History

Foreword

Maidstone Grammar School has a long and proud history, with close links to the Maidstone Borough since it came into being in 1549.  During the Extended Learning Week 24-28 June 2013 a small group of committed students researched various sources and accounts to attempt to give a visually appealing and informative snapshot of the school’s history.  Wherever possible they have tried to verify the enclosed information, however they apologise if there are any inaccuracies, and would very much appreciate being told so that this record of MGS can be updated.  This is an ongoing project and the hope is that people will come forward with more pictures, tales, information, names etc which can be incorporated to help weave together the school’s rich history.

MGS History pamphlet 

Introduction 

Maidstone Grammar School officially dates back to 1549 when Maidstone was granted its first Charter.  It has had an unbroken existence, apart from a brief interruption 1554-8 due to Maidstone’s connection with Sir Thomas Whyatt’s Rebellion against Queen Mary and her attempt to re-introduce Catholicism.

However, the school can be linked back to a Grey Friar’s Order School since 1348, housed at the top of Gabriels Hill which then moved in the 1390’s to the All Saints College attached to the Church.  In the early 15th Century the school moved to the newly built Corpus Christi Hall at the bottom of Earl Street, part of which still exists today.

In 1871 the school moved to a site on the Tonbridge Road, before finally ending up at its current location in 1930 in Barton Road.

Timeline

Date

Event

1348

School recorded in the Old Grey Friars Building at the top of Gabriels Hill

About 1395

The school moved to the College of All Saints

1422

The Guild or Fraternity of Corpus Christi was founded and the school moved to the Hall

1547

The government of Edward VI began dissolving the Colleges (All Saints) and Guilds (Corpus Christi) of the country as the Protestant Reformation developed

1549

The Corpus Christi Hall, now belonging to the Crown was sold to the town of Maidstone for £200 to found a Grammar School

1554-58

Maidstone’s sympathy with the rebellion of Sir Thomas Whyatt of Allington Castle caused the cancellation of Maidstone’s recent Charter and therefore the school was temporarily closed down

1559

The Catholic Queen Mary died in 1558 to be succeeded by her half sister Elizabeth and England became Protestant again.  The second Charter was granted to the town and the school resumed its existence, unbroken to the present day

June 1648

A major battle was fought just a few hundred yards away from the Corpus Christi Hall along Week Street and Gabriel Hill.  Over 400 men were killed as Lord Fairfax recaptured the town for the Parliamentarians during the second phase of the English Civil War

1691

The infamous Headmaster John Law MA killed a local man in an Ale House; he was found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to excommunication and later to be mutilated, but he escaped and disappeared!

1818

The newly constituted Charity Commissioners carried out a full enquiry into the condition of the school.  There were only 10 day boys and 15 borders

1869

Endowed Schools Act – a formal entrance test and the curriculum was widened to include at least one Modern Language and Natural Science

1871

The school moved from Corpus Christi Hall to a new site on the Tonbridge Road

1884

Old Maidstonian Society was formed

1885

The Maidstonian Magazines started

1886

Maidstone Girls Grammar School was founded, our sister foundation sharing the same Governing Body

1895

The school started its association with the recently formed Kent County Council

1899

The House System started with 3 houses: School, East Borough and West Borough dependent on where the students lived

1899

The first Physics Laboratory was established

1905

The first Woodwork Shop was established

1906

The Cadet Corps was inaugurated

1908

Cadet Corps became the Officer Training Corps

1908

The words to the School Song (6 verses of it, we currently sing verse 1 and 5!) were written by the then Headmaster Reverend A C Duffield and set to music by the music master Dr Henniker

1913

The first layman Headmaster, Mr Walter Cross, was appointed

1913

The Junior School came into existence, moving to Brunswick House in 1922

1914

The number of boys had increased from 97 to 139

1922

Annual Shakespeare Drama Productions started

1924

Rugger replaced Soccer in the Easter Term

1930

Moved to Barton Road (the drainpipes with 1929 cast were ordered too early!); Lord Cornwallis formerly opened the present building in July 1930

1936

Increasing University successes secured MGS’s admission to the Headmaster’s Conference of Public Schools

1938-39

The Air Raid Shelter; zigzag passages which went under the Court and school field.  There was room for over 300 so that lessons could continue underground

13 Sept 1940

Bombs fell around the school

1945

School fees were abolished, though only one quarter were fee paying by the end

1949

Field Marshall Montgomery was Guest of Honour at our Speech Day

1949

A Chronicle Play ‘One Day We Shall Remember’ was written by a History Teacher (Mr G B Phillips), who gave 46 years of service to the school, to commemorate the 400th Anniversary

1950

The Science Labs (current rooms 20-21 plus 30-31 and Physics Prep Room) were built onto the far cloisters into the quadrangle

1953

A School Inspection (first one since 1934), states 610 boys on roll ‘there is an excellent spirit amongst the boys and a real pride in the community to which they belong …. the Headmaster and the Staff can be proud of their success in the creation of a civilised and virile community’

1956

The Headmaster, Mr W A Claydon, was awarded a CBE in the New Years Honours List

1960

The South Block (current library, small Hall, room 42-49, English Office, Rm 60) was opened

1965

Over 800 students now at the school

1973

The Thameside Scheme was introduced, so students now came at 13 rather than 11

1980

The Maidstonian was published annually rather than twice a year

1981

New building (Rooms 50-59, the Technology Block) was built and opened by Sir Rhodes Boyson PC

1981

An extra floor was added above the Gym (Upper Staff Room and Lab 32)

1990

The school was used as a film set for the popular TV series set in the 1950s ‘The Darling Buds of May’ starring David Jason and Catherine Zeta Jones.  The old canteen was used for the Electrical Warehouse and the Lower Staff Room as the Tax office

1990s

The school was used to film 2 episodes of Art Attack using the school field and pavilion

1993

The school returned to taking Year 7s increasing the school roll eventually from 800 to over 1200

1993

The disused Fives Courts (Fives is a game like squash but played with a glove on the hand instead of a racquet) were converted into three classrooms (Rooms 90-92)

1993

Mobile huts were placed at the back of the Headmaster’s garden to cope with the growing numbers of students (Rooms 86-89?)

2000

James Burke opened the new reception

2005

A new Canteen and Maths/History/Art Block was built

2007

House System was re-introduced: 6 houses: Challenger (Purple), Churchill (Yellow), Endeavour (Red), Hurricane (Green), Invincible (Blue), Spitfire (White).

2010

The Applied Learning Centre was built

2011

The Sixth Form and Food Technology Centre was built