Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
1910 Block of Kesteven & Grantham Girls' School, Sandon Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 9AU


Ordnance survey map of Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School
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Statutory Address:
1910 Block of Kesteven & Grantham Girls' School, Sandon Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 9AU

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Kesteven (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Girls’ school designed by H. H. Dunn and opened in 1910.

Reasons for Designation

Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, built in 1910 to the designs of H. H. Dunn, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is a good example of an Edwardian grammar school with an eclectic architectural character, evoking the vernacular in its prolific use of stone mullioned and transomed windows, yet also referencing the Queen Anne style in the vertical emphasis of the fenestration, tall chimney stacks, gabled windows and use of red brick;

* Architect: it was designed by H. H. Dunn who appears to have specialised in education buildings. His later work at Sawston Village College, Cambridge (1930) is listed at Grade II and as a nationally recognised architect, his hand adds significant interest to KGGS;

* Historic interest: it has a strong association with Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) who received her secondary education there between 1936 and 1943. As the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain, and also of a major Western democracy, Margaret Thatcher was a figure of national and international significance who was accorded many honours after her term in office. Her upbringing in Grantham and her education at KGGS were formative experiences that influenced her subsequent political career;

* Intactness: despite later additions, the Edwardian school survives in substantially the same condition as when Margaret Thatcher attended.


Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School (KGGS) opened in 1910 as a fee-paying girls’ grammar school to cater for the education of Grantham’s growing population. It was designed by Herbert Henry Dunn of Lincoln who appears to have specialised in school buildings. He made additions in 1904-8 to the De Aston Comprehensive School in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, and to the County School for Boys in Cambridge, and he also designed the Shire Hall in Cambridge (1931-2). Dunn has four Grade II listed buildings to his name: the County Hall in Cambridge (1913); and three buildings at Sawston Village College, Cambridgeshire (1930) including the main college building, College House, and the Library.

KGGS was described in the first prospectus as a building ‘of the most modern type, equipped with large, well-lighted Class Rooms, Laboratory, Art Rooms, Assembly Hall, Dining Room and School Kitchen’. It had ‘a very healthy situation in high ground and in open country’ with ‘extensive Playing Fields, including Tennis Courts, Hockey Ground, Junior Playing Field and space set apart for School Gardens’. Historic photographs show the original Edwardian school in an open setting which has since been built up considerably with extensions and additions. On the north side of the school a large extension was built in 1956-7 by the county architect J. W. H. Barnes; and to the south an extension containing a laboratory block and assembly hall was built in 1984-6 by the County Architect’s Department with John Allenby as the project architect. The small projections on the north and south elevations of the school, most likely cloakrooms, which are shown on the 1931 Ordnance Survey map, have been subsumed by these extensions. A covered walkway linking the north and south extensions has been erected along the west side of the school, and late C20 buildings have been erected further to the west on the former playing fields. Internally, the original building has also undergone some alterations, notably the change of use of some of the rooms, resulting in the removal of the library and science laboratory fittings. Some internal doors have been replaced with fire doors and some classrooms have inserted ceilings.

The school’s most famous pupil was Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013), the first female Prime Minister of Britain and Northern Ireland, who attended from 1936 to 1943. She won a scholarship at the age of ten but her father Alfred Roberts paid the fees as the scholarship was means-tested. The Roberts family lived in Grantham above their grocer’s shop in North Parade. Alfred was a prominent member of the community, becoming a councillor, Chairman of the Borough Finance Committee, Alderman, and Mayor of Grantham between 1945 and 1946. He was also a Governor of KGGS and became Chairman while his daughters attended the school. Margaret was initially placed in the ‘B’ stream but from the beginning she did conspicuously well, becoming top of her class in the first year and subsequently being moved to the ‘A’ stream. Her reports portray her as a well behaved, helpful girl who made the most of her clear ability through diligence and persistent hard work. She was made joint Head Girl in the third-year sixth form but she left mid-term in 1943 to take up her scholarship at Somerville College, Oxford where she was elected President of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946. In 1959 Margaret became the MP for Finchley after which she was quickly promoted, holding six different portfolios, including Secretary of State for Education and Science from 1970 to 1974. In 1975 she became Leader of the Opposition and in 1979 was elected Prime Minister, a post she retained until 1990. Margaret Thatcher paid her first return visit to KGGS as a distinguished old girl in 1960 having just been elected an MP; and in 1982 she returned as Prime Minister to unveil a plaque of herself. In 1986 she was invited to open the new Roberts Hall which was named after her.

Margaret Thatcher received numerous honours following her term in office. Most notably she was appointed a peeress with the title Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven in the House of Lords, and she became a member of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of knighthood in England. She died of a stroke on 8 April 2013 and was accorded a ceremonial funeral with military honours at St Paul's Cathedral on 17 April 2013.


MATERIALS: rich red brick laid in English garden-wall bond with stone dressings. The roof is covered in plain ceramic tiles and has exposed rafters at the eaves.

