Since Lawrence Sheriff lived in Rugby, the school was intended to be a free grammar school for the boys of that town. Gradually, however, the nature of the school shifted to become fee-paying, and so a new school - Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School - was founded to continue Lawrence Sheriff's original intentions.
The school's most famous headmaster was Dr. Thomas Arnold. Appointed in 1828 he executed many reforms to the school curriculum and administration and was immortalised in Thomas Hughes' book Tom Brown's School Days.
THIS STONE COMMEMORATES THE EXPLOIT OF WILLIAM WEBB ELLIS WHO WITH A FINE DISREGARD FOR THE RULES OF FOOTBALL, AS PLAYED IN HIS TIME, FIRST TOOK THE BALL IN HIS ARMS AND RAN WITH IT, THUS ORIGINATING THE DISTINCTIVE FEATURE OF THE RUGBY GAME A.D. 1823To see an image of the plaque
The story has been known to be a myth since it was first investigated by the Old Rugbeian Society in 1895. There were no standard rules for football during Webb Ellis's time at Rugby (1816-1825) and most varieties involved carrying the ball. The games played at Rugby were organized by the students and not the masters, the rules of the game played at Rugby and elsewhere were a matter of custom and were not written down. They were frequently changed and modified with each new intake of students. The sole source of the story is credited to one Matthew Bloxam (a former student, but not a contemporary of Webb Ellis) in October of 1876 (four years after the death of Webb Ellis) in a letter to the school newspaper (The Meteor) whereby he quotes some unknown friend relating the story to him. He elaborated on the story some 3 years later in another letter to The Meteor, but but shed no further light on it's source.
Rugby School has both day- and boarding-pupils - the latter in the majority. Originally it was for boys only, but girls have been admitted to the sixth form since 1975. It went fully co-educational in 1995.