A Brief History of the Royal Latin School

The Royal Latin School is the oldest school in the county.  It was founded in 1423 in the chantry chapel of St John the Baptist in the middle of Buckingham.  The school was originally established to teach boys the ‘Trivium’ (Latin grammar, logic and rhetoric) and was given our motto of ‘Alle May God Amende’ by John Ruding, Archdeacon of Lincoln, in 1471.

In 1597 the school endowment of £10 8s ½d from a separate chantry in Thornton was transferred to the school at St John the Baptist in Buckingham.  From this date RLS inherited royal status and a requirement to teach six boys.

By the 1870s there were sixty-five pupils are recorded (twenty-five borders) and four masters; the school became known as St John’s Chapel Grammar School and St John’s Royal Latin School.


In 1898 HM Inspectors advised the Trustees that the old buidings were totally inadequate & unsuitable for modern educational requirements. Consequently, Bucks County Council agreed to establish the school on  a new site on Chandos Road.

The school was legally transferred in 1907 with girls and female teachers admitted for the first time; 90 students attended the new site.  New facilities included a laboratory and were described as ‘replete with every modern convenience’. The new building cost £5,000 (£4,350 from Bucks CC, £500 from the Town Council and £130 from voluntary contributions).


Numbers of students steadily increased and reached 250 in 1939 under the Headship of Bert Toft (and England Rugby international).  The Chandos Road site soon became too small and, in 1963 the Headmaster, George Embleton established the school on its third site on the Brookfield Estate.  Here he created two separate boarding houses for boys & girls and the school was built to accomodate 360 pupils.  The new school, now known as the ‘Main Block’, was opened on 26th June 1963 by the Queen Mother.

RLS1963The Queen Mother welcomed by George Embleton

By the turn of the 20th century the new site had been developed to include Rotherfield as a 6th Form Centre, a library, a new teaching block for mathematics, science and modern foreign languages, and a new Sports Hall was added in 2004.


In 2012 the 600 Campaign was established with the aim of developing the school’s facilities still further in order to celebrate the school’s 600th anniversary in 2023.  Phase 1 was completed in 2015 and The Discovery Centre – a 12 laboratory science resource – was opened on 2nd October by Professor Robert Winston.  

Discovey Centre

Phase 2 will see the refurbishment of Rotherfield for the 6th Form (to be completed by 2017) and the development of sporting facilities by 2019.  Phase 3 will focus on creating a new Arts Centre.