Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

News > Bilton Grange School News > Victorian Day at Bilton Grange

Victorian Day at Bilton Grange

On Friday 20th October, the staff and students at Bilton Grange embraced the past in a full Victorian Day. A particularly humorous element came when Gareth Jones led a PE drill. Lined up with the shortest at the front, we tackled stretches and balances together, with our illustious Headmaster acting more as sergeant major than Joe Wicks.

The children enjoyed going back in time for a day and everyone certainly looked amazing and brilliant to see so much effort from all quarters.


A short history of Bilton Grange in Victorian Times

Bilton Grange was founded by the Reverend Walter Earle in 1873, but it wasn’t originally based in Dunchurch. The school started at Yarlet Hall in Staffordshire. Reverend Earle moved the school to its current site in 1887. If you are wondering why 
we don’t base our foundation as 1887, that is because, in those days, schools were frequently known by the name of their headmaster. So Earle’s School would have definitely been viewed at starting in 1873. As a point of interest, The Dragon School 
in Oxford was known as Lynam’s well into the 20th century. 

Reverend Walter Earle was born in 1839 and had been a pupil at Uppingham School. He then went to Cambridge University, was ordained (made a priest) and returned to Uppingham to teach. Earle was strongly influenced in his ideas about education by 
the Uppingham headmaster, Reverend Edward Thring, who was one of the great Victorian headmasters. Thring had improved the scope of his Prep School curriculum by including the teaching of Science (it hadn’t been taught before!) and by encouraging Music. 

Reverend Earle started his school in 1873 with 20 pupils – all boys. By the end of the 1870s, he had 68 boys in the school. From there, they went on to Uppingham or Rugby. Earle bought the Bilton Grange site in 1887 and moved the school there. Interestingly, one of the pupils in 1887 was Eric Luard, the following year, a Charles Luard was added. Any relation Mrs Luard? The school continued growing. By 1893, there were 120 boys, which was huge by the standards of the time. The average number of pupils in a prep school then was 36; only 6 schools existed which had more than 70 pupils. 

The Building

In medieval times, the land on which our school was built was owned by the Church – specifically by Pipewell Abbey in Northamptonshire. The records note there is a grange (farm) on the land. During Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, the grange was bought by its tenant, Edward Boughton, and it stayed in his family until 1768 when Anna Boughton married Alexander Hume. The Humes then owned the estate until the early 19th century, and it was let to Captain John Washington Hibbert in 1839. Hibbert bought the estate in 1846 and asked the famous architect Augustus Pugin, to extend the buildings. The Hibberts were Catholic, so had a chapel put in, on the first floor. They were also responsible for the building of the Catholic St Marie’s Church in Rugby, by the way.

In 1861, Biton Grange was sold to John Lancaster, an iron and coal magnate, and MP for Wigan. Lancaster’s heirs sold the estate to Reverend Walter Earle in 1887. Reverend Earle soon made changes to the building. He converted the brewhouse to a chapel in 1889, the stables (now the DT Department) became a gym, and in 1891, new classrooms were added, built in the Pugin style. These new classrooms are what is now Room 7, Room 6, the ICT Room and Room 11. If you stand by the Adventure Playground and look at the school building, you will see the date in the brickwork.

What subjects did the children study?

When the school moved to Bilton Grange, the following subjects were taught:  English, Maths, Science, Latin, Greek, French, German, Music, Singing, Drawing, Gymnastics.

Sport at BG was always important. From the 1880s, the boys played rugby, football and cricket, competing against other schools in matches. They also played fives and did gymnastics and athletics, and from 1899, swimming. Football was played until 1918, when it began to be superceded by hockey. In 1923, the boys stopped playing football as a major team sport and switched to hockey. 

Photo gallery

To view this News Article

Similar stories

Most read

Have your say



Rugbeian Community Office

✉ Email us

+44 (0) 1788 556 139

© Rugby School 2022

Charity Registration Number 528752

This website is powered by