RGS Worcester and The Alice Ottley School

"See Royal Grammar School for the other schools with the name RGS."Infobox Secondary school
name = RGS Worcester and The Alice Ottley School

motto = "respice et prospice (ex-RGS)
candida rectaque" (ex-AO)
established = 2007
Merger of "Royal Grammar School Worcester" (founded ante 1291) and "The Alice Ottley School" (1883)
type = Private coeducational secondary
affiliations = HMC
headmaster = Mr Andrew Rattue
enrolment = 934
age range = 11-18
year-groups = 7-13
colours = Green, Blue, White
city = Worcester
state = Worcestershire
country = United Kingdom
website = http://www.rgsao.org/rgsao| www.rgsao.org]

RGS Worcester and The Alice Ottley School [ [http://www.rgsao.org The official name of the school is shown in the copyright disclaimer at the bottom.] ] (known as RGSAO for short [ [http://www.rgsao.org/rgsao/from_the_headmaster1 Shortened name shown in text several times.] ] ) is a coeducational, private, day school in Worcestershire, United Kingdom.

It was formed from the merger [ [http://www.rgsao.org/rgsao/from_the_headmaster1 The fact that it was a merger is made clear in the text.] ] of "RGS Worcester" (RGS) and "The Alice Ottley School" (AO) in September 2007.

The headmaster of the school is Andrew Rattue, who was headmaster of RGS prior to the merger.

Tuition fees for the school currently stand at £2898 per school term. [ [http://www.rgsao.org/files_rgsao/essential_information07-08final.pdf tuition fees for the school contained within] ]


As the origin of the school lies along the two paths of both the RGS and AO, the school has a somewhat complex and interesting history. The school can trace its origins back to and before 1291.

RGS Worcester

RGS Worcester (Royal Grammar School Worcester) was founded as a secular monastic school in Worcester around 685 by Bishop Bosel. It was located outside the monastic precincts (as with the The King's School, Canterbury) and catered for the relatives of monks and children intending to go into the monastery. The first written reference to the school appears in 1265 when the Bishop of Worcester, Walter de Cantelupe, sent four chaplains into the city to teach.

Conclusive evidence appears in 1291 when an argument was settled by Bishop Godfrey Giffard regarding who owned the wax from the candles used at the feast of St Swithun. It was decided that the Scholars of the Worcester School owned the wax, and the Rector of Saint Nicholas Church had to rely on the generosity of the scholars in order to get candle wax. The headmaster is mentioned as Stephen of London. The letter dated December 1291 is in the County Records Office in Worcester.

The next headmaster was appointed in 1312 as Hugh of Northampton as recorded in the Bishop's register for that year. He was appointed personally by the Bishop of Worcester, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Chancellor Walter Reynolds. The school continued to exist under the control of the city guilds through the centuries with various records of headmasters being appointed, again listed in the registers of the bishops of Worcester. One in particular was 'Sir Richard (Chaplain)', who was dismissed by the bishop of Worcester, Philip Morgan, in 1422 for taking money from the scholars for his own use. He was replaced the same year by Sir John Bredel. Sir Richard Pynnington was appointed in 1485 and is known to have given money to the Archbishop of Canterbury's fund, showing the strong connection of the school with the church.

Royal charters

Bishop Hugh Latimer wrote to Thomas Cromwell, Lord Chancellor, in 1535 asking for money to help with the City Walls, the Bridge and the School again showing the school's connection with the Bishop. Indeed the school was often referred to as the Bishop's School. After a petition by some notable citizens of Worcester to endow the school permanently, the school was given a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1561 and a governing body known as the Six Masters was set up, which remains as the governing body today. Amongst famous Six masters are John Wall, Earl Beauchamp and Sir Anthony Lechemere.

The Six Masters acquired much land for the school including its current site bought in 1562, the Pitchcroft fields, now used as the city racecourse, and land in Herefordshire still owned by the school. The 1906 Charity Commission survey also recorded a number of Pubs in Worcester which still exist today.

