Queen Elizabeth School

History Timeline

Our History

Take a look back at the History of Queen Elizabeth School

Students are following in a long tradition of scholarship and care when they join QES! Read all about the history of QES here or scroll below to explore the timeline.

400 Years - A School

Former QES Assistant Head, Peter Randell, published QES: 400 Years – A School to commemorate our long history and has recently made some updates. Click below to access the full book.

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Queen Elizabeth I granted a royal charter for a grammar school in Kirkby Lonsdale.


Lady of the Manor, Dame Elizabeth Curwen donated the freehold of the original schoolhouse on Mill Brow in the town, together with three acres of land that now form the existing QES site. 


The schoolhouse on Mill Brow
was rebuilt with two stories
to replace the "mean thatched house"


A set of statutes were issued which amongst other things said that lessons should start at 6am and gave students just 22 days holiday per year.


There were a total of 65 boys at the school, declining to around 40 in 1822 and 23 in 1866.


The original 1848 Schoolroom
converted into Library mid
twentieth century.
(now Lab. 1)


The school played its first recorded rugby match, losing to Windermere College. 


Girls were admitted for the
first time. The Burnett Building
was constructed. 


55 former pupils served in
the First World War,
10 of whom were killed.


Settling off from Market Square
to travel to Settle for Hockey
Match, 9th March 1918


Queen Elizabeth Grammar School gave up its independent status and became part of the local education authority provision. There were 126 pupils.


Girls’ Uniform List from
Prospectus issued by
Headmaster J.L. Johnson, c. 1920s


Group of boarder girls, c. 1920s
in front of main door of
Springfield House


Springfield House in 1920s,
showing 1919 extension
on right hand side


Staff and pupils working to
level the site for the
Cricket Pavilion 1921


Girls’ Hockey Team 1927


There were a total of 142 pupils with about equal numbers of males and females, 54 boarders and 88 day pupils.


The gardens and back of Terret
Dene: Girls’ Boarding
House acquired 1938


Gymnasium built in 1939, also
used as Assembly Hall


Art Room, 1939


Science Laboratory, 1939


£10,900 was spent on a gymnasium, assembly hall, woodwork room, art room, cloakroom and staffrooms (separate one for male and female members of staff), none of which survive today.


During the Second World War, 137 girls and their teachers were evacuated to the school from South Shields. 13 former pupils died whilst serving.


Photo of group of girls from the early 1940s. As the building in the
background is the Institute in Bective Road, Kirkby Lonsdale the girls are most likely the South Shields High School evacuees


Headmaster L.G. Defoe with
Prefects, late 1950s or early 1960s


Going to lessons in the Institute
during construction of 3-storey
block in mid 1960s


Headmaster P.R. Castle with
pupils, c. 1966-1972


The Three-Storey block was built at a cost of £67,000.


QES became a comprehensive school, no longer selecting students based on academic ability, after an extensive building programme.


Sports’ Day, early 1970s


Teammates in 1970s, including the 1975 cross country team. 


A play from the 1970s


Building work mid to late 1970s


Main corridor leading to the
front entrance in the late
1970s. Seated Miss C.A.
Howard, Deputy Head


Play c. 1972/3, with at least 2 members of Staff - M. Eglyn in centre and J.S. Moyes back row third from right.


Boarders enjoying a meal
in the 1980s


The school ceased to have boarders and Springfield House became the Sixth Form Centre.


The school celebrated its 400th anniversary with a time capsule buried in the grounds. There were now over 600 students.


The John Howard Building was constructed followed by the Westmorland Arts Building the following year.


QES converted to Academy status


QEStudio was established, with both schools becoming part of the Lunesdale Learning Trust. The Lawrence Hargrave Technology Building was constructed. It is named after a former pupil who became an Australian aeronautics pioneer.


The Lunesdale Sports Centre opened.


QEStudio is built and starts taking students. 

We were contacted by the family of a former pupil Joyce Smith offering us this series of postcards depicting the old girls boarding house, the library, gym, art rooms and labs. Joyce is now 94 and moved to the school as a boarder at the outbreak of WW2, her father believing she would be safer there than in central Bradford.

Her family have told us that they understood the plan was that she stay for the duration of the war, but that she was expelled (or asked to leave!) prior to the end of the war due to having been caught escaping on more than one occasion from the upper floor of the boarding house via the chimneys and drainpipes that can be seen in the cards!