Warton Nethersole’s CofE Primary was originally established through the support of Sir Francis Nethersole and the Nethersole Trust- one of the oldest Educational Foundations in England. Today, the Nethersole Trust continues to support us more recently through the establishment of our new school nursery and annually through the donation of bibles to our Year 6 leavers. We celebrate the anniversary of the foundation on 9th July each year.
Father Philip at Polesworth Abbey is one of the members of the Nethersole Trust Board and been a long supporter of our school. He has kindly compiled some information about the trust, which can be found below.
Nethersole Trust – Since 1638
Sir Francis and Lady Lucy Nethersole lived in the 1600s. They came to live at Polesworth Hall in the early 1630s. Lady Lucy had inherited the estate from her uncle Henry Goodere in 1627. At that time Sir Francis was diplomat, working at Court for King James I then King Charles I. The first few years of their marriage was spent overseas in Prague but Sir Francis and Lady Lucy returned from ‘The Palatine’ to help raise funds for the Elector and Elizabeth, ‘The Winter Queen’, to who they were devoted friends. But neither James I nor Charles I approved, and following a few months in The Town of London for Sir Francis, the Nethersoles left Court in April 1634, making Polesworth their forever-home from 1634 onwards. They became aware of the need for children in Polesworth and the surrounding area to get an education and adopted the villages as their new family. They founded The Nethersole School at Polesworth in 1638 and established the Nethersole Trust to carry on their vision for education.
For Poor Children
It is clear that it was Lady Lucy who saw the opportunity to provide a school. Dugdale records:
“Sir Francis, at the special instance of his lady who bore a great affection to this town in regard it had been possessed by her family from her great-grandfather’s time, having erected a convenient fabric of stone, tare in a schoolhouse, on the from therefor, both his own and her Arms are cut with the inscription: Soli Deo Gloria Schola Pauperum,
Unusual for the time, school, opened in 1638, was for both boys and girls to attend.
“…the boys to write and read English, the girls to read and see with the needles, both to be instructed in the principles of the Christian religion.”
Warton was in the parish of Polesworth and children from Warton were selected to attend. Sir Francis’ wishes were that:
“30 boys and girls should be educated in the new school, of which 12 boys and 12 girls should be selected from Polesworth, Trensale, and Hermitage. 8 boys and 8 girls from the town of Warton. 5 boys and girls from Dordon, and from Freasley Hall and Stoneydale, 5 boys and 5 girls.”
The Nethersoles’ also had lands and property in Warton which included Sheldon’s Croft where a Dame School also provided rudimentary education.
The Trust was established by Sir Francis in 1655, the year in which Lady Lucy died, and on his death in 1659 the Nethersole Trust became an active foundation. The present day Polesworth Nethersole Academy traces it’s foundation to the 1630s school, and Warton Nethersoles to the Dame School on Sheldon’s Croft. These were the Trust’s first schools.
The education provided was free for the children and families were not charged. In fact children were supported by the Trust to continue their education at Grammar School if they qualified. The Sir Francis endowed a trust from their lands that would provide an income for all this.
The Nethersole Trust is among the oldest educational foundations in England and remains responsible for both schools.
‘Till the 1940s when Education Acts gave greater prominence to the Local Authorities, the Trustees were responsible for the day-to-day running of the school: appointment of staff, wages, and upkeep of the school buildings. Public money became available (from the mid 19th-Century) but the Trustees continued to see that children had access to education, receiving income from farms and tenancies, and from investments.
Like many similar Educational Trusts our responsibilities have changed. We find ourselves responsible for redundant buildings, and much of our income in recent times has contributed to sustaining historic properties, often greatly valued in the locality and given new life and purpose. Currently the Trust is seeking Incorporation and new Trust Deed will enable a wider range of activities in the future. Trustees have included The Lord of the Manor of Polesworth and past Chairman have included Sir William Dugdale. Other Trustees have been teachers and local councillors.