Tottenham Grammar School
(laterly known as the Somerset School.)
With thanks to Mrs Jean Robinson and HSG Groves.
This page in constantly being updated
Like many other ancient schools, the origin of Tottenham Grammar School lies `far through the mists of years gone dead`, but there is little doubt that a school has existed in Tottenham in some form since the 15th Century. It would have been a Chantry School, possibly resulting from the substantial Chantry Foundation of John Drayton, a rich citizen and Goldsmith of the City of London, in 1456.
The triennial Archdeaconical visitations (the medieval equivalent of OFSTED!) provide documentary evidence into the latter part of the 16th Century. From 1545 it is thought to have been a Church Grammar School with the Parish Clerks acting as schoolmasters until about 1580 when an Anthony Dale is recorded as schoolmaster and his licence to teach renewed.
licence was only issued once the recipient had subscribed to the oaths of supremacy
In the following visitations of 1583, 1586, 1589, 1592 and 1598 Mr Dale continued to be listed as the `ludi magister` or schoolmaster, therefore it seems certain that his qualifications had been deemed to be in order, and his certificates re-issued.
of baptism, burial and marriage had been kept by the command of Henry VIII since
1538, but these were occasional and irregular affairs. In 1598, Elizabeth I
approved an order that in future all registers were to be on parchment, and that
the old registers be copied into the new books.
Schoolteacher Anthony Dale undertook this task in 1599, as he is also listed as the parish clerk.
Anthony Dale died in 1609, and
although he is not described as a graduate, he certainly was no ignoramus. After
his death it seems that Tottenham was without a schoolmaster for several months,
until on September 1st 1610, Walter Hutchinson `literatus` was invited to
teach writing and `computations` in the Tottenham parish.
How long he stayed is unknown, but the next recorded master was John Keene, of whom little is known other than the intriguing entry in the Middlesex Sessions for 18 February 1615
Records show that, William Armstrong, schoolmaster, and Thomas Weeks, tailor, both stood surety for, "John Keen of Tottenham, schoolmaster, to keep the peace towards Thomas Adams of the same, yeoman."
The only information known on the next schoolmaster Nathayell Warde, was that he, his wife Annahe and their son James were buried at Tottenham on 3rd October 1625.
The visitation of 1628 simply shows that the licence of Johannes Clark `ludi` was in order. The parish register also shows that he had been in Tottenham for about a year.
On April 18th 1633 John Hopkins, clerk, received his licence to teach at the grammar school in the parish of Tottenham High Cross.
Bedwell, Vicar and Historian of the Parish, writing in 1631 refers to the then ancient endowment of a school at the High Cross.
1680 the Lord of the Manor, Lord Coleraine, living in Bruce Castle, married the
widow of the fourth Duke of Somerset - one of the richest woman in England and a
great benefactress. She endowed a number of schools, colleges and
Lord Coleraine was a governor of the Grammar School, and it is said that his wife was "by him much urged to be kind to the parish of Tottenham, the place of her abode when in the country".
She carried out his wishes and her will dated 17 May 1686 reads:-
"Also I do give and appoint the sum of £250 to be expended, paid and laid out by mine executors, in and for the making an additional building to the school house in Tottenham, near the High Cross, whereby it might be capable to receive a greater number of scholars....also, I do give and appoint the further sum of £1100...for the purchasing of lands, rents...for the support and maintenance of the said school for ever".
Schoolmaster was to receive £40 per year and the usher or assistant £10.
She also laid down that the schoolmaster and usher should teach."....without demanding any other recompense or reward the children of all such people inhabiting in the said parish of Tottenham as should not have estates of their own, in fee or copyhold, of the value of £20 per annum."
The master was not to be a rector, curate or reader of Tottenham or any other parish, nor was he to undertake any duty in the church which would interfere with his teaching. He was however allowed to supplement his income by taking fee paying pupils, so long that it did not interfere with his teaching of foundation children.
Duchess of Somerset, died in 1692, and was buried in the chapel of St, Michael,
Westminster Abbey. The inscription on her tomb refers to her re-endowment of
Tottenham Grammar School, as well as her gifts to St. John`s College, Cambridge
and Brasenose College, Oxford.
