The gates of the Newcastle Royal Grammar School
The gates of the Newcastle Royal Grammar School Image: Andrew Bellis, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5)
The Royal Grammar School, Eskdale Terrace, Jesmond, c. 1910
The Royal Grammar School, Eskdale Terrace, Jesmond, c. 1910 Image: Newcastle City Library Photographic Collection, Flickr

Charity Details

Full Name: The Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School
Field: Education
Founded: 1545
Headquarters: Newcastle, NE2 4DX
Charity No: 1114424

History and Activities

Newcastle Royal Grammar School was founded in 1545 by Thomas Horsley, a Newcastle corn merchant who served five times Mayor of Newcastle. Thomas was one of the wealthiest merchants in the city and twenty years before his death, in 1525, he laid down his vision for a school in Newcastle to be financed by his estate. The school was granted royal charter by Queen Elizabeth 1st at its first location near St. Nicholas Cathedral in the centre of the town. Before 2001, the school provided education exclusively to boys, but since 2008 the entire school has been co-educational.

In 1858, the Charity Commissioners were granted permission to direct surplus income from the Hospital of St. Mary the Virgin to provide new premises for the school at Rye Hill. The predominantly classical curriculum of the school was reformed to include modern subjects like physical science, algebra, land-surveying and book-keeping. In 1897, due to the expanding number of pupils, a branch school was opened in Jesmond. Ten years later Rye Hill was abandoned, becoming part of the Rutherford Memorial College (later Newcastle College. Eskdale Terrace in Jesmond has remained the school’s principal site since 1906.)

The Royal Grammar School Bursaries Campaign provides means-tested bursaries with a target of spending £700,000 per annum. The Bursaries Campaign is supported entirely by donations and has funded 250 pupils since 2004 with donations totalling over £5.6m. Principal funders of the campaign have included The Reece Foundation, The Sir James Knott Trust, The Northern Rock Foundation, Benfield Motors Charitable Trust, and the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust.

The school currently educates approximately 1,200 students. Its primary objective, as it has been since its foundation, is the pursuit of academic excellence. Using A-level results achieved as a metric, 83% of the grades awarded to pupils in the summer of 2017 were at A* or A, ranking the school comfortably in the top 50 schools nationally. A more recent goal is to open up the school to more pupils from less privileged backgrounds. In 2016/17, 80 pupils were awarded bursaries to eliminate (60%) or reduce (40%) the burden of fees at a total cost of £896,000.

Vital Statistics (year to 31/07/2017)

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Newcastle Royal Grammar School. (2018). History, Available here (Accessed: 25/07/2018).

Middlebrook, S. (1950). Newcastle: Its growth and achievement, Newcastle: Newcastle Journal and North Mail, p. 294.