(Motto of the Worshipful Company of Mercers meaning "Honour God")
|Type||Independent day and boarding school|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Visitor||The Most Rev The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury|
|DfE URN||126532 Tables|
|Houses||5 Boarding houses and & 7-day houses|
|Colours||Black & White & Red|
|Former pupils||Old Dauntseians|
Dauntsey's School is a co-educational independent day and boarding school in the village of West Lavington, Wiltshire, England. The School was founded in 1542, in accordance with the will of William Dauntesey, a master of the Worshipful Company of Mercers.
The school was moved to its current site in the year 1895. The school occupies approximately 25 acres (100,000 m2) of land at the main school campus, though this was recently increased by the acquisition of a field behind the school. However, the school has yet to develop this land, and it is now being used as playing fields. The school used to have a bike park, which featured in MBUK in 2004 when they held the 'Backyard Jam'. Where the Osiris BMX team did a show there, though the park has since been bulldozed by the school to avoid lawsuits as the local residents took to using it without permission. The school also owns a large portion of land approximately 15 minutes' walk (or a mile's drive) from the main school. The land has an old Manor building on it, which is used as a lower school boarding house, a wood, a golf course, a defunct swimming pool and an athletics track and now also a cricket pitch set in the walled garden.
Most houses are named after former headmasters, the exceptions being Manor, Farmer, and Mercers (named after a building, a generous donor and the Worshipful Company respectively). All houses are on main school site, except Manor.
Lower school houses
In lower school the day pupils' houses determine little more than where their locker is, and where they must be for registration. For lower school boarders, however, the Manor house is the only boarding house available, and therefore will be where they live, and eat.
All classes have pupils from all houses.
Upper school houses
In upper school, houses are not mixed, and the eight houses are divided equally among day, boarding, female and male pupils . A pupil's house is determined at random, although siblings tend to be placed in the same house. The boys' houses compete for the Strong Cup.
Strong Cup is the annual point-system senior house competition for boys at Dauntsey's School, so Farmer, Fitzmaurice, Hemens and Mercers are the only houses that are involved. Farmer won it recently in 2011, and again in 2013. The points are awarded from inter-house events throughout the academic year. Such events include athletics, swimming, rugby, cricket, tennis, hockey, football, general knowledge quiz, tiddlywinks, basketball, water polo, music and a minor sports festival which includes badminton, squash, skittles, chess and table tennis.
Jolie Brise, the famous gaff rigged pilot cutter, is sailed exclusively by Dauntsey pupils throughout the year. In summer 2000 Dauntsey crews took part in The Tall Ships' Race 2000, which took her from Southampton to Hull, Brixton, Sunderland, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Boston (Lincs) and Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, Jolie Brise was declared the overall winner of this prestigious international race. She also won The Tall Ships' Races 2002, which took her from Alicante to Malaga. In 2009 the Jolie Brise came second, in its class, of the Tall Ships Race, the final destination of which, was Belfast, where the ships were greeted, after a transatlantic race, by an estimated 400,000 people.
Dauntesey was himself from West Lavington, the son of John Dauntesey, and when he died in April 1542, he left money in his will dated 10 March 1542 for the founding of the School. He gave the Mercers' Company lands in London so that they could build a schoolhouse for a grammar school at West Lavington and also support seven poor persons in an almshouse, within the same charity. The master of the school was to be appointed by the heir of Dauntesey's brother Ambrose Dauntesey, but the company was to have the power of dismissal. In 1868, a Schools Inquiry Commission noted that "By ancient custom, the owner of the Dauntesey estate at West Lavington, now Lord Churchill, appoints".
Three and a half centuries after the school's foundation in 1542 (above), the school moved to its current site at the north end of West Lavington, Wiltshire. The new school buildings were designed by the architect C.E. Ponting and in May 1895 the Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain officially opened them and inaugurated Dauntsey's Agricultural School.
In 1929 the school bought the Manor House estate which is now accommodation for lower school borders. In 1930, the school changed its name to Dauntsey's School although remained largely dedicated to an agriculture-based education. At that time it fulfilled the role that the County Agricultural Colleges fill today, the latter partly sponsored by the state. Since the level of the playing fields changed, the perceived statutory age for continuing education, the educational needs, changed as well. The intake of pupils in the 1930s was a very broad cross section of the Wiltshire farming community, from farm labourer's children to those of very well-heeled gentlemen farmers. It continued thus, with the addition of sons of commissioned officers in the armed forces, until 1971.
In 1967, the 'Olive Block' opened, which is now Fitzmaurice House. 1970 saw the foundation of the sailing club (15 pounds a term), while, in 1971, the first ever girls were admitted. In 1972, the farm buildings were closed and the school became a primarily academic institution. In 1977, the school acquired Jolie Brise (above). The school continues a wide range of building and expansion projects to this day, including the recent building of the upper school girl's day houses, and a re-vamp of the sports hall. More recent developments have included a new astroturf around the back of the school near the foot of strawberry hill for hockey purposes, alongside this new development – there is also a new mini astro, for small training exercises, warm-ups .
The school's affiliation with the Mercers Company remains, and the Master Mercer is a regular guest of honour or speaker at school events. The company also helps with the financial support of students' individual ventures, including Gap Years and sporting tours, where the company sees fit.
The Civic Guild of Old Mercers
The Civic Guild of Old Mercers, established c. 1947, by ex-pupils of Mercers' School, has the stated aim of encouraging former pupils of the Mercers' School to become Freemen and Liverymen of the City of London: and to select, if possible, a Livery Company appropriate to their own trade or profession.
When the Mercers' School closed in 1959 it was decided, to extend membership to former pupils from other schools in the Mercers' Cluster. Membership is now open to pupils of the following schools; Abingdon School, Dauntsey's School, Mercers' School, St Paul's School, St Paul's Girls School and Thomas Telford School, and the Colleges of Richard Collyer and Peter Symonds.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2010)|
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- Dauntsey's School
- Wiltshire notes and queries (1899), vol. 2, p. 537: "William Dauntesey, Alderman of London, the well-known benefactor of school and almshouses to his native parish of West Lavington".
- Schools Inquiry Commission, Report of the commissioners (1868), p. 55 online
- School website
- Jolie Brise website
- The Mercers' Company website
- Civic Guild of Mercers site
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