The date of her death, 25th October, was kept as Founders Day at the School, and each year a party of boys, Staff and Governors took part in a service of Thanksgiving at The Abbey.
The following is an outline of the Founders Day Service and is reproduced from a
book by A. Daly Briscoe.
With thanks to Allan Bennett.
"Opening prayer by the
'As scholars, Master and Governors of the Old Foundation of Tottenham Grammar School, we come again on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of Sarah, Duchess of Somerset, whose charity created our foundation, to pay our annual tribute to the memory of this illustrious lady. As we stand before her tomb, we thank God for the long and valuable life in which so much was done for Education and Charity. Amen'
A wreath is then laid by the Captain of the School.
A boy then reads the Latin inscription on the tomb.
Another boy reads the translation -
"Here lies Sarah, lately the distinguished Duchess of Somerset, well known for her continual kindness towards the poor; who founded the Tottenham Grammar School for boys in the county of Middlesex; she considerably furthered the growth of the Green Coat Hospital at Westminster; she endowed for all time the colleges of Brasenose at Oxford and St John's Cambridge for the promotion of young men of good promise in godliness and literature; she was also concerned for the training of others in technical skills; in her concern for old age she caused a Hospital to be built and endowed to keep thirty widows at Froxfield in the county of Wiltshire; she set up a perpetual fund for the better support of the poor of the parish of St Margaret's at Westminster; she handsomely adorned some churches, apart from this, with fine fittings. She died on the 25th day of October in the year of our Lord 1692."
The following notes on Sarah are supplied with
thanks to Alan Willson, and are inter-twined with references from a book by a
Dr. Briscoe, with some amendments by Bob Rust.
The impression I gained, from references made to Her Grace, while I attended Tottenham Grammar School, were of a saintly old lady with an abiding interest in, nay fervour for, the education of boys. For over two hundred and fifty years, generations of pupils at the school were taught to revere her memory. However, I once saw, in the museum at Bruce Castle, a copy of the school rules, dated somewhere in the eighteenth century, that described a regimen of such restraint and piety, and prescribed such draconian punishments, that I am led to guess many of her beneficiaries, may have had greater cause to roundly curse her memory instead.
In recent years, from references to the lady that I found in the museum, I have come to suspect that the impression of her that I was given at school, may be somewhat incorrect. So I started digging, and found that Sarah was a much more interesting person than I had supposed.
She appears to have been born in 1631, as the daughter of Sir Edward Alston Kt. MD President of the College of Physicians, and although she had an elder sister, Mary, who became Lady Langham, Mary predeceased her father, leaving Sarah as his heir. I have been unable to establish the date of Sarah's first marriage, which was to a man named George Grimston, but it appears to have taken place in 1652 or 1653. She produced two children, neither of whom survived infancy and was widowed for the first time in 1655. She appears to have married John Seymour some six years later. At that time, she can have had little expectation of becoming a duchess.
Let us pause while Sarah enjoys her second honeymoon, and consider the rather fascinating story of the Dukedom of Somerset. The original Dukes of Somerset seem to have died out, or been killed off, around the time of the Wars of the Roses. As a result, by Henry VIII's time, the dukedom was up for grabs. Now, as we all recall from Nobby Clark's scintillating history lessons, Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour died in childbirth. She was, reputedly the only member of his serial harem that he actually loved, and the only one to present him with a son and heir.
After Henry's death, his son was declared king, (Edward VI). However, Edward was still a minor, so a council of regency was appointed. In fact, from what I have read, several, if not all members of the council were actually identified by Henry, either in his will, or as he lay on his deathbed. The council included two of Edward's uncles (Jane Seymour's brothers) Edward Earl of Hertford, and Thomas Seymour. It appears that no distinction was made among the council, but Edward Seymour seems to have been personally appointed the king's governor, and quickly assumed leadership of the council, having himself created Duke of Somerset. It would appear that at this time he bought the family seat, Berry Pomeroy from the Pomeroy family. While he was at it, he had his brother Thomas created Lord High Admiral. But Thomas was jealous of his elder brother, and had other fish to fry anyway. He started by marrying the king's widow, Catherine Parr, who, incidentally, had been charged with custody of the teenaged Princess Elizabeth (Later Elizabeth I). There is some evidence that he attempted to seduce his wife's charge, and that Elizabeth was initially flattered by his attentions, but cooled off when she realised what he was up to. Catherine Parr died on 5th September 1548 of puerperal fever having given birth on 30th August.
