Hastings school marks four centuries with book launch and service

The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Rev'd Martin Warner, with students SUS-191126-112912001
The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Rev'd Martin Warner, with students SUS-191126-112912001

Pupils and staff marked the 400th anniversary of William Parker at a service on Friday (Novemebr 22).

The Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev’d Martin Warner, joined with 350 pupils of Ark Alexandra Academy in celebrating the founding of their school 400 years ago in November 1619.

The service was held in All Saints’ Church in the Old Town, where William Parker had been Rector.

In his will he left extensive farmland in Ore Valley to provide the revenue to support a school for boys in the Old Town.

Over the centuries the school’s name has changed more than once. In recent years it has been a grammar school, comprehensive school and academy.

In September this year it merged with Helenswood to become co-educational, with the name of the school changing to become Ark Alexandra.

Yvonne Powell, executive principal of Ark Alexandra, said: “We all cherish the remarkable history of William Parker’s school and we look forward to another four centuries, and more, of its role in bringing transformative opportunities to the children of Hastings.”

On Friday evening a reception was held at the school for 200 alumni to mark the publication of the second volume of the history of the school, which covers the years from 1967 to 2013 when it became a member of the Ark academy chain. The book has been commissioned by the William Parker Foundation and authored by Major Alisdair Bruce.

Those wishing to purchase a copy may do so from the Old Hastings Preservation Society at The History House in Courthouse Street.

In a review of the book, called The History of Hastings Grammar School 1966-2013, Dr Deborah Madden, principal lecturer and deputy director of the Centre for Memory Narrative and Histories at Brighton University, said: “The book succeeds in creating a deep familial warmth that’s very appealing, even for those who have not had any involvement with the school. Indeed, the readerly and accessible narrative style in both parts of the volume piques interest immediately, drawing the reader into the school’s biographical ups and downs between 1966 and 2013.”

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