History and Heritage


Founded in 1525 by the Provost of Eton, our aims remain unchanged and we hope that parents still choose Sedbergh, as Wordsworth did for his sons, because it is challenging and has a sense of the free spirit in all aspects, but always in the context of unrivalled pastoral care.

The Archive is home to a vast wealth of historical material and our Archivist is currently developing a database of sources so that online access to documents can be improved. This brief history in no way reflects the breadth and depth of the heritage of Sedbergh School but gives an indication of our history and provenance.

The Chantry School

Roger Lupton, our Founder, is thought to have been born at Cautley in the parish of Sedbergh in 1456 and he provided for a Chantry School in Sedbergh in 1525 while he was Provost of Eton. By 1528, land had been bought, a school built, probably on the site of the present School Library, and the foundation deed had been signed, binding the School to St John's College, Cambridge and giving the College power over the appointment of Headmasters. This link to St John's College probably saved Sedbergh in 1546-48 when most chantries were dissolved and their assets seized by Henry VIII's Commission.

The Grammar School

Sedbergh was re-established and re-endowed as a Grammar School in 1551 and the fortunes of the School in the coming centuries seem to have depended very much on the character and abilities of the Headmasters with pupil numbers fluctuating and reaching as low a total as 8 day boys in the early 19th century.

One particularly successful period was during the Headship of John Harrison Evans (1838-1861) who restored the prestige and achievements of the School and also funded the building of the Market Hall and Reading Room in the town.
A more independent Governing Body was established in 1874 in a successful bid to maintain Sedbergh's independence (amalgamation with Giggleswick had been suggested) and the first meeting took place in The Bull Inn in Sedbergh in December.

The Independent School

In the 1870s there was a tremendous amount of development and building work at Sedbergh, under the careful eye of the Headmaster, Frederick Heppenstall. This included the Headmaster's House (now School House), classrooms, a chapel and four other boarding Houses.
Henry George Hart took over as Headmaster in 1880 and his tenure saw the new Chapel built in 1897, the founding of the Old Sedberghians in 1897/98, the creation of the prefectorial system, the inaugural Wilson Run and the confirmation of the School motto "Dura Virum Nutrix" (Stern Nurse of Men).