The King’s New School

In 1571, having successfully completed his petty school education, it is likely the seven year old William would have entered the King’s New School of Stratford-upon-Avon. This school, although newly re-endowed in 1553, had a long and distinguished past, like so many of the schools owing their name to King Edward VI. The curriculum could be traced back many years and concentrated on the classical languages of Latin and Greek – seen as the gateway to the body of accumulated knowledge. The school occupied a spacious room – still used today – which had formerly been the feasthall of the medieval town guild. The most impressive piece of furniture was the master’s desk, probably raised a step or two above the floor. The boys had wooden benches or forms. John Bretchgirdle, the Stratford vicar who had baptised William, left a variety of books to the school in his will, including a Latin-English dictionary of Sir Thomas Elyot. The earliest recorded use of a blackboard in a school is in 1612.

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