PLAN: the school has an east-facing main range, approximately rectangular in plan, with short wings to the north and south containing classrooms and the former library (subsequently a staff room) respectively. The single-storey, central entrance block is flanked by the former headmistress’s room on the left and the reception on the right, and leads to the double-height hall. Behind the hall, on the west side of the building, are three interconnecting rooms (used as a library) flanked by a staircase and another room. The first-floor gallery, which runs around the north, west and south sides of the hall, provides access to a further seven classrooms. The adjoining extensions on the north and south sides of the building are excluded from the listing.

EXTERIOR: the principal (east) elevation has a recessed central range under a pitched roof which is surmounted by a louvred lantern with a small dome. It has a single-storey, flat-roofed entrance block with a centrally placed modern, six-panelled timber door, the upper two panels glazed. The door is set under a wide semi-circular, moulded stone arch and has sides punctuated by alternating brick and stone. It is flanked by canted bays lit by a six-light window with metal casements set in a stone surround with stone mullions and a transom. The fenestration is mostly regular throughout the building, except for the varying number of lights, and is almost all original. To either side of the canted bays is a pair of small two-light windows. The entrance block has a brick plinth, a stone string course at lintel level, and a brick parapet with a hollow stone moulding. Above the door, the parapet rises to a point and contains a carved stone relief depicting a forest with the school crest in the centre. A banner above the crest is inscribed ‘COUNTY KESTEVEN SCHOOL’ and a banner below is inscribed ‘AD GRANTHAM 1910’. Behind the entrance block is the double-height hall, lit by three twelve-light windows with two transoms, the upper sections in the shape of a depressed arch. In the corner between the main range and wings are small projections with wavy stone-capped parapets, alternating stone quoins and a two-light window with a moulded sill which rises into a triangle. The projecting two-storey wings have hipped roofs and are lit on the ground floor by three large cross windows with hoodmoulds. The first floor has a central six-light window with two transoms which rises through the eaves into a stone-capped, kneelered triangular gable, and is flanked by cross windows. The right return of the south wing has a projecting chimney with a tall brick stack. The left return is obscured by later additions but has a similar first-floor window rising through the eaves, flanked by narrow two-light windows with a single transom. The right return of the north wing is also obscured by later extensions at the west end but has two ground-floor six-light windows with a single transom and brick relieving arches, and two timber replacement windows on the first-floor. Some of the original cast-iron rainwater goods survive with ‘K.C.C’ on the heads.

The rear (west) range has a hipped roof surmounted by two louvred lanterns and is dominated by extensive fenestration. It has a symmetrical composition divided into nine irregular window bays. The middle (fifth) bay has on the ground floor a double cross window with a brick relieving arch, as do all the windows that are not positioned directly under the eaves. Above is a nine-light window with two transoms which rises through the eaves into a triangular, kneelered gable. On either side, the fourth and sixth bays are lit on both floors by a six-light window with a single transom, that on the first-floor being shorter and set directly under the eaves. The third and seventh bays are similar to the fifth except that the first-floor windows have twelve lights. The second and eighth bays have tall eight-light windows set directly under the eaves, and small windows on the ground floor; those in the second bay have been replaced with modern timber windows. The outer bays have three closely spaced cross windows on the ground floor and, above, a six-light window rising through the eaves into a gable, flanked by cross windows.

INTERIOR: the plan form and internal fittings remain substantially intact. The dominant space is the large, double-height hall which has a segmental arched ceiling with shallow ribs resting on moulded corbels. The hall is panelled to door height with wide vertical panels. It has a moulded cornice and a frieze with the names of head girls, including Margaret Roberts. Her name also appears on one of the timber shields hanging above the panelling which record the university honours of old girls. The gallery has metal stick balusters and a timber handrail which, at regular intervals, opens into a square shape, supported by a grouping of the balusters. There are arched openings leading out from the hall, some with the original six-panelled doors with upright handles in Art Nouveau style, which are found throughout the school. The former headmistress’s office retains the original cast-iron fireplace which has a band decorated with an interlaced design above the grate. The gallery and many of the classrooms retain the ivory tiled dado with green banding at the top and bottom, although in some rooms it has been painted over. None of the original library or laboratory fittings survive, although there are fitted cupboards and shelves of interest in the north-east corner of the gallery. The gallery and corridors have parquet floors, whilst the hall and classrooms are carpeted, possibly covering parquet floors.

The school lodge and the former stables to Harrowby House (since converted for use as the school shop) are excluded from the listing.


Books and journals
Beckett, C, The 20 British Prime Ministers of the 20th Century: Thatcher , (2006)
Campbell, J, Margaret Thatcher: The Grocer’s Daughter, Volume I , (2000)
Campbell, J, Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady, Volume II , (2003)
Harwood, E, England’s Schools: History, Architecture and Adaptation , (2010)
Thatcher, M, The Path to Power , (1995)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building is shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

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