Old Grammar School Museum
Hawkshead Village in the heart of the Lake District has a most interesting School Museum. It is housed in the original 17th century Grammar School building and contains some marvellous 16th century artefacts.
Visitors can see the original Elizabethan Foundation Charter from 1585 bearing the Queen’s signature and silver seal. The ancient desks are scratched with the initials of former students, including those of William Wordsworth.
You can learn about why free Grammar Schools were established in the 16th century, who was the patron of Hawkshead Grammar School and see what facilities were provided in Wordsworth’s time.
The Old Grammar School is located at the foot of the hill leading up to St Michael’s Church. On arrival at the Museum visitors are greeted with a short talk on the history of the school and the work of the present Foundation in providing grants for further education and training opportunities for local youth. You are then free to inspect the school room with its original desks, the upstairs headmaster’s study and historical displays, at your leisure.
The old school is a delightful place to visit, very atmospheric and well worth the nominal entrance fee charged.
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A little history
Prior to 1531 religion in Britain was under the control of the Church of Rome and the Pope. When Henry VIII made himself Head of the Church in England, Britain’s Catholics and Protestants were plunged into a terrible and bloody period of religious persecution that lasted over several reigns.
One victim of religious persecution was local aristocrat, Edwin Sandys. Edwin was a Protestant scholar, a Doctor of Divinity and the Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University. During Bloody Mary’s reign he was imprisoned but managed to escape to Europe where he waited until Elizabeth was Queen. He returned and rose to become Archbishop of York. Edwin was of the opinion that education was the key to religious tolerance and petitioned Queen Elizabeth I for permission to found a Grammar School in Hawkshead.
The Charter was issued in 1585 and Edwin Sandys endowed the school with sufficient land and property to offer free education.
Lessons started at 06:00 in summer and 07:00 in winter and continued until 17:00 or 16:00 with a 2 hour break in the middle of the day. All lessons were conducted in Latin or Greek. The Sciences included arithmetic and geometry and Ancient history was taught through the Classics. Latin was the medium for modern history. It almost goes without saying that church attendance was compulsory. At the end of their schooling many pupils went on to either Cambridge or Oxford University.
Such was the reputation of the school that pupils came from all over North England, lodging with local families. William Wordsworth initially lodged with the Tyson family. The building known as Ann Tyson’s Cottage is said to be the place but other authorities say that the Tyson’s lived at Colthouse at this time, half a mile east of Hawkshead.
Opening Times & Admission Price
Details Web: Hawkshead Old Grammar School Museum/ Times & Costs
Ground floor only
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1539 436 735
The Museum website has an excellent map - Hawkshead Grammar Museum Getting There
Google Map - Old Grammar School Museum