Schools: Hampton Grammar School

Pages 298-299

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1, Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, the Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes To 1870, Private Education From Sixteenth Century. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.

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By will (fn. 1) proved in 1557 Robert Hammond, a prosperous London brewer, left a house and land worth £3 a year to support a free school at Hampton; Richard Alcocke, Vicar of Hampton, was to act as master and receive the whole of the rents. The school-house was built, but Alcocke was deprived of his living after the accession of Elizabeth I; by 1573 at the latest the school had closed and the endowment reverted to Hammond's heirs in accordance with the terms of his will. (fn. 2)

The Charity Commission of 1612 found that Nicholas Pigeon, who had bought the property, was undoubtedly its legal owner, but an appeal was made to him by the commission to restore peace in the village by refounding the school. This he did willingly, bearing part of the additional expenses as well. In 1657 his grandson, Edmund Pigeon, devised to the school his stables which lay immediately to the north of the original Hammond property along the west side of the churchyard. In 1900 the school adopted the Pigeon arms and crest as its own, a tribute to its second founder. (fn. 3) In 1692 another benefactor, Captain John Jones, by an unwitnessed will (fn. 4) left the rectory meadow and tithes in trust to provide £6 each for six poor aged men and schooling for six poor children of the parish. In 1697 Jones's executors transferred to the trustees a half share in Nando's coffee house, Fleet Street; this benefaction, worth £864, was for the purpose of including Latin in the curriculum, so adding a grammar school to Hammond's original free school. (fn. 5) In 1726 extensions to Hampton church included a room on the north side of the chancel for use as a school for about 80 pupils and as a vestry-room, George I providing £500 of the £900 required. During the 18th century most of the grammar school masters appear to have been curates or lecturers at the parish church; under Hammond's will they were first elected by the vestry to the mastership and were then granted the additional benefits by the Jones Trustees, but in 1816 the two groups of trustees were merged into one. The masters generally had ushers to attend to the work of the lower school. (fn. 6)

Dr. Samuel Hemming, master 1803-28, was a scholar of ability, but he had a number of disputes with the trustees over the teaching of Latin, the use of the monitorial system, and the management of the school property. There were usually about 50 boys in the school, of whom only a few learnt Latin, and in addition Hemming took three or four private pupils. The income of the charity went to the schoolmaster, who paid the £36 to the six old men and retained £287; from this he provided the usher's salary (£60), books, slates, pens, and firing, and was left with an income of about £220. (fn. 7)

In 1830 the old parish church was demolished, together with the schoolroom, and the trustees were faced with the problem of finding other accommodation. To accumulate funds they suspended the mastership with the consent of the Court of Chancery, and continued the elementary class under the usher in temporary premises. An additional expense was occasioned by the successful petition of the parishioners of Hampton Wick for the provision of a separate school. (fn. 8)

A new building was opened in Hampton in 1834; it provided two large schoolrooms, one for the grammar school and one for the English or lower school, separated by accommodation intended for the master but occupied by the under-master. Three years later a new scheme laid down that the headmaster should receive £140 and might take up to 15 boarders, while the under-master and the Hampton Wick master were each to receive £80. There were to be no fees, but Latin books were to be paid for by parents. (fn. 9) In 1839 the Revd. Robert Peel was appointed headmaster under the new scheme; he appears to have been popular and efficient at first, but by 1866 he was old, infirm, and the occupant of a sinecure, since none of the boys wanted Latin. There were then 101 boys in the lower school, where the teaching was satisfactory. (fn. 10)

