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NEWS > 1574-2024 Anniversary Features > Pate's Archivists visit Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Pate's Archivists visit Corpus Christi College, Oxford

It was an exciting opportunity for the school's archivists to visit Corpus Christi College, Oxford to look over documents and artefacts relevant to Pate's (450 years worth!).
Land owned by Corpus Christi in 18th century
Land owned by Corpus Christi in 18th century

To set the scene for our visit, we need to first briefly look at the origins of the shared history of Pate's Grammar School and Corpus Christi College. Richard Pate attended Corpus Christi College from the age of 16 but there is no record of him having completed a degree. Years later, with income from the chantries granted to him by Elizabeth I, he founded his 'Schola Grammatica' on the High Street in Cheltenham which opened to pupils in 1574. He endowed his old college with property he had purchased and, due to the condition that three-quarters of the income should be used by the College 'for the perpetual maintenance and foundation of a free Grammar School at Cheltenham', the school and Corpus Christi College have enjoyed a close relationship ever since.

Contact was made with Julian Reid, the Corpus Christi Archivist, in December 2023. This was to enquire about documents, held by Corpus Christi in their archive, that were directly relevant to Pate’s Grammar School. Mr Reid supplied a list of documents that we might be interested in.

After some consideration, a short list was sent back to Mr Reid scheduling the items that were of interest. (There were many legal documents relating to Richard Pate’s property dealings in Cheltenham. Although these may have explained Pate’s wealth, they were thought not to be very relevant to the School. No request was made to see these).

A visit to Mr Reid, in Oxford, was arranged for 5 March. Both of Pate’s Grammar School’s voluntary archivists attended – Maggie Cowie and Rob Rimell. The Corpus Christi archive is kept in a subterranean, air-conditioned room; not dissimilar to a bank vault. It had an enormous steel security door! Everything was meticulously and methodically labelled.

Mr Reid had carefully arranged the requested items for viewing. As the examination and photographing of each item was completed, it was carefully returned to its labelled container before the next was revealed, to avoid any mix-ups! There were two particularly eye-catching items:

- an elaborate title panel of an 18th century map showing land in Cheltenham owned by Corpus Christi. The arc-shape to the right of the panel is Cheltenham's Royal Crescent (next to today's bus station). This panel is shown in the cover photo

- part of the 16th century indenture which gave Richard Pate the wherewithal to establish a “Schola Grammatica”. His signature is in the centre and his wax seal is below it. His crest – now part of the School’s crest – was imprinted on the seal. The seal is approximately 50mm long

Another fascinating item – not easily reproducible here – was the 1869 Headmaster’s Report. It contained reports from examiners - fellows of Oxford’s colleges - on the “Classics & Ordinary Studies” and “Mathematical & Experimental Sciences”. Subjects studied included Divinity and Holy Scripture, Liturgy, Greek and Latin. Teaching was divided into two broad categories: Classics and Commercial.

Photos reproduced with the permission of Corpus Christi College.

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