School History

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In 1572, John Lyon, a local yeoman farmer, was granted a charter by Elizabeth I to found “the Free Grammar School of John Lyon”. By the 19th Century, helped by John Lyon’s generous endowments, “the Free Grammar School” had become Harrow School, one of the most famous and prestigious public schools in the UK. However, Harrow School had also moved away from its founder’s original intention of providing an education for local boys, with ‘foreigners’ (boys from outside the parish) hugely outnumbering the locals. To address this issue, the “Lower School of John Lyon” opened in 1876 as a day school for local boys. It was later renamed as The John Lyon School.

Today The John Lyon School is part of the Foundation which also governs Harrow School and John Lyon’s Charity. It has its own Board of Governors with delegated powers from the Foundation. The School has had 12 Heads since 1876 and has developed into one of the top independent day schools for boys in the UK. Our most recent inspection report, published in 2010, states that  “The pupils' overall achievement is excellent, meeting the school's aim to combine high academic standards with excellence in sport and the arts”.


The John Lyon School Timeline




Timeline of the Heads of The John Lyon School


September 1879 - July 1898

J.E. Williams

September 1898 - July 1910

E. Young

December 1910 - April 1926

E.H. Butt

April 1926 - July 1951

O.A. Le Beau

September 1951 - July 1968

R.F. Boyd Campbell

September 1968 - July 1983

G.V. Surtees

September 1983 - July 1986


September 1986 - July 2001

Reverend T.J. Wright

September 2001 - August 2004

Dr C. Ray

September 2004 - Dec 2004

D.A. Rimmer (Acting Head)

January 2005 - August 2009

K.J. Riley

August 2009 - to present

Miss K.E. Haynes