Dr Stephen Perse and Dame Bradbury were both educational visionaries, who acted to establish schools in 1881 and 1522, upon which our history is built.
Dr Stephen Perse
Born in 1548, Dr Perse was an English academic and philanthropist. A fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, he also gained a Doctor of Medicine in 1581.
Dr Perse believed that education should be a right rather than a privilege, accessible to those with ability rather than dependent on income.
During his life, Dr Perse gave money to a variety of causes, including the University of Cambridge library, the building of Maid's Causeway in central Cambridge, and the supply of public water via Hobson's Conduit.
Upon his death in 1615, Perse gave a significant sum of money for the establishment of a 'Grammar Free Schoole' – which would offer education to those with ability. The Perse School was established to teach boys born in Cambridge, Barnwell, Chesterton or Trumpington with some of the boys proceeding to scholarships at Gonville & Caius.
In 1881, the Perse School for Girls was established, from which our Foundation has evolved. Today, Dr Perse's legacy lies in the Stephen Perse Foundation, teaching boys and girls aged 1 to 18 at sites in Cambridge, Madingley and Saffron Walden.
Dr Stephen Perse is commemorated at a memorial in Gonville and Caius College chapel.
Dame Johane Bradbury
There has been a school on the site of Dame Bradbury's School in Saffron Walden since at least 1317, when manuscripts show the existence of one Reginald, “Scholemaster of Walden” – the first of a series of “scholemasters”.
In 1513, Dame Johane Bradbury, her brother and son James Bodley obtained a form of self government for Saffron Walden, with Dame Bradbury also contributing funds towards reparations for the town's church.
Following the death of her brother in 1521, Dame Bradbury embarked on a project to set up a grammar school in Saffron Walden something he had wanted to start for a long time.
Although there had been a school at the site since at least 1317, it was Dame Bradbury who re-established it for local people.
In 1522, Dame Johane Bradbury re-established the school, successfully obtaining the necessary letters patent from Henry VIII. Even then the school had high aspirations for its teaching, with a curriculum that was to be “after the ordre and use of teching gramer in the Scoles of Wynchester and Eton”.
For the first four years, Dame Bradbury paid the salary of the schoolmaster herself until the school was endowed in 1525.
Dame Bradbury's School became part of the Stephen Perse Foundation in 2013.