Hastings Grammar School

From Historical Hastings

The Charities

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

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 left 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]. The land left in this will totalled some 113 acres of land on the west side of Ore Valley[2].

The school thus provisioned opened in 1639 in premises at the top of the High Street , approximately where Torfield House now stands[2].

Saunder's Foundation

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

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[3][4]. 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[5].

School Song

The corners of the earth have heard our footfalls;
On the seas of all the world our keels are known;
Lo ! now our name was made,
Sport and study, war and trade,
Or ever James the First was on the throne,
No little thing our name and pride to carry,
Not small the weight of honour we sustain;
But it's up to us to bear it,
Till our younger brothers share it,
To pass the School's tradition on again,

Brothers all, Hastonians, William Parker's sons,
We must guard the old renown, games or books or guns,
Years ago and years ago, bright the record came;
In the centuries that follow us, bright it must remain.

Hail the ancient brotherhood ! Let us hear the name!

Sons of William Parker !

We can do with jolly sportsmen for our fellows;
We can do with earnest scholars just the same;
But the bully and the sneak.
And the slacker must not speak,
In the fellowship of us who play the game.
The pluck to lead that yet is proud in service,
Obedience to our ancient honoured rule,
And the faith that backs your friend
To the journey's utter end.
Are the things that win your colours in the School,

Brothers all.....

What's the tie that makes you one ? Once again the name !

Sons of William Parker!

We have trodden in your pathways little Brothers
Our initials on your desk lids still remain;
We were proven by disaster,
And we win to service vaster,
Stand to arms, the brave battalions of the slain!
Death for dower gave us power and great glory.
Yet at dusk we steal a moment to return.
Do you feel our longing guide you;
Do you feel we sit beside you
Does our whisper move your spirit as we yearn?

Brothers all .......

In the hall at prayers a whisper ! Listen whence it came!

Sons of William Parker!

Oh! the School's an older thing than any Master!
And the School's a younger thing than any boy!
Though the years may hurry on
Till our company is gone
She stands beyond their power to destroy.
Her light has flamed through triumph and disaster;
Shall it shine a little brighter for your stay?
Stick it out. The need is on you;
Days to come depend upon you;
And the torch is in your keeping:— light the way!

Brothers all .......

Fill your lungs with pride of it! Brothers all the name!

Sons of William Parker!

Thanks to 1066.net

Combined Cadet Force

Certainly from 1950, when 796 (Hastings Grammar School) squadron of the Air Training Corps was disbanded, Hastings Grammar School had a combined cadet force, although, perhaps unusually, the cadets only followed training in army or air-force skills. The force was commanded by F/Lt Arthur J. Attwood[6] until the mid-1980s and, certainly whilst at the Parkstone Road site, boasted an armoury with .303 rifles and the cockpit section of a chipmunk trainer aircraft.

Nelson Road Site

The ​building​ - an imposing structure of grey stone with a red roofed tower, constructed on Standen's High Field was officially opened in July 1883 and closed in 1964. It was then used by MPBW for a few years and demolished in 1972. The school was accessed by a curved driveway due to the hilly nature of the site which opened out on to Nelson Road .

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

Following the closure of the Nelson Road site in 1964, the school moved to a new purpose-built school on what had originally 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 ​building​s of the latter eventually being converted to housing.


In February 1993, the main hall and attached gymnasium/music rooms, were destroyed in an arson attack necessitating their rebuilding, the hall then becoming known as 'The Phoenix Arts Centre'[7][8].

Head Teachers

Parker's School
(Situated in vicinity of Torfield House[2])
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[a]
(School at Upper Lane[9])
Parker’s School Saunder’s School
1816 – 1817 Benjamin Slade
(School on America Ground[10])
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[11][5] 1833 – 1844 John Banks[11][5]
1844 – 1848 William Bevins
1848 – 1878 John Banks
By 1873, the school had moved to the ​building​ known today as 'Sunnyside' on the junction of Portland Steps and Stonefield Road.
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 Thomas 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

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.


References & Notes

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