Leach (1915)

The Schools of Medieval England (text)

The Schools of Medieval England
AF Leach (1915)
London: Methuen and Co. Ltd

Notes on the text


Arthur Francis Leach (1851-1915) was a barrister who worked for the Charity Commission. He developed a deep interest in the early history of England's schools and wrote many books on the subject, of which The Schools of Medieval England is the most famous.

In the Preface, Leach describes his book as 'the first attempt at a history of English Schools before the Reformation, reckoned from the accession of Edward VI' and argued that it was needed because, while 'some idea of the true history of our schools' had 'penetrated to scholastic circles', it certainly hadn't reached 'most antiquaries or historians, still less the general public'.

Based on his extensive examination of documents in the British Museum, the Public Record Office and local archives, Leach argued that English schools had a longer history than had previously been thought. He laid the foundation for modern research into the subject, but his reputation as a serious scholar was undermined by his occasional carelessness about dates and his self-opinionated style of writing. Some of his theories have been criticised, notably by Joan Simon in her book Education and Society in Tudor England (Cambridge University Press, 1966).

The book online

The full text is presented in a single web page. I have added nothing: any [square brackets] shown are as used by Leach himself. On pages 14, 18 and 80, Leach quotes Greek words. I have attempted to render these in HTML.

I have taken three liberties with the text: I have used single speech marks instead of doubles; I have changed the spelling of 'to-day' to 'today'; and I have corrected Leach's incorrect positioning of speech marks where they occur at the ends of sentences (strangely this occurs only in the first three chapters).

Otherwise, Leach's text is presented here exactly as printed.

The page headers (book title on the left hand pages, chapter title on the right) have been omitted, as have blank pages.

The Schools of Medieval England and the above notes were prepared for the web by Derek Gillard. The text was uploaded on 12 March 2011; the revised notes on 10 November 2012.