Ipswich School celebrated its long history on Friday 18 March with a special Chapel Service to mark the re-affirmation of the school’s Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1566.
The Royal Charter, which was originally granted to the school by King Henry VIII, makes Ipswich School a royal school. As a royal school the Chapel Choir, who sang during the service in the school’s Chapel, wear red cassocks, and the school’s Visitor is the reigning monarch.
The musical history of the school was underlined on the same day, when celebrated cellist and Principal of the Birmingham Conservatoire, Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, officially opened the new Music School on the Henley Road site.
Headmaster Nicholas Weaver said: “The history of Ipswich School stretches back into the 13th and 14th centuries, but the date we celebrated on Friday – 18 March 1566 – is one of the most significant dates for us, as it marks the school’s official links with the monarchy.
“Whilst we rightly celebrate the history of Ipswich School, we also look to an exciting future for our musicians. The new home for the Britten Faculty of Music will create endless musical possibilities both for our own pupils as well as the local and wider community.”
Karl Daniels, Chairman of Ipswich School’s Governing Body, added: “I am delighted to have celebrated two very exciting occasions for Ipswich School. The new Music School, which is another iconic school building, has been made possible through the generous donations of parents, former pupils and friends of Ipswich School, and we are indebted to them for their support.”
Julian Lloyd Webber made a return visit to Ipswich School, having performed at the first Ipswich School Festival of Music in 2010. He is one of a number of patrons of the campaign to build the new home for the Britten Faculty of Music, along with Lord Tollemache, soprano Dame Emma Kirkby, pianist Nicholas McCarthy and former headmaster Ian Galbraith.
Julian Lloyd Webber said: “I am delighted to have been asked to officially open Ipswich School’s new Music School. I am passionate about investment in music education and enabling young people to experience music, and enjoyed seeing how the new facilities at Ipswich School will benefit both the pupils and the local community.”
Ipswich School was first granted a Royal Charter by Henry VIII, but this document has not survived and was quite probably mislaid or accidentally destroyed at some time in the distant past. Elizabeth I reaffirmed the Royal Charter in 1566 by Letters Patent – a legal document monarchs used to grant an office or a right. As well as confirming that Ipswich School was a royal school, Elizabeth I’s Royal Charter stated that headmasters no longer needed to be approved by the crown, which helped speed up the whole appointment process. It also said that the school needed to be swept! Additionally, as a royal school our Chapel Choir wear red cassocks.
The campaign for a new music school to house Ipswich School’s Britten Faculty of Music was launched in June 2012. The new building includes teaching and practice rooms – two main rehearsal rooms, a technical suite and eight practice rooms. A concert hall, recording studio and four further practice rooms are planned as the final part of the development. It is the school’s intention for this new facility to become one of the region’s main musical hubs, attracting performers from Suffolk and beyond.
Listen to Headmaster Nicholas Weaver on BBC Radio Suffolk (scroll to 2:39:40)