John Hampden Grammar School

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John Hampden Grammar School
JHGS White Swan.png
Marlow Hill

, ,
HP11 1SZ

Coordinates51°37′01″N 0°45′52″W / 51.61707°N 0.76453°W / 51.61707; -0.76453Coordinates: 51°37′01″N 0°45′52″W / 51.61707°N 0.76453°W / 51.61707; -0.76453
TypeAcademy Grammar
MottoQuit Ye Like Men
SpecialistsTechnology College (2001)
Sports College (2006)
Language College (2009)
Department for Education URN136771 Tables
ChairmanPhil Maskell[1]
HeadteacherTracey Hartley[2]
Age11 to 18
Colour(s)White, black and gold             

John Hampden Grammar School (known colloquially as "JHGS") is a selective state boys' grammar school in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England. It is named after the local Member of Parliament and English Civil War commander John Hampden.

On 1 June 2011 Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, approved the school's application to become an Academy.


Early origins – the Schools of Science and Art[edit]

In the early 1890s a fund was set up to raise money for an art and technical school in High Wycombe to help support the traditional skills in the town of cabinet making, carving and polishing. Early donations to the fund included a grant of £575 from the School of Art in Kensington Gardens and a further donation from Buckinghamshire County Council's education fund which had benefited from proceeds derived from an unpopular tax imposed on wines and spirits. To make up the shortfall needed to pay for the building the schools' trustees and general committee ran a three-day fair in the grounds of Wycombe Abbey, the home of the then Lord Carrington; the fête took place in July 1892, with Lady Carrington arriving by a special train from Paddington. The Great Western Railway also ran excursions from Maidenhead, Thame, Aylesbury and Chinnor and the revelries were led by the band of the 17th Lancers. By the end of the event the committee had raised £800.[4]

The school was originally built on 530 square yards of land in Frogmore Gardens, known now as 'Frogmore', purchased from Lord Carrington for £325; the building work cost £1,964 and when the school opened there was still a shortfall of £230, some of which was met by a further bazaar. The original building was designed by Arthur Vernon who also designed the RGS building and was the first man to own a car in High Wycombe! In 1901 the trustees allowed girls to be taught in separate classes and teachers and this arrangement continued until 1906 when the girls moved to buildings in Benjamin Road ultimately becoming Wycombe High School. Courses were run at the school at all times of the day but most were in the evenings and weekends so that pupils could also work in the local furniture trade.

Technical Institute and moving from Frogmoor[edit]

Soon after the Schools of Science and Art opened the Frogmoor building was too small and a new site was discussed. In 1915 the Royal Grammar School moved to new buildings on Amersham Hill and it was suggested that the school (now usually referred to as Chepping Wycombe Science and Art Schools and Technical Institute) moved into the now vacated buildings in Easton Street (also designed by Arthur Vernon.) Unfortunately the outbreak of the First World War meant that the Wycombe High School buildings were needed to be a hospital so the girls moved into Easton Street and the boys had to wait. The Institute finally moved to Easton Street in 1919 and soon there was a significant expansion. Firstly the 1918 Education Act raised the school leaving age to 14 and it was decided to set up Junior Day Technical School as part of the Institute; this would be a full-time school. At the same time the Institute set up a training school for ex-soldiers and sailors who had become disabled in the war to prepare them for the furniture trade; the Easton Street buildings also soon proved too small and were significantly expanded and a series of wooden huts were installed to be used as classrooms. The Frogmoor school continued to be used after the move to Easton Street and was finally sold in 1928 (for £3,500),[5] it has since been used for a number of different purposes including a swimming pool and is now a dentist's.

In 1920 the Day School opened and technical classes in metalwork and woodwork were introduced - the first in the country; the schools changed their names to Wycombe Technical Institute and tuition was offered in most subjects (except French.) Although the School of Art continued to be part of the Institute it was often considered a separate entity and it moved to Amersham in 1973 becoming part of Amersham and Wycombe College. In 1927 land was rented from Lord Carrington to become the school's playing fields - until then the boys had used the Rye for sports fixtures;[6] the boys had to change in an open fronted pavilion near where the present one is and the girls had an even worse deal changing behind the large roller. The school motto 'Quit Ye Like Men', adapted from I Corinthians 16 v13, was adopted in 1924, it remained the motto even during the co-ed period - girls were admitted in 1925 mainly to study commercial subjects.

