There was a monastic school in Thetford by the 14th century.
At the Reformation, Sir Richard Fulmerston left £160 and property in his will for the provision of a free school for 30 boys.
Land in Holy Trinity churchyard and the former Blackfriars’ church was allocated for the school.
In 1610, the re-foundation was confirmed when Fulmerston’s will was ratified by a private Act of Parliament, which also made the Thetford Corporation trustees in perpetuity of the school.
Former pupils of the grammar school include the lawyer, writer and politician Roger North and the radical author Thomas Paine.
The Thetford Girls’ Grammar School was built in 1888 with money left by Sir Joseph Williamson, Secretary of State to Charles II and a former MP for Thetford.
In 1944, the schools obtained voluntary controlled status and from 1975 they formed a single coeducational establishment. The school reverted to independent status in 1981.
The school maintains its own records. There are some records however, relating to the foundation of Thetford Grammar School and Fulmerston’s charitable lands, in the Thetford Borough archive which held by us. These do not include records of individual pupils.
- For a petition concerning Fulmerston’s charitable bequests, 1608, see T/C1/6.
- For 17th century copies of deeds and documents concerning Fulmerston’s estates, see T/C 1/10.
- For an 18th century copy of the founding act of the grammar school, see T/C 1/12.
- TC 1/14 includes a copy of part of Sir Richard Fulmerston’s will, late 18th century, and T/NS/1-16 includes a probate copy of his will, January 1567/8.
- Sir Richard Fulmerston’s will was proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 12 November 1567. The registered copy of his will is held at The National Archives (TNA) and a copy can be downloaded for a small fee from their website. It can also be viewed at Ancestry, which is a subscription website, but can be accessed free of charge from the NRO, Norfolk Heritage Centre or King’s Lynn Borough Archives.
- For proceedings of a committee to consider the school’s regulations, 1818, see T/MC 2/1 and for draft Charity Commission schemes, c1874 and 1905, see T/MC 2/2-3.
- For a photograph of staff and pupils of Thetford Grammar School in 1937, see MC 2621/1.
- For photographs, magazines and other records relating to Thetford Girls’ Grammar School, 1903-95, see ACC 2008/270.
- For further information on the history of Thetford Grammar School see A Crosby, A History of Thetford (Chichester, 1986) and David Seymour, Thetford Grammar School: fourteen centuries of education (Oxford, Shire Books, 2015).