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Rugby in 1843

Rugby is in the Rugby division of the hundred of Knightlow, about 83 miles from the General Post-Office, London, by the parliamentary Holyhead road, through St. Albans, Towcester, Daventry, and Dunchurch, or 86 by the Birmingham railway, from which Rugby is distant about a mile. Rugby possesses no historical interest. It had a castle in the middle ages, of which only the earth-works remain. The parish comprehends an area of 2,190 acres; and had, in 1831, 515 houses, namely, 496 inhabited, 7 uninhabited, and 12 building ; with a population of 496 families, or 2,501 persons. The town stands on an eminence near the south bank of the Avon, and consists of several streets irregularly laid out, containing a number of well built and handsome houses. The importance of the town is chiefly derived from its grammar-school, founded A.D. 1567 by Lawrence Sheriff, a native of Brownsover near Rugby, or perhaps of Rugby itself, and a shopkeeper (some call him grocer, others haberdasher) in London ; he had also some employment in the household of Queen Elizabeth, before her accession to the throne. The school buildings are in the southern part of the town ; the greater part of them form a quadrangle, enclosing a court 90 feet long by 75 feet wide, surrounded on three sides by open cloisters. The buildings are in the Elizabethan style, of white brick, with the angles, cornices, and dressings to the openings and windows, of Attleborough stone. They were erected early in the present century, and comprehend a house or apartments for the head-master, school-rooms, and a dining-hall, private studies and dormitories for those scholars who are resident under the care of the head master. There is also a chapel erected since the completion of the other buildings, containing a monument of Doctor James, formerly head-master, under whom the school first rose to great eminence. The principal buildings form the south side of the quadrangle, with an eastward prolongation which includes the head master’s house, and present a handsome front toward the extensive play-ground of eight acres, which lies on the south side of the school buildings. Rugby church possesses little architectural interest ; it has a square western tower without buttresses and devoid of ornament. There are two ranges of almshouses, one of them endowed by Sheriff, the founder of the grammar-school.

Rugby has a weekly market on Saturday, and eleven or twelve yearly fairs, one of them a great horse-fair. The Oxford Canal passes near the town. There are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists.

The living of Rugby is a rectory, of the clear yearly value of £510, with a glebe-house, in the rural deanery of Marton, in the archdeaconry of Coventry, and in the diocese of Worcester.

There were in the parish, in 1833, six daily schools of all kinds, with 625 scholars, namely, 465 boys and 160 girls, giving about one in four of the total population under daily instruction. This unusual proportion was mainly owing to the eminence of the grammar-school noticed above, which contained 300 youths collected from various parts of the kingdom. The endowment of the school is estimated to produce £5,000 per annum ; a very valuable part of it consists of eight acres of ground, now covered with buildings, in or near Lamb’s Conduit Street, London. Another day-school was endowed for 30 boys by Richard Elborow, and another, with 230 boys, was established A.D. 1830, by a gentleman who allowed the master £50 a year. There were at the same time two Sunday-schools, with 245 children, namely, 115 boys and 130 girls ; giving one in ten of the population under instruction on Sunday.