25th May 1563

Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port

Elizabeth College was founded on the orders of Queen Elizabeth I. Yet even with such grand patronage, the St Peter Port college that bears her name had an uncertain beginning.

The first head teacher lasted less than five years. Belgian-born Hadrian à Saravia, more commonly-known as Adrian Saravia, was appointed to establish and lead the school. However, he became so frustrated by the job that he left in 1568. He’d been there less than five years, and later assisted in the translation of the original King James Bible.

Slow growth

The pupils were so few in number at its founding – and for more than the next 200 years – that there were times when they were outnumbered by the teachers. It took until the 1820s for its to really find its way. It was then that a committee put together by the Lieutenant-Governor wrote a new curriculum, hired new teachers and enrolled more pupils. In order to push through their changes, they had to get rid of the headmaster, Daniel Durand. Fortunately, they bribed him with the promise of a pension, and he went.

Since then, it has never looked back. Over the years it has grown from the single building it initially occupied to the point where it now consumes a full 69 acres.

Elizabeth College during the war

The school premises were used by the occupying forces as a headquarters building during the Second World War. Its roll of 150 students had been evacuated en masse to Derbyshire before the forces arrived.

The Germans built a large, strong bunker in its grounds, which they used as an ammunition store. This is now the foundation of the school’s tennis court. When the island was liberated in 1945, the official announcement was made from the school steps, further cementing its position as a historical focal point for the island.


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Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st