A second Royal Charter was granted in 1843 by Queen Victoria, and the title of 'Royal' was conferred in 1869 after the school moved to its present site in Worcester. It is interesting to note that when Queen Victoria presented the school with three volumes, personally signed by her, she seemed to forget the title of the school. The first volume, Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands 1848 to 1861, referred to the school as the 'Royal Free School of Worcester'; whilst the second volume she presented, More Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands 1862 to 1882, had the name of the school as 'Queen Elizabeth's Free Grammar School, Worcester.

Rival schools

In 1501 an attempt was made at establishing a rival school in the city, but the Bishop of Worcester at the time, Sylvestre de Giglis, passed a law that stated any person who set up a school in the city or monastic precincts would be excommunicated. Thus all rivals ceased to exist, and the headmaster of that said school, Hugh Cratford MA, was created headmaster of the City School in 1504.Leach, A. F. "Schools of Mediaeval England",Methuen Young Books, 1969. ISBN 0-416-13360-6. ]

In 1541, however, Henry VIII founded a new school in Worcester; [Craze, M. "King's School, Worcester: 1541-1971.", Ebenezer Baylis and Son, 1972] The King's School Worcester was based on the former site of the Royal Grammar School, and to this day there still exists a level of rivalry between the two schools, which manifests itself most obviously in sports fixtures (mainly rugby) between the two schools. The most prominent of these fixtures being one that occurs once a year between the schools 1st XV on the neutral site of Worcester Rugby Club, with RGSAO having beaten Kings' school in the most recent match in 2007.

Recent Times

In the Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries RGS had connections with Worcester Academy USA, with which the RGS was twinned, and formed a connexion with a secondary school based in Tanzania. The school had close links with private schools in the local region due to its membership of the 'Monmouth Group', which is a collection of schools similar in aims and membership to that of the Eton Group. The school was also a member of the HMC meaning it had links with schools across the globe. The school had links with four (of the other six) Royal Grammar Schools in the country due to its participation in an annual cricket competition between five of the RGS Schools. The other four RGS schools that compete are those in Colchester, Guildford, High Wycombe, and Newcastle with the host school changing each year, last year the competition was held at Guildford. It is interesting to note that RGS Guildford is Andrew Rattue's former employer, he was Deputy Head there until he took up the post of Headmaster at RGS.

RGS was boys only, until 2002, where girls entered the sixth form. Girls entered Year 7 a year later.

Until 1992, RGS accepted boarders, who resided in Whiteladies house, a building that is rumoured to contain hidden treasure from Charles I, when he sought refuge there during the Civil War. This is where the house name came from (see below).

The Alice Ottley School

The Alice Ottley School was founded by Canon William Butler of Wantage and Alice Ottley in 1883. Canon Butler had arrived in Worcester in 1881 and he noted that whilst the provision of education for boys was good (with the Royal Grammar School and the King's School), there was nothing of the same calibre for their sisters. And so, on 21st June 1883, the front door of Britannia House in The Tything opened to just 11 pupils. These eleven girls ('the first eleven' as they are known) were welcomed by Miss Ottley and her three staff and taken through the hall out into the garden, where Canon Butler led them in prayer. Right from its inception, the school operated on a strong Anglican ethos, maintained throughout its 124 year history, although in 1883, pupils joined 'The Worcester High School for Girls'. The school was renamed in 1913 (but not legally until 1914) in honour of its first Headmistress Miss Alice Ottley. [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0e878084-34fd-11dc-bb16-0000779fd2ac.html Mixed Blessings] ; "Financial Times" Magazine, 21/22 July 2007 (page 22)] and became 'The Alice Ottley School'.