Amy Robsart wife
of Robert Dudley Earl of Leicesters`
body was found at the bottom of a flight of stone stairs with its neck
broken, the inevitable question was raised: "Did she fall, or was she pushed?"
Thomas Seymour was never actually charged with her murder, and redoubled his
efforts to marry Elizabeth. He made such a nuisance of himself, that his
political opponents contrived to get him executed, in 1549.
The clock tower
was and still is accessible by an internal staircase, supposing the story to be
true reaching the clock balcony would be difficult carrying a baby as it through
a trap. The view in the Castle is that if she did jump it was out of a second
floor window. It is the round tower in the grounds whose top can only be reached
The clock tower was and still is accessible by an internal staircase, supposing the story to be true reaching the clock balcony would be difficult carrying a baby as it through a trap. The view in the Castle is that if she did jump it was out of a second floor window. It is the round tower in the grounds whose top can only be reached by ladder.
In the meantime, the newly created Duke of Somerset was in the ascendancy and assumed the title of Lord Protector - effectively regent in his own right. But this did not last. He was, apparently very popular among the common people, introducing many reforms which were to their benefit. But, of course, in those days the common people had no power, and his reforms alienated him from his own class, the aristocracy, who ousted him from power and eventually persuaded the still youthful king to have him executed in 1552.
When Edward, first Duke of Somerset was executed, the Duchy again fizzled out. However, the duke had a somewhat complicated pair of marriages, yielding no less than eleven offspring, two with his first (divorced) wife (he accused her of having an affair with his own father, would you believe), and nine with the second. Two of his sons (one in each family) were called Edward. The Edward in the second family subsequently persuaded Elizabeth I to give him back his father's old title as Earl of Hertford. I imagine he figured he would be sticking his neck out too far to try and get the Duke of Somerset title back. He does seem to have pushed his luck a bit, though, by secretly marrying Catherine Grey, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk, and sister of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey. She was of royal blood, and could not marry without the king's permission. When she got pregnant in 1563, the authorities rumbled the fact that she was married, and threw the pair of them in the Tower. According to Burke's Peerage, poor old Edward was stuck there for nine years; Catherine, however died in 1567 or 1568. Now the pregnancy in 1563 cannot have been her first, because the unhappy couple succeeded in producing four kids, at least one of whom was born in 1561. It all gets a bit confusing here, because according to Burke's the first two were called Edward (they were not very inventive about names), one of whom is designated ‘died young 1602'. Forty years old was not that young to ‘snuff it' in those days, so this must be a mistake! I suppose the jailers got a bit lax, and allowed the odd conjugal visit, to account for the two younger ones. It is interesting that Dr. A Daly Briscoe who wrote the only book that seems to exist about Sarah (see the note below), mentions only two children, but confirms that the later one was conceived during their period of captivity!
Edward, the first duke's son, may have been too scared to ask Elizabeth I to re-instate him as Duke of Somerset, but his grandson William was not so inhibited. William, like his grandfather, married a close relative of the king, without getting permission first. They had to go abroad to avoid unpleasantness, and while she was brought back and kept in some sort of confinement, he seems to have stayed abroad until she died. When he returned to England, Charles I appointed him Governor to the Prince of Wales (Charles II). The Seymours seem to have had a thing about getting themselves appointed governor to the heir apparent. He fought bravely for the king in the Civil War, and, while he does not appear to have shared the young king's exile, does seem to have raised money to support him. In 1660, after the restoration of the monarchy, he must have felt himself sufficiently secure to bring up again the question of his great-grandfather's discontinued dukedom, because an Act of Parliament in that year reinstates the title and creates William second Duke of Somerset. William was, by this time, an old man, and only enjoyed the title for a month.
Since William's oldest son pre-deceased him, the title went to his eight year-old grandson, another William. Unfortunately this William died when he was only nineteen or twenty years old, and had not got around to marrying anybody. Most of the money and property (including the manor of Tottenham Park) went to his sister Elizabeth, who subsequently married Thomas Bruce in 1676, (now we know why we had a Bruce house). But the title went to his uncle John, already, at that time, Sarah's husband.
