Melbourne Grammar School

Melbourne Grammar School
Melbourne Grammar School
Latin: Ora et Labora
("Pray and Work")[1]
South Yarra & Caulfield, Victoria, Australia
Coordinates 37°50′2″S 144°58′34″E / 37.83389°S 144.97611°E / -37.83389; 144.97611Coordinates: 37°50′2″S 144°58′34″E / 37.83389°S 144.97611°E / -37.83389; 144.97611
Type Independent, Co-educational (Primary), Single-sex (Secondary), Day and Boarding
Denomination Anglican[2]
Established 1858[2]
Founder The Right Rev'd Charles Perry, First Anglican Bishop of Melbourne
Chairman of the Governors Prof. Richard Larkins
Headmaster Mr. Roy Kelley
Chaplain The Rev'd Dr Ron Noone
Enrolment ~1,800 (P–12)[3]
Colour(s) Navy Blue     
Slogan "Fostering Learning & Leadership"[4]

Melbourne Grammar School is an independent, Anglican, day and boarding school predominantly for boys, located in South Yarra and Caulfield, suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Founded on 7 April 1858 as the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, the school has a non-selective enrolment policy and currently caters for approximately 1,800 students from Prep to Year 12, including 120 boarders from Years 7 to 12.[3]

The bluestone buildings at the senior campus are all on the Victorian Heritage Register.[citation needed] The school's War Memorial Hall recently underwent a major renovation and in 2006 it won the RAIA National Architecture Awards - Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage, the top award in its category, at an awards show in Brisbane.[citation needed]

Melbourne Grammar is affiliated with the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference,[5] the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA),[6] the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA),[7] the Australian Boarding Schools' Association (ABSA),[3] the Association of Independent Schools of Victoria (AISV),[2] and is a founding member of the historic Associated Public Schools of Victoria (APS). The School is also a member of the G20 Schools Group.

In 2001, The Sun-Herald ranked Melbourne Grammar School second among Australian schools based on the number of their alumni mentioned in Who's Who in Australia (a listing of notable Australians). In 2010 The Age reported that Melbourne Grammar School ranked equal seventh among Australian schools based on the number of alumni who had received a top Order of Australia honour.[8]



Melbourne Grammar School, c.1860
Melbourne Grammar School students and building, c.1914
Melbourne Grammar School in Domain Road, South Yarra

The origins of Melbourne Grammar School (colloquially known as Grammar) can be traced back to 1849, with the establishment of an experimental grammar school at St Peter's Eastern Hill, East Melbourne. This school had been established by Melbourne's first Church of England Bishop, Charles Perry, who founded the Diocese of Melbourne, and had been opened to meet the growing educational needs of the young colony.[9] In 1853, Bishop Perry commenced planning for the diocesan experimental school to become permanent, although on a larger site and not under his direct management, and so he set up a committee of eminent men to consider the task. The school however did not thrive and was suspended at the end of 1854.[10]

The first Board of Governors was elected in 1854 to take over from the committee, and it set about drawing up a Constitution, finding a Headmaster and a new site. Locations considered included Carlton, Prahran and St Kilda.[10]

Perry's dream of building a permanent, centrally located grammar school, based on the principles of the great English Public Schools, was realised in 1855, with a grant from the Governor Charles Hotham of 15 acres (61,000 m2) on St Kilda Road. This is the inner South Yarra land now occupied by Senior School and Wadhurst, next to the Royal Botanic Gardens and a short walk from the central city. At the time it was considered relatively isolated and remote. The Governors chose architects Charles Webb and Thomas Taylor, well known Melbourne contractors George Cornwell and co. undertook the construction and Bishop Perry laid the School's foundation stone on 30 July 1856.[10]

Melbourne Grammar School, 1876

The Melbourne Church of England Grammar School was finally opened on 7 April 1858 with 77 pupils, and with Dr John E Bromby as the first Headmaster. Enrolments grew to 136 during the first year, with four students being the sons of Dr Bromby, and about one quarter of the them boarders.[10]

