Hawkshead Grammar School

Main Street, Hawkshead, LA22 0NT
Hawkshead Grammar School

Wordsworth's school & church in Hawkshead

(Keith Laverack / Flickr.com)

Get a fascinating insight into the lives of pupils in days gone by at the Hawkshead Grammar School, where you can learn more about school life during the sixteenth to early twentieth centuries. William Wordsworth attended the school, and it has been wonderfully preserved thanks to the efforts of the governing body that run the school as a museum and venue for hire.

In addition, funds raised by the governors and the museum are used to provide young people in the Parish of Hawkshead with educational opportunities.

Planning Your Visit

Contact Details:
01539 436 735 / Website
Please see official website
Seasonal Opening:
Open 1st April - 30th September


The school was founded in 1585 by Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York. Arrested for his protestant teachings under the brief reign of the catholic Mary Tudor, Sandys escaped prison and fled to Zurich until he could safely return to the UK under the reign of Elizabeth I.

Sandys determined that Protestantism would suffer unless future generations were given an adequate education, which led him to establish the school at Hawkshead. The school taught the sciences, arithmetic, Latin, Greek, and church attendance was compulsory for its pupils.

The school’s reputation grew and it attracted pupils from all over the country with poet William Wordsworth amongst its former attendees. The Education Act of 1902 introduced council run secondary schools, leading to the grammar school’s decline, and then closure in 1909.

Things To See

The wooden benches that serve as desks equipped with a piece of slate for writing on with chalk seem far removed from today’s modern classrooms with their laptops and smartboards. Try and spot where William Wordsworth once sat, his name is one of several engraved into the desks by pupils determined to leave their mark.

A guide will take you through the museum, giving you an overview of the history and the building is filled with interesting artefacts, including the original charter from Elizabeth I that granted the school the ability to retain its independence from local council control. You can also explore the headmaster’s office, and learn more about William Wordsworth and Edwin Sandys.

Useful Information

There is no café at the museum, but there are plenty of places to eat in and around Hawkshead.


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