It would appear that Sarah's marriage to John Seymour was not a happy one. According to a reference I found in the Bruce Castle museum, he neglected her outrageously, leaving her sequestered in Somerset, or possibly Wiltshire, while he spent his time at court. He was, apparently, a man of low morality, much given to drinking, gambling and loose women. According to Burke's Peerage, he died in1675 which would mean that the duchess survived him by ten to twelve years, and was actually duchess for only four. It would also indicate that the court, to which he devoted so much time and energy, was that of Charles II. This would undoubtedly have provided him with ample scope for his drinking, gambling and whoring. Burke's Peerage is a little gentler on him, indicating that he was MP for Marlborough from 1661 - 1671, and Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire and Somerset in 1672.
Another source of information that I obtained from the museum, was some kind of leaflet, which threw some light on Sarah's activities, after she was widowed for the second time. The prime subject of this publication was Lord Coleraine, who was, at the end of the seventeenth century, lord of the manor which included much of Tottenham. According to the story, Coleraine was married to a young and beautiful woman who soon presented him with a baby son. Unfortunately, while her ladyship was physically well endowed, her intelligence and wit left much to be desired. Too late, his lordship realized that his tastes ran to mental rather than physical stimulation. All might still have been well had he not met Sarah Duchess of Somerset, a lady who abounded in the characteristics his wife so obviously lacked, and with whom his name had been linked prior to her marriage to John Seymour. The leaflet, though stopping short of an outright accusation, hinted that they soon became lovers, and that Coleraine set about the removal of his redundant wife, by the simple expedient of ill-treating her until she committed suicide. There is, apparently, a legend that she leapt from the clock tower of Bruce Castle, with her infant son clutched in her arms, killing both of them. Modern historians express doubts about this story, pointing to the fact that the clock tower can only be reached by ladder from outside the building. I found no reference to Coleraine's actually being charged with any offence, and cruelty can be very subjective. Whatever the method of his wife's suicide, it left the way open for Coleraine to marry Sarah, which he soon did, in 1682. There are lurid tales that the suicide's ghost wanders about Bruce Castle in the dead of night. I believe that one of the most recent sightings was by a girl in the WAAFs, stationed in the castle to service the barrage balloon that was situated just behind the building during the Second World War.
From what I have been able to discover, Her Grace died in 1692, and it was, in 1686, some six years prior to her death, that she made her historic bequest to Tottenham Grammar School. We were always told that the school probably began when some wealthy man, long forgotten, left money for choir boys to be educated, and in return, to sing masses for his soul. I wonder now, if the school's re-endowment might have been a replay of its original foundation. In other words, as Sarah realised she was fast approaching the pearly gates, it dawned on her that she had been a naughty girl at times; especially if she knew anything about the first Lady Coleraine's death. I cannot help wondering if her celebrated contribution to our collective education was an attempt to gain ‘Brownie points' with St. Peter. Apparently this kind of endowment was very usual among the wealthy aristocratic class in those days.
Whatever its motivation, the fact remains that we owe a debt of gratitude to the lady who was born Sarah Alston, and who died as the wife of Henry Hare, Lord Coleraine. It is not only fitting, but also her right that we should ascribe to her the highest rank she achieved in her lifetime, and refer to her as the Duchess of Somerset, since she was specifically accorded this title by royal warrant, irrespective of any marriage upon which she may subsequently embark. However, I feel that we should also recognise that she never expected to be Duchess of Somerset; was only really the duchess for four of her sixty-one years.
When school badges became popular, and a system of ‘houses' seemed desirable, I guess the arms of the Duchy of Somerset, and the names of the families into which the Seymour family married were, perhaps, as apt as any others. But I think we should recognise that the connection between our school and the Duchy of Somerset, is tenuous at best, and, arguably, impertinently presumptuous. However, successive Dukes of Somerset have graciously and generously acknowledged the connection in recent years, apparently attending the opening of the White Hart Lane premises in 1937 and also the more recent re-location of the memorial plaque dedicated to the two boys killed in the V2 attack.
