The Crypt School

The Crypt School is a grammar school with academy status for boys and girls located in the city of Gloucester. Founded in the 16th century, it was originally an all-boys school, but it made its sixth form co-educational in the 1980s, and moved to a mixed intake from year 7 in 2018, thereby becoming the only fully coeducational selective school in Gloucester. The school was founded in 1539 by Joan Cooke with money inherited from her husband John.[1]

The Crypt School
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Coordinates51°50′22″N 2°15′07″W / 51.8394°N 2.252°W / 51.8394; -2.252Coordinates: 51°50′22″N 2°15′07″W / 51.8394°N 2.252°W / 51.8394; -2.252
School typeGrammar school;
MottoFloreat Schola Cryptiensis
Established1539; 483 years ago (1539)
FoundersJohn and Joan Cooke
Department for Education URN136578 Tables
Head teacherNicholas Dyer (Hons)
GenderFully coeducational from September 2018 (mixed)
Age11 to 18
Number of students1,048
HousesCooke (Formerly Brown), Waboso (Formerly Whitefield), Moore, Raikes and Henley
Colour(s)    Maroon, Primrose
John and Joan Cooke by an unknown artist. In the collection of Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery.
The old Crypt School, next to St. Mary de Crypt church.
Plaque at the site of the old Crypt School.



John Cooke (d. 1528) was a wealthy brewer and mercer of Gloucester, one of the city's earliest aldermen, serving as sheriff in 1494 and 1498. He held the office of mayor four times, in 1501, 1507, 1512 and 1518. He was a significant benefactor in the city during his life, but it was his will that started the process for the establishment of a grammar school in Gloucester. The scheme was finally given effect by his wife Joan, who survived him by 17 years, dying in 1545. It was Joan therefore who created the tripartite deed of 1539, deemed to be the founding charter. The school remains today the most ancient in Gloucester.[1] A full account of the couple and their good works is contained within the book by Roland Austin published in 1939 "Crypt School". A contemporaneous portrait of the pair, John in his mayoral robe, shaking hands in union, is held within the collection of Gloucester City Council.[1]


In the school's 500-year history it has been sited in three different locations within the city of Gloucester. The original school was part of St Mary de Crypt Church in Southgate Street and the schoolroom can still be seen there.[2] Later, in 1889, the school moved to Greyfriars, known better as Friar's Orchard,[3] and in 1943, to its present site at Podsmead. The site on which the modern school is situated is land given to the school by Joan Cooke in 1539.


Despite attempts to change the school, notably in the 1960s with the move to comprehensive schools, the Crypt remains a selective grammar school. In 1987, there was the admission of girls in the sixth form entering in at the age of 16, and the transition towards a fully coeducational school began in 2018.[4] Since April 2011, the school has been an academy independent of local authority control. The school has been fully co-educational since 2018.[5]

Primary schoolEdit

In May 2018, the school announced plans to create a primary school, linked to the secondary school being built on the current Podsmead site. The new primary school would, unlike main school, be unselective and would be a free school.[6]


Facilities at the school include:[7]

  • Largest non-commercial stage in Gloucestershire
  • Sixth Form Centre (also known as John and Joan Cooke Centre)
  • Sports hall[7]
  • Modern Pavilion
  • New Tennis and Netball courts as of 2019/20
  • 3 full-size rugby pitches
  • 2 football pitches
  • 2 cricket fields (1 natural green, 1 artificial green)
  • Anthony Iles Block (Formerly Engineering Block)

Notable former pupilsEdit

Alumni of the school are known as Old Cryptians.[8]







Charles Edward Stuart Willis - Chief Executive of the City of Hereford for the twenty years prior to the city’s amalgamation into a Unitary Authority encompassing the whole of the county.

School songEdit

'Carmen Cryptiense', written in April 1926 with words by D. Gwynne Williams (Headmaster) and music by C. Lee Williams.[11]


  1. ^ a b c John and Joan Cooke. Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine Living Gloucester, 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Gloucester: Education Pages 335-350 A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4, the City of Gloucester". British History Online. Victoria County History. Archived from the original on 24 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Gloucester: Sites and remains of religious houses Pages 288-292 A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4, the City of Gloucester". Victoria County History. Archived from the original on 6 October 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  4. ^ "The Crypt School : Gloucester". Archived from the original on 28 May 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  5. ^ "The Crypt School : Gloucester". Archived from the original on 8 May 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  6. ^ Lane, Ellis (21 May 2018). "Historic secondary school plans to open feeder primary". gloucestershirelive. Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  7. ^ a b "The Crypt School : Gloucester". Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  8. ^ "The Old Cryptians' Club – Home". Archived from the original on 25 April 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2006.
  9. ^ CV - "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Yearning for 'a different life' brought Bailey to west Cork". Irish Times. 6 November 2014.
  11. ^ "School Song – Scanned Front Page « Old Cryptians". Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2018.

External linksEdit