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Exeter School is a selective independent co-educational day school for students between the ages of 7 and 18 located in Exetermarker, Devonmarker, Englandmarker. In 2007 there were around 165 pupils in the Junior School and 675 in the Senior School. The school maintains close links with its pupils through the Old Exonian Club which meets annually around the country.


St John's Hospital site of the school from 1633 to 1878
The School traces its origins from the opening of the Exeter Free Grammar School on 1 August 1633, attended mainly by the sons of the City freemen. Exeter’s wealthy merchants provided the finance, with sufficient bequests to pay the Headmaster £50 a year and to install the school in the medieval buildings of St John’s Hospital, which had stood on the south side of the High Street since the 12th Century.

In 1878 the school opened as Exeter Grammar School at a new campus designed by noted architect William Butterfield. The school occupies this site on Victoria Park Road to this day. The cost at the time was £7,600 with a further £16,750 spent on the erection of buildings. It was decided that St John’s Hospital Trust had to pay to Exeter School the net annual income of all endowments for Exhibitions and Scholarships attached to the School, and it also had to pay a proportion of the residue of its income.

In 1920 the Governors of Exeter School decided that it was no longer possible for them to continue the School without considerable assistance. The Exeter Education Authority agreed to assist but only if the School came under its direct control so, in April 1921, control of the school was handed over to the City. It then became a "maintained" school until 1929 when it became an "aided" school, thus regaining charge of its own finances under a newly appointed Governing Body.

In March 1945 its status changed again to a direct grant grammar school and remained as such until September 1975 when the Direct Grant System was abolished by the Government of the day. In September 1976 the first "independent" pupils were admitted.

From 1979, the School participated in the Assisted Places Scheme, taking over 200 pupils at its peak, but this scheme was abolished in 1997 and the last of these pupils left in the summer of 2004.

Academic standards

In March 2002, the Independent Schools Inspectorate assessed the school as "Exeter School provides a good rounded education for pupils of a high range of ability from a large catchment area, mainly within of Exeter. It enriches both the academic and, particularly, the cultural and personal development of its pupils. Its many facilities, set in an attractive and very well cared for campus, provide an excellent environment for the education of its pupils. The school achieves its aims and expectations well."

In summer 2007 it was rated the top independent school in the South West on points in A Level examinations, with an overall score equivalent to every candidate gaining more than 3 A grades. At GCSE, candidates scored 59% A*/A grades, with 42 pupils gaining at least 7 A*/As.


As of February 2009, the day fees are £2800 per term for the Junior School (including lunch) and £3100 per term for the senior school.

Notable alumni


  1. Bush, R.J.E. Exeter Free Grammar School, 1633-1809. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 94, (1962)
  2. Parry, H. Lloyd. The Founding of Exeter School: A History of the Struggle for freedom of Education within the City of Exeter, Exeter and London, (1913)
  3. "A short history of Princesshay", Exeter Memories
  4. "Study of Occupational Change", Nuffield College Oxford, 1972
  5. "Exeter Middle School's Cup Final", The New Millennium
  6. Independent Schools Inspectorate report on Exeter School
  7. "Obituary - General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley", The Guardian, 15 March 2006
  8. Who's Who 2006
  9. "Collins, David (1754-1810)", Project Gutenburg of Australia
  10. "Harry Pennell collection", Archives Hub
  11. "A wealth of knowledge", The Guardian, 31 October 2001
  12. The Guardian, Bob Wigley: A dream come true for the boy inspired by business, 17 November 2006
  13. Channel 4, Time Team - Meet the Team - Robin Bush, accessed 7 October 2008

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