http://boar.org.uk/abiwxo2OGrammarS1.htm Latest edit 4 May 2011
The Bourne Archive
Development of the
The following is an
assessment of the development of the
The core of what is known from historical research, of
the story of the old building is laid out in
A History of Bourne Grammar School, by J.D.Birkbeck,
a booklet of 1986, marking the 350th anniversary of what is often taken as the
school’s foundation. In reality, the event of 1636 seems to have been an
endowment which set the school up for continuance rather than initiating it. He found that a grammar school existed in
Bourne in 1330 when the
We have a clearer picture from the early seventeenth
century. The school’s origin is frequently dated from the bequest of William
Trollope, a member of the local gentry, in 1636. His grandfather had settled in
Bourne, and William’s descendants were to be closely connected with the school
right down to the twentieth century. In
his will, dated 16th November 1636, he provided an endowment of “Thirty pounds
yearly to pay an honest, learned and godly schoolmaster for teaching the Youth
and Scholars in the art and rudiment of Grammar in the Town of Bourn aforesaid,
forever, which I desire to be a free Grammar School from time to time for ever,
Licence may be obtained with Charter
under the Great Seal for incorporating thereof and to be called the Free
Grammar School of King Charles in the Town of Bourn in the County of Lincoln,
of the foundation of William Trollope, gentleman”. He also bequeathed a similar yearly sum (£33)
for the men’s almshouses, the building now known as the Tudor Cottages, in
It has taken some time to work out what the archaeology of the building has to tell. In 1909, J.J.Davies noted,
“The solid stone
foundation, is clearly of far more ancient date than
the brick superstructure. It is quite
possibly at least coeval with the monastic institution of which it formed an
educational adjunct. It is definitely
within the precincts of the Augustinian Abbey.
It corresponds with the position of many ancient Grammar Schools as
Unfortunately, Davies was in this instance, bending both the archaeology and the history to make a coherent story.
His last surmise is not likely to be true as the
practice of naming a person after a place, was useful only outside that place. Unless
it reflected association with the ownership of a significant estate, it was
normal to name people after their place of origin rather than of their
residence. Robert was the Robert who had
come from Bourne, and was now in some other place. Had he stayed in Bourne, most of the Roberts
around him would have been from Bourne too, so the description would not have
been useful in distinguishing between them.
Furthermore, Bourne Abbey was Arrouaisian,
living by the Augustinian Rule. Robert
was a Gilbertine.
He spent time at The Gilbertine house of Six
Hills (Lindsey) and in the Gilbertine house in
This said, he was of the
educated sort, who may well have attended the school at Bourne, if it had been
established in his boyhood, which will have been in the 1270s. This was a period when other sources tell us
that much was beginning to happen in Bourne.
This was approaching the period during which
As to the medieval origin of the present building’s site, the very small and simple doorway in the south wall of the chancel is of a style which might conceivably place it towards the end of the monastery’s life. At this period, the priestly access to the church will have been to and from the north side, the site of the claustral buildings. However, this door would lie on the canons’ side of the pulpitum, the screen which separated them from the parish church. It seems likely that at this stage, the schoolmasters were clerics so that the purpose for the door would be access directly from the claustral accommodation on the north, via the chancel, to the school. The school building’s site is in keeping with this, as it is with the need to get the boys, likely to do boyish things, in and out of the school without disturbing the canons’ way of life. However, we have to ask whether they would have designed a short cut to run across the front of the high altar. Any exit directly from the cloister to the churchyard is more likely to have been made around the outside of the church’s east end.
The doorway is small (the stick in the photograph is
36 inches 0.92m. long) and of very simple design, without the detail by which
it might be dated closely. At the other end of its stylistic date range and stylistically more
convincing, it could be contemporary with Trollope’s school building. Although
by 1636, it may have been just a little old-fashioned, similar work which
appears to relate to a date stone of 1637, in the tower parapet, was being done
on the stairway in the tower. It is also
in keeping with the doorway on the school building itself. As we have seen from the will, this may in
fact, date from a little earlier but within Trollope’s adult lifetime. In the seventeenth century, the schoolmasters
were vicars or curates of the
This ‘if’ is a significant one. The Abbey was
dissolved in 1536, part of the first batch on Henry VIII’s
list. A lease of the property was sold to Richard Cotton, a man from Hampshire.
A value was given for what was almost certainly regarded as scrap metal, the
bells and lead. In these circumstances, we may think it unlikely that the lead
stayed on the roofs of the part of the abbey buildings which was not used as
the parish church. On the face of it, the chancel will have been part of these
abbey buildings, so not brought back into use until the early nineteenth
century. In other words, in 1630, the wall in which we have hypothesized the
insertion of the small doorway would have been part of a roofless ruin. Insofar
as there was an altar, it would have been at the eastern end of the nave where
the parish altar will have been all along. However, the Anglican Church had
moved away from altars towards communion tables. The struggle of King Charles
and his archbishop to re-introduce altars and the procedures which went with
them was one of the irritants which put
This view, although reasonable, appears to be wrong. In his introduction to the edited Parish Register (p. viii), C.W.Foster reports that the chancel was in good order in 1602. Also, that the vicar, Edmund Lolley, was buried there in 1632. Clearly, despite the thread in Anglican thinking which drew attention away from an altar at the east end of a church towards a more centrally placed communion table, in Bourne, the chancel was still respected. Maybe it gave the parish two options; using the nave as the church, with its communion table and the chancel as a chapel, discreetly screened by its old, monastic pulpitum. The ruination seems to have begun not with the Dissolution but in December 1643. See Browne Memorial and Bourne Chancel.
In the 1920s, J.T.Swift (Bourne and People Associate with Bourne) dealt with the origins of the school, covering the selection of Sir John Smith continuing with the register of Bourne Church, “... among the burials, is the following entry: ‘May 23rd, 1629, Thomas Gibson, as worthy a schoolmaster as ever taught in Bourne.’ The old Grammar School which is still in existence was built by William Trollope of Bourne and Casewick, and he endowed it with £32 [sic] a year ....”.
In his best known book, A History of Bourne, J.D.Birkbeck includes several more details. We have seen John Smith in 1330 but after 1580 there are more known. In 1625, the vicar, Edmund Lolley was licensed by the bishop as the schoolmaster. See the Parish registers, Lincolnshire Record Society Vol. 7.