Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 11, 2017.
Webpage updated: July 24, 2017




The earliest known reference to the possibility of education in Old Plymouth was in 1507, when a reference was uncovered by Mr R N Worth, the local antiquarian, to a school-master at what may have been a Chantry School attached to either Plympton Priory or the Anglican Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle.  It is possible, but unlikely, that this School evolved after the Reformation into the Corporation Grammar School, which was founded in 1561.

Two other Plymouth institutions that had schools attached to them were the Hospital of the Orphans' Aid, founded in 1615, and the Hospital of the Poor's Portion, founded in 1630.  In 1674 two charities combined to found the Hele and Lanyon School.

A large group of subscribers founded the Grey Coat School in 1713 while in 1764 the Dame Hannah Rogers' School was started.  The Batter Street Benevolent Institution was founded in 1785 by the Reverends Christopher and Herbert Mends from the Batter Street Presbyterian Chapel.  It only educated girls and operated purely by means of voluntary subscriptions, as it received no endowments or Government grants.  By the end of the century two more schools had opened, the Household of Faith and the Quaker School of Industry.

What was to become one of England's largest schools, and certainly the most well-known in Plymouth, the Plymouth Public Free Schools, were founded in 1809 although it was 1812 before it got its own premises in Cobourg  Street.  The privately owned Plymouth Subscription Classical and  Mathematical School was started in 1822.  It became known as the New Grammar School until it was amalgamated in 1866 into "old" grammar School, the Corporation Grammar School.

Although the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church was founded in 1811, it was not until after the School Sites Act of 1836 that the first National, or as sometimes, Parochial, School was founded in Plymouth.  Charles National Schools were that first ones, in 1838.  It was  followed, after the School Sites Act 1841, by Saint Andrew's Chapel National Schools in 1842; Holy Trinity National Schools in 1844; Christ Church National Schools (1849); Saint Peter's National School (1850); Saint Andrew's National Schools and Sutton-on-Plym National School for Boys (both 1861); Saint James the Less National Schools (1864); and finally the Sutton-on-Plym National School for Girls and Infants, in 1869.

During that same period were founded the Ragged Schools (1848); Moorfield School for Girls (circa 1850); the Saint Dunstan's Abbey School for Girls (1850); the Saint Boniface Roman Catholic College for Boys (1851); the Mannamead School (1854); the Gunnerside School for Girls (1860); the George Street Day School (1865), which was attached to the George Street Baptist Chapel; the Hoe Grammar School (1867); the Jacob Nathan Hebrew School (1867); and the completion of the Notre Dame Roman Catholic School for Girls in 1868.

The biggest step in Education in Old Plymouth came on August 9th 1870, when "An Act to provide for public elementary education in England and Wales" was given the Royal Assent and gave birth to education for all via the Plymouth School Board.