Having given a few talks on the history of Newbury recently (2016/7) I find myself defending what I believe about Newbury Grammar School, or rather St Bartholomew’s. Locally Henry Wormstall is credited with the founding of the school. It is said that from the will of Wormstall in 1466 he left specific instructions for the creation of a school and so to this day that is what is taught and celebrated.
However this is something I and other local historians cannot confirm. From what I can find out it seems that in the will of 2nd May 1466 Wormstall left property to allow trustees to establish a chantry in the parish church of Newbury. This is secondary information as the location of the original will, if it still exists, is not known.
From this I have no doubt that a Chantry was started in 1466 but as to when teaching associated with it started is still debatable. The dissolution of the chantries saw commissioners being dispatched in 1548 with a sum of money being paid year to a priest to allow him to continue his teaching and further proof in c.1578 when the school appears to have been at the Litten with a priest teaching and continuing to do so right up the early 1800’s. The school then moved, eventually with the modern grammar school most will know opening in 1885. This later merged with the Girls County School.
In brief I have no doubt that Henry Wormstall had a Chantry dating to 1466, but as to when teaching actually started and who is to be credited is of some debate. From the evidence it would appear the earliest teaching can be confirmed is the 1500’s.