The interesting old building near the corner of Kington Lane and Castle Street in Thornbury is now called The Hatch and it is part of the Hatch Camphill Community, a supported community for adults with learning disabilities. At one time the building near the left side of the photograph shown here was the schoolmaster’s house and the building with dormer windows in its roof was the Free School, later Thornbury Grammar School.
The history of Thornbury Grammar School and its staff was dealt with comprehensively by Stafford Morse. Please see the Thornbury Grammar School website for more details. It was established as a charity run by a group of trustees called Feoffees and the money needed to run it was very often bequeathed to the charity in the wills of wealthy citizens of Thornbury. Read about the Free School charities of Jones Edwards and White
It is possible that the establishment of schools like this in England is linked with the abolition of chantries. A chantry was a fund established to pay for a priest to celebrate masses, usually for the deceased donor (a sort of insurance that the person leaving the money would go to heaven). Although the chantry chapels themselves were usually areas within a church the name was often associated with the lands or buildings left to provide the income. Almost opposite the old Grammar School in Castle Street, Thornbury is The Chantry, a building we believe was used in just this way.
We are indebted to Wikipedia for the information that in 1547 Edward VI, had a new Act issued which “completely suppressed 2,374 chantries and guild chapels.” Wikipedia also tells us that “when Edward VI closed the chantries, priests were displaced who had taught the poor and rural residents; afterwards such citizens suffered greatly diminished access to education for their children. Some of the chantries were converted into the grammar schools now called ‘Edwardian’.”
There is no direct evidence in Thornbury to link the closure of its four chantries with the founding of its Free School which became the Grammar School. However we believe that the new school was created within twenty years of the Act suppressing the chantries.
The Free School (which was the original name of the Grammar School) was probably set up with the help of money bequeathed by John Jones the elder. We believe this would have been some time before 1570 because we have a record of Richard Harbarde being appointed to replace a master who “ran away.” Read about the school masters
The school house that was built in 1648 was said to be “upon the said premises so originally derived from the said John Jones the elder.” It is possible that the building on the right of the photograph is in part at least the original building that was on the property of John Jones the elder. If this is the case (and as yet we have no proof for this supposition) we might have a description of it as early as 1570. This was the date when Richard Harbarde leased a house from Thomas Slymbridge which had “one hall, one chamber, three sollers, one kitchen, one garden plotte contd. by estimate 78 feet of length.”
Thornbury Grammar School, according to its website and the histories written by L J Taylor and Stafford Morse, is generally said to have been founded in 1606. This seems to be based on the plaque in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury which reads “1606 John Jones gave a house and garden and also a paddock for the endowment of a Free School in Thornbury.” We believe this is a reference to the document in the Town Trust records which reads “Robert Stone of Morton in the County of Gloucester by a deed poll dated 15th October 1606 granted unto John Jones the younger and William Stone and others therein mentioned a tenement with a garden and appurtenances containing in the whole one burgage and an half which had been formerly given by John Jones the elder of Thornbury to the said Robert Stone and others and were situate in the borough of Thornbury aforesaid.”
However we believe that this document was merely a device which allowed Robert Stone to appoint new feoffees or trustees including John Jones the younger to a trust that had been established at an earlier date by John Jones the elder.
In 1642 William White bequeathed land and premises which included a large property in the High Street (which was later to become known as 19 High Street) the rent from which was to provide a salary for the master of the Free School. The master was to be unmarried and a graduate of an English University. In practice the master was generally a clergyman.
