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Celebrating Hampshire's Historians

Leach, Arthur Francis

1883 - 1925

Leach was educated at Winchester College 1863-1869 and at New College, Oxford. He won the Stanhope English Prize in 1872 and was a fellow of All Souls College 1874-1882. He was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1876 and joined the Western Circuit. From 1884, he was Assistant Charity Commissioner (Endowed Schools Department) and then spent the next seventeen years working for either the Board of Education or the Charity Commission on educational matters.

During this professional work, he wrote and researched widely in the history of schools and education. He is particularly known for the school histories he contributed to the Victoria County History, Hampshire included.

Leach's main thesis was that English schools had greater antiquity than had been thought, and that the Tudors had not been the major patrons of English education. Between 1894 and 1915 he published nine books on the history of education, based on material from the British Museum, the Public Record Office and local archives; his approach laid the foundation for modern research into the subject. His most important work was published in 1915, The Schools of Medieval England.

Leach also wrote a history of his old school – A History of Winchester College was published in 1899.


Wainwright JB, ed (1907) Winchester College Register 1836-1906, Winchester

Obituary from The Wykehamist 547, Nov 1925


Leach's house in 1869

This is Leach's house at Winchester College in 1869, when he was at the school, but the names of the individuals are unknown.

Contribution to county’s history

Cover of an 'History of Winchester College'

His History of Winchester College placed Winchester into context with other schools and in the development of education.  His chapters in the Hampshire Victoria County History on the history of education in the county form a useful starting point for anyone interested in the subject.

Relevant published works

  • Leach, A. F. (1899) A History of Winchester College, London

Critical Comments

Other Comments


Suzanne Foster, archivist at Winchester College, Oct 2021

Key Words

Winchester, Winchester College, Education, English Schools, Medieval Schools

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