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 recorded (twenty-five boarders) 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 pupils 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 pupils 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 accommodate 360 pupils. The new school, now known as the ‘Main Block’, was opened on the 10th June 1963 by the Queen Mother (pictured left in the photo below, during a visit to the library that day).
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 provide state-of-the-art resources for students and to celebrate the school’s 600th anniversary in 2023. Phase 1 was completed in 2015 and The Discovery Centre – a 12 laboratory science building, including the Lillingstone Trust sponsored Community Lab – was opened on 2nd October by Professor Robert Winston.
Phase 2 saw the refurbishment of Rotherfield for the Sixth Form (completed in 2017), providing a light and spacious study area and Sixth Form Cafe. The new ek robotics Sports Campus was officially opened in the autumn of 2021, with a 3G pitch, Fitness Suite, Sports Lab/Classroom and Mind & Body Zone.
The third phase of the 600 Campaign will endeavour to secure sufficient funding to create an Arts Centre for the school and local community at the heart of the school site.
In 2023 the Royal Latin School celebrated its 600th anniversary, with a programme of celebratory events and activities involving the school and wider community, and launched a 2023 Charter, in liaison with students, staff, parents and Old Latins to focus on supporting our community, conserving our heritage, protecting our planet, and embracing our future. As part of the 2023 Charter aim to share our story in our 600th year, a timeline of the history of the school was commissioned and is now displayed in the main school reception area. A virtual timeline was also created and is viewable online.