The History of Adams’ Grammar School

Adams ‘ Grammar School was founded by William Adams, a merchant Haberdasher with family connections in the area. He established his school in Newport, Shropshire in 1656 during the Interregnum, with permission from Oliver Cromwell, and appointed the Master and Wardens of the Haberdashers’ Company as Governors. He left money and estates to the Company to support the school. At the Restoration, an Act of Parliament confirmed the terms of the school’s foundation. To this day the School is known regionally and nationally for its high academic standards.

During the twentieth Century, the School saw a period of expansion with many additional teaching facilities added. These included a large teaching block, gymnasium, science laboratories, design technology centre, mathematics and information technology building and a modern languages laboratory. In 1993 day girls were admitted to the Sixth Form. In 1996, the school gained Technology College Status and was equipped with outstanding, networked computer facilities enabling information technology to be used across all curriculum areas. Expansion has continued into the start of the 21st Century with the construction of a new Sports Hall, thanks to the generosity of many who donated to a major fundraising appeal, and the conversion of the former gymnasium into a Performing Arts Centre. In 2007, a significant new science block was opened, housing eight state of the art laboratories and also a Design Technology lab.

Most recent developments include conversion of the former Performing Arts Centre into a state of the art Sixth Form Centre incorporating a university style Lecture Theatre as well as dedicated teaching and study areas. The former Coach House has now become the Music and Performing Arts Centre with the Hamilton Hall, a dedicated performance space, at the heart of it. The Humanities building, incorporating 6 new teaching rooms, has completed this significant period of development.

“Mr Adams’ Free Grammar School”

In September 2002 an authoritative history of the school, Mr Adams’ Free Grammar School, was published. The authors, former Headmaster David Taylor, and his historian wife, Ruth, drew on their own experience as well as making extensive use of the Haberdashers’ Company archives and local records. The result was a fascinating account, not only of school life and the impact of school on the life of the town, but of the wider educational scene over the centuries. The narrative is enlivened by many reminiscences and anecdotes from former pupils and staff members. The hardback book, published by Phillimores of Chichester, can be purchased from school and from local book shops.

The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers

Members of the Company, or Fraternity, were originally Haberdashers by trade, selling ribbons, beads, purses, gloves, pins, caps and toys. Like other Companies, as the Haberdashers became more successful, they collected the status symbols appropriate to the times. The present Coat of Arms dates from 1503 and the current Charter by which the Company is governed today was granted by Elizabeth I in 1578.

By the middle of the 17th century however the emphasis changed when control of the trade was lost. The charitable funds, hitherto operated by the early fraternity as a ‘safety net’ for members, multiplied and educational establishments became the Company’s main raison d’être. The original foundations and alms houses provided by a number of wealthy, but mostly childless, Haberdashers at that time, continue to the present day, together with numerous other minor charities of which the Company is Trustee.