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Ipswich School

Ipswich School
Motto Semper Eadem
(Latin for Always The Same)
Established 1399
Type Public school
Independent day and boarding school
Headmaster Nicholas J Weaver
Chairman of Governors Karl Daniels
Location Suffolk
DfE URN 124881 Tables
Students c.750 pupils
Gender Coeducational
Ages 2–18
Houses 6 day houses and 1 large boarding house
Colours Navy blue, blue and white               
Publication The Ipswichian, The Cardinal, The Ipswichian Occasional, The Friendly
Visitor HM Queen Elizabeth II
Website .uk.sch.suffolk.ipswichwww

Ipswich School is an independent school for children aged 3 to 18, situated in Suffolk, England, in the town of Ipswich. It may also be termed in England 'public school' and is a registered charity.

Located north of the town centre, Ipswich School has four parts on three adjacent sites. The Pre-Prep and Nursery were established in 1883 with the aim of preparing children aged 7 to 11 for entry into the Senior School. The Senior School occupies the main school site. The main buildings are a distinctive example of Victorian architecture, with Tudor style brick. The main building and chapel are both Grade II listed.[1] The school buildings surround a central playing field and cricket square along with the Cricket Pavilion. The remainder of the School's sport's fields are located at a nearby site on the edge of the town. The School is in the process of constructing a new purpose-built music school, which is to be named after Benjamen Britten, adjacent to the Cricket Pavilion.

Within the Senior School the students are divided into three: the Lower School (Years 7 and 8), the Middle School (Years 9-11) and the Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13).

The School operates on an independent, fee-charging basis, with a few scholarships and means-tested bursaries. It selects pupils by the use of entrance exams. Pupils appear in examination league tables (though the statistics are not directly comparable to state schools or are not published, such as value added) and in university entrances, and the school typically sends between 6 and 12 students to Oxford and Cambridge every year.[2] The School was designated as having a "Church of England" Religious Character.[3] The school has, however, not chosen to register as having a Religious Charter under the 2009 order.[4]


  • History 1
  • Houses 2
  • Sports and activities 3
    • Cricket Ground 3.1
  • School publications 4
  • Upper 6th leaving events 5
  • Headmasters 6
  • Notable Old Ipswichians 7
  • References 8
  • Sources 9
  • External links 10


A view of Ipswich School from Christchurch Park, as seen in an old postcard

The oldest record that may refer to the school in Ipswich goes back to 1399, in a legal dispute over unpaid fees. The first recorded mention of a grammar school in Ipswich is 1416. The school was likely set up by the Merchant Guild of Ipswich, which became the Guild of Corpus Christi. The sons of the ruling burgesses were educated for a fee, and the sons of nobility and gentry could attend at higher fees.

From 1483 the school moved to a house bequeathed by ex-pupil Richard Felaw, a merchant and politician. His will also provided rental income for the school and stated that, for Ipswich children, only those parents with income over a certain amount should pay fees.

In 1528, building work began on an ambitious project for a 'college' school in Ipswich to rival the likes of Eton College. Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor of England, funded his 'College of St Mary' by ''suppressing' local religious houses such as Rumburgh Priory.[5] Ipswich school was incorporated into the college. Wolsey, who was from Ipswich and may have attended Ipswich school, intended the new institution to be a feeder to his recently built 'Cardinal's College' of Oxford University, which is now known as Christ Church. However, Wolsey fell out of favour with King Henry VIII and the college in Ipswich was demolished in 1530 while still half-built. The school pupils returned to Felaw's house.

The play Henry VIII by William Shakespeare mentions the two colleges during a recounting of the life of Cardinal Wolsey; it was the college of Oxford University that outlasted him and became widely known:

'Those twins of learning that he rais'd in you,
Ipswich and Oxford! One of which fell with him,
Unwilling to outlive the good that did it;
The other, though unfinish'd, yet so famous'[6]

After Wolsey's downfall in 1530, his former ally Thomas Cromwell ensured the survival of the School by securing for it a new endowment from King Henry VIII and the status of a royal foundation. This was confirmed by Queen Elizabeth I in the charter that she granted to the School in 1566. For part of the School's history it was known as Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Ipswich. The School's coat of arms and motto, Semper Eadem (Always the Same), are those of Elizabeth I. The Monarch of the United Kingdom, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the School's Visitor.

In 1614 the school moved across the road to the Blackfriar's refectory. During the reign of James I part of the Blackfriars Monastery was appropriated for use as a classroom, and the Blackfriars remained the School's home until 1842 when the building was deemed to be unsafe. For a few years teaching was carried on in temporary premises in Lower Brook Street. In 1851 Prince Albert laid the foundation stone for the School's first purpose-built premises in Henley Road, and by 1852 the new buildings were in use. The School has remained on the Henley Road site ever since.

More recently the School has moved away from the traditional full boarding ethos still held by similar schools such as Eton and Harrow. The number of boarding houses has reduced to one and the majority of students are day pupils. However, despite frowns from the full boarding traditionalists, the School has flourished under this new approach.


