Bury Grammar School

Bury Grammar School

Bury Grammar School
Motto Sanctas Clavis Fores Aperit
(Latin: the key that opens holy doors)
Established c.1570
Type Independent grammar school
Headmaster Mr Richard Marshall
Headmistress Bobby Georghiou
Location Boys' School
Tenterden Street
Girls' School
Bridge Road

Greater Manchester
Students 1600 (approx.)
Gender Boys or Girls
Ages 3–18
Houses Derby, Hulme, Howlett, Kay or Lester, Kitchener, Nield, Perigo
Colours (Yellow,Blue,Red,Green)respectively
Publication The Clavian
Boys' school website www.bgsboys.co.uk
Girls' school website www.bgsg.bury.sch.uk
Development Assn. www.bgsdev.co.uk
Former pupils Old Clavians/Claviennes

Bury Grammar School is an independent grammar school in Bury, Greater Manchester, England, that has existed since c.1570. The headmaster is Richard Marshall. The previous headmaster, Reverend Stephen Harvey, retired after 7 years to take up a position at Newcastle Cathedral. The Headmistress of the Girls' School is Roberta (Bobby) Georghiou.

Bury Grammar School celebrates its Founders' Day on the Friday closest to 6 May (the Feast of St John before the Latin Gate), the date upon which Roger Kay, who re-founded the School with a generous bequest, specified the Trustees should meet annually to inspect the School. On this particular Friday, a procession leads from school through the major street of Bury to Bury Parish Church, led by the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). Since the CCF is attached to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, a regiment with the Freedom of the Borough, the cadets are permitted to march with swords drawn, drums beating and colours flying. After a commemoration service, the pupils are awarded a half-holiday. Services for younger pupils are held simultaneously in the Roger Kay Hall (located in what is now the Girls' School), the Boys' School and the Boys' Preparatory School.

In 1977, the Boys' School celebrated the 250th anniversary of its re-founding by Roger Kay, and the school was visited on November 19, 1976 by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The Grammar School, originally housed in buildings in The Wylde (which exists today as The Blackburn Hall) behind the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, moved to a new building on Tenterden Street which it shared with the local girls' high school, then known as Bury High School for Girls. The girls' school was subsequently renamed Bury Grammar School for Girls and the two schools, whilst remaining separate entities, shared the same building until the erection of a more modern facility for the boys across Bridge Road in the 1960s. The schools recently publicly announced their intention to build a joint sixth form centre for day use only, and certain subjects in the sixth form are taught jointly across the two schools. The Roger Kay bequest specified that the Headmaster had to be an Oxford or Cambridge graduate, hence the reason for the predominance of dark and light blue in the school uniforms.

The school's crest (depicted opposite and worn with pride on the blazer and cap) dates from c. 1840. It depicts a swan tenaciously gripping a key in its beak, under which is the motto: Sanctas Clavis Fores Aperit (Latin for "the key opens holy doors"). Both are largely considered to have been created by the Revd Henry Crewe Boutflower, a former headmaster. The tenacious swan is from the device of John, Duke of Berry, who may, or may not, have been an ancestor of the Founder, Revd. Henry Bury (but was more likely chosen due to the similar names), whilst the key is believed to be a play on the name of the re-founder, the Reverend Roger Kay.

The current school fees are £9,333 p.a. for senior students and £6,936 p.a. in the junior school.


  • Publications and Alumni Activities 1
  • Houses 2
  • Current curriculum in the boys' school 3
  • History of the Girls' School 4
  • Uniform 5
  • Link with Harvard College and the Henry Dunster Society 6
  • Notable masters 7
  • Notable alumni 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Publications and Alumni Activities

For the Boys' school, "The Clavian" is the school magazine, edited by David Benger, while "The Key" is the Alumni magazine. The Old Girls' Association produces a glossy, full colour annual magazine called The Record; members of the Old Boys' Society receive an annual 4 page newsletter entitled "Newsletter". The Girls' School also produce a magazine, which is eminently readable.

