A Historic School
During the reign of Henry VIII, 20 yeomen and merchants (the first Feoffees) founded Colyton Grammar School “for the goodly and virtuous education of children in Colyton forever”. The school began life in a room above the porch of Colyton church..
William Hull was the first Headmaster, who went on to become vicar of Colyton. In 1610 Mr Dynham joins as ‘new master. Over the next decade there were nine different headmasters and the plague struck Colyton at least twice.
The first Headmistress was Mrs Susannah Stokes, who taught five boys. In 1795 Samuel Major led the school through the years of the Napoleonic Wars, ably supported by the Feoffees.
Thomas Daw Major became Headmaster and the Feoffees voted 10 free scholars from Colyton Parish. In 1834 Donald McNee was appointed Headmaster from 41 applicants. A historian, he wrote books on Colyton and Seaton and died in office after 30 years.
Colyton Grammar School was established as a day and boarding school. A free education was given to six boys chosen by the Feoffees while other boys paid £4.4s. The Headmasters annual salary was £80. Under the headship of Henry John Dodwell pupil numbers fell from 12 to one in just six months – he would eventually end up dismissed and in prison for attempting to shoot the Master of the Rolls. In 1876 Jose Fortescue Gueritz, a keen cricketer, arrived as the new Headmaster but the decline in pupil numbers meant the school closed for a year.
James Fowler re-opened the school with six boys. By 1884 the number had risen to 38 with the first students to pass the University of Aberdeen and Naval exams.
The school closed for five years as numbers dropped. In 1905 it was reopened by Lothar Mermagen and his assistant Mr W Carl with 60 boys. Standards rose quickly and the school qualified for a government grant.
Winifred Tolman and Una Gill were the first female pupils. A Board of Governors was appointed. Sir Frederick de la Pole gifted a swimming pool to the school. The school held its first annual athletics sports day in the summer of 1914.
1914-1918 First World War
The school’s German teacher, Herr Jaument, left to fight for Germany. A daughter and two sons from a Belgian family of refugees are taught at the school, and 11 former pupils are killed on active service.
Mr McKay Ohm joined the school as Headmaster to 70 pupils. In 1920 he sourced a school bus for pupils from Seaton and Axminster.
After far outgrowing its space in Colyton – co-opting rooms from the Town Hall and Colcombe Castle pub – the school moved to its current site at Colyford. It was the first purpose-built school in England in the 20th century.
A school roll of 150 rose to nearly 200 with wartime evacuees from the James Allen’s School, Dulwich. Free milk was delivered by Mr Pady of Dares Farm. Older pupils join the Home Guard. The school began to be recognised for good academic attainment in maths and science.
The last fee-paying pupil leaves Colyton Grammar School.
Mr McKay Ohn retired after 25 years at the school and Mr S G Standing was appointed the new Headmaster. The school holds its first carol service in Colyton church.
Mr Jowett stood as Acting Headmaster (after 34 years’ service at the school) before Mr J P Morison was appointed. School number rose to more than 200 pupils.
The school increased to two forms of entry. Alumni were invited back to school and a successful alumna, Florence David, returned for speech day.
The swimming pool, built with the help of a gift to the school from Mr McKay Ohm, was opened. In this year the Parents’ Association was founded.
Mr E Fox joined to lead the school through years of challenging educational reform and under investment.
The first Cottrill Hall was built offering new sports and assembly facilities for the school. The project was part funded by the Parents’ Association.
Headteacher for 18 years "I look back on that with a huge amount of satisfaction. "It's a succession of things - not just examinations, but the quality of school life and its facilities we offer."
Paul Evans Headteacher
Jayne Wainwright Headteacher , the first female headteacher for over 2 centuries
Mr T Harris is appointed as Headteacher with around 800 students on the roll.
Colyton Grammar School celebrated its alumni and past staff members with a reception at the House of Commons. Five Headteachers past and present attended.
The school delivered its digital strategy, including a laptop for every student. Students and staff rise to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.