Blundell's School, Tiverton - 1604 to present
Peter Blundell, a wealthy merchant, died in 1601 leaving money and lands in his home town of Tiverton, Devon to found a school to maintain sound learning and true religion – Blundell's School. No expense was to be spared and it was to be larger and grander than any other in the West Country. The syllabus was Latin and Greek and the boys played a sort of football and, after 1800, cricket.
From its beginning in 1604, the Blundell's School flourished, producing clergy and gentry who took the lead in the Civil War and the Glorious Rebellion in preserving the Protestant Religion and the liberties of the subjects, objects so dear to the heart of founder Peter Blundell. Links were established between the School and Balliol College, Oxford and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, which survive to this day.
The first 278 years were spent in the ‘Old School’ in Tiverton itself by the River Lowman, where the syllabus was Latin and Greek and boys had to be tough to survive. Birches swished, older boys tyrannized over younger, boarders told dayboys their place. Outside lessons life was unsupervised. They hunted, they held cockfighting matches, they fished, they played a sort of football and, after 1800, cricket (with 4 ball overs). It seems that they loved it and cherished their school days by forming an Old Blundellian organisation at least as early as 1725.
In 1882 Blundell's School moved a mile up the road to its present site at Horsdon. Within ten years headmaster A L Francis had trebled pupil numbers to 250, and School House, Old House, North Close, Petergate and Westlake had been built. The Chapel was built entirely through voluntary subscription as a statement of faith in the future.
Under head ‘Fusty’ Wynn (1917-30), numbers first topped 300 and Francis House was built. Between 1934 and ’43, Neville Gorton ensured Blundell’s School became a dynamo of educational novelty and the ensuing years have seen an explosion of expansion and activity. Girls were admitted in 1975, with full co-education starting in 1992, and they now represent about 40% of over 550 Senior School pupils. St Aubyn’s Preparatory School became an integral part of Blundell’s School with almost 400 younger pupils. A 1000-strong Blundell’s is nearing reality!
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