William Jones was born in Newland, Gloucestershire in the sixteenth century. He grew up in Monmouth and grew fond of the town. A haberdasher by trade, he eventually became a very successful member of The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers. At that time, Monmouth was a centre of Catholicism, but William was a staunch Protestant and not afraid to be seen as such. He was a great believer in the Puritan ethic of ‘giving back to society’ and the Schools in Monmouth are testament to this philosophy.
In 1613, towards the end of his life, he bequeathed £6,000 to be spent locally for charitable purposes, appointing the Company as Trustee. He provided another £3,000 in his will, and this time included a school in his list of objectives. The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, as Trustees, bought a site for the school in Monmouth and organised the building work, for which they sent bricklayers down from London who were paid per thousand bricks laid. Finance for the school came from the Manor of Hatcham Barnes (now New Cross, London) which the Company bought in 1614. The Manor then consisted of farms and woodland, and it was the annual rent from these farms which covered the running costs of the school.
Founded under James 1 in 1614, Monmouth School was originally a grammar school for boys. It was rebuilt in 1865, and as a result of rising revenues from the developing New Cross area in London, the foundation was reorganised in 1891. In addition to Monmouth School, the foundation could now support a new girls’ school and an elementary school in the town, as well as a school for West Monmouthshire and Pontypool. The girls’ school opened in temporary premises at Hardwick House in Monmouth in 1892, while the Company negotiated for a permanent site and put up buildings, to which the girls moved in 1897. These buildings are still the landmark ‘on the hill’, the origin of Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls.
The elementary and Pontypool schools were transferred to the County Council in 1940 and 1955 respectively, leaving only Monmouth School and Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls in the foundation. The two schools acquired Direct Grant status in 1946, and their finances improved from the 1950’s, partly as a result of the Company’s decision gradually to sell off the New Cross estate. The Schools became Independent in 1976. In 1997, Haberdashers’ Agincourt School joined the family as a pre-prep school for girls and boys.
The endowment from the William Jones Foundation enables the Schools to continue to improve their facilities, and offer an excellent education whilst ensuring very competitive fees. The Haberdashers’ Company takes a great interest in its schools and the Master and other members visit the schools regularly, on Deputation days, Speech Days and other important occasions. The Master is an ex officio member of each Governing committee. The Company provides a wide range of scholarships, including Travel scholarships, bursaries and its own Assisted Places scheme. In special cases, financial assistance is available to enable past pupils to continue their university studies.
We are immensely grateful to our benefactor and very proud to be known as Haberdashers’ Schools.
In 1891 the Commissioners got out a new scheme, under the Endowed Schools Act, and speedily built a splendid Grammar School, rich in exhibitions and scholarships, at Monmouth. The tuition fees are only £6 yearly, and to families who reside in Monmouth and its immediate neighbourhood this sum represents the total cost of a very complete course of teaching and training. Accommodation for one hundred boarders and day scholars has been contemplated to begin with, but the buildings have been planned with a view to extension, and as soon as the scope and advantages are known throughout the length and breadth of England and the Colonies, that extension will be required.
The Headmistress , Miss Lükes, [pictured on the right] who is an old Cheltenham student, tries to know the pupils individually, to help them profit by the advantages of school life, and to take an interest in the welfare of the School, so that they may gain that esprit de corps and power of working with others which will make them useful and unselfish women, ready in the spirit of the foundation motto to "Serve and Obey."