History & tradition
The first foundation of the school is recorded in 1675, when Henry Smith, an alderman of London, bequeathed £150 towards the purchase of land for a “free school”.
The remainder of the money was raised locally and in 1684 the vicar of Reigate, the Rev. John Williamson, was appointed Master. The numbers in the school at that time were very small – the will of one Robert Bishop, who died in 1720, suggests that there were only “four poor boys”, although the master would also have taught other boys on a fee-paying basis, some of whom would have lodged with him as boarders.
The connection between the school and the parish church of St. Mary’s continued for many years, with successive Headmasters being also vicars of the church. In 1862 the school was re-formed as a grammar school, with a proper board of governors, the old school house was demolished and new buildings erected. At this point the pupils numbered 36, including eight boarders, but grew rapidly during the following years, requiring additional buildings in 1870, 1907 and 1928. Under the Education Act of 1944, the school was taken over by Surrey County Council before reverting to independent status in 1976. Girls were admitted for the first time to the Sixth Form in 1976, and throughout the school from 1993. Recent transformations include the merger with with Reigate St. Mary’s Preparatory and Choir School in 2003, Chinthurst School (Tadworth) in 2017 with the result that the three schools together now educate some 1,500 pupils aged from 3 to 18.
In 2017, Reigate Grammar School International (RGSI) was formed to develop an international footprint through partnerships overseas and by 2018 the school had announced a partnership with Kaiyuan Education Fund (KEF), backed by the China Development Bank to open up to five schools in China. Further overseas opportunities in countries as diverse as Morocco and Vietnam are being explored, these various relationships will enrich the opportunities for students and staff, opening up cultural and educational links across continents – crucial in the increasingly global world in which we live.
With a tradition of established success in the academic field, Reigate Grammar School has continued to develop its facilities and development plans are constantly being reviewed by the Governors. Additions to our facilities since 2000 include the Peter Masefield dining hall, the Sixth Form Centre, Drama Studio, the Hamlin Building (housing the Mathematics department) and, in 2004, a new Music School. Our indoor swimming pool opened in January 2009, a new building to house sciences and humanities opened in September 2011 and our new Harrison Centre opened in April 2018. Future plans include improvements for both the indoor sports facilities and drama production venues.
The school is non-denominational and welcomes pupils of all faiths and of none. Its general approach, however, is Christian and the strong links with St Mary’s Church, including traditional Christian assemblies in the Church, are valued highly.
The Grammar School tradition that has been so important in the history of the school remains central to its approach today, as the academic success of its selected pupils remains one of the most important aims.
In a properly disciplined environment boys and girls are prepared for entry to University degree courses, while an outstandingly committed teaching staff ensures that the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students is enhanced both in class and in the wide range of extra-curricular activities that are offered.