The Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School received its Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I and has a long and rich history as the city's oldest institution of learning.
Although the exact date is a matter of argument, tradition has it that the school was founded in 1545 by Thomas Horsley, Mayor of Newcastle. Its first site was next to St Nicholas' Cathedral; since then it has moved five times, but it has occupied its present buildings in Jesmond since 1906. Originally an all boys' school, RGS has grown over the centuries, welcoming its first girls into the Sixth Form in 2001 and becoming fully co-educational in 2008. There are now some 1300 students in the school. Though the school is very proud of its long history and sense of tradition, it seeks always to look forward rather than back and continues to flourish as the premier school in the North East of England.
One aspect of the school which remains deeply-seated in tradition is the thriving house system which not only provides support for students but also acts as a mechanism for intra-school competition. Houses (originally named after colours) were first established on the school's move to Jesmond in 1906. In 1930, the houses were renamed to honour four local influential historical figures (listed below) and since then it is to Collingwood, Eldon, Horsley and Stowell that RGS students have pledged their loyalty and galvanized their best efforts in sport, music, debating and other areas.