In 1944, following the introduction of the new Education Act, the Institute became the town's new technical school taking children at 11 and 13 plus. In 1946 it was decided to split the school and college although both still operating in the same building. By 1954, the combined school and further education centre had become vastly over-subscribed and unwieldy. Consequently, the High Wycombe College of Further Education was set up on its present site (now Bucks New University) although the final separation of pupils did not come about until 1963. In 1956 the girls transferred to the old Wycombe High School buildings in Benjamin Road to form Lady Verney High School. Lady Verney High School then moved to Wellsborne before finally merging with Wycombe High.

John Hampden and Marlow Hill[edit]

The school before the addition of the sixth form block in 2013

The boys remained at Easton Street as Wycombe Technical High School for a further 10 years before moving to the present site, the old school playing fields at the top of Marlow Hill in 1966; the name was changed to John Hampden School in 1970 and John Hampden Grammar School in 1984. More recent developments gave the school a new façade in September 1995 and the following January work was completed on a sixth-form block to provide specialist teaching rooms, private study rooms, a common room and a new library. In 2006 a new classroom block, used mainly for mathematics teaching and a sports hall were opened by Bob Wilson; this in turn allowed for an extension of the music department and development of a music studio. In 2011 a food technology room was built. In 2013 an extension to the Sixth Form block, incorporating a new library, was built.

In May 2019, a planning application was submitted for the construction of a new three storey classroom block on the front of the site;[7] the project was initially announced in December 2018, when the school received around £3m of funding from the Department for Education's selective school expansion fund, which proved controversial.[8][9]



Most of the valuable historic reminders of the early days of the Technical Institute ended up on a bonfire in the massive clearing out operation when the school moved to Marlow Hill; the only exceptions to this were the headmaster's chair, the headmaster's table, engraved with the school motto, and a carved set of 12 lockers. The lockers were designed in 1919 by Mr Shaw Wilson, head of the wood carving department and created by wounded soldiers who had returned from the war. Inscribed on the cornice are the words "They counted not their lives dear unto themselves."[10]


There have only been six headteachers in the history of the school; the management of the original schools was vested in the trustees who in turn entrusted day-to-day control to art masters Henry Bayfield and Shaw Wilson and the Education Committee secretary WT Pycraft. The secretary was replaced by Hamilton Haddow and in 1913 by Arthur Gardham. W. J. Stamps ARCA took over from Bayfield in 1911 and he ultimately became Headmaster of the School of Art; the first headmaster (known in 1920 as Principal) of the Technical School was Mr Arthur Gardham BSc. who joined in 1913 and won the MC with the Royal Garrison Artillery during the First World War. The former army captain is remembered by old boys as a determined character who liked to get his own way; as a result of his wartime injuries he always carried a walking stick. He would hold a daily roll call on the Fives Court when he inspected hair, shoes, general tidiness.[11]

After the sudden death in post of Mr Gardham at the age of 51, the governors appointed Mr William John Davies BSc (1893-1977) Davies, an ex-army captain, had taught at Greenwich Royal Hospital School, Dame Allan's School and Acton Technical College, where he was Senior Physics Lecturer; as the split between the School and College started in 1946 Mr Davies was both Principal of the College and Headmaster of the School. When Mr Davies was due to retire his job was split; the college job going to Mr Desmond Everett (in 1960) and Harold Ward becoming Headmaster (in 1958.) He retired in 1982 and was replaced by Mr Andrew MacTavish. Mr MacTavish then retired in July 2000 and was replaced by Mr Stephen Nokes. Mr Stephen Nokes retired after 16 years in service in July 2016, replaced by headteacher Miss Tracy Hartley in September 2016, the school's first female headteacher.


