The Sherborne Penny
What is today known as ‘The Sherborne Penny’ is in fact the original School Governors’ Seal of 1550. It became popular in the 19th century when it was referred to as ‘The Sherborne Penny’ and appeared on School prize books, the Blue Book (termly list) and, until 1930, on the cover of The Shirburnian (the School magazine).
Around the edge of the seal it reads ‘SIGILLUM LIBERE SCOLE GRAMATICALIS DE SHIRBORNE’ (‘The Seal of the Free Grammar School of Sherborne’).
The phrase in the centre of the Sherborne Penny, ‘VIVAT REX EDWARDUS SEXTUS’ (‘Long-live King Edward the Sixth’), was incorporated by the Headmaster E.M. Young into the words of the School Song ‘Carmen Saeculare’ or ‘The Carmen’ which was first sung at Commemoration Day in 1887 and ends with the rousing chorus ‘Vivat Rex Edwardus Sextus! Vivat! Vivat! Vivat!’
The School Crest and Motto
In 1550, Edward VI erected Sherborne School into a separate corporation and endowed it with lands. According to the Charter of 13 May 1550 the School’s proper title is Libera Schola Grammaticalis Regis Eduardi Sexti. It was libera, because the education was to be free, so far as the endowment would allow; it was grammaticalis, because it was a seat of higher education, grammatical; it had a right to the epithet regalis, because of its royal foundation. Since 1871, when the Scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners came into force, its only legal title is Sherborne School, although locally it was still known as the King’s School.
Owing to its royal foundation, Sherborne School has, since at least c.1560, used as its school crest the Coat of Arms of Edward VI. The School motto, underneath the Coat of Arms of Edward VI, is ‘Dieu et mon Droit’ (‘God and my right’).
Above the Gatetower entrance to Sherborne School (on the south-side) is inscribed ‘Nisi Dominus Frustra.’ This is a contraction of the first line of Psalm 127, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.’
Above the original entrance to the School site from Church Lane is the inscription ‘EDVARDI impensis patet hic Schola publica SEXTI Grammaticae cupidis nobile REGIS opus’ (‘This public school, the noble work of King Edward the Sixth, is at the disposal of those who desire learning’).
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