Mostyn House School
The school which sits on the promenade encompassing a huge space originally started its roots several miles east of
Chester, in a town known as Tarvin. In 1852 Tarvin Hall High School expanded and changed its name to the Collegiate
Institute. A new building was created to assist in the new medical education courses which had just been unveiled, the
building was named Lower Hall and sat in the middle of the high street in Tarvins centre. The school was run by the Head
Master John Brindley, who brought on board a clergy man named Reverend E.H. Price who was to look after the Lower
School. After the school began to suffer from some serous funding problems the Reverend Price decided to leave and set up
his own school somewhere else. After some scouting Rev Price came upon a large building for sale in Parkgate which would
both suit his requirement for space and also had the land to expand if required. The building in question, was a large black
and white timber panelled edifice which stands on the promenade facing the estuary and was known locally as
"The Mostyn Arms Hotel".
The hotel prior to that point had a rich history of its own. It started out life as the George Inn around 1750, later to be
known as the George & Three Pigeons Inn. The building operated as a large coach house for the coaches travelling to
Chester. A decade later when Parkgate was becoming more of a bathing & seaside resort, the owner of the inn purchased
bathing machines and by the 1780's these were in full use. After the death of the landlord, the hotel underwent a major
refurbishment and extension by the landlords wife Esther and she reopened its doors in 1819 under the new name of the
Mostyn Arms Hotel. One advertisement for the hotel reads as follows:
"Esther Briscoe of the Mostyn Arms Hotel (late George Inn) respectfully informs her friends and the public that the inn is
reopened, and fitted up in the first style of elegance. The house had been considerably enlarged, several parlours, sitting
rooms and bedrooms have been added. From these extensive alterations she will be able to accommodate whole private
families with complete suites of apartments in a very superior manner".
The advert clearly shows that the hotel was operating on a much higher social scale than it had previously, and one clue to
this is the fact that Esther added the word "Hotel" at the end, which meant that this was the first Inn of Parkgate to be
made into a Hotel. The name also had an heir of superiority about it, after being name after Sir Thomas Mostyn who
owned the entire village of Parkgate. The Mostyn's were well known landowners, especially in the County of Flintshire in
North Wales, where the power base of the Barons was held at Mostyn Hall in Holywell. In 1849 the Mostyn's decided to sell
the village of Parkgate due to a downturn in trade. This was due to the fact that the Maritime activity had all but ceased
and the Sea Bathing era had now come to an end. It was at this time when Esther the current landlord saw a great
opportunity, and decided to purchase the Inn for herself. She done so by taking out a large mortgage from an
acquaintance, who was none other than the famous engineer Sir Thomas Brassey. Sadly some 6 years later Esther
Briscoe died and the hotel had to be put up for auction. It was bought by Thomas Brassey as an investment with the
intention of leasing it out to the public.
It was at this time that the Reverend Price came to the village looking for a building to house his new school, and it was at
this point that their paths crossed. In 1855 the Reverend Price opened the doors to his new school in Parkgate. Under
this new direction and accommodation the school flourished as too did the education. Many years later the building had
almost reached its maximum occupancy and Reverend Price began to look at opening a larger school elsewhere. At this
time he invited his wifes nephew A.S Grenfell to come visit the premises with a view to taking over the running of the school
when the Prices leave. After visiting in 1863, his wife Jane Grenfell described the school by the following:
"It was in January 1863 that i first saw Parkgate. I had never seen such a horrible hole in all my life. The house was very
tumble-down and dreary. There were about 60 boys in the school, the most extraordinary lot of mixed louts that ever you
saw, some with fancy waist coats, and some with whiskers, but all with the look of being strangers to soap and water.
Baths were never dreamed of, except the small foot tubs once a week. The boys slept two to a bed on very hard straw
palliasses. No parents ever dreamed of coming near this place.
Even after this scathing review by his wife, Sidney Grenfell was said to be delighted with the offer, and so in 1863 the Prices
moved to Maidenhead in Berkshire to open their new larger school; leaving Algernon Sidney Grenfell to look after Mostyn
School in Parkgate. The school continued to run under the control of Sidney Grenfell, who in 1875 was able to buy the
freehold of the land after the death of Sir Thomas Brassey. He ran the school for two decades but was unsuccessful as a
headmaster. The schools numbers dwindled and Sidney soon fell into depression. In 1882 following a fall out with his local
curate at the parish of Neston, Sidney Grenfell resigned his post at the school and headed to London to work for the
hospital. His depression soon caught up with him and in 1885 he resigned from his post only to enter an asylum, two years
later Sidney Grenfell took his own life.
The position of headmaster was filled by William Barrett, a former pupil of Reverend Price in Maidenhead. William ran the
school with little change and gradually the already dilapidated building began to worsen. William was ordained as curate of
the Neston Parish and was held in high regard; so much so that in 1889 he quit the post of headmaster for the possibility
of becoming appointed a vicar. Three years after William died from Pneumonia, having never attained the post of the vicar
which he had sought after so much. The new role of headmaster fell back to the Grenfell family, and soon Sidney's son;
George Grenfell had taken the position and was happy to do so.
George accomplished something that no one previous had done before him. After managing to secure thousands of pounds
in loans he completely refurbished the dilapidated building and increased its size by at least three times. Over the next 16
years many features were added including a chapel, a swimming pool, a playground, a cricket field, several dormitory's, tea
rooms, staff quarters and a carpenters shop. George Grenfell obviously had a great foresight for his plans and by the year
1900 his school had increased from 18 pupils to 103. George Grenfell was described by all as a great man, articulate,
intelligent and confident in his own abilities. His building projects are a great measurement of his successes as too were
the vast numbers of books which he wrote. His final actions involving the school was to have the front wall buttressed in
1933 in order to protect the 18th century wall. He handed control of the school over to his son Daryl Grenfell that year
and happily retired. Within one year of his retirement George had died.
Daryls building projects included tennis courts, class room extensions and the WW2 Air Raid shelter underneath the school
playing field which became known locally as "The Dive". The school was extended several times over the next 90 years but
remains today in the hands of the 16th generation of the Grenfell family, miss S.M.T Grenfell - Headmistress.
The following pictures of Mostyn School were taken in 2008:
|Mostyn House School from the rear
|Stone road Marker showing the disatnce to Chester
|One of the original desks from the School
|Later additions of the Class Rooms