The borough of Northampton: Schools

A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1930.

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'The borough of Northampton: Schools', A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 3, (London, 1930), pp. 61-62. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

. "The borough of Northampton: Schools", in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 3, (London, 1930) 61-62. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

. "The borough of Northampton: Schools", A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 3, (London, 1930). 61-62. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,


To the account of the early schools of Northampton in the previous volume (fn. 1) should be added a reference of the year 1232. John de Duston, presented in that year to the church of St. Bartholomew's, Northampton, by the prior and convent of St. Andrew's, and being examined by the archdeacon of Northampton, was ordered to frequent the schools of Northampton and study there, and at the end of the year to present himself to the archdeacon for re-examination. (fn. 2) In 1258 the Grey Friars of Northampton were granted ten oaks from Silverstone Forest for the building of their schools. (fn. 3) In the same year the Black Friars were given six good oaks for their study rooms (studia). (fn. 4) Possibly these buildings are to be associated with the transitory university of Northampton, whose history was given in the previous volume. (fn. 5)

The Grammar School (fn. 6) endowed by Chipsey in 1541 and housed first at 'The Lamb' in Bridge Street and later on the site of St. Gregory's Church, in the modern Free School Street, was moved in 1867 to new buildings in Abington Square, and in 1911 to the present buildings in the Billing Road, just outside the municipal boundary. It is now known as the Town and County School, and has some 530 pupils. (fn. 7)

In the 18th century Northampton became a centre of Nonconformist higher education, by the presence here, from 1729 to 1751, of Philip Doddridge's academy, a training college for the Free Church ministry. This academy, opened in July 1729 at Market Harborough under Doddridge's headship, came to Northampton with him and was originally in No. 34 Marefair, at the corner of Pike Lane. (fn. 8) In 1740 it was removed to a large house in Sheep Street opposite the Ram. (fn. 9) Formerly the Rose and Crown inn, it later became the town house of the Earl of Halifax, and later still was divided into tenements. The course of instruction was based upon that of Doddridge's tutor at Kibworth, John Jennings, (fn. 10) and included Hebrew, Greek, psychology, ethics, divinity, natural philosophy, civil law and some mathematics. All had to learn Doddridge's special system of shorthand. (fn. 11) The full course occupied five years, and some two hundred pupils passed under his care, of whom 120 entered the ministry, (fn. 12) and several had careers of distinction. (fn. 13) After his death, the academy removed to Daventry, and was carried on by Caleb Ashworth, one of his own former pupils. The elder Ryland also had an academy; but this was no more than a boarding school (1769–1786); it moved with him to Enfield when he resigned the ministry of College Street Chapel to his son. (fn. 14)

The three charity schools, namely, Dryden's Free School, or the Orange School, founded in 1710, the Blue Coat School, founded by the Earl of Northampton in 1755, and combined with Dryden's, and the Green Coat School, founded by Gabriel Newton in 1761, were amalgamated in one, known as the Corporation Charity School, and survived until the 20th century. In April 1923 the school having been closed, the endowments of the charity were, under a scheme of the Board of Education, devoted to educational purposes, forming a fund known as the Blue Coat Corporation Charity School Foundation for the provision of scholarships. (fn. 15)

Becket and Sargeant's (Blue) Girls' School, founded in 1738 for 30 girls, (fn. 16) is still in existence at 13 Kingswill Street. On the Sunday next efter 29 May, following the practice of the 18th century, (fn. 17) the school girls attend a special service at All Saints' Church, wearing their distinctive dress.

In 1738, owing to the efforts of Doddridge, a free church charity school was established for instructing and clothing twenty boys which seems to have come to an end about 1772. (fn. 18)

In 1812 British and National Schools were set up by Lancaster and Bell respectively. A number of Church of England schools were set up in the course of the 19th century, five being founded between 1839 and 1858, and nine more before the close of the century. There are now 22 elementary schools, of which two are Church of England; and in addition one special school for mentally deficient children and two Roman Catholic elementary schools.

There are two girls' secondary schools: namely, the Girls' High School, Derngate (165 pupils), and the County Borough Secondary Girls' School, in St. George's Avenue, opened in 1915 (270 pupils). There are also a number of private schools, including a convent school, a large and imposing building in Abington Street, under the Sisters of Notre Dame.

The Northampton School of Arts and Crafts, Abington Street, now under the control of the county borough, was established in 1871; the Technical School in Abington Square was opened in 1894; a Domestic Economy School, under the Northants County Council, in Harleston Road, was established in 1896, and there is a housewifery centre, under the Northampton Education Committee.


  • 1. V.C.H. Northants. ii, 15, 16.
  • 2. Linc. Rec. Soc. vi, 170.
  • 3. Close R. 42 Hen. III, m.6.
  • 4. Ibid. m. 2.
  • 5. V.C.H. Northants. ii, 15–17.
  • 6. Ibid. ii, 234–41.
  • 7. A. P. White, The Story of Northampt. pp. 109, 112, 150.
  • 8. T. Gasquoine, Hist. of Castle Hill Ch., Northampt., p. 22.
  • 9. Ibid, p. 19.
  • 10. Jennings' Lectures, printed at the Northampton Mercury office in 1721, are in the Taylor Collection in the Northampt. Public Library. [Author J.J.]
  • 11. The Rules of the Academy, from a MS. Book at New College, Hampstead, are printed Gasquoine, op. cit. pp. 63–71.
  • 12. Job Orton, Life of Doddridge (ed. D. Russell), p. 115.
  • 13. E.g. Dr. Aiken, Dr. Kippis, J. Orton, T. Urwick, Samuel Merivale, Stephen Addington, Benjamin Fawcett, etc.
  • 14. Ibid. p. 269.
  • 15. Information from the Town Clerk.
  • 16. See tombstone of founders, with figure of Charity school girl, in All Saints' Church, west end of north aisle.
  • 17. The children then wore gilded oak apples.
  • 18. Gasquoine, Hist. of Castle Hill Ch. p. 24–5.