The school's first forty years proved to be a struggle, exacerbated in the 1890s by economic depression, financial concerns and changes of Headmaster. Senior School enrolments fell from 272 in 1889 to 117 in 1894 prompting a group of former students to do something "to save the old School". They formed The Old Melburnians Society in 1895, "to be the means of bringing together many former schoolmates, reviving pleasant recollections, and at the same time benefiting the life of the School as it is today".[10]

Two significant developments of the late nineteenth century were, firstly, the recognition that with a limited site, one storey buildings were not a wise use of space. A move began, continued now, of adding second stories or replacing buildings with two- or three-level structures. The second was the dedication of the Chapel of St Peter in 1893, the first school chapel in the colony of Victoria.[10]

The beginning of the new century saw the School's future assured, with enrolments increasing and the Jubilee celebrated in 1908. Hundreds of former students enlisted in the Great War of 1914–1918, as they had in the South African War, and sadly more than 200 did not return.[10]

Melbourne Grammar School Chapel, c.1893

The 1920s were a relatively stable time for the School, experiencing high academic and sporting results. The 1930s however were an unsettling time. The Great Depression put pressure on members of the Grammar community, while administrative instability affected the whole school. Between 1935 and 1938 the School had three Headmasters and two Acting Headmasters, and the outbreak of war the following year meant building plans were put on hold. Some 3,500 Old Boys enlisted in the services, and school buildings were commandeered by Australian and American forces with some students dispatched to the country and others doubled up in crowded quarters.[10]

By the 1950s it became clear that the School was seriously lacking adequate space, with expansions, extensions and renovations mostly crammed into Dr Bromby's original 15 acres (61,000 m2). The School subsequently embarked upon a building program which it was thought could take 30 years to complete, with the Senior School, Wadhurst and Grimwade campuses all receiving attention. The Centenary Building Campaign of 1958 began this expansion. Another solution to this problem since this time has been the steady acquisition of neighbouring properties.[10]

In 1986 the Governors decided on a staged restructure of the School. Until then, Wadhurst, established as a preparatory school in 1886 and Grimwade House, opened in 1918, had operated as two parallel feeder schools taking students through to Year 8. Grimwade's boarding house had closed in the mid 1970s, leading to debate on the best use of the newly available space. It was decided to introduce girls at primary levels at Grimwade House, and today Grimwade House caters for girls and boys up to Year 6 and Wadhurst for boys in Years 7 and 8.[10]

The 1980s and 1990s were times of further growth, with the outdoor program expanded with three permanent campsites at Breakfast Creek near Licola, Woodend and Banksia Peninsula on the Gippsland Lakes. On 7 April 2008, as part of the celebrations of Melbourne Grammar's sesquicentenary, the School officially opened the multi-million dollar Nigel Peck Centre for Learning and Leadership on the Domain Road boundary, an event which was attended by the Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, who is also an Old Melburnian.[10]


Witherby Tower
Period Details
1858 – 1875 John Edward Bromby
1875 – 1883 Edward Ellis Morris
1883 – 1885 Alexander Pyne
1885 – 1893 Ambrose John Wilson
1894 – 1898 Frederic Sergeant
1899 – 1914 George Ernest Blanch
1915 – 1936 Richard Penrose Franklin
1937 – 1938 David Stacey Colman
1938 – 1949 Joseph Richard Sutcliffe
1950 – 1970 Sir Brian William Hone
1970 – 1987 Nigel Arthur Holloway Creese
1988 – 1994 Antony James de Villiers Hill
1995 – 2009 Paul Sheahan
2009 – Roy Kelley


Melbourne Grammar School features seven campuses, three used for everyday schooling, one for sporting activities, and three for the School's outdoor education program:

Aerial photo of Melbourne Grammar School and surrounds
  • Grimwade House – Caulfield (Co-ed; Prep to Year 6)
  • Wadhurst – South Yarra (All male; Years 7–8)
  • Senior School – South Yarra (All male; Years 9–12)
  • Edwin Flack Park – Port Melbourne (Sporting complex)
  • Camp Dowd – Gippsland Lakes (Camp)
  • Robert Knox Camp – Woodend (Camp; Years 5–8)
  • L.G.Robertson Camp – Breakfast Creek, Licola (Camp; Years 9–12)


Senior Campus

Melbourne Grammar offers its Years 11 and 12 students the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), the main assessment program which ranks the students in the state.

