Like near neighbour Uppingham (slightly smaller and nearly all boarding), Oakham, in a rural market town with a train station, was set up as a grammar school in 1584 by Archdeacon Robert Johnson to teach Latin, Greek and Hebrew to local boys; it went co-ed in 1971, the first independent boys’ secondary to do so.
The old part of the school was restored in the 18th century and contains frescoes painted by a former headmaster’s sister; the chapel was built to commend 68 Oakhamians and masters who were killed in the First World War (congregational hymn-singing is known as ‘congo’).
Described as ‘an outstanding community of learners’, Oakham boasts a programme of some 125 activities. Trips in a recent term included to the Dominican Republic, Germany, the Natural History Museum, the European Parliament and sailing championships – being so far inland is not a problem, as beautiful Rutland Water is just down the road. The headmaster, Nigel Lashbrook, retires in 2019; his successor is Henry Price, currently head of Wellington School, Somerset.
- 1,000 pupils aged 10–18, co-ed, day and boarding