Alice Ottley remained Headmistress until 1912. She had already resigned when she fell ill in June 1912. She died in London on 18th September, by coincidence the first day of the new term under her successor, Miss Margaret Spurling. Miss Ottley's funeral was held on 21st September (a Saturday) in Worcester and, as a mark of respect, all the shops closed and all blinds were drawn in the City. She was buried at Astwood Cemetery, with the inscription 'In Thy Light we shall see Light'. In 1957, the City of Worcester added its own, more lasting commemoration in the form of a window in the Cloisters of the Cathedral. It remains to this day.

After Alice Ottley

Miss Ottley's successor was Margaret Spurling, who was Headmistress from 1912 until 1934. To her fell the task of leading the School through the difficulties of the Great War, the economic crash of 1929 and the subsequent depression in the early 1930s.

Miss Spurling was succeeded by Miss Hilda Roden in 1934, who continued as Headmistress until 1964. Miss Roden led the School successfully through the privations of the Second World War and then the 1950s and early 1960s - times which pressaged significant social change.

Miss Roden retired and was replaced by Miss Eileene Millest. Miss Millest was Headmistress from 1964 until 1985 and was the last Headmistress to live in an apartment in Britannia House itself. Under her, the School expanded to around 750 girls, the mix still including daygirls and boarders. As a consequence of the expansion in numbers, her stewardship oversaw a number of building projects, including Cobham sports hall, science laboratories, additional class rooms and food technology rooms.

Miss Millest was succeeded by Miss Christine Sibbit in 1986 who led the school until her retirement, when she was succeeded by Mrs. Morag Chapman. During Miss Sibbit's time, the School closed its boarding houses and became a day school only. Mrs. Chapman has the distinction of being the last Headmistress of the Alice Ottley School and left her post in 2007, when the School merged with the Worcester Royal Grammar School next door.

In the 124 year history, the School had just six Headmistresses and a portrait of each hangs in Main Hall. In the last portrait of Mrs. Chapman, there is a fitting and touching acknowledgement and link back to Miss Ottley, for Mrs. Chapman wears the delicate Victorian enamel brooch that was Miss Ottley's, depicting a white lily - the emblem of the School.

Links and Connections

The School had well-established links with Worcester Cathedral where the annual Carol Service and Prize–giving were held. The School was associated with two great British artists – the renowned English composer Edward Elgar and the writer Lewis Carroll. Elgar was a visiting teacher of the violin in Miss Ottley’s day whilst Lewis Carroll, who wrote ‘Alice in Wonderland’, was a great friend of Miss Ottley’s and regularly visited the school.


On 10 December 2006, the schools announced the merger, after the news had been leaked to the press the previous day [ [http://archive.worcesternews.co.uk/2006/12/10/439824.html Worcester Evening News Archive] ] . The merger took place on 1 September 2007.

The merger was set to arise a large mix of emotions from the students, parents and just locals, who were concerned at the thought of losing the historic old schools, and the loss of girls only education. [ http://archive.worcesternews.co.uk/2006/12/12/440055.html Worcester News ] [ [http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/search/1069366.For_some_it_is_sad__for_others_schools_merger_is_great_news_/ Worcester News] ]

chool Coat of Arms

The school Coat of Arms for the new school is currently being designed. It is likely to contain significant parts of each crest. Meanwhile, both old crests are used on letterhead and other logos.

For the foreseeable future, however, both the RGS and the AO crest will be used.

Junior schools

The school has two junior schools:
*RGS The Grange, originally part of RGS.
*AO Springfield, originally part of AO.

Both of the junior schools are now co-educational, completing the school's change to fully integrated co-education.