A new scheme came into force in 1868. The three Hampton schools were separated, the elected trustees were replaced by representative and cooptative governors, the grammar school was opened to boarders without limitation of numbers, fees were charged, and the curriculum was widened to include Greek, natural science, and a modern foreign language. A further revision in 1878 fixed the day boys' fees at 4½ guineas a term and the boarders' at £60 a year. The headmaster was to receive a salary of £100 and a capitation allowance of £3 per boy. In 1868 the Revd. G. F. Heather was appointed head of a school of nine boys. Twelve years later new buildings to accommodate 125 day boys and 25 boarders were erected on the north side of the Upper Sunbury Road, but despite Heather's efforts numbers rose to a maximum of only 74 in 1882 and had declined to 28 in 1897, the year of his resignation. (fn. 11)

In 1896 yet another new scheme brought to an end the teaching of Greek, introduced commercial subjects, and provided five to ten foundation scholarships. The new headmaster, W. A. Roberts, increased the number of boys in the school to 100 in 1903, and by 1906 the total was nearly 200. This increase necessitated the building of a larger assembly hall which, with other additions, was opened in 1909, but the maintenance of the enlarged buildings proved to be beyond the resources of the governors, and in 1910 control of the school passed to the Middlesex County Council, which for several years had been giving the school considerable financial assistance. Roberts, a firm but friendly disciplinarian with a robust sense of humour, successfully guided the school through the difficulties of the First World War and into the post-war period. He resigned in 1924 after 27 years as headmaster. (fn. 12)

The next headmaster, A. S. Mason, was both a scientist and a linguist who from the first cherished the history and traditions of the school. In the 1880's Heather had encouraged the performance of plays and had enjoyed the assistance of Ben Greet; between 1926 and 1935 this association was renewed and the Ben Greet Players performed every summer at the school. Mason also invited distinguished musicians to give recitals, and established annual productions of Gilbert and Sullivan. The school made good progress both in work and sport, and the increased numbers made either considerable extension or a new building a necessity. After prolonged discussion it was agreed to build a new school at Rectory Farm, Hanworth Road. The opening of the new school coincided with the outbreak of the Second World War, (fn. 13) but despite many vicissitudes Mason maintained something approaching peacetime standards. So successful was he that by the end of 1945 there were 674 boys in the school. After the war, until his retirement in 1950, he revived and developed all the activities which had been dropped. (fn. 14)

In 1950 Mr. G. J. N. Whitfield became headmaster. One of his first acts was to have the stage improved and to arrange for the annual production of a full-length play. In 1952 a contingent of the Combined Cadet Force was established, for which a rifle range was subsequently built. The Boat Club was re-established. In 1955 the school was granted voluntary aided status and two years later celebrated its fourth centenary. By 1964 numbers in the school had risen to 900, with a staff of 50, and plans had been drawn up for a major extension of the buildings to provide extra accommodation for the 250 boys in the sixth form. (fn. 15)


  • 1. P.C.C. 18 Wrastley.
  • 2. B. Garside, Hist. of Hampton Sch. 1556-1700, 18, 33-34, 72-75; Garside, Brief Hist. Hampton Sch. 1557- 1957, 7-8. Garside, historian of Hampton and history master at the school 1924-59, on whose work this article is based, died in 1963 shortly before it was written.
  • 3. Garside, Hist. Hampton Sch. 77-82, 91-95.
  • 4. P.C.C. 206, 240 Fane.
  • 5. Garside, Hist. Hampton Sch. 112-20; Garside, Free Sch. of Robert Hammond, 19-21.
  • 6. Garside, Brief Hist. 14-17, 20.
  • 7. Ibid. 21-23; 9th Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 258, pp. 287- 91 (1823), ix.
  • 8. Completed 1844: Garside, Brief Hist. 24.
  • 9. Ibid. 25-26.
  • 10. Schs. Enquiry Com. [3966-XII] H.C., pp. 30-31 (1867-8), xxviii (10).
  • 11. Garside, Brief Hist. 32-38, 50-53.
  • 12. Ibid. 55-58, 64-65, 74-75.
  • 13. Ibid. 44-45, 76-80, 88-93.
  • 14. Ibid. 98, 111.
  • 15. Paragraph ex inf. the headmaster.