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The History of Paston College

Sir William Paston founded his school in North Walsham in 1606. Sir William died in 1610 and the trustees created by his will, have continued to support education in Norfolk in the four centuries since.

Paston Grammar School for Boys

Paston began life 400 years ago as Sir William Paston’s Free School. It was essentially a grammar school for boys, which sent pupils to Gonville College, Cambridge from an early date. Most of its pupils boarded at the school. 

The coming of railways saw the size of the school grow rapidly because of North Walsham’s links to the network. So began the tradition of daily travel to attend the school. Incidentally this saw the development of North Walsham as a centre for education serving the area. The North Walsham High School for Girls, the grammar school for girls in North Norfolk, was created around the turn of the Twentieth Century to complement the work of Paston.

The Twentieth Century brought radical changes to education in Britain, with the 1902 and 1944 Education Acts. Paston became part of the education system provided by the Local Authority. First as a voluntary aided and then as a voluntary controlled grammar school for boys. In all guises pupils travelled to study at the Paston School from considerable distances and some students boarded until the 1950s.

Paston Sixth Form College

In 1984 the Paston School merged with the North Walsham High School for Girls. The school become Paston Sixth Form College, dedicated to working with young people aged 16-18. 

Paston College

On 1st December 2017, Paston Sixth Form College merged with City College Norwich to become Paston College. This marked a significant milestone in the history of both colleges and saw the expansion of education and training opportunities for learners and employers in North Norfolk.

Notable alumni of Paston College

There have been many students who have gone on to figure prominently in many different fields. These are too numerous to list, but notable alumni include:

  • Thomas Tenison (1637-1715), Archbishop of Canterbury (1695-1715) during the reigns of William and Mary, Queen Anne and George I.
  • Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) who was at the school from 1768-1771 immediately prior to joining the Royal Navy.
  • Baroness Shepherd (former Secretary of State for Education)
  • Carole Walker, BBC TV journalist 
  • Colonel  James Woodham MC, Royal Anglian Regiment, awarded the Military Cross in peace time in 2006 for gallantry
  • Professor David Chiddick CBE, lately Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln
  • Charlie Hall, Chief Constable, Hertfordshire Constabulary
  • Stephen Fry, British actor