National School with Mary Touchet's Charity
Mary Touchet was sister in law of Archdeacon Bayley, Rector of West Meon 1826-1844. He was a wealthy man responsible for building our current Church and moving the Rectory to the current West Meon House. Mary Touchet endowed the School which is a Church School operated by LA but the building is “owned” by the Mary Touchet Charity.
Mary Touchet was a landowner in her own right and left a number of properties and land including the Victoria Institute and Station Rd Cottages, the School, and the Headmaster’s House to be administered by the Rector and Trustees.
The principal objective of the charity was to support the work of the Village School and assist young West Meon villagers with financial support for their educational needs. At that time many were apprenticed to craftsmen and needed to purchase the tools of their trade. For many years the rental income from the properties was small and maintenance of the properties became increasingly challenging. With the Victoria Institute becoming redundant and under the guidance of Rev Kenneth Wills, the Trustees began to sell property as it became vacant and this has led to the development of significant invested sums with interest available for the primary purpose of supporting educational needs.
The Trust Today
The Trustees worked with the Charity Commission to extend the original Scheme to include residents of Warnford and to remove the age limit. A substantial annual grant is made to West Meon CofE Primary School for items “over and above” eg upgrading of IT, renewal of Early Years outdoor equipment, a shortfall in music tuition costs and support for residential courses. Individuals who live in West Meon or Warnford Parishes can apply for a grant towards expenses relating to post 16 education, music, sports or similar coaching and special educational trips etc.
In the past flowers were maintained on the grave of Mary Touchet remembering her commitment to the education of all who live in these parishes but in recent years this has been reduced to an annual remembrance of her significance in the life of the school and her vision
Barbara Shaw 2022