Our school was opened in 1898; it has a rich history and a very promising future. Read on to find out a little of how West Monmouth School became the school it is today. It was thanks to William Jones, Merchant Adventurer and distinguished member of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, London that West Monmouth School came in to existence. A portrait of William Jones hangs, as a tribute, in the Head Master’s office, which was originally used as the Boardroom.
William Jones was born in the village of Newland in the Forest of Dean. between 1545 and 1550. He was sent to Monmouth as an apprentice, from where he moved to London at around the age of 20. It is widely believed that his fortune was made as a haberdasher, yet there is some confusion as to whether all of his fortune was made this way. Whatever the truth behind his wealth, it is certain that he did become very rich before his death, which is believed to have been in Hamburg in January 1615.
In his last will and testament, dated 26 December 1614 he left the sum of “nyne thousand pounds to the Company of Haberdashers of London to ordain a Preacher, a Free School and Alms houses for twenty poor and distressed people, as blind and lame as it shall seem best to them, of the Town of Monmouth, where it shall be bestowed”. The resultant school was built in 1615 in Monmouth.
The Haberdashers’ Company administered William Jones’s charities over the years and by 1890 the annual revenue of the Charity was £10,000 a substantial proportion of which waqs dedicated to education. Monmouth High School (later called Monmouth School for Girls) and a third school was planned for Monmouthshire to the west of the River Usk.
The site for the school was finally chosen because Mt J.C. Hanbury gave six acres of land for the school to be built on. The building took 2 years to complete and cost £30,000. Mrs Hanbury laid the foundation stone in 1896, this can be seen near the main entrance.
Jones’ West Monmouth School first opened on Wednesday 19 January 1898 under the guidance of the first Headmaster, Mr Priestley. Eighty boys entered the school following a preliminary entrance examination. Twenty boys were awarded scholarships. the school’s official opening ceremony was delayed until 1 December 1898.
The school hall is a magnificent room, and a stained-glass window, showing the words “Courage” and “Victory” is the school’s memorial to those who fell in WW1. Opposite this is a brass plaque, which serves as a memorial to the old boys who gave their lives in WW2.
A few memorable dates are:
1898 – School open.
1905 – Gymnasium was gutted by fire.
1907 – Gymnasium refitted.
1908 – Old Boys’ Association formed.
1912 – Mr Priestley, Headmaster retired.
1913 – Mr R. Ivor Jones became West Monmouth School’s second Headmaster.
1924 – The school installed a ‘wireless set’ and boarders listened to an organ recital on a Sunday afternoon.
1926 – The stage was enlarged and electric lighting installed.
1933 – Foundation stone of new Science block laid.
1934 – New Science block open.
1958 – End of Boarding.
1963 – Parents’ Association formed.
1982 – West Monmouth School changes from a Boys’ Grammar School to a mixed Comprehensive School.
1988 – Mr Peter Philips appointed as West Monmouth School’s sixth Headmaster.
1998 – West Monmouth School celebrates its Centenary.
2009 – School Website launched www.westmonmouthschool.com
2011 – Mr Clive Jackson appointed as West Monmouth School’s seventh Headmaster.
Some of the famous people who have attended West Monmouth School include:
Information taken from Serve & Obey: the official hiistory of West Monmouth School – Arthur Crane and with the kind help of Mrs C James, History Department.