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The Mary Waud Foundation

The Mary Waud Foundation (also later known as “Cliffe School Charity” or “Cliffe School Trustees") originated early in the 18th century. It was formed to administer the affairs and finances of Cliffe School. The building of the School and School House had been funded by monies left in the will (dated 1708) of Miss Mary Waud (1659-1708) a spinster living in the village and later described by the historian, Thomas Burton, as “the Lady Bountiful of the village”. She must now be considered as being a fairly wealthy lady of 

Hemingbrough Church Side Door

the time as, amongst her several bequests, she left, in total, the sum of £220 for a school to be built at Cliffe (for the benefit of the poor children of the village), a School House for the “Teacher” and the remaining money for the purchase of agricultural land etc. She is buried in Hemingbrough Church where there is a flagstone (some 4 - 5 metres from the small side door of the church) to commemorate her life. The School was then, in essence, a Charity School, and the funding of the teacher(s), maintenance and general upkeep was provided by the Trustees (also later called “Managers”) of the Mary Waud Foundation. Their main and perhaps only income was from the agricultural land purchased from the residual monies after completion of the School and School House. The lands were at Knedlington (one field of nearly ten acres is still owned by the Foundation) and this income took the form of rental fees charged to tenants.

It is not too difficult to imagine that this income was, at several periods over the years, inadequate to cover the costs of the annual funding of the School and so, sometimes, short term loans from banks or other financial institutions were taken out by the Trustees. However, there can be no doubt that many local private benefactors have contributed considerable amounts of money at several times over the years, especially when the School and School House needed major renovations or rebuilding work. A typical example of this is recorded in 1872 when the School and School House were rebuilt at the cost of £800 and the major contributor to the cost of this being Thomas Burton of Turnham Hall.

It is not clear exactly when the teacher(s) began to be paid by the Government but it is recorded that a government grant was received in 1874 as a result of the 1870 Education Act. Regular inspections were a part of this Act and it was later recorded in 1877 that the “Master” received half of this grant plus the annual rent raised upon the agricultural holdings. Whilst this certainly was a great help to the Foundation, the continued shortage of income still provided many problems with funding the ongoing necessary repairs, improvement to the School, School House and the re-surfacing the playgrounds etc. This state of affairs continued until circa 1949 when the Managers received a letter from the local East Riding of Yorkshire Educational Authority (based in Beverley) stating that the School would now become a “Voluntary Controlled” School. Further information revealed that they had the choice of the School becoming an “Aided School”, for which they would have to make an application, or to accept “Voluntary Controlled” status. They decided to accept “Voluntary Controlled” status and this entailed that the Education Authority took over all future costs of maintenance and repairs etc. for the School building and the playgrounds, but the School House was exempt and this remained the responsibility of the Foundation. 

Thus, the “imposition” of being “Voluntary Controlled” was a blessing in disguise and it eventually allowed the currently held mortgage to be cleared. At the same time, the Educational authorities also imposed a new designation of Managers/Trustees - this being and made up of two Foundation managers proposed by the Trustees, two managers proposed by Cliffe Parish Council and two managers appointed by the local Authority.

In 1968, the East Riding Educational Authority drew up a site plan for a proposed new school to be built (1973-74) adjoining the village playing field. However, this plan was shelved when the New County Boundary Changes of 1974 saw the village of Cliffe as now part of “North Yorkshire”

Cliffe - Old Primary School

and not of the “East Riding” and thus belonging to a different Local Authority. It was not until 1982 that North Yorkshire completed the building of the current School at a reported cost of £180,000. The New School (pictured below) was built on land owned by the North Yorkshire Council at the “Top End” of Cliffe – it had the accommodation for up to eighty children and also included a grassed playing field for school use only.

Cliffe Primary School

The big bonus for the Foundation was that, when the Old School (situated to the immediate north of the railway crossing and bounded by Station View and west of York Road and pictured above) was vacated, the whole area occupied by the School, School House and playgrounds etc. reverted back to the Foundation as sole owners but with a proportion of any sale proceeds being due to North Yorkshire County Council.

