The School was set up in 1509 after Robert Beckingham, a Freeman of the City of London, left a bequest in his will to establish a free school in the historic town of Guildford.
In 1512, Beckingham's executors formally conveyed the lands in the bequest to a body of trustees consisting of the Mayor of Guildford and four 'sad and discrete men' who had formerly been mayors. With the rents they were to provide a free grammar school in Guildford with a 'sufficient schoolmaster'. The architectural heart of the School has remained unchanged for nearly five hundred years: an outstanding and imposing Tudor school house at the top of the High Street continues to be one of Guildford’s most iconic and instantly recognisable landmarks.
The Mayor and Approved Men of Guildford petitioned Edward VI to grant them further endowments for maintenance. In January 1552, Edward VI ordered that there was to be "one Grammar School in Guildford called the Free Grammar School of King Edward VI for the education, institution and instruction of boys and youths in Grammar at all future times forever to endure" and the School acquired the right to style itself Royal Grammar School.