Lancaster Royal Grammar School

Lancaster Royal Grammar School (LRGS) is a selective grammar school (day and boarding) for boys aged 11–18 in Lancaster, Lancashire, England. It also has academy status. Old students belong to The Old Lancastrians. It is one of England's 36 state boarding schools. The school has a sixth form for girls, which commenced in 2019.[1] LRGS is also in the United Kingdom's thirty oldest schools.

Lancaster Royal Grammar School
Lancaster Royal Grammar School (logo).jpg
East Road

, ,

TypeAcademy grammar school
Day and boarding school
MottoPraesis ut prosis ("Lead in order to serve")
Religious affiliation(s)None
Establishedc. 1235; 786 years ago (1235)
FounderJohn Gardyner (endowment c.1472)
Department for Education URN136742 Tables
Head teacherChris J Pyle
GenderMale (high school)
Co-ed (Sixth form)
Age11 to 18
PublicationThe Lancastrian
Former pupilsOld Lancastrians


The school was founded between 1235 and 1256, probably nearer to the former, and was later endowed as a free school by John Gardyner.[2] The first definite mention of the old grammar school is found in a deed dated 4 August 1469, when the Abbess of Syon granted to John Gardyner, of Bailrigg (near Lancaster), a lease of a water-mill on the River Lune and some land nearby for two hundred years to maintain a chaplain to celebrate worship in the Church of St. Mary, Lancaster, and to instruct boys in grammar freely, "unless perchance something shall be voluntarily offered by their friends".

In 1472, John Gardyner's will made further provisions for the endowment of the school, and also for William Baxstonden to keep the school so long as he could teach the students. In 1682, the school was rebuilt and in 1852 was removed from the old site on the slopes by the priory to the outskirts of the city, where it now stands (though the city has expanded beyond it).

This building (now known as Old School House), which stands on the north side of East Road, was designed by the local architects Sharpe and Paley at a cost of £8,000 (equivalent to £880,000 in 2019).[3][4][5] The foundation stone was laid on 5 May 1851 by James Prince LeeJames Prince Lee, the Bishop of Manchester.[6] The title "Royal" was granted by Queen Victoria in the same year.[4] This building is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.[7]

In 1969, the school celebrated its quincentenary and was visited by Elizabeth II. In 1995, the school received a visit from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Roger Freeman.

In 2001, to mark the 150th anniversary of becoming the Royal Grammar School, the school welcomed Anne, Princess Royal. In 2011, the school was granted academy status. On 6 November 2017, the school stated that they will be accepting sixth form girls from September 2019.[1]


Old School House.

Dates are of taking office.

Year Headmaster Year Headmaster
13th century
(1235) Thomas de Kirkham Before 1291 Thomas de Kirkham
Before 1284 William de Lancaster
14th century
c.1311 William de Lancaster Before 1338 John Banastre
15th century
1472 William Baxstonden
16th century
Before 1501 Sir Ralph Elcock Before 1553 Robert Mackerell
Before 1547 John Lunde
17th century
Before 1613 Mr Walden 1663 Edward Holden
Before 1613 Roger Brook 1677 John Barrow
1621 John Foster 1681 Thomas Lodge
1631 James Schoolcroft 1690 William Bordley 1653 Michael Altham
18th century
1708 Thomas Holme. 1765 James Watson
1725 Stephen Lewis 1794 John Widditt
1733 William Johnson
19th Century
1802 Joseph Rowley 1872 William Emmanuel Pryke
1812 John Beethom 1893 George Alfred Stocks
1850 Thomas Faulkner Lee
20th Century
1903 Herbert Armstrong Watson 1961 John Lorraine Spencer
1912 John Henry Shackleton Bailey 1972 Anthony Michael Joyce
1939 Robert Raymond Timberlake 1983 Peter John Mawby
21st Century
2001 Andrew Jarman 2012 Christopher Pyle


The grammar school has a tradition of raising money for charity each year during the Lenten term. The charities are selected by the Seward Committee where students propose and select which organisations to donate money to, generally two local, two national and two international charities. All students take part in a yearly set run and are encouraged to collect sponsorship donations, helping raise up to £20,000 in a year. Not all the income comes from the run, though, as students organise a large variety of events amongst which are cake sales, raffles and even a teachers' version of the BBC Radio 4 panel show Just a Minute, organised by the Whewell Society.

The whole school partakes in annual Set Run which involves a 4-mile run around Lancaster and the surrounding areas. This tradition has been in place continually since 1912 when it was 'revived', suggesting it existed in a previous form before then. It occurs towards the end of the Lent Term and is usually used to raise money as part of the Lenten charities event.