Land and buildings

Many of the current ex-RGS buildings were paid for by the great benefactor and collector Charles William Dyson Perrins, who was an Old Boy and a Six Master. Perrins Hall was named after his father James Dyson Perrins, owner of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, who went to the school. The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) was set up in 1910 and continues to this day, with a rifle range being incorporated into the basement of Perrins Hall in 1914.Wheeler, A R. "Royal Grammar School Worcester, 1950 to 1991 with retrospect to 1291", Royal Grammar School Worcester, 1991. ISBN 0-9516775-0-0]

The School Playing Fields are located nearby at the back of the school, next to the Birmingham and Worcester Canal. Flagge Meadow (pronounced Flag) was first levelled and used for cricket in 1886 and has seen many famous international cricketers play there. In July 2007, because of severe flooding of New Road, Worcestershire County Cricket Club played their List A game against Sri Lanka A at Flagge Meadow. [cite web |url=http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk/Archive/Scorecards/107/107577.html |title=Worcestershire v Sri Lanka A in 2007 |accessdate=2007-09-26 |publisher=CricketArchive] The other playing field across the road from Flagge Meadow is St Oswald's Field mainly used for athletics. Athletics is one of the oldest recorded sports of the school being played before the 1860s. Today it continues as a major summer sport along with cricket, with tournaments being held against rival Public Schools from around the country.

School's halls

The Old School buildings were built in 1868 on a site owned by the school since 1562. Main Hall, Eld Hall and adjoining buildings were designed by A E Perkins in the Gothic style. It is three bays long with a central lantern. A life-size statue of Elizabeth I by R L Boulton stands above the central window.Pevsner, N. "Buildings of England: Worcestershire", Yale University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-300-09660-7.]

Built in 1914 to the plans of Alfred Hill Parker, a former pupil, it is in a Jacobethan style with an Oriel Window on the staircase end and balcony looking over the hall. The interior is panelled with fitted bookcases (which make up the Dowty Library) and a plastered ceiling. The organ is on the stage. Two [http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Worcestershire/WorcesterRoyalGrammarSchool.html war memorials] for the two World Wars are housed in the hall. The hall is named after James Dyson Perrins of the Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce factory and was built by his son Charles William Dyson Perrins, whose life size portrait hangs opposite the fireplace. Portraits of the 20th-century headmasters hang below.

The Clock Block is connected to the Perrins Hall and was built in 1927, and had extension work carried out in 1967 to link it to the Science Block. It has a bell tower and clock above the entrance. The clock is made of Cotswold Limestone, and is surmounted by the carved head of Old Father Time. To commemorate the millennium a stained glass window was commissioned and installed over the main entrance to the Clock Block.

Other halls include, Central Hall, the entrance hall, in the main ex Alice Ottley building. Within this building is also Main Hall, where lunch and certain assemblies are taken. This room contains portraits of all the past headmistresses of AO. It also contains the second school organ, which previously belonged to Edward Elgar, who was a benefactor to the school. There is also Cobham Sports Hall, and Little London Sports Hall.

Britannia house is where the headmaster's offices and meeting rooms are located.

Other blocks include: Roden, Sandys, Hillard, Gordon House/Godfrey Brown Theatre, Pullinger, Whitstones, Whiteladies, Science and the South Wing.

Other buildings of note

The Science buildings form the third side of the courtyard. These were built in 1922 and opened in that year by the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). The science buildings were subsequently re-furbished in 1996 and thereafter re-opened by Michael Portillo. The science block features at one end of a long path which comes from the main quad of the school, which is the location of Perrins Hall and the Main block. This long path is known as Long Walk, in reference not only to its length, but the hope that pupils will not run along it!

Whiteladies House, built in the seventeenth century, was traditionally the Headmaster's house and stands opposite Clock Block across the gardens. Its West wall is part of the Whiteladies Priory chapel built in 1255. Its name derives from the White Habit worn by Cistercian nuns, who were based at a nunnery adjacent to Whiteladies.

