An historic look back at a Wray school

Wray Girls' Friendly Society, School House, 1907.  Pictured here are the winners of Southport Musical Festival shield. Back row from left, M Robertshaw and Miss Braithwaite.  Second row from left, W Smith, A Townson, Harriet Mason.  Third row from left, A Caradus, Isabel Smith, Sissie Barge, Rose Shackleton, Mrs Travis.  Seated, Mrs Mitton, Essie Swindlehurst, Alice Stephenson, Mr Jas Smith (schoolmaster and conductor).
Wray Girls' Friendly Society, School House, 1907. Pictured here are the winners of Southport Musical Festival shield. Back row from left, M Robertshaw and Miss Braithwaite. Second row from left, W Smith, A Townson, Harriet Mason. Third row from left, A Caradus, Isabel Smith, Sissie Barge, Rose Shackleton, Mrs Travis. Seated, Mrs Mitton, Essie Swindlehurst, Alice Stephenson, Mr Jas Smith (schoolmaster and conductor).

Historian David Kenyon looks back on the history of Wray School.

The following article is taken from the January 1888 edition of the Wray Parochial Magazine.

Wray Endowed School was founded by Captain Richard Pooley who lived in Wray during the 17th century. 'Captain Pooley left �20 in his will: 'Towards the building of a free school in my grounds at Weind Head in Wray, in hopes that the inhabitants of Wray will lead stone, lime, sand and slate and make convenient seats within the said school. And I will give and bequeath the sum of �200 of lawful money of England to be paid to the schoolmaster of the free school forever for his teaching and educating in Wray Free School.''The year 1684, the year of Captain Pooley's death, is written on the lintel above the school door. 'The school was enlarged in 1860 on land given by Captain J R Marshall. It was then pulled down and rebuilt during 1885-1886.

Wray Endowed School was founded by Captain Richard Pooley who lived in Wray during the 17th century. 'Captain Pooley left �20 in his will: 'Towards the building of a free school in my grounds at Weind Head in Wray, in hopes that the inhabitants of Wray will lead stone, lime, sand and slate and make convenient seats within the said school. And I will give and bequeath the sum of �200 of lawful money of England to be paid to the schoolmaster of the free school forever for his teaching and educating in Wray Free School.''The year 1684, the year of Captain Pooley's death, is written on the lintel above the school door. 'The school was enlarged in 1860 on land given by Captain J R Marshall. It was then pulled down and rebuilt during 1885-1886.

This story was written by the Rev C L Reynolds, fourth vicar of Wray 1877-1920.

The story was told to the vicar by an old lady who lived in the village called Mrs Knowles.

The vicar stated that the story as related by Mrs Knowles may or may not be true, but that it is an interesting story all the same.

History of Wray School – Mrs Knowles’ story:

Wray School pupils, Class Three, 1922. 'Back row from left, C Beagley, Roy Dixon, Arthur Townley, William Stephenson, Victor Stephenson, Cyril Thistlethwaite. 'Middle row from left, A Atkinson, Clara Clarkson, Olive Taylor, Doris Lawson, N Batty, Marjorie Askew. 'Front row from left, John Hodgson, Alan Robinson, Dot Kay, Joan Askew, Mary Jane Batty, Jimmy Stephenson, Sidney Clarkson.'The girl second from the left middle row is Clara Elizabeth Barton (nee Clarkson). 'Clara, who lived in Lancaster, passed away in 2016 aged 104. 'Clara was the younger sister of Ruth Whittam (nee Clarkson) who lived in Wray all her life and was the oldest person in the village when she passed away in 2015 also aged 104.

Wray School pupils, Class Three, 1922. 'Back row from left, C Beagley, Roy Dixon, Arthur Townley, William Stephenson, Victor Stephenson, Cyril Thistlethwaite. 'Middle row from left, A Atkinson, Clara Clarkson, Olive Taylor, Doris Lawson, N Batty, Marjorie Askew. 'Front row from left, John Hodgson, Alan Robinson, Dot Kay, Joan Askew, Mary Jane Batty, Jimmy Stephenson, Sidney Clarkson.'The girl second from the left middle row is Clara Elizabeth Barton (nee Clarkson). 'Clara, who lived in Lancaster, passed away in 2016 aged 104. 'Clara was the younger sister of Ruth Whittam (nee Clarkson) who lived in Wray all her life and was the oldest person in the village when she passed away in 2015 also aged 104.

