Our History
A Timeline

From then till now..

Take a look at the timeline below for the key moments in our 400 year history.



Dr Perse leaves £10,000 in his will for the formation of a ‘Grammar Free Schoole’ among other good causes. His vision is for children of all backgrounds to benefit from education.


The Perse School opens on Free School Lane (originally called Lorteburn Lane) with two teachers.


Around 100 free scholars are on the roll. The school day starts at 6am and pupils focus on Latin, Greek and good manners.


By this point, 100 Perse pupils have been admitted to the University of Cambridge


Master George Griffith dies leaving a generous bequest. Many Perseans in his 34 year mastership went on to achieve great things, including Robert Tabor, an apothecary who was knighted for saving the life of Charles II.



After a period of decline, The Perse has only 10 pupils. Buildings are out of use and masters absent.


For a brief period there are no pupils at The Perse. In 1787 pressure from townspeople forces the School to reopen – albeit with limited free places.



The Perse is used to house the newly-created Fitzwilliam Collection until a museum can be built.


A court case puts the School back on a firmer footing. The 100 free places are restored, hours of attendance are increased and pupil prizes introduced.


The Perse moves to Gonville Place. Under headmaster Herbert Barnes-Lawrence, the School begins to re-establish a strong academic presence.



Headmaster WHD Rouse and Israel Hersch set up a Jewish boarding house – Hillel House. Over the next 40 years it will be home to more than 400 boys; among them many fleeing oppression in Europe.


Previously the Preparatory Form, the Perse Prep acquires its own site on Bateman Street.


The Perse Players hold their first performance. Two years later the Mummery is established. Pupils learn English through drama and are encouraged to write their own plays.


The Prep School moves to its Trumpington Road site.


Under the leadership of Stanley Stubbs, the Upper School moves to its current site on Hills Road.


The government abolishes the Direct Grant System after three decades. The Perse becomes independent.


Boarding ends. Two years later Saturday School is abolished and girls enter the Sixth Form.


The government abolishes the Assisted Places Scheme. The School no longer receives any state funding and develops a bursary scheme so that children can continue to benefit from a Perse education.


The Perse Pelican Nursery and Pre-Prep opens in what was once Hillel House.



Girls enter the Prep and the move to full co-education in all years begins.


In addition to continued academic success, extra-curricular activity is thriving. Work begins on the development of our site at Abington as well as the construction of our Performing Arts Centre.

The Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre officially opens in March 2018 and is named after the late Sir Peter Hall, who is an Old Persean.


The first Perse International School opens in Singapore.


For the first time in its history, lessons across The Perse move online for most children, due to the national Covid-19 lockdown.


Plans are underway for a new sports centre and swimming complex to be added to the Upper School site, which should open in the next couple of years.

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