Curiosity corner: facts from the past by Norwich School Archivist, John Walker

6th March 2015

As the school’s Archivist, I am often contacted by ONs and other members of the community, asking me about the history of Norwich School. So when Roger Robinson ON sent in an interesting set of questions (which I am still investigating), I thought it would be a great idea to put pen to paper, and write down some of the more interesting facts about Norwich School, to inform past and present pupils, and also invite queries of their own. Below are just some of the facts to give you a glimpse of the rich and varied history of the school:

  • It was the custom in Georgian and Victorian times for the Head Master to solicit pupils and parents to take up a place at the school.  This sometimes meant trailing through the home- counties looking for custom in the summer vacation. Success depended on the personality and will of the Head Master. Under this system, numbers fell to 10 or 11 pupils in total in 1810 but swelled to 300 in the time of Valpy.
  • The main school room was the School Chapel for over 350 years until the opening of New Buildings in 1908.
  • One of the main sports before the First World War was the ‘paper chase’ across the city, where a runner would be the ‘hare’ and drop a trail of paper for the pack to trace and run after. For some reason these often started outside public houses.
  • Rugby became the main winter sport, instead of football, in 1927.
  • The organ case in the chapel was once the organ case used in the Cathedral. It was designed by Anthony Salvin (1799 – 1881) who was a pupil of the famed architect John Nash. Other works by Salvin in Norwich include the re-facing of Norwich Castle and the pulpitum screen in the Cathedral. The organ case was given to the school by The Dean and Chapter in 1940.
  • Until the draining and redesigning of The Lower Close sports field in 1937, the games pitches were part of a large water meadow.
  • The school uniform of blue blazers and grey trousers was established in 1936.
  • School fees:

In 1872, a boarder under Jessopp paid £19.8 shillings and 8 pence for the term

In 1910, tuition fees were £16.10 per year plus £54.00 for a boarder

In 1945, fees were set at £13.00 per term for a day boy and £38.00 per term for a boarder.

Please send in your queries or any other useful information to jwalker@norwich-school.org.uk

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