The first definite mention of the old grammar school is found in a deed dated the 4th of August 1469, when the Abbess of Syon granted to John Gardyner, of Bailrigg (near Lancaster), a lease of a water-mill on the River Lune and some land nearby for two hundred years to maintain a chaplain to celebrate worship in the Church of St. Mary, Lancaster, and to instruct boys in grammar freely, "unless perchance something shall be voluntarily offered by their friends".
In 1472, John Gardyner's will made further provisions for the endowment of the school, and also for William Baxstonden to keep the school so long as he could teach the boys. In 1682, the school was rebuilt and in 1852 was removed from the old site on the slopes by the priory to the outskirts of the city, where it now stands (though the city has expanded around it, so they are no longer the outskirts). The title "Royal" was granted by Queen Victoria in 1851.
In 2005 just under three-quarters of A level entries resulted in grades A or B (excluding General Studies) whilst at GCSE three-quarters of all grades were A* or A, with nearly all pupils gaining 10 passes and five pupils gaining a clean sweep of A* grades. Over 90% of students go on to further education and a number gain places at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
The school offers a wide range of sports to boys throughout their school careers. However, the school remains especially strong in cricket and rugby. Recent highlights include a victory over Charterhouse School in the final of the Lord's Taverners Cricketer Colts Trophy for Schools in 1999 , and a run to the semi final of the Daily Mail U18 Cup in 2004 by the school First XV
The boat club has had 15 years of national success under Tim Lucas achieving medal success in either the School's Head, National School's Regatta or the National Rowing Championships for ten consecutive years from 1992 to 2002. The club has also made at least the final of a national event since 1992 to the present day. The club has had much international success with members of the boat club rowing at a national level, including in the Munich International Regatta in 2006 and at the Coupe de la Jenuesse in 2006.
In 2008 LRGS won the Lancashire cup in the U15 and U16 agegroups.
In 2006, a student who plays American Football was picked for All-Star University England team.
The School has its own Combined Cadet Force with Army, Navy and RAF sections. Pupils who are in the Third Year and above are allowed to join. It parades on Tuesday afternoons after school and is voluntary. All sections participate in camps throughout the year, including an annual Summer Camp at the beginning of the Summer Holidays.
The Army Section is approximately 105 boys strong. They participate in camps throughout the year including an annual camp that lasts in excess of one week, and an Easter Camp where they take part in adventure training activities. Annual Camp 2007 was at a CCF Central Camp at Wathgill, in North Yorkshire.
The RAF Section comprises about 50 cadets. Cadets in the RAF section receive flying lessons at least twice a term. Other opportunites for flying and gliding scholarships, and various leadership courses, are available to those cadets who are interested and who meet the minimum requirements. As with the Army and Navy sections, the RAF cadets attend an annual camp during the summer holidays. Summer Camp 2007 was at RAF Valley, on the Isle of Anglesey.
All three sections of the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) learn how to use the L98-A1 Cadet GP Rifle. In order for the cadet to fire the rifle, the cadet must pass the test on the GP Rifle, which is why the Army section places particular emphasis on the training of the GP Rifle. The new recruits in the Army section are tested on the GP Rifle at a camp in Halton.
Do you recall the School House on the hill
Where through the open windows crept the sun
And waked us from our slumbers ere our will
Would credit that the day had yet begun?
Can you still see the castle on the mount,
Which through the mist of years rolled thick and dark?
She smiled on us, we said, as one who'd count
How many boys still wore the Red Rose mark.
Here's to the Red Rose, the Lancaster Red Rose,
Old John o' Gaunt's Red Rose, the Royal School's Red Rose;
The dragons are vanish'd, the knights all are dead,
The Old Orders banish'd but the Rose still is red.
: This is from memory, as taught by Mr. Prescott to the 84-91 generation (any error is, I am sure, in the remembering)- I will find the issue of 'The Lancastrian' in which I once saw the entire lyric published, and reproduce it here, unless someone can do so without research. Especially useful would be sheet music, which I remember seeing, or a recording of the song. Wistful in the verses, stirring in the chorus, it may not appeal to all, but it certainly knocks 'Row, row, row...' into a repetetively-cocked hat.