In 2004, six Melbourne Grammar students achieved the maximum possible Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank (ENTER) of 99.95; only 32 students in Victoria achieved this ENTER. In 2005, five Melbourne Grammar students achieved this same ENTER of 99.95.[11] In 2006, two Melbourne Grammar students achieved the maximum ENTER of 99.95, and three Melbourne Grammar students achieved an ENTER of 99.90. In 2007, three Melbourne Grammar students achieved the maximum ENTER of 99.95; again, only 32 students in Victoria achieved this ENTER. In 2008, five Melbourne Grammar students achieved the maximum ENTER of 99.95.[12] This tradition was continued in 2009, when a record seven students achieved the maximum ENTER of 99.95. The school also recorded its best average score on record in 2009, with the median ENTER being 93.95.



Melbourne Grammar has held inter-grammar school British Parliamentary Debating competitions involving Scotch College, Sydney Grammar, and Melbourne Grammar. Also, Melbourne Grammar enters about a tenth of its students[citation needed] into the Debating Association of Victoria's (DAV) Debating Competition, in which they participate in the South Yarra draw, which takes place at Melbourne High School.


Melbourne Grammar is noted[citation needed] for its Orchestra, the Melbourne Grammar School Symphony Orchestra (MGSSO). Conducted by Martin Rutherford, retiring at the end of 2008, the Orchestra tours internationally in December every year. In 2005 the Orchestra toured Malaysia and Singapore and in 2006 travelled to China, performing in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou. December 2007 saw the orchestra touring Dubai, Zagreb, Ljubljana and Venice, while in December 2008 the orchestra once again returned to Malaysia for Martin Rutherford's final orchestra tour. In 2009 Mark Drummond took over the orchestra and in 2010 the orchestra toured Japan, performing in Osaka, Tokyo (at the Okuma Auditorium which is located at Waseda University) and Gamagori. The orchestra is usually made up of around 100 students, the vast majority attendants of the school. All campuses have their own choirs, concert bands and string orchestras. The Chapel Choir is the oldest of any Victorian private school and consists of about 40 select members. It sings at the weekly Eucharists along with occasional concerts with the like of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

The MGSSO has accompanied international soloists such as Ronald Farren-Price, Leslie Howard and Neville Taweel, and has premièred works by Australian and British composers.[13]


Cordner-Eggleston Cup

Statue at the Melbourne Cricket Ground of Tom Wills umpiring the first recorded match of Australian rules football between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar

The Cordner-Eggleston Cup is competed for each year by the first football teams of Melbourne Grammar School and the Scotch College and has been run since 1858, making it the longest running school football fixture in the world.

Tri-Grammar series

Melbourne Grammar participates in the annual Tri-Grammar games, a series of cricket and rowing competitions between the Firsts teams of Melbourne Grammar School, Sydney Grammar School and Brisbane Grammar School.

They are held at each school in rotation, with competing students being billeted out to the students of the host school against whom they will compete. It is customary when the rowing events are hosted by Melbourne Grammar that Sydney and Brisbane Grammars shall compete in the Head of the Yarra, an 8 kilometre river-race.

The cricketing rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney Grammars dates back to 1876 and is considered the oldest (in terms of cricket) in Australia. In 1976, to mark the centenary of this rivalry, a "Bat" was struck, with the winner of the annual match taking possession of this bat.

In the mid 1990s, Brisbane Grammar was invited to play against both Melbourne and Sydney Grammars, giving rise to the 'Tri-Grammar Shield', won by the most successful school during the festival.


