1. The Earliest Stages
Lady Manners School began on 20 May 1636. This was when Grace, Lady Manners set up a fund to pay a teacher and wrote rules to start the school off. It opened properly the next year. It was a charity school to provide free education for poor boys in Bakewell and Rowsley.
At first, there was only the one teacher and the rules about his job seem quite tough. Every day (except Sunday) he had to read prayers at 6.00am at church. So our traditional link with Bakewell Parish Church began at that initial stage. The teacher was then in school by 7.00am and worked until 11.00am. There was then a long lunch break. At 1.00pm he had to start work again until 5.00pm. He was not allowed to marry or have any children. For all this he was paid £15 a year.
The school must have had a good start because in 1649, in her will, Lady Manners actually made sure that the school could keep going by giving it the land that generated the £15 a year in income.
2. The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century
For most of the early history of the school it was quite small compared with today. It has also been sited at different places within Bakewell. The records show that in the year 1774 it had about 50 boys - and this seems to have been a fairly normal number during the Eighteenth Century.
By the Nineteenth Century the rules about teachers must have changed because the Headteacher in 1830 was married and had three boys who all went to the school. Education was still free, but there were some extra lessons that you had to pay for if you wanted to do those subjects. For example, reading, english grammar, writing, Latin and Greek were all free. If you also wanted to study Maths you had to pay more than £2 a year! In 1846 the school became known as a grammar school.
Between 1874 and 1896 the school was closed. This was because there was not enough money to keep the school going and, when the Headteacher died, it was decided to let the funds build up until there was enough to make a better start. This was done and, eventually, other ways to support the school financially were also developed.
3. 1896 to 1936
The school opened again for a completely fresh start on 22 September 1896. The big difference was that the school was now opened both for boys and for girls. This was unusual at that time and Lady Manners School was the first endowed school to admit both boys and girls. The age range allowed was 8 to 18.
Like now, politeness was very important. The rule then was that girls would always be allowed to enter and leave rooms before boys. Boys were told that they had to open doors for girls.
Boarding houses were set up in 1900 so that students from further distances could attend school. This facility continued until 2003, when the Boarding House at Castle Hill was closed. In 1900 the school had 56 girls and 65 boys.
Another special feature of the school was that it was one of the first places to train teachers how to teach. In 1905 a centre was opened in Granby Croft where the training of teachers was organised.
4. The Modern School
In the 1930s the school moved again. There were more students and a new site had to be built. On 20 May 1936 - exactly 300 years after Lady Manners had started the school - the foundation stone for the buildings that we now have was laid by John Manners, 9th Duke of Rutland. You can still find this stone today.
In 1972 the school stopped being a grammar school and became comprehensive. In the 1970s extra classrooms had to be built because more space was needed for the comprehensive school. The Rowsley Suite was created as well as a number of other rooms. This stage of the development was officially opened by HRH Princess Margaret on 28 June 1973.
Developments continue to take place. New additions to the buildings are the Sixth Form Centre and the new Gym which were built in 2005, funded by using income gained by selling the facility at Castle Hill. These new additions were officially opened by Lord Edward and Lady Saskia Manners on 4 May 2006.
During 2010 a new Vocational Centre was added behind the Sixth Form building. This provides a range of practical courses, including construction, and so Lady Manners School continues to develop and grow, providing for the needs and interests of our community.