A History of Colyton Grammar School from the perspective of its Founders: the Colyton Chamber of Feoffees

10 / 11 / 2022

A new book on the history of Colyton Grammar School is published today by its founders, the Colyton Chamber of Feoffees.   The book reveals how everyday life in the historic community of Colyton Parish impacted on the way in which the School developed.  The records show:

  • that the agrarian calendar had a significant impact on school attendance with boys regularly absent during ‘potato planting’ and ‘apple picking’ seasons;
  • 19th century school inspection reports frequently contained examples of students who failed to attend classes because they ‘had no shoes to attend school’, had contracted smallpox or suffered from bad eyesight;
  • examination papers were couched in language with which students would be familiar eg arithmetic questions referred to calculations based on traditional land measurements.

Commenting on the publication Mr Tim Harris, BA Hons, FCCT, NPQH,     Headteacher of Colyton Grammar School said:

Sarah Charman’s thoroughly researched history of Colyton Grammar School will be welcomed by old Colytonians and present students alike. The school has a long and distinguished history in delivering the highest standards of education and academic achievement. This new work recognises and celebrates the work done in the past whilst also pointing the way towards future developments.  We are delighted that Sarah has undertaken this significant project and hope that readers will enjoy discovering more about this school’s unique story through her pages.”

Mr John Mills, Chairman of Colyton Chamber of Feoffees also commented:

“The research work completed by Sarah during the preparation of this book is of the highest quality and I’m sure that over many years into the future will provide a base for greater understanding of the history of Colyton and the factors which have been important to its development.”

The book covers the period from the School’s foundation by the Chamber of Feoffees in the second half of the sixteenth century to 1930 when the new School premises were opened in Colyford.   It traces the growth of the School during the three centuries it was based in Old Church House in Market Place, Colyton, through to the rapid expansion in student numbers, including the admission of girls, in the decades surrounding WW1.  It also offers a slice of social history in a small East Devon town and reflects the impact of charitable decisions taken by the Feoffees on behalf of the community of Colyton Parish.

Key findings of the research include: the detailed costings for and description of the materials used and the planning undertaken by the Feoffees in the early years of C17th for the refurbishment of the school building; the impact of different Headmasters on the way the School was run and developed over the centuries; its expansion and growing academic reputation was interspersed with short periods when it was closed for a few years apparently for lack of pupils and the sometimes difficult relationship between successive Head Masters and the Feoffees.  From the late nineteenth century onwards, the study reflects the impact of the growing involvement of national and local education policies and priorities on the running of the School.