History

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 1525 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.  

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. 

Find out more about our history by exploring the following themes:

 

RGS Newcastle's Royal Heritage

RGS is Newcastle’s oldest institution of learning.  Founded during Henry VIII's reign, Queen Elizabeth I later granted the burgesses of the City of Newcastle The Great Charter on 22nd March 1600. Within the Charter was the direction to incorporate a grammar school in the city, entitled to hold land. This established us as an autonomous legal entity and institution in our own right.

The school was to be called the ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Newcastle’, though we continued to use the name Newcastle Free School for some time. Eventually we moved to our current title of Royal Grammar School Newcastle. Today we are one of only seven schools in the UK to bear the name ‘Royal Grammar School’.

Our school shield has always referenced the Royal Arms in its design. During the 19th century when the school was sited at Rye Hill, we used a double badge of the Royal Arms and the Newcastle City Crest separately, which can be seen historic school caps. After we had celebrated our 400th anniversary in 1925, it was felt we needed to create our own heraldic device. A new Coat of Arms was designed and granted by the Royal College of Arms in 1931, paid for by Sir Arthur Sutherland. The badge is still in use today. It includes the leopard and fleur-de-lys which commemorate Elizabeth I’s refoundation of the school in 1600. The two horses’ heads represent our founder, Thomas Horsley, and the castle refers to the City of Newcastle’s Coat of Arms.

Our School Song Triumphans created in 1925 includes a royal reference. It celebrates Her Majesty the Queen with the lyric: “Bravely to Fight for Truth and Right, for Motherland Queen and God”.  t is sung by Old Novocastrians at reunion events.

In May 2022 we celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's phenomenal 70 years of service at her Platinum Jubilee, in September 2022 we have mourned the passing of our beloved monarch.  In due course we look forward to suitably commemorating the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.  

RGS pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

At a special assembly on Friday 16th September 2022, RGS students paid tribute to the life and service of Queen Elizabeth II.

RGS pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II 

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022 Logo

 

RGS Celebrated the Platinum Jubilee

As one of only a handful of Royal Grammar Schools in the Country, we are incredibly proud of our heritage and especially our connection with the Royal Family.  Founded in 1525 during King Henry VII’s reign and granted our Royal Charter in 1601 by Queen Elizabeth I, it is most fitting that our school celebrates the staggering 70 year reign of our Monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

Stepping back in time, the whole school community reviewed some of the key developments, at RGS and in the wider world, in each of the seven decades of The Queen’s reign.  Pupils were encouraged to reflect on some of the facts and think about the incredible service performed by many of the individuals mentioned and how they could support friends, family, the broader school community and City.  

Activities took place across the school and in our local community, culminating in a special assembly to which we were honoured to welcome the new Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Mrs Karen Robinson, only the second female Lord Mayor of our City.

Below you can see some of the many activities we held to celebrate, including our Platinum Jubilee film, covering each decade of the Queen’s reign and key events in RGS’s own history over the last 70 years, alongside some fantastic performances from our RGS Jubilee Concert, opened by the Queen's representative, Lord-Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Mrs Susan Winfield CVO OBE CStJ. 

RGS Newcastle through the last 70 years

The 1950s

The 1960s

The 1970s

The 1980s

The 1990s

The 2000s

The 2010s

The 2020s

The Lord-Lieutenant Mrs Susan Winfield CVO OBE CStJ visited RGS

RGS and The Queen's Green Canopy

 

RGS Jubilee Concert

Overture to ‘Royal Fireworks Music’

By George Frideric Handel arr. Richard Meyer

Performed by the RGS Symphony Orchestra (Symphony Orchestra)

If ye Love Me

By John Dowland

Performed by Amelia Lewis (soprano)

Zadok the Priest

By George Frideric Handel

Performed by the RGS Community Choir, Senior Choir, RGS Symphony Orchestra and Organ