Melbourne Grammar has a proud rowing record, having claimed the Head of the River 27 times, the most recent being in 2009. In that year the school's 1st VIII broke the Head of the River record. It was believed that they had also broken the National Schoolboy's VIII record, but this proved to be inaccurate. They rowed a very credible race to win the schoolboy title over the Shore School in 5:49.


2007 Quad play at night under lights

Melbourne Grammar has a strong theatre department, especially within the Senior Campus, which produces four plays each school year. In Early March, the Quad Play, most commonly a Shakespeare Play, but on occasion from other notable playwrights, is performed within the school's Quadrangle, and is open to students in years 9 to 12. The 2007 Quad Play was Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. In 2008, the Quad Play was once again a Shakespeare Play; Othello. In 2009 Melbourne Grammar presented Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Hamlet shown in 2010. 2011 saw the highly praised performance of Much Ado About Nothing and it has recently been announced that the Quad Play for 2012 will be Euripides' Greek tragedy, "The Bacchae".

The School Play, performed usually in August, is often the centrepiece of the year's theatrical calendar. Recent performances include Tim Winton's Cloudstreet in 2006, and On the Twentieth Century in 2005. These two performances were the first to take advantage of the newly renovated and restored Memorial Hall, which features improved staging facilities and backstage areas. The School Play for 2007 was the musical Guys and Dolls. The School Play for 2008 was Arthur Miller's celebrated work on the Salem witch trials, The Crucible. In 2009, the School Play was Gilbert and Sullivan's acclaimed comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance. With the enormous success of the 2010 Play (Alan Bennett's The History Boys) and the 2011 Musical (Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady), next year's Production, Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, is also keenly awaited.

Students also have the opportunity to take part in the recently reinstated Year 9 Play. Usually directed by a competent Year 12 actor (although Eric Gardiner has also performed this task), the play is intended to welcome aspiring young actors to the Senior School and develop their interest in drama. The Year 9 Play for 2009 was Kes.

The final performance for the year is the Spring Production which is open to Years 9 and 10 students, and often alternates year on year between a light-hearted professional play, and an individual piece of work by a Year 9–10 student, or group of students. It is usually held in late October, near the end of the school year. The 2004 Spring production The Elisabeth Crown Affair, written by two Year 10 boys was seen by the owner of a local theatre who subsequently bought the script. In 2007, the Spring Production was Our Country's Good, written by Timberlake Wertenbaker, and edited by a Year 10 student. The year 9/10 play for 2008 was William Golding's Lord of the Flies and the 2009 production consisted of two short plays written by Year 10 students: "Bon Voyage" and "Unverified". In 2010, George Orwell's Animal Farm was chosen, followed in 2011 by the dark comedy Sweeney Todd by Hugh Wheeler.

All of these plays are performed by the students of Melbourne Grammar, with the August and Quad Play productions being performed in conjunction with students from the sister school, Melbourne Girls Grammar School, whose campus is located nearby.

Staging is often designed by a contracted individual, with sets constructed jointly by staff and students, often both current and former. A train was constructed for On the Twentieth Century, an eight-metre diameter revolving circular stage constructed for Cloudstreet and a wheeled pirate ship was made for The Pirates of Penzance.

Wadhurst also partakes in an annual production. This is performed either on the Wadhurst Deck or in the Wadhurst Hall. In 2008, to celebrate the school's sesquicentenary, the play 'Glimpses of the Generations' was performed featuring 150 years of the school's history. In 2009, the play was an adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl tale, The Witches. In 2010 the play was based on the original version of Pinocchio as written by Carlo Collodi. In 2011, the play will be the Jungle Book.