When the national anthem is sung at events such as Founders' Day, the second line is changed to "Long live our noble Duke" in recognition of the Duchy of Lancaster. Duke is kept irrespective of whether the ruling Monarch is male or female; thus Queen Elizabeth II is known by tradition as the Duke of Lancaster, not Duchess.

Until September 2015, LRGS used the more traditional '1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year...' system for naming years, rather than the modern 'Year 7, 8, 9...' system - a tradition that had been in place since the 1973/74 academic year. The tradition came under threat in May 2015, when some of the school's teachers made it clear that they would rather use the modern system, to avoid confusion when communicating with other schools and organisations using that system. An online petition was set up, garnering over a thousand signatures from students, teachers and Old Lancastrians. The change was also opposed by the senior prefect team. However, at the start of the next academic year (2015/16), the school officially changed to the modern system, despite the considerable opposition.

For a period the school ran a preparatory department, which was located in Gardyner House as was officially "Form 1". Although this closed in the 1950s it was not until 1973 that the year groups were renumbered - prior to September that year year groups were numbered 2, 3, 4, Shell (abbreviated to "Sh") and 5 (followed by Lower, Middle and Upper Sixth). Other traditions that ended in the 1970s were the singing of the school song (before 1972 - but still sung at Old Lancastrian meetings. It was also temporarily sung in 2012 at the occasional first year assembly.), the requirement to wear a school cap (ended from 1972/3 - though they were still on sale until 1979), shorts for junior boarders (which was also abolished in September 1973), and houses for day-students (which were wound up sometime in the late 1970s, probably around 1978 or 1979, in fact somewhat petering out rather than being formally abolished.

There is also the long standing tradition of tricking year sevens (formerly called first years) into tucking their blazers into their trousers. It is unknown when this tradition started, but has been known to exist since at least the early 1950's. There is also a tradition of tricking year sevens into going to a certain room (or in some cases the rugby fields or sports hall) after school to take part in a "Cage fighting club". Both of these traditions have been severely discouraged for several years now, but still persist to this day.


The school is regularly one of the strongest state schools both regionally and nationally. In 2019, students achieved top A and A* grades in more than half of all the A level exams that they sat. Over 75% of all results were graded A*, A or B.[2]

The 2007 Ofsted report stated that "this is an outstanding school that provides very good value for money. The overwhelming majority of parents value greatly the school and its impact on their children."

In 2005 just under three-quarters of A-level entries resulted in grades A or B (excluding General Studies) while at GCSE three-quarters of all grades were A* or A, with nearly all pupils gaining 10 passes and five pupils gaining a clean sweep of A* grades. In 2011 the A*-C grade was over 95%, only 1% below its counterpart Lancaster Girls' Grammar school.[8]


LRGS is a state boarding school with four boarding houses (Storey, Frankland, Ashton and School Houses) and 170 boarders. The majority of boarders come from the northwest of England; others come from across the UK and overseas. Ofsted inspectors found boarding to be Outstanding in all categories in 2013.[9]

School societiesEdit

LRGS has a range of student-run societies. The Whewell Society, named in honour of William Whewell, an old student, was founded in 1908 and is the oldest continuous society in the school. It was founded by the sixth form as a society to promote the arts, music and debate. Since the 1950s, the society has been purely a debating society and has had success in competitions.[citation needed]


The school offers a wide range of sporting activities to the students throughout their school careers including tennis, sailing, swimming, rowing, cross country running etc. but remains a bastion of rugby union. Achievement in this code is generally accorded more prominence in school life than other activities but the school has achieved more notable success in rowing and cross country running, especially when their far lower budgets are taken into account. Nonetheless, the school has produced some notable figures in rugby union such as the former England and Bath coach Brian Ashton, former captain of Norway Erik Lund and his brother the England international Magnus Lund.

Former pupils have achieved Olympic success. Jason Queally, took track cycling gold in the 1 km time trial at the 2000 Summer Olympics and Scott Durant won gold with the British Men's Eight in the 2016 Summer Olympics (see Boat Club).

In 2011, the LRGS lst XI won the Local Football Cup, beating Morecambe High School 1–0 at the Globe Arena.

In 2014, the LRGS 1st XI cricket team became the first in the school’s history to win the RGS Festival. The trophy was contested in Newcastle over a week of fixtures, and LRGS finished without losing a game in the tournament.

In 2015 the U13s won the Lancashire Cup Final against Audenshaw 20–5.

In 2012, the LRGS 1st XV reached the last 8 of the Rosslyn Park National 7s tournament and the U16s reached the last 32.

