City Centre Tour

St Mary de Crypt School

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St Mary de Crypt School

One of the oldest grammar schools in the country, its establishment was the dying wish of John Cooke, four times mayor of Gloucester.

His last will and testament directed his wife, Joan, to “stablish and ordeyn a continuall frescole of gramer for the erudicion of children and scolers”  by a “scole maister to kepe scole and teche gramer freely”.

The school opened in 1539 and stayed in Southgate St until the 19C, when it moved several times within the city, then finally, in 1943 it moved to Podsmead,  where it still flourishes today as the Crypt Grammar School.

Pass through the archway into St Mary’s Lane or Marylone, which bears the arms of Henry VIII in the centre, the Crypt School crest on the left and the Tudor arms of the city on the right, to see the rear elevation of the schoolroom and one of the earliest examples of Tudor brickwork in this area.

John Biddle, a headmaster of the Crypt School in the seventeenth century, was the ‘Father of Unitarianism’. He was imprisoned for heresy and exiled during Cromwell’s Interregnum for his religious views.


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Fun Fact

A former pupil was William Ernest Henley (1849–1903), poet, critic, and editor – wrote the 1875 poem ‘Invictus’. A childhood victim of tuberculosis of the bone, Henley had his left leg amputated below the knee. His great friend, Robert Louis Stephenson, wrote to Henley after the publication of Treasure Island writing "I will now make a confession. It was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness that begot Long John Silver...the idea of the maimed man, ruling and dreaded by the sound, was entirely taken from you".

His daughter was the inspiration for Wendy in Peter Pan, written by friend of the family, J.M. Barrie. Margeret was a sickly child and called Barrie ‘fwendy wendy’ as she was unable to pronounce the word ‘friend’


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