In 1648 William Edwards left the new building he was erecting on the premises bequeathed by John Jones the elder to be used as a “school house.” The school house was to be “annexed to the tenement garden and premises aforesaid” i.e. to “the premises so originally derived from the said John Jones the elder.” At present we are assuming that (as can be seen from the photograph above) there were two buildings; the first an older one which was connected to John Jones and which was used as the school room and the second which was a house for the master and which was originally provided by William Edwards. On the right is a photograph of a detail taken from what is now the rear of the building. The date 1648 and the initials W. W. E. are clearly visible on a plaque above the window. The stone work around the window also shows the Stafford knot. The knot was obviously a symbol of the Stafford family who were associated with Thornbury Castle. William Stafford had garrisoned Stafford Castle for Charles I during the Civil War. The year 1648 was a troubled one in England. Charles I having lost the first Civil War had escaped from the Parliamentarians in December 1647 and was in the process of resuming the battle with the help of the Scots. It is interesting to speculate whether the small knots are a political statement, a sign of local loyalties – or something plundered from Thornbury Castle!
Although the house attached to the school was available for the schoolmaster to live in, it was an opportunity not always taken.
Sometimes the house was rented out instead and we are aware of at least two early tenants. From Lady Day 1736 to 1737 Dorothy Withers rented the house for ten shillings. This could be the lady of that name who died in 1753 aged 65 years.
Griffith Facey rented the house in 1747. Griffith Facey died in 1783 aged 91.
The records of Thornbury Town Trust have an entry dated October 11th 1797 to the effect that “the dwelling house part of the said free school building being at that time in a ruinous state and requiring to be taken down and rebuilt” Mr Kingsmill Grove had offered to lend a sum of money not exceeding £250 to take down the house and rebuild it.
The income from the properties bequeathed for benefit of the Free School would then be used to maintain the buildings and to repay Kingsmill Grove. After William Llewellin the schoolmaster moved into his new house, it was specified that he would not receive his £15 a year salary until Mr Grove was repaid. The renovated building was described in 1815 as “a stone structure consisting of a dwellinghouse of one storey with several apartments for the master and a large schoolroom adjoining with two chambers above it.”
The accounts of the Feoffees of Thornbury for 1828 show that on May 31st Frederick Luke D’Arville donated £10.10s as part of the cost of building a small kitchen to the school house, “there being nothing but a back kitchen or brew house to the same.” Because we believe Frederick to have been a master of this school we assume that the donation is for the alteration to this building.
The buildings are still in Castle Street and were listed as buildings of special architectural and historical interest in 1952. The Images of England website describes the buildings as having a porch with the date 1648, when William Edwards was to have built the “school house.” The listing says that the building was altered and extended in the late eighteenth century, which was when Kingsmill Grove was said to have taken the “dwellinghouse part” down and rebuilt it.
Below is an image of the school from the rear. Although this was taken in the 1950s the building probably looks very much as it must have done when it was described in 1815.
In 1816 the trustees of the Grammar School charities resolved that no boy should be accepted under the age of seven years.
In December 1821 the Trustees of the Free School agreed to rent the school house, school room and garden to Thomas Inman Councell and his family from the Christmas to 25th March 1822. We do not know whether the lessons were continuing elsewhere. However we assume that the school was suspended for this time as the next master was not appointed until June 24th 1822.
The records show that under George D’Arville the school grew and there were as many as twelve boys. There had been as few as three boys in the school when it was first set up. It is interesting to note that the contract for the teacher detailed his salary and the fact that he could live in the school house. It was not specified how long the school master should work if at all. This proved to be a particular problem when Frederick Luke D’Arville became the master and the school more or less ceased to function.
By 1839 the school was at rather a low ebb. It had been deserted by the scholars and the properties of the Trust, the rents of which provided its income, were in a poor state of repair. It was resolved to stop paying the master and to repair the houses.
In 1840 Thomas Morgan was employed to collect the rents from these houses and to pay it into the bank of Rolph Yeates and Parslow. In 1842 the very unsatisfactory master Frederick D’Arville died and the trustees were able to consider what to do with the unused school “for several years deserted by the scholars.” It was resolved not to replace the master at that time but to let the rents accumulate as the properties of the charity needed repair.
