A little bit of history

I f you visit St Mary's Church, on the north wall of the Sanctuary there is a monument work of The Revd Dr Robert Thomlinson who was Rector of Whickham for 36 years and also Prebendary of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. He is remembered in this parish for his building of the Parochial School in 1714. This school was founded initially as a result of a legacy of £100 in the will of Mrs Blakiston of Gibside Hall, who wished to provide for the education of 30 or 36 poor children in the parish. Dr Thomlinson added to the endowment and ensured the permanent provision of education in the village. He is also remembered for the gift of his own library given first to St. Nicholas' Church in Newcastle, and now housed in Newcastle Centre Library. The original Parochial School was built about 100 yards from the Churchyard steps, and was one of the finest in the North of England. There were 100 places at the school, and apart from the 36 free places, the other pupils would have to pay fees. In a letter to the Secretary of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge in London, dated 7th April 1742, Dr Thomlinson wrote: "I have finished the Church School here after the plan of one I had built at Wigton, in Cumberland, in which Parish I was born. It is a handsome stone building, nineteen yards in length. It stands in good air and has a pleasant prospect. The master is obliged to teach 36 poor children. The endowment arises chiefly from the two galleries which I have erected in the Parish Church, by a licence at my own expense, and am endeavouring to obtain a further endowment of £10 a year in mortmain." These galleries were removed after the Great Fire of 1841. Dr Thomlinson's will, dated 18th November 1745, left the school and dwelling house for the master with the income from the galleries and some pews, and a further £100 in trust to the Archdeacon of Northumberland, the Vicar of Newcastle and their successors, for the support of the school.