TOTTENHAM GRAMMAR SCHOOL
Claims that Tottenham Grammar School was
founded in 1456 by John Drayton, a London goldsmith, still await proof. (fn. 61) William Bedwell, Vicar of
Tottenham and historian of the parish, (fn. 62) writing in
1631 mentioned an ancient endowment reputed to
have been given for the maintenance of a school
'but it went not forward'; (fn. 63) nevertheless Sarah,
Duchess of Somerset, (fn. 64) by her will drawn up in
1686 left £250 to extend an existing school-house,
then occupied by the parish clerk, and a further
£1,100 as endowment. The salary of the master
was fixed provisionally at £40 and that of the usher
at £10; they were to teach freely the children of all
the inhabitants of Tottenham whose estates were
valued at less than £20 a year. (fn. 65) The anniversary of
the Duchess's death on 25 October 1692 is observed
by the school as Founder's Day, and a wreath is
laid on her tomb in Westminster Abbey. The provisions of the will were amplified by rules made in
Chancery in 1710. From the estate the schoolmaster
was to maintain the school-house, pay the usher, and
keep the residue; he was to teach English, grammar
rules, writing, arithmetic, and the catechism to
children aged 7 to 14, freely to those who qualified
and for a fee to others. The master was to apply
himself wholly to the school and could not be the
vicar or curate of Tottenham. (fn. 66) The master of the
time, Daniel Ridley, had to face the competition of
the Quaker, Richard Claridge, but the latter was
convicted and fined for keeping a school without a
licence. (fn. 67)
During the 18th century the school benefited from
several legacies, (fn. 68) but by 1818 the building was
dilapidated although 50 boys attended. (fn. 69) In 1840
the trustees pointed out that there was room for only
80 boys, but that the endowment would provide for
twice that number; after an appeal for subscriptions
the school was rebuilt to accommodate 120 boys. (fn. 70)
The master from 1815 to 1857 was Lancaster
Rickard, an old boy of the school and for 25 years
clerk to Trinity Church. (fn. 71) In 1865 it was reported
that nearby National and British schools had almost
superseded the older foundation; there were only
42 boys present, and the master, assisted by his two
young sons as monitors, gave a wholly inadequate
education to five classes. (fn. 72) About 1872 there was a
change of trustees, and four years later the charity
was reorganized as a middle-class secondary school,
and the surviving free scholars were transferred to
one of the elementary schools. (fn. 73) During the headmastership of John Cohen (1881-1920) there were
rapid developments; by 1906, when a new scheme
associated the Middlesex County Council with the
administration, numbers had risen to 200, and in
1910 a new school was erected for 300 pupils. (fn. 74) In
1933 entirely new buildings were opened by Sir
William Prescott on a seven-acre site in White Hart
Lane. In the closing weeks of the Second World
War a German rocket fell near the school, killing
two boys and causing much damage to the northwest side of the building. (fn. 75) In 1953 the school was
granted voluntary aided status.
||H. G. S. Groves, Hist. Tottenham Grammar School, 2;
W. J. Roe, Tottenham, Edmonton and Enfield Historical
||Hennessy, Novum Repertorium, notes lxxxiv, k. 245.
||W. Bedwell, Brief Description of Tottenham (1631),
reprinted in W. J. Roe, Ancient Tottenham, 119.
Complete Peerage, xii (1), 76.
||P.C.C. Ash 22.
||W. Robinson, Hist. and Antiquities of Tottenham (1818
D.N.B. A school tradition claims William Baxter,
nephew of the nonconformist divine and later head of
Mercers' School, as master 1697-1705: R. R. Dyson, Hist.
and Antiquities of Tottenham (1790), 86-89; D.N.B.;
Groves, Tottenham G.S. 4.
||Robinson, Tottenham (1840 edn.), ii. 219.
||Ibid. (1818 edn.), 187-8.
||Ibid. (1840 edn.), ii. 232.
||Handbill at Bruce Castle; Groves, Tottenham G.S. 8.
Schs. Enquiry Com. [3966-XI] H.C., pp. 41-42
(1867-8), xxviii (10); J. Thorne, Handbook of Environs of
Lond. ii. 624.
||W. Thornbury, Old and New Lond. v. 561.
||Groves, Tottenham G.S. 6-7.
||D. R. Morgan, Scholastic Forge, 146-8.