Children from St John’s Primary School in Wellington visited the town’s Museum last week for a very special reason, one that connected them directly to the Duke of Wellington back in 1850.
The children were shown a letter written by the Iron Duke in which he promised to give £50 towards the building of St John’s School. The Museum’s Curator, Colin Spackman, explained that at the age of 81 the Duke had made the contribution and written personally, probably to Reverend W W Pulman, Vicar of St John’s Church at the time. The children were told that, in 1850, the sum of £50 would have been sufficient to pay for much of the cost of the building and that the donation probably brought their school into existence.
The letter was kept at the school for decades but was recently given to Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton so that it could be preserved in a more suitable physical environment. It was presented to Wellington Museum Society to be copied for the town’s museum before it goes to the Heritage Centre.
The letter was addressed from 3 Up Belgrave Place, Norwich, London. September 12th 1850. Although difficult to decipher in places it appears to say “Sir, In reply to your letter of the 4th I have pleasure in subscribing 50£ which I send for the building of your Parish School.
I have the honour to be Sir your obedient humble servant. Arthur Wellington”
Colin Spackman said, “The children from St John’s who visited the museum were fascinated by the story and were extremely polite and well-behaved. They were a credit to the school.”