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News > Alumni News > Telling the Story of our House Crests

Telling the Story of our House Crests

Did you know they weren't always as we know them?
26 Feb 2024
Alumni News

Many Old Stops may not be aware that the current SGS House names of Arden, Nicholson, Vernon and Warren, were once not as we know them today. Originally called North, South, East and West, until it all changed in 1949. This coincided with the replacement of football with rugby at SGS, ‘to make better use of the space’, a decision that was deplored by the Old Stopfordians’ Football Club at the time! With a ‘new’ sport, in came new names for the Houses with the aim of giving them more meaning and connection to the heritage of the School and local area.

Starting North, this became Nicholson, named after the earliest known pupil, William Nicholson of Reddish, later Headmaster. William attended the School before entering Caius College, Cambridge, in June 1581, where he took his B.A. and later achieved his M.A. It is not possible to say when he was appointed Master here because some of the Goldsmiths’ Company records are missing but it is likely to be 1587. He died in office and was buried in Stockport on September 5th 1597. William was a man of substance, his will showing connections with other county families. He left money to pay for an ‘Usher’ (or assistant) in the School, as well as dictionaries and other books, which of course would have been extremely valuable in those days. 

Moving East, the new name for which was Warren, chosen in honour of the Warren Family who were both rich and powerful, being Lords of the Manor of Stockport, from the 13th to the 19th centuries. The Warrens of Poynton were for centuries benefactors of the School. In the late 1500s, Sir Edward Warren, Baron of Stockport, gave additional increments to the Masters of the School over and above the salary paid by the Goldsmiths. Later, in the 1700s, John and Edward Warren arranged for a payment out of the manorial rates to be given to the Schoolmaster and Edward gave a considerable area of Great Moor to provide a permanent income for the Schoolmaster, the Mayor of the Town and the poor.

Heading South, this became Arden, after John Arden of Underbank Hall, an Old Stopfordian who left School for St.John’s College, Cambridge, on 25th March 1728. The Ardernes (the spelling changed to Arden by John himself), were an important Cheshire family and remain one of the oldest. It has been claimed the Ardens are in fact one of only five families in England that can trace its lineage in the male line back to Anglo-Saxon times.   

Finally, turning West, this House became Vernon, named after Lady Vernon who was a generous Benefactor to the School. Most significantly, in 1829 she gave the Goldsmiths’ Company the land at Greek Street for the then new School building. The Vernons belonged to one of the oldest families in Britain. Connections with the School did not stop with Lady Vernon as later, her grandson, the sixth Lord Vernon, endowed a Latin prize in 1874. The Lord Vernon Classical Civilisation Prize is still in place today, presented to current pupils at our annual Speech Day.

We are sadly missing some of our records stating what House each pupil was in. If you attended SGS pre-1990 we would be grateful if you could tell us which House you were in by emailing External Relations or call 0161 419 2408.

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