As I now live in Canada, research into the life of someone who died in Britain, three hundred years ago, is not easy. I have relied upon references to: a couple of popular history books in my local library, the Public Record Office web site, the web site of the Mormon Church (which is, apparently, the largest genealogical database in the world, to which the Public Record Office actually refers you) and a copy of Burke's Peerage in the central branch of Ottawa Public Library, that is so old it led me to believe that we actually had the school motto wrong!! (No less a person than Windsor Herald kindly put me right on that one). Another source, which provided details of the antics of Thomas Seymour, was a television series entitled: A History of Britain. I am greatly indebted Allan Bennett who alerted me to the existence the book by A Daly Briscoe, which has added considerably to the information I had about the duchess' background, though little about her actual life. I am not a historian and if anybody can provide further details, or correct any errors I have made, I should be very grateful.
25th March, 2004.
During the 18th Century the school received several legacies, among them were £200 from Anthony Smithson, and £150 from Henry Sperling. Both of these benefactors eventually had roads named after themselves in Tottenham.
first Headmaster under the re-endowed Free Grammar school was William Baxter,
who left in 1706 to become Head of Mercers School. The names of all the
Headmasters to 1876 are given in the Head Teachers appendix. One of the listed
members of staff in 1839
is a Glynes Louisa - who is listed as being at the preparatory section of
By 1840 funds were low and the school buildings in a bad state of repair. A public subscription of £886 was raised and a new schoolroom built
report from Her Majesty's Inspector in June 1865 indicated that conditions were
far from satisfactory and a new scheme for the administration of the school
charity was prepared and accepted in October 1876. The first Headmaster under
the new organisation was a Mr H. Chettle, who eventually left to become
Headmaster at Stationers School.
In 1881John Cohen was appointed. He remained until 1920 when he retired. In his time the school developed rapidly, and in 1877 the school aimed to accommodate 100 scholars, yet by the time Mr Cohen retired over 300 were being educated at the school.
In those days the school was divided up into five houses. Wood Green, High Cross, West Green, Lower House and Middle House.
It was under John Cohen¹s long and wise rule that TGS became the School we know.
In 1882, pupils of the school, together with others from St Johns Presbyterian school - formed Hotspur F.C. The boys were members of a cricket club named Hotspur Cricket Club. This was the humble beginnings of the `mighty` Tottenham Hotspur.
In 1910 the old
school was pulled down except for the Masters house and a new school was built
on the site accommodating 300 boys at a cost of £10,000. This building still stands, and in 1971 was being used as offices
by Haringey Council's Education department in Somerset
The Masters House destroyed during the Second World War.
school was by now divided into four houses, each denoted by their own colour - Bruce (green),
Morley (red), Howard (light blue) and Somerset (dark blue).
Colours were shown by cross diagonal piping on the school cap and by a neckband and sleeve band of about 3/4 inch depth.
Cock house was the house achieving the greatest
number of house points in an academic year -
awarded for academic progress and for sporting achievement.
Points were awarded e.g. for progressing each round in the boxing competition and for certain times achieved in swimming, for achieving `colours' in Rugby and other representative sports.
The school developed so rapidly. particularly after the first World war, that this building soon became inadequate, and in 1938 the site at Creighton Road opened. Built on an island around White Hart Lane and accommodating 450 boys. It was an impressive building in Jacobean style and boasted a magnificent oak - beamed and paneled Hall in addition to the latest in class room and laboratory design and equipment.
A tablet commemorating the opening
of the School was unveiled by the then Duke of Somerset, thereby recording the
association with his anscestor.
However, within barely twenty months, war was declared and the School was evacuated mainly to Chelmsford, (attached to the King George Grammar School, where the TGS boys were taught in the afternoons.) The boys and staff were billeted in Writtle and other surrounding villages, although in September 1940 some were evacuated to Hatfield Peveril and Trowbridge. The group who went to Hatfield joined pupils from the Trinity Grammar School in Wood Green. They were all assigned to the Priory.
The Priory was a large square mansion, well away from the main A2 and the strip development where Stan is billeted, reached by a quarter mile of winding drive fringed by sweeping lawns and laurels that culminates in a vast carriage circle before the Main entrance. The building is impressive and square and dominating, set on a hillock. On all sides there is thick shrubbery and trees.
One of the English Masters (Possibly Lionel Millard??) launched a venture - a performance of Twelfth Night.