There is an active alumni group run by the Schools' Development Association and membership of the vibrant Bury Grammar Schools' Alumni Group on LinkedIn is open to Old Boys and Old Girls who are LinkedIn members.

The Old Boys' Society organises an annual dinner in Bury around 6 May each year; The Old Boys' Society (London Branch) organises an annual dinner in London a few days after 6 May each year for Home Counties-based Old Boys (but moved to a Friday late in May in 2012). The London Old Girls also have a lunch each year.


The boys' school has four houses, whose colours are reflected in the colour of the badge and the stripes of the tie on the school uniforms. Three were originally created in 1905 in an attempt to introduce some of the camaraderie of boarding school into the academic and sporting life of a day school.The three houses were:

  • Hulme, named after William Hulme, architect of Manchester. Colour: sky blue.
  • Kay, named after the Reverend Canon Roger Kay, re-founder of Bury Grammar School, after whom the hall (in the girls' school) is now named. Colour: green.
  • Derby, named after Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, donor of some of the land upon which the School stands and considerable sums of money for the erection of the present Girls' School building. Colour: yellow.

In 1919, a new House was introduced:

  • Howlett, named after the much loved former headmaster. Colour: red.

In 1920, following the lead of the Boys' school, the Girls' school introduced a House System. There were five Houses, into which girls were placed depending upon where they lived. The Houses were: Lord Kitchener (Bury), Sir Robert Peel (Walmersley), Lord George Byron (Rochdale), Lord Robert Clive (Prestwich) and Samuel Crompton (Ainsworth and Bolton) – all these once famous men had a particular association with the locality (or localities in the case of Crompton) mentioned in parenthesis, but details of such connection is beyond the scope of this entry. In 1950, the House System was changed due to the fact that some Houses had many more members that others, which rendered inter-House competitions unfair (even in those days, it wasn't just the "taking part" that counted at BGS!). The new houses were named after then famous women: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (red badge), Frances Mary Buss (green badge), Edith Cavell (blue and white badge), Elizabeth Fry (orange badge), Octavia Hill (originally turquoise, later purple, badge) and Florence Nightingale (yellow badge).

The girls' school uses four letters for forms: L, K, P and N, which are the initials of the surnames of the first four headmistresses (Lester, Kitchener, Perigo and Neild). Membership of different forms does not change the blazer badge colour, but they wear a circular badge which bears the colour yellow for Lester, blue for Kitchener, green for Perigo and red for Neild. These houses are used to form teams, and interform competitions are often held.

Current curriculum in the boys' school

Currently, all boys study English language, English literature, maths, and chemistry, biology and physics as individual subjects. In addition to this, boys must take either French or German. In addition to these compulsory subjects, boys may also take a combination of several other subjects, including history, geography, Latin, physical education, business studies, classical Greek, music, religious studies, electronics, and art.

All GCSE examinations are taken in the 5th Year, including French, which until recently, was taken in the 4th Year. The exception to this are the science exams, in which the GCSE course begins in 3rd year, and Module 1 exam sat in January of the 4th year. Students do not study the domestic British GCSE mathematics course, but instead take the International GCSE mathematics exam, administered by Edexcel. Local newspapers report the school as having a 0% pass rate in GCSE Maths, as IGCSEs are not counted by the Office for National Statistics or local media.

After having successfully completed their GCSEs in the 5th year, boys can opt to stay on into the 6th form for a further two years. The sixth form teaching offers continued study in all of the subjects offered at GCSE, along with geology, economics, further maths, philosophy, politics and psychology (which is taught in the Girls School).

Through the Cadet Vocational Qualifications Organisation (CVQO) the school Combined Cadet Force offers cadets (aged 16–19) and above the opportunity to gain internationally recognised BTEC First Diploma qualifications in Public Services. The BTEC First Diploma is the equivalent of 4 GCSEs, grade C – A*.

