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Birch and bard

The school’s silver seal, used from 1552 until the 1970s, shows a master armed with a birch rod and the ominous motto Non nisi malis terrori (only the bad have something to fear). Let’s hope, for the pupils’ sakes, that the masters weren’t too heavy-handed, especially since they tended to stay in office for decades. Just two, John Brownswerde and William Legh, between them notched up 70 years, spanning the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and the first five years of Charles I. Brownswerde was famous as a classical scholar and poet, styled ‘first of poets, chief among grammarians, flower of pedagogues’. It’s even rumoured that he taught the young Shakespeare in Stratford upon Avon before coming north.

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