Other buildings include Priory House (17th Century), Pullinger House (1980s), Gordon House (after Adam Lindsay Gordon OE) and Hillard Hall (1961, opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on her second visit to the school). The Almshouses, built in 1877 in the Arts and crafts style, were designed by the famous architect Sir Aston Webb and are an example of some of his earliest work. Sir Aston Webb designed the facade of Buckingham Palace, the Royal Naval College Dartmouth and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Prior to the merger, the most recent building work to a school building took place on the school's library. The library was refurbished in 2001, and was renamed the Philip Sawyer Library (after the former Chairman of the Governors). The library is situated above Eld Hall, and features a high vaulted roof structure.

Trees of note

The school has a rare Black Pear tree, planted in 1961, in its main courtyard. The tree is associated with Worcester after the visit of Queen Elizabeth I in 1574 (at which a scholar from her school welcomed her to the city) when she commented on the Black Pear trees. Hence the [http://worcestershire.whub.org.uk/home/cs-transport-project-express-worcester-city-logo.jpgCity] , County, and the School have three black pears on their Arms.


The school(s) has had several housing systems over the years.

The old systems (until September 2007)

The systems before the merger:
*RGS had 8 houses (boys only until 2002, then co-ed). These are shown in the table below.
*AO had 5 houses (girls only). These are also shown in the table below.

The interim system (until September 2008)

For one year after the merger, RGSAO had thirteen houses, all eight from RGS, all five from AO.

After the merger, the school decided to keep all of the houses because "family traditions and pupil loyalties are important." [ [http://www.rgsao.org/files/may_merger_news.pdf Merger News] ]

All girls at the school were put into one of the original RGS houses, and one of the original AO houses. Boys however, were just be put into an original RGS house. This was done because, the RGS houses were co-ed but the AO houses were single sex.

Problems with system

The all girl houses were meant to be solely used for girls only competitions, but this did not happen leading to a house system review. Girls were only able to have girls only house meetings once a month as there is not sufficient space to hold 13 house meetings simultaneously/people can't be in two places at once. Therefore, the Girls' Houses were pretty much non-existent in 2007.

It was always likely that some of the houses could be merged together and some be retired, as the 13 house system did not work smoothly from the beginning.

There was then a house review as the system was branded "unwieldy" [ [http://www.rgsao.org/files_rgsao/rgsao_new_house_system_letter.pdf RGSAO] ] by the headmaster.

The Wylde House Competition (from September 2008)

In February 2008, it was announced that the existing houses system would be scrapped; and all houses would be axed. They were be replaced with 6 new ones. The new system started in September 2008 and is called the Wylde Cup (after one of the ex-RGS houses). All the new houses are be co-ed. All pupils (and non head staff) have been sorted into a new house. They are named after aspects of both the RGS and AO and their histories. The school decided that a fresh start was needed. [ [http://www.rgsao.org/files_rgsao/rgsao_new_house_system_letter.pdf A letter summarising house information] ] The new colours are similar to the current ones.

House Competitions

These are normally divided up into Junior, Intermediate and Senior.

Most of these are outdoor sporting events, the others are as follows:
*General Knowledge
*Debating (currently on trial as of 2008)
*Song (axed in 2007 after trial)

The houses gain points depending on how well they do in these competitions.


The school operates on a 0835 (registration) to 1545 schedule, which includes 8 periods (of either 35 or 40 minute durations), a morning break (of 25 minutes) at 1055, and a lunch break (of 1 hour and 5 minutes) at 1310, where senior students may go off site. Lessons begin at 9:05 a.m.

The school offers 24 subjects at A-level and 18 subjects at GCSE level. [ [http://www.rgsao.org/rgsao/curriculum1 The RGSAO curriculum] ] The school has had a strong academic track record in recent years. In 2005 its A-Level results were the highest in Worcestershire, and in the top 150 schools nationally. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/graphics/2005/08/27/ngcse27.pdf www.telegraph.co.uk/news/graphics/2005/08/27/ngcse27.pdf] ] The school has had a record year in 2006, of offers to Oxbridge, with 14 students being offered conditional offers. [http://www.rgsao.org/ www.rgsao.org] ] In 2005 over 99% secured places at universities, with 6% deciding to take GAP years. [ "The Elizabethan" (The Magazine of The Worcester Old Elizabethans' Association), No. 82, 2005. ] This year the school has had considerable success in national competitions.

