Dunfermline Grammar School and Queen Anne

Grammar schools and Song Schools had been associated with religious centres before the Reformation. After the Reformation the town authorities took over but they had less money and in Dunfermline the Grammar School (the Song School founded in the 15th century) teachers sometimes went unpaid. Anne tried to solve this by making an annual grant of funds to the school. This grammar school was the ancestor of the current Dunfermline High School but her contribution is acknowledged by the name of another of the present day four high schools in the town which is Queen Anne High School.  This is one mile north of the city centre on the A823 road to Crieff. The Grammar School (12) aided by Anne was on part of the land now occupied by the closed GPO, at the junction of the present-day Queen Anne St (named in honour of her) and Pilmuir St. 

The former was rather unattractively known as Back Side in Queen Anne’s time and the latter as School Wynd. Some years after her donation started there was the Great Fire of Dunfermline in 1624 when the school was burnt down as was much of the town centre.  A replacement school was opened the same site in 1625 and lasted until 1817. It was then enlarged on the same site extending north along Pilmuir Street and inscribed stones from the original 1625 school building were incorporated. Following the removal of the high school to a larger site in 1916 these stones from 1625 remained set in the stone wall of the GPO yard in Pilmuir Street and can be seen today.

The remains of the Grammar School wall.
Some inscribed stones from the 1625 Grammar School which benefitted from Queen Anne’s donation.

The inscriptions in the photographs read:

  • Sep doce et castigat ut vivat puer – Often teach and chastise that the boy may live
  • Fave mihi mi deus 1625 – Favour me O my God

In the Museum in the new, award-winning Carnegie Library and Galleries (13), adjacent to the Abbey, there are sequences on both Margaret and Anne in the video presentation on famous Dunfermline people that plays there during which actresses tell of the lives of the two queens. It says that James gave Dunfermline to Anne as her dowry.

The Carnegie Library and Galleries.

The corner windows on the top floor give an outstanding view over the Abbey and Palace grounds


Image credits – Martin Wilkinson