Rural Wiltshire couldn’t be more distant in spirit from the cut and thrust of the City of London – but our historic connection with the Mercers’ Company means that Dauntsey’s has deep roots in these contrasting places.
Back in the 16th century, Wiltshire lad William Dauntesey went to London to make his fortune in trade and, ultimately, became Master of the Mercers’ Company. His will left his London properties to the livery company and tasked them with maintaining the school and almshouses that his executors were to build in West Lavington.
Almost five centuries (and several reinventions of the school) later, the City link is alive and benefitting both the school and its pupils. As well as lending their name to the Dauntsey’s annual series of lectures, the Mercers’ nominates a governor to the school and use its generous historic endowments to fund development of school facilities. For example, they donated £600,000 towards the maths and geography block. The relationship also provides insights into City careers with Sixth Formers having the opportunity to visit the City and meet Old Dauntseians who work there.
The connection continues after pupils leave. Dauntseians are entitled to join the Guild of Mercers’ Scholars (a voluntarily-run Guild of the City of London, made up of alumni and associates of Mercers’ Company’s schools).
A further benefit of the relationship is bringing state-funded and independent Mercers’ schools together. The Mercers’ support 17 schools, about half of them being independent. Pupils from Mercers’ academies in Sandwell and Walsall have had the chance to sail on Jolie Brise and Dauntsey’s has staged a mini-Olympic athletic meeting involving representatives of all the Mercers’ West Midlands Academies.
The Mercers’ lend their name to our very popular annual lecture series. The lectures are a central part of our enrichment programme which encourages pupils to engage with the world outside the school gates, and to think beyond their academic curriculum. Previous speakers have included Lord John Bird, Ant Middleton, Sean Fitzpatrick, Mariella Frostrup, Nigel Owens and Carrie Gracie.
Sixth Formers enjoy special access to speakers as they have the opportunity to join an informal discussion and supper with the visitor, prior to the main lecture.
Publicised widely, the lectures are open to all; pupils, parents, local schools and groups as well as the wider community. All lectures are free to attend and are held in our 800-seat Memorial Hall, one of the largest venues in the country. To attend, you are required to reserve your seat online and bring confirmation of booking to the event. Bookings open approximately one month prior to the event .
We very much hope to welcome you to Dauntsey's for one or more of these lectures.