Named after a prominent and highly esteemed doctor in the town, this building was originally the Grammar School. It was acquired by the doctor for public use but it would have been better to have retained the name as ‘The Old Grammar School’. The building was erected and endowed by Sir Norton Knatchbull of Mersham-le-Hatch in 1635 and continued as the Ashford Grammar School, apart for an interval of ten years, until a new school was opened in 1881.
The building stands on a ragstone plinth and built of mellow red brick in English bond (courses of headers alternating with courses of stretchers). The gable rises to a rectangular panel with the date 1635 on it. The window is a very large one, reminiscent of Elizabethan architecture with a depressed arch with a dripstone moulding above. There is a similar window at the back end of the hall. The building is in marked contrast to the timber-framed buildings of the preceding centuries.
The original seats for the Master and his assistant are still in place with niches for the scholars’ books. The walls are wainscotted using the boys’ desks covered with their names and other graffiti. The ceiling is the full height of the building, coved and divided into panels very much in the manner of church roofs.
Briscall W., 1987, Discovering Ashford’s Old Buildings, Ashford, LRB Historical Publications
Date first listed: 24-Sep-1951
- 5344 THE CHURCHYARD (West Side) The Doctor Wilks Memorial Hall TR 0042 NE 2/47 24.9.51. II* GV
- Originally the Grammar School, founded by Sir Norton Knatchbull in 1635 and moved to another site in 1874. Red brick on a stone base. Gable. Large window with dripstone over. Above it is a recessed panel with the date 1635 on it. The interior is more or less as designed, with its original fixtures
All the items in the Churchyard form a group, together with Nos 51 to 61 (odd) 61A, 63 to 67 (odd). 67A, 69 to 71 (odd). 75 and the rear part of No 75, High Street.
Listing NGR: TR0098042760