In 1315 land and properties were endowed for the maintenance of a priest to sing, or say a daily mass for the soul of a donor. The priest may have taught Latin to local boys to enable them to join in the singing …….a Chantry <link to what was a chantry below>School!
In 1579 Elizabeth 1st decreed that the rents should be used to set up a Grammar School in Martley. This was built in the churchyard, near where the large Yew Cross now stands.
In 1846 a school was built for the education of all the children of Martley with money raised by public subscription. It consisted of two classrooms with two teachers houses and was built at the top of the churchyard: the land given by the Lord of the manor (Lord Ward)
It soon became apparent that a separate room was needed for the infants. Again Lord Ward gave a tiny piece of land in Berrow Green Road for the building of this infant’s school in 1894.
The restricted site of the 1846 school building meant that facilities could not be expanded. However, funds from the 1315 endowment had not been spent since 1846. They were used in 1913 to build the Chantry School, complete with rooms for boy’s craftwork and girls laundry and cookery. With the ever increasing numbers of pupils, post World War II, two HORSA prefabricated buildings (Hut Operation for the Raising of the School [leaving] Age [from 14 to 15, in 1947-48]) were built in 1952, on land behind the 1913 Chantry School into which the older boys and girls moved, leaving the 1846 rooms for the juniors.
Education finally moved into the 20th century with the building in 1963 of the new Chantry High School, taking in pupils from 11 to 16 years old. The 5 to 11 year olds moving into the HORSA huts, finally closing the 1846 and 1894 schools.
In 1972 the first stage of a modern junior school was built, the second stage being completed in 1991. One of the redundant HORSA buildings now houses the pre-school children and the Martley resource centre, whilst the 1894 school houses a Referral Unit.
The 1846 schools are wholly privately owned. The present Chantry High School now has the use of a recently built large Community Sports Hall.
There is wonderful connection with Martley’s past with the 1913 Chantry School becoming redundant, it was sold in 1988, the money being invested by the Old Grammar School Foundation to provide an income of over £10,000 per annum to help all Martley’s schools and some of it’s further education students. This recycling of the 1315 endowment completes the educational circle.
There have also been a few private schools in Martley from time to time, for girls, at Barbers in Edwardian times, and at the Tannery from 1890 to about 1938. Laugherne House also had schools for 3 different special needs children between 1947 and 1997.
What was a chantry ?
A chantry was a fund established to pay for a priest to celebrate sung masses for a specified purpose, generally for the soul of the deceased donor. Chantries were often endowed with lands given by donors, the income from which maintained the chantry priest. A chantry chapel was built on private land or was an area in a church set aside or built especially for and dedicated to the performance of the chantry duties by the priest. A chantry may have only an altar, rather than a chapel, within a larger church, generally dedicated to the donor’s favourite saint.
Updated Aug. 2011 MSH