Charter DayAnother fine tradition of our historic grammar school is the celebration of the granting of the school charter. As indicated above, it was really the royal seal of approval from Philip and Mary in 1555 that bequeathed the land on which we stand to Boston and guaranteed the existence of a grammar school through royal letters patent confirming the “finding, maintaining and establishing, for ever, a free Grammar School, in Boston aforesaid……for the education and instruction of boys and youth”.
It is always uplifting to see the whole school walk through the town to St Botolph’s Church, a wonderful venue for a service celebrating the history of the school and its place in the community. The service itself involves a mixture of organ playing, readings, choral singing, musical performances, hymns and addresses. Parents are warmly welcomed to join us for this fine old school tradition.
Beast MartPerhaps the most unusual of celebrations, this is an event peculiar to our school, arising from the fascinating history of Boston Grammar school. When the Marquess of Northampton was thrown into the Tower for his part in trying to secure Mary Tudor’s throne for Lady Jane Grey, the Boston Corporation lobbied the Crown for the return of his land that fell in former guild lands belonging to them. The Corporation was successful, and in 1555 the land “in which is kept a grammar school (scola litteratoris) with the appurtenances” returned to the people of Boston by letters patent of Philip and Mary. With the Elizabethan statesman Lord Burghley as the town’s recorder, the school flourished and occupied its current site with the building that you still see today in 1567. In 1588, the year of the Armada, the town’s fair and cattle market moved from Bargate to the school yard (the Mart Yard). For a time it became one of the most important fairs in the East Midlands, only moving back to Wide Bargate during the 19th Century.
Nowadays, there are no cows, but we celebrate the tradition of the opening of the Mart annually. In most years we gather out in the December cold in the Beast Yard as a school to listen to the declaration of the opening of the Mart. At the stroke of noon, by the chime of the clock of St Botolph’s, the Mayor calls for a half-day holiday to be granted to the pupils of the school. Each year, the Head grants that request (except, of course, for boys who owe coursework, who have the pleasure of spending the afternoon’s holiday working in the Library). The vast majority of pupils go home happily. In 2010, for the first time in a very long time, the Beast Yard was so ice-bound that the service took place in the Library, with the prefects representing the pupil body.