New chapter for historic former school building in Oswestry

A new chapter is set to begin for the second oldest grammar school building in the country, which is in Shropshire.

Oswestry Grammar School
Oswestry Grammar School

Oswestry Town Council has committed more than £70,000 to repair and improve the historic fifteenth century building located next to St Oswald’s Church.

Currently known as the Visitor and Exhibition Centre, is it set to have a new role, after the town's Tourist Information Centre moved into its new headquarters at Castle View, just off the Bailey Head, last month.

Once finished, the building will be renamed The Old School House, reflecting its origins and, the council says, provide a café with a fully refurbished kitchen which meets the standards of the 21st century.

Work on the building will start in November with the temporary closure of the building over the winter.

The council has chosen a specialist contractor to work on the listed building.

Mayor, Councillor Duncan Kerr, said that, with increased seating space following the relocation of the Tourist Information Centre to Castle View it would be a great facility.

"Outside we are also creating nesting boxes for swifts, in collaboration with Shropshire Wildlife Trust," he said.

"With more floor space than before and one of the largest outdoor seating areas in town, this unique historic building is well placed to continue its reputation as a busy, welcoming and unique café and we look forward to its reopening in the spring of 2021.


"It is hoped that when complete we will hopefully be free of current restrictions."

The council is inviting tender for the operation of this café. Anyone interested can contact Oswestry Town Council by email to register their interest at

David Holbache founded his Free School in Oswestry in1407 and It is believed that the building still has parts of the original structure dating from that time. It is the second oldest grammar school in the country after Winchester.

During the Civil War, Oswestry was a Royalist town. It was taken by the Parliamentarians and the headmaster was dismissed. In a letter held in the town archives and signed by Oliver Cromwell, it seems that the decision was political, as the headmaster was re-instated during the Restoration in 1661.

The numbers outgrew the building so the school moved to its present site on Upper Brook Street.

By 1781 the building was used as a workhouse and by 1808 it was sold and used as a laundry. Then it became dwellings until 1950s.

By the late 1970s the building had fallen into disrepair but it was bought and restored for use as a toy museum. Oswestry Town Council then took on the lease.

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