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In the 1770s the governors (their feud long over) realised that the narrow classical curriculum imposed by the Charter of Edward VI was something of a straitjacket. A Private Act was applied for and obtained in 1774, allowing the appointment of masters to teach ‘Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, Navigation, Mathematics, the modern languages and other branches of literature and education’. It was an astute move and the school prospered. John Vernon (left), who went to Peterhouse College, Cambridge, was a pupil at this period. By 1802, under Dr Davies, there were six classes, with 72 boarders accommodated two or three to a bed. Parents who wished their son to have a bed to himself had to pay an extra two guineas for the privilege.

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