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The College > History of Farnham College

History of Farnham College

1351  Ancient chapel/chantry established at Farnham Castle – unfortunately no documentation of this exists

1560  Application for a licence to build a school at ‘Farnham, in the County of Surrey, England’

1578  Robert Horne, Bishop of Winchester, set up a scheme for the erection of a school in Farnham – possibly a revival of the fourteenth-century chantry school as mentioned before

1585  Richard Searle donates 20 shillings ‘to the maintenance of the school of Farnham’ – proof that it had been built

1611  Dr. Harding of Frensham – President of Magdalen College, Oxford – left rent of £10 annually to the school

West Street in Farnham


1650  Henry Massingberd endowed the School in or around this period

1657  First actual mention of the school is as a result of a court held in the Manor of Farnham – John and Nicholas Brown had to sell land they acquired dishonestly and the monies paid ‘the schoolmaster of the town of Farnham....teaching the Latin tongue in the school house adjoining the church of Farnham’

1673  School is mentioned in John Aubrey’s ‘Perambulations of Surrey’

1680  George Morley, Bishop of Winchester, left the Schoolmaster a dwelling in West Street, a garden and several tenements in Farnham

1758  School dismantled and materials sold – it had been decided to enlarge the church yard. No mention of what happens to the school itself; that could well have been when it moved to West Street

1788  Things were dire – just eight boys at the school

1800  Rev. S. Locke arrived from London and brought 12 private pupils with him; he would only teach these boys and not any of the other school pupils

1823  Rev. H. A. Austen is Headmaster, brother of Jane Austen

1849  School reorganised as a grammar school in line with the Grammar Schools Act of 1840

1872  A new schoolroom and dormitory were added to the school

1893  School partly rebuilt by several old boys; Paxton Watson was the architect and Tompsett and Kingsham the builder

1897  Farnham Council granted Mrs. G. Swayne a licence to start a school at 74 Castle Street. Named The Modern Commercial School for Daughters of Tradesmen, it was very small but was set to grow

1901  Rev. T. Gardiner set up a committee to found a secondary school for girls in Farnham. On 23rd September, 1901 the new Grammar School for Girls, Farnham opened at 74 Castle Street. Later generations would celebrate this date as Foundation Day

1903  Charity Commissioners asked to sell the buildings in West Street (FGS) to Surrey County Council for use as the girls’ grammar school. In November, the Morley Road site was purchased for the boys’ school 

1904  Farnham Grammar School for Girls in East Street officially taken over by the county, the first grammar school in the county to be integrated into the new state system

1906  Farnham Grammar School is established and opened under a charitable trust – Farnham Grammar School Foundation Trust. The girls also moved into their new accommodation in West Street

1908  The name of the girls’ grammar school was changed from Farnham Grammar School for Girls to Farnham Girls’ Grammar School - the Headmaster at FGS (boys) thought that the name of the girls’ school was too similar and people might think that the schools were linked, which was not the case

1938  February – permission given for new girls’ grammar school to be built in Farnham. Work starts in April; architects are Jarvis and Richards, who were commissioned to build the new technical college in Guildford

1939  Farnham Girls’ Grammar School relocated to Menin Way – opened by Duchess of Gloucester on 20th July.   Accommodates 330 girls and cost £50,000 to build

1940  Greycoat Hospital School from Westminster evacuated to FGGS via Brighton

1943  Greycoat girls return to their school in Westminster

1944  Common entrance examinations (11+) meant that the school no longer offered scholarships or took fees – entrance to the school was through academic prowess

1973  Farnham Grammar School merged with Farnham Grammar School for Girls to create the first sixth form college in Farnham. The new college retains its voluntary controlled status and reforms as the Farnham College Foundation

1985  Farnhamians’ 400 Trust charity formed to celebrate 400th anniversary

2007  Farnham College merges with Guildford College. The Trust was re-designated as Farnham Educational Foundation

2010  Planned maintenance of the old school building reveals that the Bell Tower is in a dangerous state; a large crane removed it to safety pending repairs

Farnham College main building


Details of the Old Farnhamians' Association, the organisation that provides a continuing link for former pupils and staff of Farnham Grammar School can be found at:


01252 71 69 88

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