Choir School

Choir School

Yeovil's first school

 

Old chronicles disclose the fact that from at least about 1380, the time when St John's church was being built, there was a school in Yeovil which is presumed to have been a Choir School at which the choristers of the parish church (previous to today's St John's church) received instruction. Leading men of the town made gifts, usually by means of their wills; for example in his will of 1401, and recorded in the Woborn Muniments, Stephen Paco left 'to each boy scholar who is present at my obsequies, one penny'.

There was a clear inference that the old chapel in the churchyard (removed in the 1850s and rebuilt as the Chantry on Church Path) was the original school-house of Yeovil since the Chantry Commissioners in the reign of Edward VI (reigned 1547-1553) had reported that there was a desire on the part of the parishioners to have it as a school-house.

According to Goodchild it is to the Church that Yeovil owes its earliest known school. Local wills prove that a choir school attached to the Parish Church existed in the 14th century and its purpose is revealed in John Boton's legacy of 1406, again recorded in the Woborn Muniments, 'to each boy coming and remaining in a surplice at my obsequies and singing in a proper manner within the parish of Yevele, four pence'. Notes on Boton's will by Preb EH Bates Harbin stated "These three wills contain interesting references to the staff of the parish church of Yeovil. There was a rector, generally non-resident, a vicar, two parish clerks, a school for choirboys, and several priests serving the chantries."