One day, about 250 years ago, a rich lady was travelling in the neighbourhood of the city of Coventry.

In the course of her journey she noticed two little boys on the road who appeared to be in great grief.

Being a kind as well as a rich lady, she ordered her carriage to be stopped and the sobbing children to be brought to her in order that she might ascertain, if possible, the cause of their distress.

By questioning them she learned they lived at a village a very long way off called Wray, and that they had been brought from home by their father, who was a cattle dealer, and had come to Coventry to dispose of some cattle.

Wray School pupils, Junior Class, circa 1967-68. 'Back row from left, David Ibbeston, George Marshall, Graham Wilson, Ann Gardner, Gwenyth Robinson, Bridget Hartley, Elsie Longton, Stephen Lewis, Kevin Hebblethwaite, Mr Hallatt (headmaster).'Front row from left, Joan Edwards, Andrew Stephenson, Ruth Edwards, Paul Mason, Ruth Woodhouse, Robert Whitfield, Audrey Robinson, Andrew Dixon, Linda Robinson, Michael Holroyd, Christine Lewis.'Front row, Susan Swindlehurst.

Wray School pupils, Junior Class, circa 1967-68. 'Back row from left, David Ibbeston, George Marshall, Graham Wilson, Ann Gardner, Gwenyth Robinson, Bridget Hartley, Elsie Longton, Stephen Lewis, Kevin Hebblethwaite, Mr Hallatt (headmaster).'Front row from left, Joan Edwards, Andrew Stephenson, Ruth Edwards, Paul Mason, Ruth Woodhouse, Robert Whitfield, Audrey Robinson, Andrew Dixon, Linda Robinson, Michael Holroyd, Christine Lewis.'Front row, Susan Swindlehurst.

During the previous night the boys said their father had deserted them, and hence the grief.

Having heard their story the lady, pitying the friendless lads, took them to her home where for many years they faithfully served their benefactress.

In course of time the civil war between King Charles and his Parliament broke out and one of the brothers, who by this time had grown to manhood, joined the army of the latter.

He proved a good soldier, and his bravery on one of the battlefields brought him under the notice of Cromwell, who promoted him. And thus Richard Pooley, for it was none other than he, became Captain Richard Pooley.

Some time after the conclusion of the war an interesting event happened at Wray.

A well dressed military looking stranger had newly arrived in the village and, to their astonishment, all the matrons of the village were invited by him to a feast.

Among the matrons thus invited was the mother of the two little boys who, years before, had left the village with their inhuman father, Pooley, the cattle dealer.

After having hospitably entertained his guests, the stranger asked which of them would take him in for the night.

No one responded, each deeming her humble cottage home quite unfit as a lodging place for so fine a gentleman.

Their host thereupon declared his intention of making a selection for himself.

He accordingly approached Mrs Pooley and said: “Mother, won’t you take in your own son?”

“Why it’s Richard”, said the old woman, and immediately the two were in each other’s arms.

Where Captain Richard Pooley lodged that night it is unnecessary to relate.

I cannot help wishing that the story ended here, for the sequel, in my opinion, rather spoils it.

Readiness to forgive injuries and return good for evil is one of the marks of a true Christian.

It is a little disappointing, therefore, to learn that our hero, when he had it in his power to act a Christian’s part by recompensing evil with good declined to do so.

His father, who many years ago had heartlessly deserted him on the road near Coventry, was now undergoing imprisonment for debt in Lancaster Castle.

Richard, so the story goes, visited his unfortunate parent in his cell and undertook to provide for his wants as long as he lived, but he refused to procure his release from prison.

Let us conclude that for this seemingly unfilial conduct there was some good reason.

Let us charitably hope that the founder of Wray School was too good a Christian to act vindictively.