Sir William Borlase's Grammar School

Sir William Borlase's Grammar School (commonly shortened to Borlase or SWBGS) is a selective state grammar school accepting pupils of all genders aged 11–18 located in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England.[1] It is situated on West Street,[2] close to the town centre and also accepts students from nearby towns. It has around 1000 pupils, including a sixth form of about 380.

Sir William Borlase's Grammar School
Sir William Borlase's Grammar School Logo.png
West Street

, ,

Coordinates51°34′13″N 0°46′54″W / 51.57021°N 0.78163°W / 51.57021; -0.78163Coordinates: 51°34′13″N 0°46′54″W / 51.57021°N 0.78163°W / 51.57021; -0.78163
TypeAcademy grammar school
MottoLatin: Te Digna Sequere
(Follow things worthy of thyself)
Established1624; 398 years ago (1624)
FounderSir William Borlase
SpecialistPerforming Arts College
Department for Education URN136781 Tables
Head teacherKay Mountfield (since 2018)
Age11 to 18
Houses  Britons
PublicationThe Borlasian


Front of the school


The School was founded on its present site in 1624 by Sir William Borlase[2] in memory of his son Henry Borlase, MP for Marlow, who died in that year.[3]

Sir William BorlaseEdit

Sir William Borlase was the son of John Borlase, who made his fortune in London and this enabled his son to establish himself in Marlow as a country gentleman. He lived at Westhorpe Manor House in Little Marlow and became, not only Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, but was a Member of Parliament for Aylesbury. In 1603 he was knighted by King James I. In 1624 and in memory of his son Henry who died that same year, Sir William decided to build a "free school" in the town in order "to teach twenty-four poor children to write, read and cast accounts, such as their parents and friends are not able to maintain at school". Boys entered the school between the ages of ten and fourteen and at the end of two years, six of the best were given two pounds each to apprentice themselves to a trade.


In 1987 the school became co-educational when girls entered into the lower sixth.

Specialist statusEdit

In September 2005 the school was awarded specialist school status as a Performing Arts College, by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).[4]

Academy statusEdit

In June 2011 the school became an Academy.[5]

Awards and inspectionsEdit

As well as its performing arts status, the school holds a number of awards and marks including the Sportsmark Award, the NACE Challenge Award, the Healthy Schools mark, the Continuing Professional Development Mark and is designated as a National Support School.

The most recent full Ofsted inspection (as of Autumn 2014) occurred in June 2012. The report noted that the school has "an inspirational learning culture which is embraced by staff and students".[6] Borlase was judged to be an 'Outstanding' school.


  • 1624 – Smith[a]
  • 1624–1721 – records destroyed
  • 1721–1735 – Roe[a]
  • 1735–1759 – Thomas Heather I
  • 1759–1782 – William Heather
  • 1782–1793 – Thomas Heather II
  • 1793–1809 – H. H. Gower
  • 1809–1814 – Stephen Gage
  • 1814–1835 – William Francis
  • 1835–1844 – George Gale
  • 1844–1850 – Charles Wethered
  • 1850–1880 – Edwin Segrave
  • 1881–1895 – M. Graves
  • 1896–1901 – E. W. Clarke
  • 1901–1904 – E. H. Blakeney
  • 1904–1927 – A. J. Skinner
  • 1927–1956 – W. S. Booth
  • 1956–1974 – E. M. Hazelton
  • 1974–1988 – R. R. Smith
  • 1988–1988 – D. C. W. Banner
  • 1989–1997 – L. A. Smy
  • 1997–1998 – Adrienne Crittenden
  • 1998–2017 – Peter Holding
  • 2018–present – Kay Mountfield

Physical layoutEdit

The school has a collection of facilities of varying vintages. The school office and reprographics room is housed in the original flint building, which was unveiled in 1624. Since then the school has added a Victorian cloister, and an Edwardian era Chapel.

In the 1970s further expansion occurred. A new school hall and several classrooms were built.

In the late 1980s a new sports gym was added, followed in 1992 by new modern languages facilities and library in a new building facing onto West Street.

In 2000, after the school started admitting Year 7s, the "Audrey Moore Building" (named after its chief benefactor) was built to house new classrooms, a sixth-form common room and a new canteen, replacing the old sports pavilion and canteen.

In 2004, as part of the school's bid for Arts Award status, a new performing arts theatre was built on the site of the old swimming pool. The building also houses purpose-built IT labs and metal and woodwork facilities. It was opened on 7 December 2004 by the Duke of Gloucester. As a result of this building work, other space within the school was adjusted with a rolling programme, and a new style eatery called "Mimi's Café" was added, along with a new Sixth Form Centre. At the beginning of the 2006 Autumn term, the headmaster announced that the Library was to be renamed the "Learning Centre".

At the end of the 2010 summer holidays, the school started building a new cookery building on the area where the decking once stood, this was completed in 2011 with the addition of an English room above the kitchens.

