An independent school for girls, Maynard's was founded in 1658, when according to the wishes of Elize Hele's will, £1,500 was directed to be used to build a hospital school for girls. The first premises were given by Robert Vilvayne on Exe Island. Various donations were made to maintain the school principally £100, given by John Mayne, £200 by Gilbert Keate, in 1656, and £100 by Edmund Prideaux, as well as various benefactions of smaller amounts. The Exe Island property was lost to the school in 1801 when it was let on a 99 year lease. There appears from the records, that some rather poor financial decisions were made.
Premises with a large garden in St Mary Arches Street were acquired, on a site that is now the open car park to the rear of the Gaumont. Although funds were available for more, only four girls between the ages of 7 and 10 years attended the school, to leave at the age of 14, when they were placed as servants in respectable families or bound as apprentices. The schoolmistress was paid £10 for teaching the four Blue Girls, and could take in lodgers and lay scholars to supplement her income.
The lawyer and politician, Sir John Maynard (Mayne?) 1602-1690, was involved in the early school and was unusual at the time in believing that education would be of benefit for girls. The coat of arms of Elize Hele and Sir John Maynard, are displayed in a window in the school hall, in their memory.
The Blue Maids' School lasted until the 1870's. In the meantime, in the 1860's, the Endowed Schools Commission recommended two new girls schools be founded. One would became Middle School for Girls (Bishop Blackall), and one would become the High School for Girls. Building for the new school, in Spicer Road, commenced in 1878 and was completed by 1882. In the gap, before the new buildings were completed, the school moved into temporary accommodation at Larkbeare, the greystone house that was used as a judges residence, in St Leonards. At this time, the annual fee per pupil was £15.
In 1893 the headmistress was Miss Caroline Turner and in 1906, Miss Florence M Purdie. It was in 1912, that the school was renamed The Maynard School under Miss E L Trenerry, the headmistress. Apart from academic subjects and domestic science, the girls were offered a range of sports including hockey, lacrosse, tennis and cricket.
Maynard's was hit by three bombs, that fell at 02:17, during the blitz of the 4th May 1942. Two hit the tennis courts - one bomb demolished a wall and caused blast damage to windows and the roof. The second severely damaged the boarding house and kitchen garden. The third bomb fell in the front of the main building causing severe blast to the school and damaging houses on Barnfield Hill. After 350 years, the school goes from strength to strength, and now has approximately 110 girls in the Junior Department and 360 in the Senior School.
The High School for Girls. Dance class at Maynard's School before the First War. Gym class at Maynards School circa 1950 - courtesy Maynard's School.
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