The Old Almondburians' Society
The Old Almondburians
The School Charter (‘the Letters Patent’)
'The original Letters Patent of King James do not exist,' reported a gloomy Taylor Dyson in his scholarly 1926 book Almondbury and its Ancient School. But he was wrong. In May 1952, thanks to a chance visit to an exhibition by a School party led by Fred Hudson, they were found to be in the safe keeping of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in Leeds. They were subsequently displayed, on loan from the Society, in a purpose-built cabinet in the School library.

The parchment measures some 91 cm by 76 cm (36" by 30") and carries, in the left hand corner, an illuminated letter 'J' framing a representation of James I bearing an orb and sceptre. Along the top margin and down the right are representations of the royal coat of arms, supported by lions, unicorns, the fleur de lys, roses of York and Lancaster, thistle, harp and standards of St George and St Andrew.

Down the left hand margin are the coats of arms of the School's six 'first governors': Robert Kay of Woodsome; William Ramsden of Longley; George Crosland, vicar of the parish church of Almondbury; Nicholas Fenay of Fenay; Richard Appleyard of Over Longley; and Robert Nettleton of Almondbury.

The Letters Patent are dated 'the 24th day of November in the 6th year of the reign of his then Majesty of England, France and Ireland and 42nd of Scotland.' James I of England came to the throne in March 1603, and a simple calculation confirms that he therefore started the sixth year of his reign in 1608. How Taylor Dyson, in common with generations of other historians, accepted the old erroneous date of 1609 has never been satisfactorily explained.

Photo: Roger Dowling
The six pupils who rediscovered the Charter in 1952 (left to right): Michael Fawcett; David Anderson; Tommy Blackburn; John Earnshaw; Allan Dobson; Alan Sykes