Brief History

In 1640 Richard Foster, a prosperous gentleman, made funds available for the school named after him. Originally called the Blue Coat School and intended by him for young boys and girls, it became a boys’ secondary school with boarding facilities in Hound Street and from 1939 new buildings in Tinneys Lane.

Lord  Digby’s School, started in 1743 in Westbury but later moving to Newland and in 1932 to Sherborne House, was the equivalent for girls.

After 1944 both schools were selective grammar schools, serving bright children from the primary schools of the district. They increasingly worked together until in 1992 they, together with Saint Aldhelm’s, the Church of England Secondary Modern School opened in 1959, joined to form the Gryphon Comprehensive School, or The Gryphon. The school is a specialist Business and Enterprise College.

The War Years

1914-1918 Roll of Honour
1914-1918 Roll of Honour
1939-1945 Roll of Honour
1939-1945 Roll of Honour

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

I’ve been reading through some of the Fosterian magazines from the period of the 2nd World War and some of it is most poignant, especially where there are mentions of people’s ambitions only to be followed in a later edition of a report of their death in service.  I  wish I could thank these people for their bravery and their part in the conflict for which they paid the ultimate price.

Here are some excerpts:

From The Fosterian magazine, December 1941:

Bertram J. Pitman (1934-38), who hopes to become a pilot.

From The Fosterian magazine, Christmas 1943:

Deaths on active service. We learned with the deepest regret of the deaths, following some of the big raids on enemy centres in the late autumn of Bertram J. Pitman (1934-38), Sgt. Obs., aged 20, and of John R. Hoddinott (1933-36), Sgt., aged 24.  The former, a visitor to the School in the Spring when he joined the O.F.A., had lost none of his assuming modesty and quiet demeanour after his return from training in Canada and the U.S.A. and his experience of operational flights.  After leaving school, he had a clerical post at the Dorsetshire Brewery.  To his wife and baby daughter, as to his parents and brothers and sisters, we respectfully offer our deepest sympathy.  The School and the Association were represented at his funeral by Mr. Gibling and by C. H. Salmon, who, as a member of the Home Guard unit to which B. J. Pitman formerly belonged, was one of the bearers.  J. R. Hoddinott, a boarder like his two younger brothers, was of gentle and kindly disposition, and ever ready to give service where it was required, in normal or special circumstances as at Camp.  For three years before he joined the R.A.F., he was engaged in aircraft production.  He was a life member of the O.F.A.  We give our sincere sympathy to his parents and his brothers.

For an excellent history of the school there is the book “Foster’s: The story of a Dorset School” by “Mac” McKay (ISBN: 0902043196 9780902043190), tracking down a printed copy may be tricky so, by kind permission of his wife, a copy of the text of Mac’s book is on the site here.

The School Honours Boards

This is a scan of the contents of all the school honours boards from the records kept by the association. It is a pdf file containing all the text from the boards that were originally on display in the school.


School Archives

All the physical material relating to the founding and running of the school over the centuries that still exists is held in the archives of Sherborne museum.   Arrangements can be made with the Curator to inspect any items of interest.

As of June 2020 this is the list of items held.

2 thoughts on “History

  1. Faye Vane January 23, 2013 / 5:57 am

    There was a Hoddinott in the 60’s, Nick I think

  2. rachel sinar January 24, 2018 / 3:41 pm

    Hi i am trying to find out the history of the old digbys school, which is now the Brittania, i have had a lot of things happen, and would like to write about the building if you could help at all

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