A Summary of the History of Newport’s School Foundation
(A full history is available from the archives)
In his will of 12th June 1582 (the 27th year of the reign of Elizabeth the first) Walter Newport, gentleman, gave £400 to buy land or some annuity to raise £20 per annum to provide teaching to the poor children of Alcester. William Fortescue was the executor of the will and determined that a school should be erected at Alcester, and that it should be a schoolhouse with lodgings. Sir Nicholas Fortescue in June 1605, by indentures, gave various properties in Weethley to be used to erect a school in Birch Abbey in Alcester. There is no exact date of the opening of the school, but it was in use in 1610.
Over the following years there were a number of bequests from Mr. John Reynolds in 1670, Mr William Earnshaw in 1684 (sold in 1959), Mr. Elisha Yarnold of Chipping Camden in 1710, Mr. John Brandis in 1724 which included land adjoining Allimore Lane sold to the Evesham and Redditch railway company and the proceeds invested. The rent charge of £20 was paid by the Fortescue estate and then merged with the Ragley Estate in 1807. By an order in 1881 the Charity Commissioners amalgamated Brandis Charity, Earnshaw’s Charity and Reynold’s Charity with the Newport’s School Foundation.
The School, known as Abbey Grammar School was in 1880 described as a brick and tile dwelling containing various rooms including a stone and tiled schoolroom, with dormitories. In 1880 there were seventeen pupils of which three were boarders. The School appears to have flourished until the beginning of the twentieth century, when the teaching of science was questioned by the Governors. In 1908 the County Council offered to build a new school providing the Trustees gave over their total assets (£3075). The Marquess of Hertford is recorded as giving the opinion that “if the trustees fell for this they would get a great deal or nothing”. Lord Hertford offered the present site at £200 per acre, and all assets were transferred to the council.
In 1912 a resolution was approved by His Majesty in Council which discontinued the old school and appointed the lord of the Manor (the Marquess of Hertford) and the High Bailiff to be Trustees, together with seven Governors, three appointed by WCC, three by Alcester Parish Council, one by the Rector of Alcester, and other co-opted Governors. The scheme allowed for the assets to be transferred to the County Council who would provide financial assistance to any boy at Alcester Grammar School (the new school), and up to three free places provided the pupils had attend the Foundation School first. It also provided for financial assistance and maintenance of any boy exempt from Tuition fees. In 1911 it was recorded that Mr Wells of Wootton Wawen was the first Headmaster of Alcester Grammar School, and the old school was sold in 1915.
1961 to date
Since 1912 various orders have been made and in 1961 an order was made giving the Trustees the right to provide up to one third of the income to special needs of Alcester Grammar School not covered by the County Council, and for the residue of the income to be spent for the benefit of persons of either sex under the age of 25 years who have attended the Grammar School for three years, and who in the opinion of the Governors are in need of financial assistance, for the provision of finance, outfits, clothing etc to help them on leaving school to enter a trade or profession, or otherwise promoting the education (including social and physical education) of such persons. In 1977 the Charity was formally registered with the Charities commission, and the Trustees and activities remain substantially those agreed in 1961, with the age range now defined as 16-25 years of age, to cover Arrow and Weethley, and widened to now include the Academy and St. Benedict’s.
This brief history was prepared by the current Clerk in February 2019, from the extensive history compiled by the J.W. Roberts the Clerk in 1982, lodged in the Archives.