Crest and motto

Collectable School Cigarette card featuring the MGS colours & crest, c. 1910s

The school motto, Ora et Labora, which may be translated from Latin to "Pray and Work", was chosen by the second Headmaster, Edward Morris in 1875.[1]

An old boy of England's Rugby School, Morris exemplified the way the principles of the English Public School system were adopted in Australia, including that education and religion should go hand in hand, as envisaged by Bishop Perry. The motto clearly reflects this.[1]

The school crest is composed of a number of elements. The Archbishop's mitre placed on top of the crest indicates the school's connection with the Church of England; the mitre in the shield is in memory of Charles Perry, the schools founder; the open book represents either the bible or 'Knowledge like an Open Book', while its large clasps show that the book is not to be opened with ease; the Fleur de Lys (lily) is a symbol of purity; and the Southern Cross is the emblem of Australia, and is also on the Victorian and Australian flag.[1]

Student Leadership

Melbourne Grammar School takes great pride in its student leadership body, which includes the School Captain, School Vice-Captain, 12 House Captains and Vice-Captains and 11 other Prefects who take certain portfolios. In 2011, the Captain of the School is Nick Langford[14] of Witherby House and his Vice-Captain is Nick Churkovich of Bromby. Under this leadership, the Prefect group has this year advocated a balance between sport and the arts, with the School Captain quoted as saying, "Promoting an environment where there is equal support given to all facets of School life will be my focus, as I go about giving back to the school that I love."[15] It has recently been announced that Edward Langley of Miller House will succeed Langford as School Captain in 2012, with Chris Lam of Creese as his deputy.[16]


Alumni of Melbourne Grammar School are commonly referred to as Old Melburnians and may elect to join the schools' alumni association, the Old Melburnians' Society (OMS).[17] Some notable Old Melburnians include:


See also


  1. ^ a b c d "School Crest and Motto". History. Melbourne Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  2. ^ a b c "Melbourne Grammar School". Find a School. Association of Independent Schools of Victoria. 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  3. ^ a b c "Melbourne Grammar School". Schools - Victoria. Australian Boarding Schools Association. Archived from the original on 2007-11-17. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  4. ^ "Prospectus" (PDF). Admissions. Melbourne Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  5. ^ "International Members". HMC Schools. The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  6. ^ "Victoria". School Directory. Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  7. ^ "JSHAA Victoria Directory of Members". Victoria Branch. Junior School Heads' Association of Australia. 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  8. ^ Topsfield, Jewel (4 December 2010). "Ties that bind prove a private education has its awards". The Age. p. 11.  The hard copy article also published a table of the schools which were ranked in the top ten places, as follows: (1st with 19 awards) Scotch College, Melbourne, (2nd with 17 awards) Geelong Grammar School, (3rd with 13 awards) Sydney Boys High School, (equal 4th with 10 awards each) Fort Street High School, Perth Modern School and St Peter's College, Adelaide, (equal 7th with 9 awards each) Melbourne Grammar School, North Sydney Boys High School and The King's School, Parramatta, (equal 10th with 6 awards each) Launceston Grammar School, Melbourne High School, Wesley College, Melbourne and Xavier College.
  9. ^ "History". About Us. Melbourne Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "History of MGS". About Us. Melbourne Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  11. ^ Leung, Chee Chee (2005-12-13). "Public school trio make mark on VCE results". National (The Age). Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  12. ^ Sheahan, Paul (2007-12-17). "Outstanding VCE results". News (Melbourne Grammar School). Archived from the original on 2008-03-15. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  13. ^ Martin Rutherford (2006). "Martin Rutherford, Associate Composer, Australian Music Centre". Australian Music Centre. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Old Melburnians - Alumni". Grammar Community. Melbourne Grammar School. Archived from the original on 2007-11-24. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  18. ^ Coulthard-Clark, C.D (1981). "De Mole, Lancelot Eldin (1880 - 1950)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 8 (Online ed.). Melbourne, Vic.: Melbourne University Press. pp. 278–279. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  19. ^ Burke, Kelly (10 February 2004). "One of the old school". TV & Radio (The Age). Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  20. ^ Who's Who in Australia 1971, 'Gibson, Aubrey Hickes Lawson'.

Further reading

  • Challenging Traditions, Weston Bate and Helen Penrose (2002)
  • Kiddle, J Beacham, (ed), Liber Melburniensis (1848-1936), Robertson & Mullens Ltd, Melbourne, 1937
  • Liber Melburniensis, Centenary edition 1858-1958, revised edition 1915-1995

External links

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