In September 2016, a new building was opened on the site of the old locker room. This new building houses 3 Sixth Form workrooms, Sixth Form mentoring offices and a new maths classroom

Coat of armsEdit

In addition to the coat of arms the external walls contain this plaque with a biblical quotation.

The school coat of arms is emblazoned on all school literature and on the school uniform. Originally, the Taillefers of Angoulême had a crest of a ghostly hand emerging from a cloud. It is holding a badelaire to give one power in a struggle, be it sporting or academic. Behind this, on the background, can be seen eight stars.

Then, in the era of Henry VIII, the addition of the other arm gripping a horseshoe (replacing the former sword) showed[citation needed] how one must rise above conflict, and work together to overcome an adversary.

It is also noted that there is a knights' visor above the logo. The one on which it was based can be found to this day, with the rest of the armour, in the Board Room at the school.[citation needed]

The motto Te Digna Sequere means 'follow things worthy of thyself', and it was added in the Victorian era as an additional banner.[citation needed]. The school also has a secondary maxim 'offer the helping hand' that has been developed in the past century.

House systemEdit

Sir William Borlase's Grammar School has six houses: Britons, Danes, Normans, Romans, Saxons and Vikings. They are named after the various ancient national groups that held power in Britain. Pupils have coloured stripes on their ties indicating the house that they are in.

Houses form the basis of the tutoring system at Borlase with each house comprising eight tutor groups.

There are various house competitions throughout the academic year ranging from the triannual music, drama and dance competitions to cross-country and sports day and public speaking and mathematics.

Academic societies and clubsEdit

The school hosts a number of different academic societies and clubs.[7] These all have vocational links and are usually run by Year 12 or 13 pupils with an advisory teacher attached.

The artsEdit

Music, drama and dance are studied by all in Key Stage 3 and can be continued throughout student's GCSE and A-level years.


The school puts on a Junior Musical and Senior Production on alternating years with other drama opportunities occurring throughout the school year. Recent senior productions have included Fiddler on the Roof and Dr Faustus. The school recently[when?] put on a production of Les Misérables.[8]


The school hosts concerts. Musical groups include Jazz band, Big Band, Ukulele orchestra, Brass Concert Band and Junior Wind Band.

Junior Boys and Girls choirs are run by sixth formers and allow younger participation. Madriguys, Chapel choir and Gospel choir are gender-specific choirs specifying[clarification needed] in different types of music with most choristers also belonging to the mixed Cantorum choir.[citation needed]


The Sir William Borlase's Grammar School Boat Club has had members reaching international events.[9] It is open to all students from Year 9 onwards. Sir William Borlase's Grammar School won the Fawley Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in 2012, 2014 and 2015. In 2014, the J16's pre-qualified for the Princess Elizabeth Cup at Henley; the Princess Elizabeth is a J18's event.

Borlase Hockey club has over 200 members.[10] The club is based at Marlow Sports Club.

A major sport during the Autumn term, the rugby scheme starts at Year 7.

Notable former pupilsEdit


  1. ^ a b forename unknown


  1. ^ "About the School". Sir William Borlase's Grammar School. Retrieved 19 April 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Marlow Town Highlights". Marlow Society. Archived from the original on 12 January 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2006.
  3. ^ Wheals, Brian Brenchley (1984). Theirs Were But Human Hearts. Self published. ISBN 9780950905303.
  4. ^ "Specialist Schools Home". DfES. Archived from the original on 3 August 2006. Retrieved 20 April 2006.
  5. ^ "Open academies map and schools submitting applications". Department for Education. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  6. ^ "OFSTED Inspection of Sir William Borlase School 2012".
  7. ^ "Sir William Borlase Grammar School Academic Societies". Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Sir William Borlase Grammar School Arts". Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Sir William Borlase Grammar School Rowing". Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Sir William Borlase Grammar School Hockey". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Prof Richard Britnell Authorised Biography – Debrett's People of Today, Prof Richard Britnell Profile". 21 April 1944. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Prof Tony Culyer, CBE Authorised Biography – Debrett's People of Today, Prof Tony Culyer, CBE Profile". 7 January 1942. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Tom Dean wins gold at Tokyo Olympics (and makes Marlow school proud)". Bucks Free Press. 27 July 2021. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  14. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Dowager Duchess of Devonshire visits childhood home". Wycombe District Council. 28 May 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.[dead link]
  16. ^ "Ken Snakehips Johnson Story". Ken Snakehips Johnson. Retrieved 19 April 2006.
  17. ^ "Marlow's History". Marlow. Archived from the original on 18 February 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2006.
  18. ^ "LEE, Phillip James". Who's Who. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  19. ^ Cowe, Roger (16 February 2002). "Obituary: Garry Weston. Penny-wise entrepreneur at the head of Associated British Foods". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2009.

External linksEdit