St Bees School and the surrounding village boast a rich and varied history. The School is over 430 years old and was founded in 1583, by Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was born in the village in about 1517. It is certain that, after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1535, there was little opportunity for formal education in this locality and the Archbishop petitioned Elizabeth the First for permission to establish a school on the basis that ‘Cowpland (now known at Copeland, the area around and including St Bees) is the ignorantest part in religion and most oppressed of covetous landlords of any part of this realm to my knowledge’.
Building started in 1587, much of the stone probably being taken from the ruins of the adjacent monastery, and comprised a two storey block, the lower floor being the school room and the upper containing the master’s quarters and a room for the Governors. This building, now of three storeys, was incorporated in Foundation House in 1840 and forms the North side of the Quadrangle where the original door-way can still be seen. The School room is now the dining room.
In the four hundred years since its establishment, St Bees has withstood changing fortunes but it has continued to stand the test of time. Following a brief closure we look forward to opening the doors of our magnificent school once more in September 2018.
Over the next 5 years, the School is embarking upon an ambitious redevelopment programme with millions of pounds being invested in the historic site in order to provide pupils with the very best amenities.