History of Hutton Grammar
In 1517 Henry VIII was still a popular young king professing utter devotion to his first wife and to the Church of Rome. In that year, William Walton, who had already served for many years as priest of Longton chapel, made a grant of his own family lands and property to provide a regular income for himself and future priests of the chapel for ever. As a part of his duties, the priest was expected to conduct a school for the village children; and, because he was also required to say masses for the souls of William and his family, the foundation was designated as a chantry. The annual income provided for all this amounted to the sum of £4. 6s. 8d.: converted to a nominal £4.33 it now seems derisory, but the real equivalent in purchasing power would be thousands of times that amount. It was not, however, the best of times for the founding of a chantry.
Less than thirty years later, when William Walton had been dead for some years, Henry VIII, now near to death himself, ordered the dissolution of all chantries and the confiscation of their property. By a lucky chance, however, the man appointed to supervise the dissolution of the Lancashire chantries was Sir Henry Farington, a former benefactor of Longton chapel, who, realising that his own former property would be liable to confiscation, reported that he could find no chantries in that part of the county. Forewarned, Ralph Garstang, the new priest at Longton, had arranged for all the lands and property to be surreptitiously returned to the benefactors’ families; and in 1552 William’s nephew, Christopher Walton of Little Hoole, used a part of the original endowment to found a Grammar School, which was to be kept in Longton chapel, with the same Ralph Garstang as the schoolmaster. Amazingly, they got away with it! Instead of requiring the priest to keep a school, the new endowment required the village schoolmaster to act as priest in charge of the chapel. For the next two hundred years, the school, usually known as Longton Free School, was kept in a cottage in the lane behind the chapel, thus giving School Lane its name; the site is now covered by the far corner of the churchyard adjoining the lane, and the chapel itself was situated between the present site of St. Andrew’s Church and the main road. Not until 1747 were the roles of schoolmaster and priest finally separated, when the school was re-housed at Hutton on its present site, in a new schoolhouse built on land that had been a part of William Walton’s original grant. Henceforth it came to be known as Hutton Grammar School.
By the beginning of the last century the original endowment had grown considerably in value and had even outstripped the effects of inflation, but it was no longer sufficient for the growing demands of education, and the state, through the local authority, was called in to help; after the 1944 Act, the school acquired its voluntary aided status, so that the School Governors retain a measure of independence, and maintain the school as an Anglican foundation. What began as a school for both boys and girls of all ages, had become, by the end of the nineteenth century, a selective school for boys only, from the ages of nine or ten to sixteen or seventeen. In the late 1970s, however, the Governors decided to abandon academic selection of pupils below the age of sixteen, and approved a change in status to a comprehensive secondary school for both boys and girls from the ages of eleven to eighteen. The County Council, however, objected to the introduction of coeducation, but were partly overruled by the Government, and girls have since been accepted into the Sixth Form (from the age of sixteen). During the course of the twentieth century the school grew from about one hundred to nine hundred pupils.
The original building dating from 1746-7 had unfortunately to be entirely rebuilt in the 1960s; of the existing buildings, parts are more than a hundred years old, but most were built during the last century. The pupils are drawn from a wide area; there are usually many more applicants for admission than places available, and selection is made primarily by giving priority to those with an Anglican or other Christian background. Grammar schools were originally so called because they provided what was then the best available education, traditionally based on Latin grammar: the school took its name long before it adopted the practice of academic selection for admission, and saw no reason to change the name when that relatively short phase in its history passed.
The coat of arms was adopted by the school about a hundred years ago. It had originally been devised by a member of the Walton family from Preston, who believed that he might be a descendant of the founding family of the school; the three swans, however, were derived from an early medieval coat of arms attributed to a quite different Walton family, from Liverpool. The motto, “Aut disce aut discede” (“Either learn or get out”), is a Latin tag which was appropriated by the school; but, perhaps surprisingly, the rest of the quotation was omitted “Manet sors tertia caedi” (“There remains a third option - to be thrashed”!).
Through almost five centuries, Hutton Grammar School has shown itself to have a singular aptitude for successfully adjusting to changed circumstances, and thus it has survived and maintained its continuity when other schools, larger and wealthier, have lapsed into oblivion. We look forward to the next five hundred years with confidence.
Albert Makinson (Chairman of Governors 1989-1996)