Some considerable time later, after the necessary consents were received from the Charity Commission etc, the site was offered up in separate lots and eventually sold at auction in the late 1980s. As a result, the Foundation was, for once, well and truly in the black as far as funding was concerned! The money and interest accrued has been put to good use. In 1991, the Foundation agreed the purchase of a piece of land from the North Yorkshire County Council – this land (situated adjacent and to the west of the original playing field) was landscaped, grassed, hedged, and handed over to the School in 1993, thus providing a much larger playing area that the size of the School warranted. In the same year (1993), the Foundation totally funded a Headteacher’s private study as the School had only a general room for all the staff. Sometime later, it also totally funded the Library, this being a small extension added onto the west side of the school. Other larger projects funded or part funded include a Patio Covering (1996), Computer Room (2001/2), Cloakroom Alterations (2002/3) plus a substantial Special Funding Donation (2006).

Other smaller projects - purchase of library books (2015) etc. - have been part or fully funded, as and when necessary or requested, and especially when the relevant funds were not forthcoming from the North Yorkshire Education Department. In 2008, all the children and staff were presented with specially inscribed commemorative mugs and a scroll to mark the 300th Anniversary of Cliffe School and of Mary Waud’s death – these being provided by the Foundation. For many years, the Foundation has provided a Discretionary Grant for former pupils who are attending Higher Education, especially for those attending University or similar parallel courses. In more recent years, the Trustees have given an annual donation to the School, this being specified for educational visits including the costs of transport etc. A donation towards the cost of transport for swimming lessons during the Summer Term has also been regularly made.

The current Foundation body comprises nine members; seven of these are of a permanent nature and have the opportunity of being re-elected every four years should they wish to do so. The other two members are as follows: a) a representative from the Cliffe Village Parish Council and b) a representative on behalf of the North Yorkshire County Council – this usually being a local County Councillor or his/her nominee. Their terms of election are, therefore, not governed by the Foundation. Two members of the Foundation are eligible to sit on the School Board of Governors and attend their meetings. The Foundation’s Trustees have three regular meetings throughout the year and these are held in January, June and October – the latter meeting being the AGM. Meetings, by tradition, are always held on the School premises. All Trustees are voluntary and unpaid but a Secretary is paid for clerical work. The Foundation is on the Charity Commission’s register and the relevant registered Charity Number is 529668. Annual returns of income and expenditure are sent to the Commission each year (a full statement of Accounts is now only sent on request from the Commission) and full details of the Trustees are regularly updated on the Commission’s website.

Alec Jacques (April 2019)

The Mary Waud Foundation (part two)

Some time ago, the Trustees decided that the inscriptions on the gravestone of Mary Waud in Hemingbrough Church needed to be cleaned and re-engraved – not surprising as the original was over 300 years old and showing considerable wear in places. The difficult problem was in finding a stonemason who was capable and willing to undertake the task which required the mason to lie on his stomach on a cold floor for many hours in order to execute the painstaking and delicate work on the flagstone. The Trust is pleased to announce that this work has now been completed by Mr Graham Pickering of Bridlington who spent several days at the Church to carry out the renovation work required.

The following pictures show 'before' and 'after' pictures of the gravestone.

Mary Waud Gravestone Pre-Clean.jpg
Mary Waud Gravestone Post-Clean.jpg


This image shows the gravestone in black & white after the restoration, clearly showing the detailed engraving and artwork.

Mary Waud Gravestone Post-Clean B&W.jpg


Here is an extract from the book “The History of Hemingbrough” showing the death of Mary Waud.

History Of Hemingbrough Excerpt.jpg


The translation from the Latin into modern day English is not straight forward but would seem to be for the first three lines:

“Here lies Mary Waud, daughter of Thomas Waud of Long Cliff, who closed her last day on 24th June, Anno Domini, 1708, aged 49”.

Several attempts to adequately translate the four lower lines using various online translation services have failed to come up with a realistic summary – further attempts are in progress to provide a suitable translation.

Alec Jacques (June 2023)


“CLIFFE SCHOOL 1708 – 1982” this is a 52 page green backed booklet (printed by CANSFIELDS PRINTERS of Hemingbrough) detailing various aspects of Cliffe School from its beginnings and includes references to Mary Waud, Origins, Education Acts, Punishment, Managers etc, as well as listings of Headmaster, Teachers, Attendances, Cliffe Populations, Mary Waud’s Will etc. The authors of the booklet are not mentioned and neither is its publication date. However, from the Acknowledgements page at the back of the book, it is clear that several local families provided funds by way of sponsorship to enable its publication.

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