The Centre is set within the parish churchyard of St Oswald King & Martyr. Formerly called Holbache House, it was originally the site of Oswestry Grammar School founded in 1407. Today the building houses The Tourist Information Centre, art exhibition areas and a café. There is small display about Wilfred Owen. The Centre is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am-4pm in winter and 10am-4.30pm in summer. Dogs are welcome.
History of the Building
David Holbache founded his Free School in 1407. It is believed that this building was the original with some of the structure dating from that time. It is the second oldest Grammar school in the country after Winchester.
Holbache was a pioneer in education as grammar schools were a new idea. Boys were taught Classics, especially Latin, diplomacy, English grammar and basic Mathematics. Archery would have been taught as it was required by law that all men be proficient in the longbow.
The first recorded headmaster was Reynolds ( 1537). In 1577 Queen Elizabeth took an interest by granting “of her Mercy forty shillings yearly towards the maytenance of the said Schoole”
During the Civil War Oswestry was a Royalist town. It was taken by the Parliamentarians and the headmaster was dismissed. In a letter held in the town Archives and signed by Oliver Cromwell it seems that the decision was political as the headmaster was re-instated during the Restoration in 1661.
The numbers outgrew the building so the school moved to its present site on Upper Brook Street.
By 1781 the building was used as a workhouse and by 1808 it was sold and used as a laundry. Then it became dwellings until 1950’s.
By the late 1970’s the building had fallen into disrepair but was bought and restored being used as a toy museum. Oswestry Town Council then took on the lease and opened the centre as it is today.