The school now has six day houses - Holden, Rigaud, Sherrington, School, Broke and Felaw - into which all pupils are filtered from year 9/Upper 6th Form onwards, and a single large boarding house - Westwood. Those with relatives who attended the school are generally expected to be placed in the same house. There is a good deal of competition between the houses and every year, the houses compete for the Ganzoni Cup (house cup), which is won by gaining points from winning inter-house events. These include most sports as well as others such as debating and art. The final and most important event is Sports Day, in the Summer Term, on which the athletics competitions take place. Felaw has won more times than any other house, with Rigaud in second place; it is believed that School has not won since the days of the reign of Queen Victoria. However, School is the oldest house and dates from the days when the boys lived and were taught in one house (called School House). It later became the boarding house which occupied a part of the main building on Henley Road.

House House Colours
Sherrington Maroon/Yellow
Felaw Brown/Blue
School Navy/Yellow
Broke Purple/Yellow
Holden Scarlet/Yellow
Rigaud Green/Yellow
Westwood (No Longer a House) Grey/Black

The school's single large boarding house is called Westwood. Westwood is no longer a part of the school house system where students were organised into school houses depending on which boarding house they were in. For example, Sherrington House occupied Highwood and, as previously mentioned, School House occupied part of the main Victorian building on Henley Road. A large percentage of the pupils who occupy Westwood today are overseas students, often Asian, nearly 80% are Chinese.

Sports and activities

The School offers a wide selection of sports ranging from the traditional rugby, hockey and cricket, to others such as indoor hockey, sailing and Eton Fives, being one of a handful of schools in the country to have Fives Courts. The School also offers other activities, including the Torino Debating Society, the Dead Poets Society (for A-Level English students), a Sub Aqua Club, Duke of Edinburgh Award and a Combined Cadet Force of which the School has an Army and Royal Air Force section. The School's music department provides several Orchestras, Ensembles and Choirs. Plays are staged every year, in either Great School or Little School.

Cricket Ground

Ipswich School Ground
Ground information
Establishment 1859 (first recorded match)
Domestic team information
Suffolk (1935-1938, 1960-1976, 1986-2000 & 2007-present)
As of 13 August 2010
Source: Ground profile

The first recorded cricket match on the school ground was in 1859, when Suffolk played an All-England Eleven.[7] The ground hosted its first Minor Counties Championship match in 1935 when Suffolk played Hertfordshire. To date the ground has hosted 33 Minor Counties Championship matches[8] and 2 MCCA Knockout Trophy matches.[9]

The ground has also hosted a single List A match between Suffolk and Kent in the 1966 Gillette Cup.[10]

School publications

The three main publications are The Ipswichian which is the annual School magazine, The Cardinal which is a publication for Old Ipswichians and The Occasional. The Occasional is the school newspaper published every Monday and written by pupils, and edited by the Press Officer. It contains articles of note and interest to the members of the school such as sports results and upcoming events. It has recently celebrated its 600th issue and is now in full colour as of the start of the school year 2008. Today, the print edition is in the process of being discontinued in favour of distribution via electronic mail for efficiency reasons.

Upper 6th leaving events

Ipswich School Headmaster, Ian Galbraith, playing his part in the leaving pranks, 2007.

Pranks have sometimes been carried out by departing 6th formers. Examples in different years have included: the school's blue gates were temporarily painted pink; a large boat was brought onto the cricket grounds; students hung various banners from the library and there was a sea-themed waterfight; musicians played on the school field while other activities took place such as releasing some farm animals, having an inflatable castle, an ice-cream van, and fancy dress.

However, the current Headmaster, Nicholas Weaver, has sought to discontinue the tradition over fears of damage to the school and health and safety concerns, instead renaming the event "Fun Day" and asking departing 6th formers to act appropriately. This has not been well received among students, many of whom had fond memories of leaving events during their years at the school. The school had the first Leavers' Day with this in place in May 2015, and was in fact well received by students, with the staff still allowing fancy dress, as well as organising specific events for students on the field, and a social gathering in the centre of Ipswich.


Notable Old Ipswichians

Former pupils, known as "Old Ipswichians", include:


  1. ^ Listed Buildings in Ipswich
  2. ^ Evening Star - Students enjoy A-level success
  3. ^ The Designation of Schools Having a Religious Character (Independent Schools) (England) Order 2005
  4. ^ The Designation of Schools Having a Religious Character (Independent Schools) (England) Order 2009
  5. ^ Page, William (1975) 'Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of Rumburgh', A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2, pp. 77-79 (available online). Retrieved 2011-05-02.
  6. ^ Shakespeare - Henry VIII, Act IV Scene 2, from Project Gutenberg e-text edition [2]
  7. ^ Other matches played on Ipswich School Ground
  8. ^ Minor Counties Championship Matches played on Ipswich School Ground
  9. ^ Minor Counties Trophy Matches played on Ipswich School Ground
  10. ^ List-A Matches played on Ipswich School Ground
  11. ^ Biography: Edward JeffreyIrving Ardizzone, Page retrieved 6 June 2014
  12. ^ "Kevin Ash obituary",  
  13. ^ Gray and Potter (1950). Ipswich School 1400 to 1950. p. 47. 
  14. ^ Obituary: Geoffrey Rees-Jones, Page retrieved 11 December 2011


  • John M. Blatchly, A Famous Antient Seed-Plot of Learning - A History of Ipswich School (Ipswich 2003).
  • G.R.W. Webb, The History of Ipswich School and Education in Ipswich (Ipswich 2005).

External links

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