Ash Museum Logo
Ash Museum
Ash Museum Logo

Home | Museum | History Room | Local History | Contact us

The Heathcote Memorial Stone

The Heathcote Memorial Stone

In May 2003 a memorial stone to Reverend Heathcote was re-erected in the playing field adjacent to Old School Close.

Ash Parish Council saved the stone from Heathcote School when it was demolished, and has safeguarded it until it could be re-sited, in the playing field which formerly belonged to Heathcote School.

The stone commemorates the service to the community of Reverend Heathcote, and the inscription reads as follows.

The Heathcote Memorial Stone

IN REMEMBRANCE OF
THE LIBERALITY CARE AND LOVE SHEWN BY
THE REV GILBERT WALL HEATHCOTE
FOR THE PARISH SCHOOL WHILST RECTOR
1835-1884
THIS CLASS ROOM HAS BEEN ERECTED
BY HIS FRIENDS
IN THE UNAVOIDABLE ABSENCE OF MRS HEATHCOTE
THIS STONE WAS LAID BY HER NIECE ST ANDREWS DAY 1894

The stone was originally laid in the outside wall of a new classroom. Money for an extension had been raised by friends in memory of Reverend Heathcote, who had died in 1893. A total of £150 was raised locally from bazaars etc., and the National Society donated £25. On 4th November 1894 the school children were given a half day holiday so they could attend the laying of the memorial stone. The stone was laid by the Reverend Heathcoteís niece, and we still donít know what caused the ďunavoidable absence of Mrs HeathcoteĒ, although presumably it was illness. As the school grew, the stone was enclosed within the building, so nowadays many ex pupils remember it being inside in the corridor.

The Reverend Gilbert Wall Heathcote MA came from a prominent Winchester family whose family home was at Hursley Park, now the headquarters of IBM in England. Sir William Heathcote was Governor of the Bank of England, and was responsible for harnessing the skills of a Frenchman in making banknote paper in Hampshire, a trade mentioned by William Cobbett in his book Rural Rides. Florence Nightingale was a great family friend of the Heathcotes.

Reverend Heathcote was Rector of St Peterís Church in Ash from 1838 until 1884, the longest serving Rector in the history of the parish. He and his wife lived in the Old Rectory in Church Lane until 1863, when he was appointed Bursar of Winchester College and a curate took charge of St Peter's. The enlargement of St Peterís Church in 1864, including a new nave and chancel and a new spire, was proposed by Reverend Heathcote and carried out largely as a result of his personal generosity.

It is said that Reverend Heathcote wrote the Winchester College school song, which is still sung today; and he is buried at Winchester, within the College precincts. The east window at St Peterís Church is a memorial to him given by his widow Clara Rosalie, who is buried in the churchyard at St Peterís, alongside the south wall just to the left of the priestís door in the old chancel.

By John Daniels

Fun in Fairyland at Heathcote School

Country Dancing at Dene Lodge c.1928


Home | Museum | History Room | Local History | Contact us
© Ash and District Local History Museum Society ash.museum@ntlworld.com
c/o Ash Parish Council Offices, Ash Centre, Ash Hill Road, Ash, Surrey GU12 5DP