History of the Girls' School

Although only boys were admitted to Bury Grammar when the school was founded, on the re-founding by Roger Kay in 1726 he bequeathed money specifically for girls, the bequest stating: "I charge my Estate called Warth in Ratcliff with the payment of £5 yearly in order that ten poor girls born or to be born in the parish and town of Bury might receive an education ... to make them perfect in reading The Bible, to teach them to write well and to be good accountants to fit them for Trades or to be good servants."

In 1884, Bury High School for Girls was opened on 22 January as a fee-paying school. The first headmistress was Miss Jane Penelope Kitchener, a cousin of the more famous Lord Kitchener Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener. The school was in Bolton Street, in a building since demolished, on a site opposite the current Leisure Centre. There were 23 girls in attendance and lessons (Latin, French, science, mathematics, English, music, needlework and games) were taught from 9am to 1pm, with a half hour break each day.

Around 1900, the girls' school's name was changed to Bury Grammar School for Girls. In 1903 the Boys' School moved from The Wylde to half of the current girls' school site and the following year, 1904, the cornerstone of the Girls' school was laid. When this part of the building was completed, in 1906, the girls moved into it. The Roger Kay Hall cornerstone was laid in 1906, with the hall being opened in 1907.

School uniform was first introduced after the end of the First World War, in 1919.


The old girls school uniform consisted of a brae blue jumper, a white blouse with the school badge, knee-length tartan skirts, and black tights/socks. The newer uniform was issued in Autumn 2010. The jumper is now navy blue, and the blazer was changed. The old school uniform may be worn. The current boys school uniform consists of a school blazer, with the pupils house colour on it. A similar school tie is also to be worn with the house colour on. Black neatly pressed trousers, and black socks. Black shoes must be worn, as trainers are not permitted. No changes are planned to the boys school uniform. Once the early summer heat has passed, the Headmaster of the Boys' school invariably declares "Summer", enabling ties to be removed within school but they must be worn around the neck outside the school grounds.

Link with Harvard College and the Henry Dunster Society

The Henry Dunster Society, an organization inaugurated at Harvard University in September 2008, is intended to bring together from time to time the alumni/ae of the Bury Grammar Schools and to help them support new initiatives for the Schools. The connection with Harvard College started with Henry Dunster. Dunster was born near Bury and attended Bury Grammar School. He went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, and after graduation became the Curate of Bury Parish Church, a living in the patronage of the Earl of Derby. Returning to Bury, Dunster became the third Headmaster of the School. Dunster left his posts in Bury in 1640 when, like many other Puritans dissatisfied with developments in both church and state and probably in anticipation of a Civil War, he emigrated to Massachusetts. Soon after his arrival, Dunster was asked and agreed to become the first President of Harvard College, now Harvard University. Although few documents survive to explain how Dunster thought of himself, he did use a phrase in one letter, ego enim Lancastrensis sum, suggesting that he was a modest, hard-working, Lancashire lad, proud of his northern English origins and of his noted Lancashire accent. The Henry Dunster Society website is at http://www.henrihiggins.com/hds/

Derek Calrow, an Old Clavian, a Governor and Chair of the Schools' Development Committee, serves as the Patron of the Henry Dunster Society

Notable masters

Henry Dunster (1609–1659), first president of Harvard College, a native of Bury, was the third Headmaster of the school prior to his emigration to Massachusetts in 1640.

Notable alumni

Former pupils of Bury Grammar School are known as "Old Clavians"; former pupils of Bury Grammar School for Girls are "Old Claviennes".


  1. ^ Feddy, Kevin (5 January 2004). "Shellmeister takes 'nutty' theme for AIM return". Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media). Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Emmerdale's Chloe Atkinson (Amy Nuttall). Emmerdale.org. Retrieved on 2011-01-09.
  3. ^ Rochdale | Team | Profiles | Marcus Holness. Rochdaleafc.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-01-09.
  • Fallows, I.B., "Bury Grammar School: A History c.1570-1976", The Estate Governors of Bury Grammar School, Bury, 2001

External links

  • Bury Grammar Schools' Development Office
  • Bury Grammar School (Boys)
  • Bury Grammar School (Girls)
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