History of Rossall

Rossall is a school steeped in history, often referred to as ‘The Eton of the North’.

The school was founded in 1844 by Rev. St Vincent Beechey as a sister school to Marlborough College which had been founded the previous year. 

Its establishment was ‘to provide, at a moderate cost, for the sons of Clergymen and others, a classical, mathematical and general education of the highest class.’ 

Beechey set about finding the funds required to set up such a school and received support from many including The Earl of Derby, the Duke of Devonshire and the Bishop of Chester.

Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood agreed to lease his ancestral home of Rossall Hall to the school on a 21 year lease with the option to purchase for £7000 in the first ten years. 

The Northern Church of England Boarding School, renamed Rossall College under the reign of its first Headmaster Dr John Woolley, opened on 22 August 1844 with 70 boys enrolled. By the following March 120 pupils were in residence.

Rossall was part of a flurry of expansion in education during the early Victorian period and the School was granted a Royal Charter on 21 October 1890. 

Rossall was widely considered to be in the top 30 public schools in the UK and by the end of Queen Victoria’s reign its academic results were among the best in the country and enjoyed a reputation as ‘The Eton of the North’.

The School’s first ever Captain of Rossall, TW Sharpe wrote: “The choosing of the site was often held up in the ridicule .… but to us, who could bear the winds and brunt the storm, it gave a hardening strength which has braced us up for life.”

Girls first joined the school in the 1970’s and now represent half of the student body.