Hastings Grammar School

From Historical Hastings

The Charities[edit]

There were several charities behind the foundation of Hastings Grammar School, the key ones being the Parker's Foundation and the Saunder's Foundation. The funds of these and other charities were held in trust by Hastings Corporation under an 1814 Act of Parliament.

Parker's Foundation[edit]

On the 16th of November 1619, the Rev. William Parker, rector of All Saints Church, who owned land in Ore as well as his own parish wrote a clause in his will that provided income to fund an educational establishment for the children of the town. The lands providing the income were left first to his wife, Judith during her lifetime and then would pass to the Corporation:

towards the maintenance of a religious and godlie Schoolmaster in the Towne which shall instruct & teach the youth of the Inhabitants of Hasting in Learning, manners & other vertuous education to gett their living.

The will further stipulated;

I will and ordaine that the said Schoolmaster shalbe elected, nominated and Chosen by the Jurats for the time being Inhabiting within the said parish of All Saints, and by my heires successivelie, if he be grown out of his minoriti so longe as there shalbe any heire of my bloud of the name of Parker inhabiting in Hasting."

The will clearly intended for any schoolmaster to be of good character, for there were further clauses detailing the powers of the Jurats and trustees to remove any master who fell short. Some nine days after signing this will, William Parker was buried at All Saints on the 25th of that month.[1]

Saunder's Foundation[edit]

Mr. Saunder's also left a large amount of land to form a Grammar School and two further schools within the town.

Chancery Court Case[edit]

During 1832 there was an expensive suit issued in the Chancery Court to investigate the management of the various charities, then managed by the Corporation, that led to a huge expenditure from both charities, in particular, exhausting the resources provided for the Saunder's school resulting in the closure of that establishment for six years[2][3]. The inquiry also recommended that £139 8s 10d of the Saunder's fund be used to construct a schoolhouse. In the event, £139 9s. was recovered from the Chancery Court, of this, £44 9s. 9d. was repaid to Mr. North, the remainder less solicitor's fees was allocated to build a new school for the Parker Charity. At the same time, George Rubie transferred from Saunder's to Parker's School (the previous schoolmaster James Thorpe having died) which was due to re-open on the 4th of February 1833 and the single applicant for the same role at Saunder's school, Mr. John Banks was appointed to the post on the 28th of February[4].

Nelson Road Site[edit]

The building was officially opened in July 1883 and closed in the mid 1960s it was then used by MPBW for a few years and demolished in 1972. The site is now covered by Saunders Close and Becket Close, a 1980s housing development, the names chosen as a nod to the former use of the site. The footpath adjacent to the site was named 'Old School Path'.

Parkstone Road Site[edit]

Following closure of the Nelson Road site in the mid 1960s, the school moved to a new purpose-built school on what had been the school's sports fields with the entrance being on Parkstone Road. This was expanded with the introduction of a new building for the lower-school accessed via Park Avenue around 1980. Around this time, the school merged with Priory Road School - the buildings of the latter eventually being converted to housing.

Head Teachers[edit]

Parker's School
1638 - ? Barholomew Stiles
Circa 1675 William Parker
Richard Lovell (d. 1681)
Saunder's School
(Founded 1708)
Schools Combined
1738 – 1759 Samuel Cant
1759 – 1781 John Shorter
1781 – 1791 John Goldsworthy Shorter
1791 – 1800 Unknown
1800 – 1816 Joseph Hannay[Notes 1]
(School at Upper Lane[5])
Parker’s School Saunder’s School
1816 – 1817 Benjamin Slade
(School on[6])
1812 – 1818 (closed - see above)
1817 – 1832 James Thorpe
(School at Croft Road)
1818 – 1819 William Henry Pryor
1819 – 1833 George Rubie
1833 – 1848 George Rubie[7][4] 1833 – 1844 John Banks[7][4]
1844 – 1848 William Bevins
1848 – 1878 John Banks 1848 – 1870 Frederick William Foster
Hastings Grammar School (1878 -)
1880 – 1888 William Edward McGill, M.A (Cantab.) School moves to Nelson Road in 1883
1888 – 1913 William Henry La Touche, M.A. (Cantab.)
1913 – 1935 Percival Smith Barlow, M.A. (Cantab.), B.Sc. (Leeds)
(1915 – 1919) Re. Dr Thoma James Thorburn, D.D. (Cantab.), LL.D. (Acting)
1936 – 1961 Mervyn George Garth Hyder, M.A., B.Sc. (Oxon)
-1961 George Henry Henshall, B.A. (Manc), F.R.G.S

Change to Academy Status[edit]

Following a purchase by the Ark Academy, Hastings Grammar School and Helenswood School merged to form Ark Alexandra Academy in 2018. The Parker Charitable Foundation - Guilimus Parker Fundavit was formally wound up on the 30th of June 2020, the funds being transferred to the Magdalen & Lasher Charity which has been active in the town since the 13th Century.


  1. Brett puts his date of resignation of Parkers' school as being in 1813 Brett Manuscripts Vol. 1 Chapt. VIII