It is now hard to image the disturbance and difficulties this caused and that it
was accomplished successfully was a great tribute to the staff concerned.
The small number of boys left in Tottenham shared the school with the girls remaining in the Girls High School - girls in the mornings; boys in the afternoons.
Hawker Hart aeroplane used to be on the East school field at a point near the
From 1940 onwards there was a steady drift back to Tottenham and by 1941 the School was virtually back to its planned capacity and from 1942, under a new firm and efficient headmaster - H.A.T.Simmonds who soon earned the respect of the Staff, parents, boys and Governors alike.
As the younger members of Staff were called to the Forces, they were replaced by women (a great novelty!) and a number of highly qualified men from European Universities which greatly strengthened the Language and other departments.
A flourishing Army Cadet corps and ATC Squadron were formed; 1571 Squadron is still in existence.
In around 1938/39 a lab technician called Ron Hurst was making a bomb in the chemistry lab. It exploded and he lost 2 fingers and damaged his stomach. Whether it was part of a Chemistry experiment or whether he had taken it upon himself to prepare for the pending war! no one will know, although he did later become a pilot in the RAF.
It was during these years that Mr Morey (Rugby coach) told pupils that their sole aim in life was "To beat Tottenham County School at everything and anything".
On March 15th 1945, one of Hitler`s V2 rockets fell on waste land at the corner of White Hart Lane and Queen Street, opposite the North-West corner of the school site.
Two pupils, Peter Goodman and Harold Poulten died from injuries received as a result. Another boy, Norman Burn lost his right arm.
About the same time an organ was subscribed for by Old Boys and friends of the school and erected as a Memorial to the Fallen of the Second World War.
On 15th March 1946, a memorial was held for the two boys, and wreaths laid. A memorial stone was eventually erected on the Schools West Field, where on 11th November 1946 a Service was held to dedicate it.
In 1949, the TGS Company of the Middlesex Regiment Air Training Corps had the pleasure of winning the South-East open band championships.
In 1960 a new wing was added containing sixth-form rooms and additional laboratory and specialist rooms.
In a pamphlet dated Saturday 29th October 1960 celebrating the ceremonial opening of the new extensions, an architectural note claimed `The extensions to the old Gothic style school comprise an L-shaped teaching block linked to single storey dining and workshop wings at the north and south.
Two biology laboratories have been provided, with preparation rooms and a greenhouse conveniently accessible. There are also practical drawing, geography, music and craft rooms, the latter having facilities for pottery work.
workshop wing consists of a rectangular block, joined to the teaching block by a
lower connecting link. The tow workshops are fully equipped for metal, wood and
The dining wing, which is pleasantly light and airy, is a single storey structure, with two ceiling levels, the kitchen having its various working areas well lit and related to their own sizes.
The scheme of works also included alterations to the old buildings. Advanced chemistry and physics laboratories have been enlarged, and balance and optics rooms provided. A new small library ajoining the original library, and classrooms have been substituted for the original woodwork room. The former kitchen area has been converted into storage for the Air Cadets and the Army Cadet Forces and games` equipment, and a new store has been formed adjacent to the gymnasium.
were designed by D.R. Duncan, Esq. OBE ARIBIA under the direction of Whitfield
Lewis, Esq. FRIBA - County Architect in succession to C.G. Stillman, Esq. FRIBA.
The General contractors were Messers. Allen Fairhead and Sons Ltd of Enfield, Middlesex.
The new buildings were officially opened by E.Leslie Gale, MC FRIBA, who was an Old Boy of the School and Chairman of the Governers.
The School was now taking 700 boys.
There was another explosion in the Chemistry lab sometime in the 1960's, which was reported at some length in the Daily Telegraph when an experiment by Miss Pickering went wrong.
In the 1960s, Government policy was directed to the closure of Grammar schools nationally in favour of a Comprehensive education philosophy. In 1967 this was implemented in Tottenham by the amalgamation of TGS with Rowland Hill Secondary Modern School to form the Somerset School. This name was the unanimous choice of the new teaching staff and School Governors. The school badge, motto, uniform and song were retained.
1967 re-organisation took place locally, and two schools - Rowland Hill, and
Tottenham Grammar - amalgamated to form the Somerset School. It was voluntary
controlled and as such the instrument of Government allows for Governors who
represent the local authority and for Foundation Governors.
