The College

Week St Mary, Cornwall

Overview

This is the remains of a remarkable school. The College faces a small courtyard off the village street and, behind it, meadows slope away towards Dartmoor.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • ShowerShower

Beds 1 Double, 1 Twin

Sleeps
4
4 nights
£632 equivalent to £39.50 per person, per night

A school founded in 1506

These are the remains of a remarkable school, among the first to be founded by a woman, Thomasine Bonaventure, in 1506 at the place of her birth. The remaining building (probably the school hall, ceiled over in the 17th century) is now a large sitting and dining room with a huge open fire and thick stone walls.

Originally built around a quadrangle a bit like a miniature Oxbridge college, most of the school’s buildings were later demolished to suit changing use and provide building materials for other village buildings. Dressed granite jambs, heads and tympani can be seen built into the walls of many neighbouring cottages, but enough survives of the College to give us some idea of the imposing group that stood on the site until it was closed the reign of Edward VI.

Cornish countryside

Week St. Mary is situated just a few miles inland from the Atlantic coastline, and is only a mile or so from the Devon border. The College faces a small courtyard off the village street. Behind it a meadow slopes down to a chequer-work of little fields, and over them appears, black and afar, the high outline of Dartmoor, beyond which Thomasine ventured to such purpose.

Floor Plans

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Map & local info

The College is set in the charming, unspoilt village of Week St Mary, beside a  patchwork of fields with the high outline of Dartmoor behind it and access to beaches south of Bude nearby.

Cornwall boasts some of the finest beaches in the country; Sandymouth Beach is recommended, or have a go at surfing with Big Blue Surf School to experience the coastline. Bude Sea Pool offers a more relaxing way to enjoy the water. 

Boscastle Village is perfect for an afternoon out in a beautiful coastal setting. Tintagel Castle is reputedly the birthplace of King Arthur, and offers a magical visit ideal for children. 

Discover local walks for dogs with our friends at Walkiees.co.uk, the dog walks community. Take a look at our Pinterest Map for more ideas and things to do during your stay at College. 

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Clear directions
Essential info
What you need to know about this building
  • Yes. You are welcome to bring up to two dogs. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if you have an assistance dog, for which there is no charge.
  • Directly from the main road.
  • Exeter St David's
  • Yes, there are two parking spaces adjacent to the property.
  • There is central heating and an open fire. Logs can be purchased from the village shop.
  • Logs can be purchased from the village shop.
  • To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit signalchecker.co.uk.* Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
    * Links to other sites are provided for information purposes only.  We do not endorse any such websites and we are not responsible for the information, material, products or services contained on or accessible through those websites.  Your access and use of such websites remains solely at your own risk.  For further information, visit our website terms of use.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also a gas cooker, microwave and a dishwasher.
  • There is a bathroom with a shower over the bath and from March 2024 there will also be a separate shower room, all on the first floor.
  • The stairs are steep, spiral stairs.
  • There is an enclosed garden.  We cannot guarantee that the garden is secure for dogs.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
Booking and Payment
  • If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
Staying at a Landmark
  • Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.
Facilities
  • Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival. Except for the Llwyn Celyn Bunkhouse.
  • Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
  • A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. Hairdryers are provided.
History

A group of buildings of medieval form

Situated towards the north end of the village on the east side of the road which joins the square and the triangular site of the old Market House, there is a group of buildings which because of their medieval form encourage the visitor to take a closer look.

The College was part of the endowment for a chantry school by Dame Thomasine Percival, the widow of Sir John Percyvale or Percival, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1498. A ‘chantry’ was an institution where prayers were said for the souls of the dead, sometimes combined with education and often called a college. The College has special significance as one of the earliest schools in England to be founded by a woman. Certain features in its architecture are very similar to those of Wortham Manor, another Landmark property about 12 miles away on the Devon side of the Tamar and built by John Dinham, a relation of Thomasine’s.

Thomasine, whose maiden name was Bonaventure, was born in the village of Week St Mary around 1450. There is a romantic story that she met her first husband, a London wool merchant called Richard Bunsby, while she tended sheep on the moor. She further improved her position and fortune by two later marriages. This tale has been told by many Cornish writers but more recent research has revealed that Thomasine was of gentler birth, one of five offspring to Joan & John Bonaventure. She perhaps went to London in service to the household of a wealthy merchant, as many then girls did. Her first husband was not called Bunsby but Henry Galle, and he was a tailor rather than a wool merchant. When he died in 1466, she married within the year Thomas Barnaby, another tailor, but this too was a short marriage – he died in 1467. At an unknown date she married for a third time, to a third tailor, John Percyvale, whose ambition in City circles was noted by his contemporaries. In 1487 he was knighted and was elected lord mayor of London in 1498. He died in 1503, his will founding a grammar school in Macclesfield, where he was born.

This probably formed the template for Thomasine’s school in her own birth parish, which she endowed in1506. At Percyvale’s death, she became a very wealthy widow, left mistress of a ‘mansion’ in Lombard Street. Here she also housed and educated five ‘alms-children’, both boys and girls, as well as taking on apprentices. She had no children of her own, but clearly cared about the education of the young, and was conventionally pious, making her schoolmaster responsible for saying masses for her soul in the parish church of Week St Mary, as well as for her husband and parents. This made her school a ‘chantry school.’ The foundation deed specified that the schoolmaster was to be a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge, and was to be assisted by an assistant teacher or muncible, and a laundress. The school’s service buildings were set around a small quadrangle, like an Oxbridge college in miniature.

When Thomasine died in 1512, her will left the school to the discretion of her cousin John Dinham of Wortham as ‘he knoweth my mynde’. The school was successful at first and a valued element of the community, but its chantry role fell foul of the new religious practices after Henry VIII’s Reformation. In 1547, ten-year old Edward VI came to the throne with the reforming Duke of Somerset as his regent or Lord Protector. A 1548 Commission reported that the Week St Mary school was in decay. At the decree of the Lord Protector, it was merged with another school in Launceston.

From 1549-1725 the Week St Mary school buildings were owned by the Prideau family, who sold them in the early 18th century to Thomas Pitt, first Lord Londonderry. His sister Lucy married the first Earl of Stanhope in the early 18th century, and the property came through her to the Stanhopes. The 7th Earl of Stanhope sold it in 1910, together with his Holsworthy estate. Mr Colwill, from whom Landmark bought it, had lived at the College all his life, as had two generations of the Colwills before him.

The former College buildings had by now been partially demolished to suit changing functions, and pillaged for building materials for other village buildings but enough survives to give us some idea of the imposing group which stood on the site in the reign of Edward VI.

For a short history of The College please click here.

To read the full history album for The College please click here.

To download the children's Explorer pack for The College please click here.

Restoration

The Landmark Trust removed the more recent partitions and staircase, and repaired and reinstated those features of the early buildings which survived.

The first floor was replaced slightly below the 17th century level, so that the heights of the first floor window sills on the north side would still be convenient, but because the original turret stairs were dangerously steep it was decided to lower the landing which will be about 2' below the bottom of the granite jambs of the mediaeval arched doorway at the head of the stairs. The roof timbers were repaired and the roof covering of used rag slates were laid to continue the colour, texture and scale of other roofs on the neighbourhood.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.