Faith at the heart of the community
The Old Grammar School
In 1570 a young man from a poor family walked out of Market Harborough towards London. He had decided to head for London in pursuit of work and better opportunities. God blessed him and he got work in the office of the Chamberlain for the City of London. He excelled in the work he did and when his boss died he was given his job. By 1607 he became City Solicitor and Comptroller of the City of London, a very distinguished position. We don’t know at what stage he became strong in his faith but he attributed his success and blessing to God’s work. He decided he wanted to make a difference to his home town and bring some of God’s blessing to it.
Parish records from 1607-1620 show his generosity. He provided bread for regular distribution to the poor. In 1614 he funded the building of a school that would be in the centre of the town. He built a house for the headmaster and provided funding for 6 children from poor families who could not afford an education. The building was to be on stilts so the market could continue underneath and provided shelter for them from the rain. He required specific scriptures to be written around the building ‘in clear letters easy to read’ with a plain undistracting façade above them. These scriptures would be a witness to God and reminder of central truths of scripture right in the centre of the town. They were ‘to be replaced whenever worn or defaced’. He also provided someone to teach and explain the scriptures.
His name was Robert Smyth
Today his work still stands as a witness to God’s blessing that comes through faith. As God had blessed him, so he sought to be a blessing to the town and draw them towards God.