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About us

How it all started . . .

The Mackrell Charity was founded in 1799 by William Mackrell of Spetisbury to provide a school and two teachers for 50 poor children of Sturminster Marshall and the surrounding area.


This was a tremendous act of generosity in an age when there was no automatic entitlement to an education. Boys attended school up to the age of 13 (with frequent absences when they were required to help with ploughing, bird-scaring or harvesting) and girls were expected to stay at school until they were 15.

. . . then . . .

Over the years the state education system developed, a new school was built in the village, and Mr Mackrell’s charity and the old school building were neglected.


Then in 1993 the Mackrell Charity was re-started with the aim of providing interesting and educational activities for the whole community, both in the village and the surrounding area. A grant is awarded each year in memory of Dee Butterfield who was a tireless force in this project.


The first activity was an art class, which is still going strong. A series of lectures, the Millennium Lectures, was held in 1999-2000 and these proved so successful that they have continued and are now known as the Mackrell Lectures.

. . . and now . . .

The Mackrell Charity now promotes a wide programme of lifelong learning opportunities and cultural activities which

we hope contributes to the cultural richness of our small

corner of Dorset.

Road view of Old School

The Old School

172 Church Street

Sturminster Marshall

Dorset BH21 4BU



The Old School is available for hire to individuals or groups who need a venue for meetings, rehearsals, parties or classes. See the Hall Hire page for details.

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