BEDFORD GRAMMAR SCHOOL is one of the 16 schools licensed by letters patent of Edward VI. and its foundation dates from 1552. Sir William Harpur, a native of Bedford, alderman of London and Lord Mayor in 1561, together with Dame Alice his wife, in 1566 granted to the Mayor and Corporation of Bedford, an estate then consisting of 10 acres and 1 rood in London situate in the parishes of St. George the Martyr (Queen square, Bloomsbury) and of St. Andrew, Holborn, which had been purchased by him for the sum of £180, for the purposes of founding a school: this estate from its position became exceedingly valuable and has since been entirely built over, the following being some of the streets now existing on the estate:- Bedford row (west side), Lamb's Conduit street, Theobald's road, Harpur street and New North street. Many of the houses having been required for improvements in the neigbbourhood, have been compulsorily taken, and the proceeds invested by the trustees in the funds: the annual rent of the remaining houses, mostly let on leases of 30 years, is estimated at £4,000: the trustees also own some houses in St. Johns end St. Paul's, Bedford, producing a further rental of £150: the trusts of the charity were reconstituted by a scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners approved by Her Majesty in council in 1873, and dating as from 30th May, 1871:. the governing body; under this scheme, consists of 27 persons, of whom six are ex-officio, viz. the Lord Lieutenant, the Mayor and the members for the town and county; nine are nominated for five years, viz. Lord Lingen, H. M. Burge, esq. M.A. J. E. White esq. M.A. Rev. H. B. George M.A. the Rev. A. P. Kirkpatrick M.A. F. Tanqueray Willaume esq. James Anstie esq. B.A., Q.C. Charles E. C. Prichard esq. J. Carter esq. M.R.C.S., J.P. and W. E. Taylor esq. and 12 representative governors, who hold office for three years, viz. J. E. Cutcliffe J.P. J. W. D. Harrison, J. H. Howard, Geoffrey Howard M.A. R. P. Jarvis, J. Miller, R. Richards, G. Robinson J.P. 0. D. Shelton, Capt. Verey J,P., and C. Wells; A. H. Allen, Harpur trust office, is clerk to the governors.
In a niche over the entrance of the old Grammar school, now the Town Hall, is a statue, of the founder, Sir William Harpur, knight, in his robes as alderman of the city of London: and inserted in the wall at the base of the statue is a marble slab, bearing a Latin inscription, He died in 1573, and was interred in St. Paul's church in this town, where his tomb still remains.
The old buildings of the school in St. Paul's square, have been transferred to the Corporation for conversion into municipal buildings.
The present school buildings adjoin De Parys avenue; the foundation stone was laid Oct. 17th, 1889, by Samuel Whitbread esq. M.P. for the borough and chairman of the governing body of the Harpur trust, and the buildings completed Oct. 19, 1891, at a total cost of about £25,000, are in the Tudor style from designs by Mr. E. C. Robins F.S.A. architect, of London, and consist of a large assembly hall on the north side, with 42 class rooms and offices on the east, west and south sides in three storeys, and a chemical laboratory; the front elevation facing the new park, includes the battlemented north side of the central hall, containing seven huge windows, with suites of class rooms on either side, three porches and an octagonal tower at the corner; the school stands in its own grounds, and is approached from two sides by carriage drives, and adjacent is a playing field of 20 acres ; there are also chemical and physical laboratories, covered playground, fives courts, gymnasium, carpenters and engineering workshops, observatory &c. and two sanitoria on the. Clapham road. The school is organized in four departments:
- 1. THE PREPARATORY SCHOOL, for boys from 7 to 10 years of age, with a separate playground, but with the same privileges as the rest of the school.
- 2. THE JUNIOR SCHOOL, for boys from about 10 to 13½, which has also a special portion of the playground and playing-field allotted.
- 3. THE CLASSICAL DEPARTMENT (upper and Middle Forms), for boys preparing for the Universities, for the professions &c.
- 4. THE CIVIL AND MILITARY DEPARTMENT, in which pupils are specially prepared for law and medical examinations, the London University Matriculation, Cooper's Hill, Indian Police, the Civil service, the royal navy or naval clerkships &c; persons wishing to inquire about the school can see the head master, at the school, Bedford, or, in his absence, A. Talbot esq. 27 De Parys avenue, on applying to Mr. E. Smith at the office at the school, which is generally open in term, and in holidays from 10 to 1 and 2:30 to 4. Parents should apply to the headmaster for a form of application for admission.; boys residing,. with their parents or grandparents (or uncles and aunts under certain conditions) receive the full school education for terminal payments of £3, for boys under 13, and £4, over 13 ; entrance fee £2; no boarders are allowed except in masters' houses: they are eligible to all prizes and exhibitions ; the boarding houses are small, only taking from 10 to 25 boys, whose lessons are prepared under supervision: the boarding fee is £63 per annum under 13 and above that age £66 15s, entrance fee £2, laundry £1.1s. and sanitorium 7s, a term.