as "a positive attitude to study and high standards of behaviour" and commended its music programme.[3]

Buildings and facilities[edit]

The school is based around Pitt Street in the centre of Gloucester. It is near Gloucester Cathedral and has assemblies there every morning, which the whole school attends. Most public examinations are held in the Chapter House. The school is based around several buildings - The Palace, the Mathematics Centre, Little Cloister House (the oldest part of the school, containing the oldest functioning classroom in the world[citation needed]), Sixth Form Centre Dulverton House, (the former residence of the Bishop of Tewkesbury), the Gym (formerly the main school building), the Art, Textiles and Design Technology department buildings, the Science block, the music school, Wardle House (the Nursery) and the Anniversary Building (Junior School).

The school is divided into 3 age specific sections:

  • The Nursery, for 3-5 year olds
  • Junior school, for ages 6–11
  • Senior school, for ages 11–18

Pupils are divided into Houses; in Senior School they are Laud, Wheeler and Serlo, named after, respectively, Archbishop William Laud, Maurice Wheeler - a former headmaster, and Abbot Serlo - an important figure in the founding of Gloucester Cathedral. There are House competitions all year round, including in the Michaelmas term drama, debate, hockey (girls), rugby (boys), and the Christmas quiz, in the Lent term inter-house swimming gala, music, General Knowledge Quiz (different to the Christmas quiz), hockey (boys), netball (girls), and in the Trinity term cricket (boys), rounders (girls), and the Inter-House athletics, held at the Prince of Wales stadium in Cheltenham. Also House points can be won by for academic commendations and Combat of the Pen nominations (sixth form only), in addition to this a system has recently been introduced to reward high standards of personal appearance with house points. Supplementing these larger and more general events are once weekly activities held in the second half of a lunch break, the make-up of which changes from term to term, and which vary from table tennis to bridge. However, in recent years though these lunchtime activities have not diminished they have moved away from their house competition orientation, leaving only the main house events, music, drama, sporting,and academic. The King's School song, written by former headmaster Maurice Wheeler, is reputed to be the only school song which changes from 4-in a bar to 3-in a bar. (4 in the verse, 3 in the chorus and play over)[citation needed]

Archdeacon Meadow[edit]

The school owns Archdeacon Meadow, which was given as a gift to the school by the people of Gloucester.[citation needed] Archdeacon Meadow is used as a sports field for rugby and cricket for the boys, and rounders in the summer for the girls. House cross-country running is also usually held there. The Meadow was the home of the annual Gloucester Cricket Festival until it was scrapped in 2009.[4]

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Arthur Benoni Evans, a sermon-writer
  • Button Gwinnett: mid 18th century; On behalf of Georgia signed the United States Declaration of Independence. With the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, he became the President and Commander-in-chief of the U.S. state of Georgia. He died shortly afterwards when he somewhat foolishly challenged one of his political enemies to a duel, the injuries resulted in his death a few days later. Incidentally his autograph is one of the most valuable in the World due to its rarity.
  • John Stafford Smith: late 18th century; wrote the tune for "To Anacreon in Heaven". In 1814 Francis Scott Key would set his poem to this piece and was named Star Spangled Banner, the National Anthem of the United States.
  • Ivor Gurney: A 20th-century composer and poet; famous for poetry volumes Severn and Somme (1917) and War's Embers (1919), and well known songs such as Sleep. He makes direct references to the King's school in his poem Day-boys and Choristers (1919).
  • F. W. Harvey: 'The Laureate of Gloucestershire' a 20th-century English poet, known for poems composed in prisoner-of-war camps that were sent back to England during World War I. While at the King's school together Gurney and Harvey formed a close friendship, later in his life Harvey claimed that it was at King's that 'he learned to love music and how to learn'.[5]
  • William Hayes: 1708-1777: Chorister at Gloucester Cathedral and articled to William Hine (organist). Organist at Shrewsbury, Worcester and later Informator Choristarum at Magdalen College, Oxford. Professor of Music at Oxford University. Composer of The Passions (performed at various Three Choirs Festivals), concertos and Ode to Echo. Founder of the Holywell Music Room in Oxford. Father of Philip Hayes, composer.
  • Simon Pegg: Attended the junior school. English actor, comedian, writer, film producer and director most famous for his work in Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead and Star Trek. Born and lived in Brockworth for most of his childhood.[6]
  • Andy Johns: British record producer most famous for his work with Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen, Joni Mitchell and Rod Stewart. Born in England, Johns moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s with his wife Anet. Johns died on 7 April 2012, after completing work on his final record, Sabyrtooth's "Laugh Until I Die."


  1. ^ King's and the Cathedral
  2. ^ History of the School
  3. ^ "Warm and caring King's is praised by inspectors". Gloucestershire Echo. 24 June 2010.
  4. ^
  5. ^ F. W. Harvey: Soldier, Poet (1988) Anthony Boden
  6. ^ "Epiphany on St Aldate Street - Simon Pegg at the Cheltenham Literature Festival". The Citizen. 18 October 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°52′4″N 2°14′40″W / 51.86778°N 2.24444°W / 51.86778; -2.24444