A trust founded in 1556
After Mass Dr Dakyn explained to a numerous congregation the detailed instructions for the appointment of the trustees or wardens. The Grammar School and almshouses are owned by a trust that was founded on 11th May 1556 by Dr John Dakyn. He set up his charity as executor of the will of William Knight, the former Archdeacon of Richmond who died Bishop of Bath & Wells. It was the Bishop who left the money.
Locally, the election was known as the ‘Kirby Hill Races’ and although the financial gain for the trustees is no longer there, the elections are still held in exactly the same way as follows:
On the feast of the Decollation of St John, the names of six respectable parishioners (excluding previous wardens) are to be written on slips of paper and enclosed inside balls of wax and put into a jar of water. The vicar then takes our two balls at random, opens them and the names of the two men thus inscribed shall be wardens for the following two years and no longer. Before leaving the hall they have to take the ‘Warden’s Oath’, swearing on the Bible. The remaining balls are kept in the jar and put away in a handsome cupboard that Dakyn also provided so that a replacement warden can be chosen in the event of a vacancy occurring during the period of tenure.
The 16th century school is a rectangular building to which additions have been made. The first floor, the Tudor lodgings of the master, was originally reached by a newel stair in a square projection at the north east end. This turret is now filled and a modern wood stair is now used. The interior of the ground floor school room is plain, with an inscription concerning its foundation.
In 1706, a more comfortable and grander house was built for the schoolmaster - a two storey cottage added next door with a sundial inscribed ‘Mox Nox’. The Tudor lodgings were then used for storage or possibly as dormitories for any boarders.
The North Riding Directory described the school in 1851 'It is free to all boys of the parish and neighbourhood who are eight years of age and able to read. They are instructed gratuitously in English, Writing and Arithmetic, and those who desire it, are likewise taught Latin and Greek. The general number of scholars is from 30 to 40. The master receives a salary of £164 per annum and the usher, £53.13s.6d.'
In the 1930s Mr Jones was the sole master and described as extremely strict. There were still up to 30 boys aged from 10 up to 18 although many would leave at 14. They were all day boys but some came from quite far away, including one boy on a horse. Whilst waiting to go into school in the morning, the boys would climb up the external stairs and squint through the window to see what was on the blackboard and what the lessons were to be that day. But if seen they were in trouble as it was strictly forbidden to go up these stairs or the ones in the schoolroom.
The bell, which you can still see on the outside wall, was rung either by the teacher or one of the prefects to call the boys back after break.
For a short history of The Grammar School please click here.
To read the full history album for The Grammar School please click here.
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Monday 13th February 2014