Thame Local History
Thame Grammar School Life in 1575
In 1575 the statutes and other relevant documents of Thame Grammar School
were printed in London.
The quarto volume, Schola Thamensis, bound in stamped leather, with the title under a pane of horn within a brass frame, is very rare, only eleven copies were known to exist in 1927, and in various states of completion and condition.
The Latin statutes occupy 28 of the 55 leaves, and give much information as to the internal working of the school.
Teaching began on November 29th, 1570, the first headmaster being Edward Harris, who remained in office until his death in 1597.
School hours, typical of Elizabethan days, were 6-11 in the morning and 1-5 or 6 in the afternoon, nine hours in winter and ten in summer. When darkness required it, boys had to supply their own candles. There was a weekly half-day in addition to festivals, and four holidays of rather over a fortnight each. Boys were admitted at the age of seven, as soon as they could read and write.
The only subject of instruction, as also the only language in which instruction was given, was Latin.
It was only this instruction which was "free"; boys had to pay 8d. on admission, to be used for buying books, and 2d. a quarter to pay for cleaning, and "to the purchasing of rods" - though pupils who were resident in the town, or who were relatives of the Founder, were exempt from all fees except the capitation fees of 1s. a quarter to the master and 6d. to the usher.
Much emphasis was placed on religious instruction. School began and ended with a set form of service, containing Latin prayers, and a special Latin Hymn. Before dinner a passage from the Bible was to be read, and church attendance on Sundays and festivals was compulsory, the boys meeting at the school and having their own seats in the chancel.