In 2010, the 1st XV, won the Lancashire Cup Final, and became champions in a match against Merchant Taylor's Crosby. This achievement was followed by the U14s and the U15s who were victorious in finals against Merchant Taylor's Crosby and Manchester Grammar School, respectively.

In 2009, the U13s and U14s reached the finals of the Lancashire Cup, however both lost narrowly against Manchester Grammar School. In the 2008/2009 season, LRGS won the Lancashire schools cup in the U18s and the U13s as well as winning the Floodlit cup for Lancashire and Cheshire in the U16s. They also set a new record with four teams reaching the county finals. While, in 2007/2008 season, LRGS won the Lancashire Cup in the U15 and U16 age groups.

In recent years the school has enjoyed an improved reputation in cricket with recent highlights including the school's 1st XI Cricket team's narrow defeat in the Sir Garfield Sobers Tournament at The Kensington Oval Barbados in July 2011. The school achieved a victory over Charterhouse School in the final of the Lord's Taverners Cricketer Colts Trophy for Schools in 1999,[10] and enjoyed a run to the semi final of the Daily Mail U18 Cup in 2004.[11]

In 2010, LRGS became the U19 and U16 district champions for table tennis.

Boat clubEdit

Lancaster Royal Grammar School Boat Club was founded in 1948.[12] They were tenants of Lancaster John O' Gaunt Rowing Club from 1985 to 2011.[13] In 2011 the Boat Club relocated to Halton Army Training Camp.

The boat club had 15 years of national success under Tim Lucas achieving medal success in either the Schools' Head of the River Race, The National Schools Regatta or the National Rowing Championships for ten consecutive years from 1992 to 2002.[13] The club also made at least the final of a national event from 1992 to 2006. The club has had much international success with members of the boat club rowing at a national level, including the Munich International Regatta in 2006 and the Coupe de la Jeunesse in 2006.[14] His successor Peter Jago coached OL Scott Durant[15] who was member of the Great Britain Eight that won gold in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Scott started rowing at Lancaster Royal Grammar School aged 15 with his twin brother Mason.

In 2015, Storm Desmond devastated the boathouse, destroying many boats from the fleet. However, the club has since obtained a new fleet of Kanghua boats and a larger boathouse.

Cross country clubEdit

Although the school's main sports during the summer and winter are cricket and rugby respectively, in recent years, it is the school's cross country squad that has achieved the most recognition nationally. The school's rise to prominence began in the late 2000s under the coaching of Andrew Yelland, with several LRGS athletes being chosen to represent Lancashire, at the English School's Cross Country. In 2009 for instance, the school had 6 County runners. In 2010 LRGS won the prestigious Northern School Cross Country Championships for the first time, and repeated this feat in 2011 and 2012 – the latter being particularly special as LRGS were the victors in all 5 students' races. The school also won the famous Stonyhurst Invitation Race in 2011 and 2012, recorded a 5th-place finish in the National Schools Cross Country Relays in 2011, and a 3rd-place finish in the Intermediate Boys English Schools Cross Country Cup in the same year. The club also boasts the National Schools Senior Fell Running Champions from 2011, and several National medalists – Ben Akin was 2nd at the English Schools Intermediate Boys 800m in 2009, Beau Smith was 3rd at the English National Championships over 800m the following year, and Callum Mason was 3rd at the English Schools Mountain Running Championships in 2011.

Combined Cadet ForceEdit

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) at LRGS comprises Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force sections. Pupils in year nine and above are allowed to join. It parades on Tuesday afternoons after school and is voluntary. All sections participate in camps throughout the year, including an annual summer camp during the summer holidays, and an Easter camp involving adventurous training in which all three sections can participate. The Contingent, as of 2019 maintains around 200 members, and is led by a Cadet RSM, which can be drawn from any section.

The school has had its own CCF since 1914, then known as the Officer Training Corps. Its roots, however, can be traced back further still, as there are "references to the existence at Lancaster of a Cadet Volunteer Battalion in the early nineteenth century".[16] and in 1861, the seventy-strong Battalion was presented with a silver bugle "by Mrs Lee, wife of the Headmaster".[16]

The Royal Navy Section consists of around 25 cadets, including girls from Lancaster Girls' Grammar School, who have been participating since September 2012. The main activities offered are water-based, and the section often goes sailing on Marine Lake, Southport. Cadets in the Navy section also attend national camps and courses run by HQ CCF RN, on which cadets can gain nationally recognised qualifications in topics from power boating to first aid.[17]

The Army Section is approximately 60 students strong. Since September 2019, girls have been able to join army section. They participate in camps throughout the year including an annual camp that lasts over a week, and an Easter Camp where they take part in adventurous training activities, a range day where the cadets fire the L98-A2 Cadet GP Rifle, a field day where the cadets deploy on Manoeuvers for 24hours equipped with blank rounds and a night navigation exercise named Operation Night Owl. Annual Camp 2007 was at a CCF Central Camp at Wathgill, in North Yorkshire. Annual camp 2016 was in Warcop, Cumbria, with annual camp 2017 held at Nesscliffe training camp, Shropshire, with cadets winning both the inter-force gun run, tug of war and arm wrestling competitions, overall emerging as the best cadet force on camp.

