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The Charter

The earliest, original historical document in the Queen Elizabeth’s School archive is the Royal Charter, which confirms the school’s foundation 450 years ago. Very few school charters from this period of history survive, making this a rare and important artefact not just in documenting our school’s history but also as a record of the history of Elizabethan education and Elizabethan propaganda.

A Royal Charter is a formal grant issued by the monarch in the form of a legally binding written order, or letters patent. It is written on parchment (treated animal hide) which was much more durable than paper and in Latin, the conventional language for legal documents until the early 1700s.

The charter which was granted on 24th March 1573 is stamped with the sovereign’s seal and sets out the early aims of the school, giving instructions on how it should be run.
Explore this fascinating document further by clicking on the quill icons. Discover what the charter tells us about Queen Elizabeth, test your knowledge of the school’s history, have a go at deciphering the ancient handwriting and more…

How much do you know about the history of Queen Elizabeth’s School?

At Queen Elizabeth’s School our palaeography group students have been transcribing renaissance Latin.

Despite being an official legal document, the charter is adorned with ornate images. All these symbols together represent a strong and powerful Queen, with the authority and divine right to rule her country.

Although it looks like heavy weight paper, the charter is written on parchment.

Throughout the history of Queen Elizabeth’s School there are many people who are remembered for their contributions to the school as well as for their exploits in the wider world.

Music is an essential part of life at Queen Elizabeth’s and every year students deliver a skilled and creative programme of musical performances.

Seals allowed an appointed officer to authorise documents rather than a monarch having to sign in person.