On 17th May 1879 a new Grammar School was created in Thornbury from what had been Attwells School in St Mary Street and the old Grammar School in Castle Street. On 27th September 1879 there was the first meeting of the Governing body under the chairmanship of Mr. W. O. Maclaine. One of their first actions was to appoint George Nixon as Headmaster.
By 1891 the headmaster, George Nixon, was living not in the house attached to the school but in The Priory, a house further up Castle Street. The census shows instead that the house was now occupied by Christopher Hawkes.
After it ceased to be a Grammar School the building was bought for £1,000 by General Mundy who lived in nearby Thornbury House. General and Mrs Mundy used the house amongst other things as a home for their butler Christopher Hawkes. The rate books show that from at least 1899 it was owned by Geraldine Mundy and occupied by Christopher Hawkes.
Christopher Hawkes. In 1901 the census gives us more details about Christopher Hawkes then aged 46 and from Grafton Underwood in Northamptonshire. His wife Elizabeth was 42 and a shirtmaker from Monmouthshire. They had three children; Alice aged 15, Rose aged 12 and Evelyn aged 8. The children were all born in Thornbury. Christopher was the son of William Hawkes a labourer and his wife Rose Ann a lacemaker. He married Elizabeth Ellen May aged 25 the daughter of a coachman Daniel May in Thornbury on 18th October 1883. In 1881 he was a butler in Iver. We do not know when he moved to Thornbury but he married Ellen May in 1883. Click here to read about the May family. The couple at first lived at 36 Castle Street. They had five children; Christopher Daniel Percy Hawkes (baptised 1884), Alice May Hawkes (baptised 1885), Rose Ellen Hawkes (baptised 1888) and Evelyn Violet Hawkes (born on 14th April 1892). By 1891 they had moved to what had been the Grammar School building.
Christopher’s wife, Elizabeth Ellen died aged only 48 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 25th June 1907. Her home at the time was described at ‘The Hatch’. The rest of the family seem to have continued to live at The Hatch for some time.
In the 1911 census Christopher Hawks was living in The Hatch a 55 year old widower and employed a butler. His two unmarried daughters lived with him. Alice was 25 and 22 year old Rose Ellen was a shop assistant in a draper’s shop.
The electoral roll of 1913 confirms that by this time Christopher Hawkes’s house was called “The Hatch.” We have been told that it originally had a slightly different name and that it was first called ‘Colney Hatch’ but that was thought inappropriate as Colney Hatch was a famous mental hospital. One version of the story is that Geraldine Mundy was supposed to have commented that she paid such an extortionate price for a house just for her butler that she should be in Colney Hatch and that is why the house was called ‘Colney Hatch’. We would love to hear from anyone who has the true explanation.
When Christopher’s daughter Rose Ellen Hawkes married Percy Bouskill on 28th August 1915, her address was still the Hatch. Company Sergeant Major Bouskill is on Thornbury’s war memorial and when this monument was erected Rose was still living at The Hatch. Christopher Hawkes died aged 79 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 27th November 1934 .
In 1935 the Trade Directory shows that William A Brooks lived at “The Hatch” in Castle Street. This may have been James William Austen Brooks who had the Castle Pharmacy at 14 The Plain at this time.
The 1939 Directory shows Charles Paul Taylor and his wife Frida had moved into The Hatch. Charles Paul Taylor may have been born in Cheshire in 1881. He was a solicitor who had lived on The Plain in Thornbury and in 1935 in The Chantry in Castle Street. They appeared in the 1950 electoral roll at “The Hatch.”
The name of Elsie Charlotte Hopkins also appears in these records with the address of The Hatch. Charles Paul Taylor died in 1952 aged 71. His death was registered in Thornbury.
In 1954 the only name given with the address of “The Hatch” was that of Elsie Hopkins.
We assume that the next owner of the house was the Camphill Community. This community is inspired by the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner and provides people with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs with a caring environment in which they can live learn and work. The photograph above on the right shows the rear of The Hatch in 2011 – with a retreating historian from Thonbury Museum.