Notes from the Report to the Charity Commissioners on the Endowed Charities in the Parish of Moretonhampstead (1907) —- Items to do with education.
John Southmead, by his will, bearing date in 1648, gave towards buying of Bibles for poor children of the parish of Moreton Hampstead 26s 8d yearly, to be bestowed by his heir, out of the land off one house, then in the possession of Christopher Marden, after the death of Richard Bennett. (This had lapsed by 1823).
Elize Hele’s Charity for a School
Hele’s Gift was founded in 1658 by Sir John Maynard and Elize Stert, as trustees for charitable purposes of the lands of Elize Hele, and provided £10 annually to a schoolmaster (appointed by the governors of St John’s Hospital, Exeter) to instruct ten poor children of the parish in reading and church catechism in a school-room forming part of the church-house.
Up to 1845 a school was held in the school house attached to the Church House, the master teaching ten children reading, spelling and the Church Catechism; in 1826 the vestry decided that the schoolmaster should be given the Church House for his use on condition that he took another ten pupils from those who did not receive parish relief, and failing that, children from the most numerous families.
The church house and school were destroyed by the fire of 1845, and meanwhile a National School had been founded about 1840, but the schoolmaster continued to teach a small number of children in a private house, having added arithmetic to the curriculum. Finally, in 1879, when the attendance was down to 5, there was considered to be adequate provision without this teacher. In 1884 the Charity Commissioners directed that the money should be used for rewards or prizes to children of residents attending any elementary schools in the parish.
The National School founded about 1840 was held in premises belonging to the Earl of Devon [in Pound Street]. By a deed of 17 January 1876 William Courtenay, Earl of Devon, granted a lease for 99 years from 24 June 1875 to the Moretonhampstead School Board, at a yearly rent of £6, of a piece of ground about 1 rood in extent [once an orchard], together with a storehouse (part of which had been converted into a schoolhouse and offices), but reserving the rights of a Church of England Sunday School to use the building between 9 am and 4 pm on Sundays as before. The School Board agreed to enclose the ground with boundary walls of the height of 7 feet, and to complete and furnish the existing building with classroom and outbuildings, at a cost of not less than £300. By the time of the report (1907) the owner was the Hon. W.F.D. Smith (who had bought the Manor from the Earl of Devon) and the school was used as the boys’ schoolroom.
The Smethurst Schoolroom
On 31 December 1861 Edward Bowring acquired for £100 a piece of land with a frontage of 52 ft on Greenhill, with ruined buildings on it destroyed by fire, and on this he erected, with money left by the late Rev. John Smethurst, a building suitable for a Sunday School. On 23rd February 1864 he transferred this property to George Brock and ten other trustees to be used as a Sunday or other School, and as a place of meeting or assembling for delivering lectures or holding discussions on religious, literary or scientific subjects, or for promoting in any other way mental or moral culture, or for religious or social gatherings of any kind, or for any legal subjects having a useful tendency (but not for a daily infant school). The trustees in 1907 were W. Browne, W.S. Hewett, George Harvey senior, George Harvey junior of Thorn, (North Bovey), T.B. Bowring, H.E. Bowring, J.B. Leat, B. Parker, W. Marks and H.H. Short (appointed by deed of 22nd September 1892).
The Bowring Library
On 4th February 1902, Thomas Benjamin Bowring gave to the parish council land and a building with a frontage on Fore Street to be used by the council (as library authority for the parish) for the purposes of a library, provided that
(1) inhabitants of Moretonhampstead should be entitled to the use and enjoyment of the benefit of the library free from any charge;
(2) no betting or gambling should at any time be permitted to take place on the premises;
(3) no intoxicating liquor should at any time be permitted to be sold or supplied there; and
(4) the premises should not at any time be used for religious worship or other religious purposes or for holding any meeting for political purposes, or be otherwise used in furtherance of any political aim or purpose.
As well as providing some 1500 books, Bowring paid £500 to the parish council to be invested in trust securities to keep the building insured against fire, to keep it in repair, and to defray the expenses of the library authority. In 1904, property in Lustleigh worth £455 was conveyed to Edwin John Cuming, Frank East and Samuel Harold Neck, the rents from this to be used by the Parish Council for the support of the library.