Our Founder emerges from obscurity in 1537 as Bishop of Llandaff and Master of Semperingham, home of the Gilbertine Order, and of whom it was said, a great favourite at court. He was also Lord President of the Council in the North.
He left this Bishopric to become Archbishop of York in 1545 becoming the first Protestant Archbishop of York and also the first to be married. When Henry VIII died in 1547, Robert Holgate saw the Minster stripped of half its clergy and much of its treasure under Edward VI.
He established several Grammar Schools namely one within the 'close of the Cathedral at York', one at Hemsworth where he was born, and one at Malton, situated on the cemetery of the Gilbertine Priory in Old Malton, from Letters Patent granted by Henry VIII on 24th October 1546.
A conveyance was made from York Corporation to Robert Holgate of properties between the City Walls and Ogleforth on 14th December 1546
On 10th January 1547 Holgate's Free School was established by Deed in York.
As the Reformation progressed and Edward VI died, his sister, the Catholic Mary I assumed the throne in 1553, after the Lady Jane Grey problem, and Robert Holgate, to quote from the York Minster Chronicle, quickly shed his wife and his Protestant faith to save his skin.
In 1554 he was "Deprived Of His Title" and in 1555 Robert Holgate, Archbishop of York, endowed a Hospital in Hemsworth by Will.
Robert Holgate, Lord Archbishop of York, who founded our School in 1546, died in London on the 15th November, 1555, and his body was buried in the Church of St. Sepulchre, Holborn, London E.C.4. (This statement contradicts that which is printed under the College of Hemsworth Portrait, and is made in the light of further historical knowledge, recently unearthed. by scholars who are becoming increasingly interested in the remarkable figure whose administrative talents exerted such a great influence in the North of England.)
The aftermath of the War prevented us from commemorating the 400th anniversary of the School as fully as we wished and, both for this reason, and for the fact that the anniversary of a man's death is the logical time to commemorate his life's work, arrangements are being made to commemorate his work in this, the 400th year of his death.
At York, there will be a Memorial Service at 11.15 a.m. in the Minster on 11th November 1955, and a Quadringenary Dinner at 7.30 p.m. for 8.0 p.m. will be held on the following day in the Merchant Taylors Hall.
In London, there will be a Memorial Service at 5.45 p.m. in St. Sepulchre's Church, Holborn, on the 15th November. The Vicar, The Rev. ~.H. Salter, will conduct the Service; Canon G.J. Jordan will give the Address, and Charles P. Hopkins, Esq., President of the Archbishop Holgate Society, will read the Lesson. On the same evening a Re-union Dinner will be held at 7.0 p.m. for 7.30 p.m., at Brown's Hotel, Dover Street and Albemarle Street, London W.1. It is expected that the guests will include Canon Jordan and Professor Dickens whose recent book on Archbishop Holgate is arousing so much interest.
In the year 1858 this Free School was amalgamated with the Yeoman School and moved into the premises we all know in Lord Mayor's Walk with the title "Archbishop Holgate's Grammar School". At this time the buildings in Ogleforth were demolished.
1948 saw the school accepting "Voluntary Controlled" status and becoming part of the provision made by York City Education Authority to give free Grammar School education to boys of the City of York and the Ridings.
September 1963 saw the School ensconced in new, purpose built, school buildings in Hull Road and the Lord Mayor's Walk establishment sold by the Foundation Governors to St John's Training College, (now known as York St Johns College).