The contents on this page remain on our website for informational purposes only.
Content on this page will not be reviewed or updated.


William Elmer, a Village Education - Beachampton
The old school building

In the aftermath of the Dissolution (when King Henry 8th closed all the monasteries, and confiscated their wealth) William Elmer, ‘a principal Inhabitant here, enjoying the Estate in this Parish,’ was granted land at Beachampton, which had been formerly owned by Snelshall Priory, near Whaddon. Additionally, William acquired a building known as the Grange, and, since a grange was often a farming establishment attached to a religious community, no doubt for many years the Snelshall monks had once occupied a dwelling on the site. By his will dated June 3rd 1648, a later William Elmer directed that the house, after the death of his wife, should be conveyed with nine local closes for ‘charitable uses,’ and the decree included that the trustees should endow a ‘Free School’ of three bays in the village. In consequence a decision was taken to build the school in a close called ‘Saffords, opposite to William’s former home, and with the builders being two local carpenters, on March 1st 1668 they - having ‘full liberty to dig and take stone Morter and sand as may bee had in the Close where the said schoolhouse is to be built’ - agreed to erect the school ‘by the first day of November now next ensuing.’ As for the school master, he should be ‘an honest, able, and sufficient Person, being a good Scholar and a single Man….’ However, ‘if he should prove a vicious Man, cut down Timber without the Trustees Consent, misuse his Scholars, or do any’thing unfitting; they shall have Power to put him out, and chuse another.’ Under a succession of tutors the school flourished, and apart from an attendance of some 50 non fee paying male scholars, and a few girls ‘who paid,’ also included were several boarders, each of whom had to contribute 20 guineas a year. In fact one of the most famous pupils was the renowned Buckinghamshire antiquary Browne Willis, who attended from 1692 until 1695. Even in the 1830s the school accommodated some 80 pupils, and seems to have continued until at least 1876. However, the premises now find use as a private and pleasing dwelling which, being ‘a charming Grade II listed Stone House full of character,’ perfectly compliments the timeless tranquillity of Watery Lane.