During his lifetime Thomas Walton had expressed a wish that a school be founded for the benefit of poor children of Dunham Massey. In his will Walton left £1000 to his executors to be used for charitable purposes in the district and Mary Countess of Stamford used the money to found Little Heath Charity School. She donated the land for the school; the conveyance from the trustees of George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington, to four school trustees was made on 14 April 1760 (see EGR8/2/1 below). Interest on the legacy amounted to £120 so that, after the cost of building the school (£207 2s) had been defrayed, a balance of £912 18s remained. This was invested in government securities to produce a yearly income for the school.
Mary Countess of Stamford or the owner of Dunham Massey for the time being was to be the sole visitor of the school, invested with powers to make, amend and annul the rules of the school, and with the sole right to appoint and dismiss the schoolmistress. Pupils were admitted and discharged by an order signed by the owner of Dunham Massey, or two or more trustees. The education provided by the school had very limited objectives. Boys were taught to read, girls to read and knit. All children were to learn the catechism by heart, as well as a morning and evening prayer.
In 1874 a voluntary fund was established to improve and increase the school's accommodation, in accordance with the requirements of the Elementary Education Act 1870, although the money raised seems to have remained on deposit until 1891. In 1935 the school was administered by the Altrincham, Bowdon, Hale and District Administrative Sub-committee for Education. Source: Charles Nickson, Bygone Altrincham (Altrincham: Mackie & Co., 1935), p. 232. The school buildings, complete with original plaque commemorating the school's foundation, still stand in 2005, although they have been converted into a village hall.
The papers below consist of a trustees' minute book and account book (EGR8/2/1), an account of expenditure in building the school (EGR8/2/2), printed rules and forms of prayers (EGR8/2/3-4), a single letter (EGR8/2/5), 3 bundles of vouchers, minutes of trustees' meetings and miscellaneous papers (EGR8/2/6-8), a bundle of papers relating to the enlargement fund (EGR8/2/9), and notes on the school's foundation (EGR8/2/10).
[Within the papers of the Booth family, EGR3, are two receipts from Mary Walton, treasurer and trustee of Little Heath School, for payments of interest from John Jackson esq by the hand of Mary Countess of Stamford, 1760 and 1762, EGR3/7/1/1/5. Among the Household Records from Dunham Massey Hall are accounts of payments to Margaret Warburton, schoolmistress at Little Heath Charity School, 1819-57 (EGR7/8), 1822 (EGR7/12/5-8), and 1839-40 (EGR7/14/6). The subfonds EGR11, Papers from Dunham Massey Hall relating to the Cheshire and Lancashire Estates, contains an envelope of accounts for expenditure on Little Heath Charity School, 1860 (EGR11/3/5/80-89). The miscellaneous papers from Dunham Massey Hall include notes by the 6th Earl of Stamford on Little Heath and Seamon's Moss schools, 1843 (EGR13/26/5).]