Extracurricular activities

The school has a number of sports teams which compete with schools from both within the locality and those from around the country. The school fields teams in cricket, rugby, football, athletics, rowing, tennis, netball, lacrosse, hockey debating and chess. The rowing squad have been the most successful sport in recent years, with annual national medals and former RGSW pupil Colin Scott rowing for Cambridge in the 2008 Boat Race.

There is a large and active CCF section at the school, with all three branches of the services represented. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the The Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, and all three levels of award are regularly achieved by students. One of the other activities that students can participate in is the Ten Tors event, with the school having had teams compete at all three distance levels.

The school also offers extensive drama productions, with at least three productions per year, and in 2007 we saw the first RGS musical. There is also a thriving choir and music department with many varied ensembles; a debating society. Various clubs which are set up and run for or on behalf of pupils, include and have included, computer club; science club; sailing club and trampolining.

Notable patrons

*Lewis Carroll Friend of Alice Ottley.
*Edward Elgar Taught music at the AO school. Installed the organ in Main Hall.
* Oswold of Worcester
* Bishop Godfrey Giffard (1240-1306) Bishop of Worcester and Lord Chancellor of England.
* Bishop Walter Reynolds (d.1327) Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England.
* Hugh Latimer (1470-1555) Bishop of Worcester and Protestant Martyr.
* C.W. Dyson Perrins Chairman Royal Worcester Porcelain and collector.
* Queen Elizabeth I
* Queen Victoria
* Godfrey Brown Headmaster 1950-78,Olympic Gold Medallist.
* Dr. Roger Fry CBE Governor, Founder of King's College, Madrid.
* Lord Cobham Benefactor of AO.

Past pupils

Old Boys of RGS are called "Worcester Old Elizabethans" (see ).

Old Girls of Alice Ottley are "AO Old girls."

These organisations are to be merged in the future. It is unknown what the new organisation will be called.

Famous pupils of both schools include:
*Dr. R Wardle, Internationally Renowned Obstetrician and Linguist
*Vanessa Redgrave, actress
*Barbara Cartland, writer
*Sheila Scott, the first pilot to make a solo round the world flight
*Nicci Gerrard, writer
*John Mark Ainsley (1963-) Tenor
*Sir Roy Allen (R.G.D. Allen) (1906-1980) Economist
*Dom Augustine Bradshaw (1574-1618) Catholic missionary
*Sir Reginald Bray KG (d.1503) Statesman and Architect
*Tim Curtis (1960-) Cricketer, former captain of Worcestershire.
*Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870) National Poet of Australia
*Dean Headley (1970-) Former England International Cricketer
*Timothy D Evans (1968-) TV, Film & Music Entrepreneur
*Imran Khan (1952-) Pakistani Cricketer
*William Langland (1330-1387)
*Benjamin Williams Leader RA (1831-1923) Artist
*Sir Thomas Littleton (1407-1481) Lawyer
*Jurek Martin (1942 -) Financial Times Foreign Correspondent and former Foreign Editor
*Julian Phillips (1965 -) Former Head Boy and Businessman
*Graham Robb (1958-) Author
*T J Cobden Sanderson (1840-1922) Arts and Crafts movement pioneer
*Philip Serrell TV Auctioneer. He is this year's Old Elizabethans' President.
*Jon Turley (1971-) Children's writer
*Simon Webb (1955-) TV, Theatre and Film composer
*Professor Michael Wilding (1942-) Australian Author
*Sir Edward Leader Williams (1828-1910) civil engineer (Manchester Ship Canal)

School Magazine

A new title for the annual magazine is currently being decided.
* At RGS it was "The Worcesterian."
* At AO it was "White and Blue."


External links

* [http://www.rgsao.org School Website]

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