The `Old-Boys` of the school figured among the latter.
The Rowland Hill Secondary Modern School in Lordship Lane was named after the originator of the Penny post, Postmaster General Sir Arthur Rowland Hill. It was here that those who failed the exam for the Grammar school were sent to complete their education.
Thomas Wright Hill opened a school in 1803 at Hill Top on the outskirts of Birmingham. In 1827 together with his sons they removed the school to Bruce Castle in Tottenham. Thomas died at Tottenham on 13 June 1851, aged 88. One of his sons was Arthur Rowland Hill.
the end of the 19th century Arthur Rowland Hill became the Headmaster of one of the
most progressive schools in Great Britain. This nationally famous institute was accommodated
at Bruce Castle, a few minutes walk from the school.
Sir Rowland Hill, third son of Thomas and Sarah, was born at Kidderminster on 3rd December 1795. He died at his residence in Hampstead on 27th August 1879 and is buried in Westminster Abbey, London. He married Caroline Pearson, daughter of Joseph Pearson, on 27th September 1827.
Sir Rowland Hill's obituary notice is in the Times, 28th August 1879.
1938, the right to bear the name Rowland Hill was granted to the school, - as
successor to the aims and ideals of the great pioneer - by Colonel H.W. Hill
The School was opened in September 1938.
The School houses were re-named to show the new schools independence. The four `new` houses were Baxter (after William Baxter), Coleraine (after Lord Coleraine), Drayton (after John Drayton), and Hill (after Rowland Hill). The house colours were Baxter - green, Coleraine - blue, Drayton - red, Hill - yellow.
On Monday February 3rd 1975 during morning break smoke was spotted coming from the upper windows of the west block. Almost immediately someone set off the fire-alarms, and the well organised fire roll-call swung into action. Firefighters from Tottenham arrived to find the upper floors heavily smoke-logged, and a severe fire in progress in the bell tower and roof area.
The roll-call of students showed that eleven children were missing, and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus begun a search of the by now blazing school. Additional fire appliances were requested, and in all twenty pumps, and two turntable ladders attended the fire, which destroyed the magnificent main hall. the missing pupils were eventually located, several were in a cafe in White Hart lane, and the remaining were playing truant.
Fire investigators traced the origin of the outbreak to the organ loft in the assembly hall.
Haringey Council immediately began the purchase of St Angela's school site in Wood Green. As a short term measure, displaced pupils were re-located to the Drill hall opposite Tottenham Football club, and at High Cross congregational church hall, opposite Philip Lane.
In 1987 the Governors reluctantly recommended to the Secretary of State for Education the schools closure.The recommendation was approved , and the school finally closed it doors in July 1988, after more than 500 years of service the schoolchildren of Tottenham and Haringey. During the last few years, as pupil numbers dropped, the School occupied only one site, that in White Hart Lane.
Both schools became dilapidated demolition sites. The Lower School being the first to be demolished to make was for a housing estate - Somerset Close.
contractors Syd Bishop and Sons` demolished the whole
upper school building over the Easter weekend 1989 causing
local outrage. A series of photographs show the
site during demolition.
Despite rumours to the contrary the White Hart Lane building was NOT listed, however the demolition was carried out without warning and had it not been for swift action by a number of Governors a number of archive items would have been lost.
Another housing development soon grew on this site - Somerset Gardens - part of which was sold to Middlesex University as a campus and accommodation.
In 1993 the Rocket Memorial was re-sited within one of the Halls of Residence at a ceremony attended by the Duke of Somerset
Service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the TGS Foundation's Tercentenary
which was followed by a Dinner in Westminster School was
attended by a large number of Old Boys.
Laurie Cooper was in the Chair and presided over the proceedings which were preceded by Evensong in the Abbey where prayers were said for Sarah, and then by a Reception for invited guests in the Abbey's Jerusalem Chamber - a signal honour for the Foundation.
The Duke of Somerset attended as principle guest and speaker.
The proceeds of sale of the Somerset School site, £9.1millon, was used by the Governors to establish, with the help of the Charity Commissioners, a new Foundation for educational purposes to benefit any deserving young people of Haringey, thus perpetuating the wishes of our Benefactress, the Duchess of Somerset.