Manchester Grammar School

A wrought iron fence runs along the north side of Old Hall Lane in Rusholme and on some of the fence posts you will find perching owls.  The owl is the symbol of Manchester Grammar School which lies beyond the fence.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate Report for 2008 says this about the school:  "The Manchester Grammar School, an independent day school for boys aged from 11 to 18, is situated in a largely residential area of Manchester between the A6010 and the A34.  ....  At present, 1392 pupils are on roll, a slight decrease since the last inspection. The school is divided into three sections: the Lower School (Years 7 and 8), the Middle School (Years 9, 10 and 11) and the Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13). Pupils come mainly from business and professional backgrounds, however more than 200 pupils are supported by the school’s means-tested bursary scheme."

The school sits within extensive grounds just south of Birchfields Park and adjacent to Manchester Metropolitan University's Hollings Campus (see below). 

The new Grammar School building was designed by the architectural practice of Percy Scott Worthington and Francis Jones.  Pevsner says of it:  "Despite the strict budget Worthington and Jones created an efficient and attractive building, in beautifully detailed red brick." .. "A large quadrangle is entered by a tripartite archway under a cupola with a clock,.."  Their design also incorporated, in addition to a classroom range,  a second quad, a parade ground, gymnasium and swimming pool, a museum and a library.

The aerial photograph below from the 1940s shows the school before the famous Hollings College "Toast Rack" building was constructed.

In the history of the school this site is relatively new.  The school was founded in 1515 by Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter, as a charitable foundation and it occupied part of what is today Chetham's School of Music. 

In 1515 what is today Manchester Cathedral was a parish church and its adjacent "school house" prepared pupils for university and eventually the Church or the legal profession. 

Above and below are excerpts from the Adshead map, shown with the permission of Chetham's Library.

By the18th century the school is believed to accommodate between 50 and 100 boys.  Over the years the buildings on Long Millgate changed and in 1870 Alfred Waterhouse designed an extension to the old grammar school part of which is still standing (see below).

Part of the Grammar School was on the other side of the medieval gatehouse.  You can see it in the images below.

By the time the aerial photograph below was take, in 1953, the site of those building (indicated by the red arrow) was empty.

New College House now stands on that site.

As the plaque says, MGS moved to its "new" home in Rusholme in 1931 but evidence that they once occupied this site can still be seen on the building.

Hugh Oldham's Coat of Arms included owls and the owl appears prominently on the arms of MGS.  The school motto is "Sapere Aude" which translates as "Dare to be Wise".

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