The Story of King Edward VI School

1295: The Guild of the Holy Cross establishes the School. It appoints a priest called Richard as 'rector scholarum' (schoolmaster) to teach Guild members' sons the basics of reading, writing and the Christian faith.

1482: Schoolmaster and Guild Chaplain Thomas Jolyffe independently endows the School by giving it land in Dodswell and Stratford. The income from this land will be used to support the School.

1545 - 1546: Royal commissioners visit Stratford and take note of the School above the Guildhall.

1547: King Edward VI suppresses the Guild of the Holy Cross and confiscates its assets.

1553: King Edward VI grants the Guild's properties to the people of Stratford in a Royal Charter. He refounds the old Guild School as The King's New School.

1560s: The School moves into the upper floor of the Guildhall. Most pupils are the sons of prosperous local families who can afford to do without their help at work. The School doesn't charge fees, but pupils have to pay for their own candles and firewood.

1570s: William Shakespeare goes to school on the upper floor of the Guildhall. He and his classmates study English, the classics, the Christian faith and music.

1600s and 1700s: The number of pupils at the School rises and falls because of disease and political instability. In 1776 there are only three boys at the School because of a smallpox outbreak in Stratford.

1811: New regulations mean that no more than 20 boys can be on the School register at the same time. Only boys whose parents live within the borough limits can go to School at the Guildhall. They study the classics, English grammar, reading and spelling.

By 1900: The number of pupils has risen, and the School has taken over the entire Guildhall. New School buildings have been added, and boarders have arrived. King Edward VI School (K.E.S.) has become similar to a minor public school.

1944: The Education Act abolishes fees and boarding. Over the next 50 years, major building work provides enough space to teach over 600 boys an advanced curriculum of arts and science subjects.

2012: K.E.S. becomes an academy. This gives the School more freedom to decide on its own curriculum and employ its own teachers.

2016: Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall opens to the public for the first time. Amazingly, lessons still take place in the Guildhall every day, just as they did in William Shakespeare's time.

King Edward
Allchurches Trust Limited
Pilgrim Trust
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Photography provided by SEA, Sara Beaumont and John Cairns