The school offers 19 different sports from football, hockey and rugby through to squash and Rock-it-Ball, it also runs international cricket, football, hockey, squash and rugby tours.

In 1986 the under 18 football team won the ESFA trophy and were runners up in 1992.[12] In 2008, the Year 9, under 14 football team won the ESFA Under 14 Schools' Cup again, beating Lancaster School from Leicester at Huish Park, the home of Coca-Cola League 1 side Yeovil Town.

Appearances in the media[edit]

John Hampden Grammar School has appeared in the media on a number of occasions. A section of BBC Radio 4's In Our Time was recorded at the school. In 2008 it featured in a BBC Radio 4 programme about the 11+ examination and social selection.[13]

In May 2010, the school featured on Channel 4 in a programme presented by Heston Blumenthal, a former pupil at the school. In the programme, the chef, made famous for his restaurant in Bray, the Fat Duck, cooked spam fritters with members of the school's kitchen staff.

In 2003 the Royal Grammar School was used as the location for two seasons of the television series That'll Teach 'em for Channel 4; the then head teacher was the retired head of the John Hampden Grammar School, Andrew MacTavish.[14]

2010 fire[edit]

On 4 November 2010, a gas explosion occurred in the caretaker's house on the premises. In the incident, the school's caretaker was airlifted to hospital with serious burns and the school evacuated.[15] After the explosion the school raised money for the caretaker in his recovery by means of a Mufti Day where the pupils came to school in their own clothes as opposed to the standard uniform.[16][17]

Notable former pupils[edit]

The school lists a number of former alumni on its website.


  1. ^ "Governors - John Hampden Grammar School". Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Welcome from the Headteacher and the Head Boy - John Hampden Grammar School". Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  3. ^ "URN 136771 John Hampden Grammar School". Edubase/DfE. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  4. ^ Past, Present and Future: Bucks's history documented by Muriel Pilkington.
  5. ^ Past, Present and Future by Muriel Pilkington.
  6. ^ School magazine, 1927.
  7. ^ Joy, Matt (20 June 2019). "High Wycombe Grammar School plans major new extension". Bucks Free Press. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  8. ^ Trivedi, Shruti Sheth (6 December 2018). "'Totally unfair' plans to hand grammar schools millions for disadvantaged children slammed by campaigners". Bucks Free Press. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  9. ^ Sellgren, Katherine (3 December 2018). "The 16 grammars that have won funds to expand". BBC News. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  10. ^ Bucks Free Press, 16 May 1919.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "ESFA Under 18". ESFA.
  13. ^ Burnell, Paul (18 December 2008). "A social selection". BBC.
  14. ^ "Back to the future". NCSL - ldr magazine. 1 June 2004. Archived from the original on 25 July 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2006.
  15. ^ "School caretaker's house explodes in High Wycombe". BBC News. 4 November 2010.
  16. ^ "UPDATED: Firefighters tackle blaze at Wycombe grammar school (From Bucks Free Press)". 4 November 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  17. ^ "School prays for caretaker injured in explosion (From Bucks Free Press)". 5 November 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  18. ^ "Parent's Association Newsletter" (PDF). John Hampden Grammar School. February 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2006.
  19. ^ "Spring Newsletter" (PDF). John Hampden Grammar School. March 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2006.
  20. ^ "England Player Profiles". England Hockey. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011.
  21. ^ "Giles Richard Cooper official Royal Variety Biog".
  22. ^ "Iconic Wycombe furniture designer dies". Bucks Free Press. 27 November 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  23. ^ School photos in the JHGS archives
  24. ^ "John Hampden Grammar School - USA Tour 2009 - Videos - View Friday Night With Michael Fox". Archived from the original on 15 April 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  25. ^ "jhgs Latest News". jhgs. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  26. ^ "Peter Keen" (PDF). Loughborough University. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  27. ^ "Discworld heroes were old masters". Bucks Free Press. 13 February 2002. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2006.
  28. ^ "Shayler: The exiled spy". BBC news. 26 February 2000. Retrieved 28 July 2006.

External links[edit]