The Royal Air Force section, similar to the Navy Section, contains female cadets. It is the most popular section with about 100 cadets, who receive flying lessons in the Grob Tutor T.1 aircraft and gliding lessons in the Grob Vigilant G 109 glider. Opportunities for flying and gliding scholarships, as well as various leadership courses, are also available to the most dedicated and talented cadets. The RAF section recently qualified for the national AST competition and has had multiple cadets complete the ACLC course at RAF Cranwell. The most recent RAF Easter camp was held at RAF Halton, with the summer camp being held at RAF Valley. An inspection, known as the Bi-ennial inspection takes place every two years. In 2012 the inspection took place at Halton Training Camp. Former pupils have gone on to become commercial pilots.

All three sections of the CCF learn how to use the L98-A2 Cadet GP Rifle. Various shooting activities take place for all three sections and new recruits in the Army section are tested on the GP Rifle during Easter at Sealand Ranges

Notable former pupilsEdit

Former pupils are known as "Old Lancastrians" and there are several branches of the club in the UK and worldwide. Notable Old Lancastrians include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Sixth Form will open for girls - LRGS". Archived from the original on 16 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  2. ^ A.L. Murray. The Royal Grammar School Lancaster. A History. Heffer 1951.
  3. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b Hartwell, Clare; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2009) [1969], Lancashire: North, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 410–411, ISBN 978-0-300-12667-9
  5. ^ Brandwood, Geoff; Austin, Tim; Hughes, John; Price, James (2012), The Architecture of Sharpe, Paley and Austin, Swindon: English Heritage, pp. 215–216, ISBN 978-1-84802-049-8
  6. ^ Hughes, John M. (2010), Edmund Sharpe: Man of Lancaster, John M. Hughes, p. 240
  7. ^ Historic England. "Royal Grammar School (Old School), Lancaster (1194925)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  8. ^ "BBC league table". BBC News. 10 January 2008. Archived from the original on 15 January 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  9. ^ "LRGS boarding is outstanding". Boarding Schools Association. 14 June 2013. Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  10. ^ [1] Archived 16 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Lancaster Royal Grammar School | Boys' Grammar | State Boarding". LRGS. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  12. ^ British Rowing Almanack and ARA Year Book 2003. Hammersmith, London: The Amateur Rowing Association. 2003. p. 369. ISBN 978-0-7146-5251-1.
  13. ^ a b Sullivan, Steven. "History of Lancaster John O' Gaunt Rowing Club". Lancaster John O'Gaunt Rowing Club website. Archived from the original on 3 May 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  14. ^ Sullivan, Steven. "Lancaster John O' Gaunt Rowing Club – The 2000s". Lancaster John O'Gaunt Rowing Club website. Archived from the original on 3 May 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  15. ^ "Scott Durant, OL, and Olympian rower - LRGS". Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  16. ^ a b Fidler, J., Lancaster Royal Grammar School: A History of the OTC & CCF. York: G. H. Smith and Son, 2001. p. 1 ISBN 0-904775-27-5.
  17. ^ Archived 23 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine HQ CCF RN website. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  18. ^ Hutton, Matthew. "Priest Hutton". Mourholme Local History Society. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  19. ^ Christopher, Urswick. "Christopher Urswick". Shakespeare and History. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  20. ^ Marr, John Edward (1934). "John Edward Marr, 1857-1933". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 1 (3): 250–257. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1934.0009. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  21. ^ Seward, Sir Albert. "Sir Albert Seward: Lettersand notes". Archives Hub. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  22. ^ John, Wrathall. "Biography of J.J Wrathall". J.J Wrathall. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  23. ^ Pidd, Helen (17 March 2017). "Jailed fell runner thought UK Athletics was 'trying to kill her'". The Guardian.
  24. ^ Houterman, J.N. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 -- L". Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.

Coordinates: 54°02′49″N 2°47′21″W / 54.04694°N 2.78917°W / 54.04694; -2.78917