At the heart of Bunny stands a mellow, red brick building, familiar to all villagers and the many people who pass through daily on their way to Nottingham or Loughborough. Those travelers who have time to extricate themselves from the stream of traffic and walk around the building have no need of a guidebook.
View of the Almshouses from Loughborough Road
The architect and founder ensured those stopping to enquire would have the benefactor and use of the building clearly explained to them. The date, Sir Thomas Parkyns’ coat of arms and the intentions of its founder are clearly inscribed on the fabric of the building itself. The Old School and Almshouses were designed and built in 1700 by Sir Thomas. The Parkyns family’s intention was that there should be a free school for the children of people in Bunny and Bradmore. Presumably the building was put into use straight away but it was not until 1709 that an official deed was drawn up by the mother of Sir Thomas, Lady Ann Parkyn(s). She endowed the school with an income derived from land at Thorpe in the Clotts (usually known as Thorpe-in-the- Glebe).
The building is maintained now by The Bunny and Bradmore Charities which comprise three charities, the Parkyns' School Charity, the Apprentice Fee Charity and the Bunny and Bradmore General Charity. The General Charity's first concern is to provide almshouses for needy persons of Bunny and Bradmore and to maintain them to a high standard of accommodation.
The original almshouse was for four poor widows of Bunny and Bradmore. The school was in the large room on the ground floor and the whole of the upper part, consisting of five chambers on the first floor and some garrets over the centre, was assigned as the residence of the Schoolmaster. In 1927 'School House' on Loughborough Road was transferred to the Charity to provide a residence for the Head Teacher.
The Almshouses from the side, clearly showing the Parkyns Coat-of-Alms
Four adjoining rooms to the school were originally designated as the hospital, and these housed the four poor widows. From the rent of the land bestowed by Lady Ann Parkyns, forty shillings per annum were to be used to purchase gowns and petticoats for each widow every other year. There were instructions that the coat of arms belonging to Lady Ann was to be embroidered onto the sleeve of the gowns. If a widow did not agree to this homage to her benefactress, then she did not get the gown! The sum of money thereby saved was to be distributed amongst the widows who were prepared to wear the dresses.
The Inscription above the doorway (click for an enlarged readable photo)
In 1875 the school was moved to a new building (now the Village Hall) but the Almshouses continue to provide accommodation in the form of two flats.
On Easter Monday, April 12th 1909, the Men's Institute was formed under the Presidency of Mrs Wilkinson Smith; the minutes record that,
"The Rev. C. D. Powell (Curate in Charge) presided and thanked the Church wardens for giving the use of the Mission Room and putting it in a state of repair, and also Mr Fred Hutchinson and his co-workers for their zeal and energy in raising funds to start the Institute….… A short game between Mr Hawksley and the Chairman to start the new billiard table concluded the opening ceremony"
Thus the lower room of the Old School became the Men's Institute.
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