John Gardyner left provision in his will for his water mill (leased in 1469) to fund Lancaster’s grammar school in perpetuity. This was 15th Century corporate social responsibility, and Gardyner was our first social entrepreneur!
One hundred years later, however, “Extreeme Floodes” from the River Lune (Loyne) had ruined the mill. The Mayor was worried.
His superb letter from 1569-70 exists in the archives of the Duchy of Lancaster, asking for repairs so that the mill’s profits could sustain the school in the “bringyng well upp of youth.”
The Mayor explained:
There hath ben an aunciente Water mylne standing uppon the water of Loyne commonly called Loyns mylne nere to the saide Towne which is nowe altogether thorough the great Radge of waters utterly decayed.
And the proffittz of the same mylne have ben of Long tyme used to be paied and bestowed uppon a Scholemaster to teache a Schole at Lancaster and bring upp Chylderne and youth in Lernynge and vertu.
But nowe of Late the said mylne and the Damme and Were belongynge to the saide mylne by reason of Extreeme Floodes are become Royenous and in suche great Decaye that no proffittz at all to the Schoole canne be taken or had.
As we look towards the 550th anniversary of Gardyner’s endowment, the water mill has long since gone, of course. Outwardly, almost everything has changed.
But there is a continuity of purpose through the centuries, and I love the way we glimpse it here.
It is still our aim to “bring upp Chylderne and youth in Lernynge and vertu.”
Nothing matters more!
Text from: Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancashire & Cheshire (1921) Volume 73