The Mary Dormer Harris Memorial Bursary was established to commemorate the life of this Warwickshire Historian and awards are given to encourage and help students intending to enter higher education.


Mary Dormer Harris was born in 1867 at Dale House, Stoneleigh and educated in Kenilworth, Twickenham, France and Germany before going to Oxford University, where she took a first class honours degree in 1888. She then taught and researched many aspects of the history of Coventry, eventually producing an edition of the fifteenth century Leet Book. She published a number of articles and books, including the popular “Unknown Warwickshire” in 1924. She was connected with the Dugdale Society and the Birmingham Archaeological Society, lectured in local history at Birmingham University and was a Vice President of the Workers Educational Association. Before the first World War she had been active in the women's suffrage movement and she continued to encourage the involvement of women in public work. She was a member of the local League of Nations Union.

A playwright herself, she was a founder of the Dramatic Study Club in 1922 and was much involved in the amateur productions of the Loft Theatre. She was well known for her parties at her home at 16 Gaveston Road, Leamington, which might start with earnest readings from Shakespeare or Shaw, but then develop into riotous charades. Her obituaries talk about “her zest for life, her sympathy with the joys and sorrows of everyone about her, here kindliness and humour and her unaffected sympathy”. Others mentioned “her wide circle of friends, young and old”, her tact and wise counsel, her love of the past “balanced by a perpetually fresh and gay enthusiasm which carried a touch of idealism”, her “gaiety and fun” and her “profound scholarship”. “Above all, she was a very good friend, and was most helpful to a number of young people who came into her circle”. Many of those “young people” still remember her kind deeds.



Registered Charity 528762

The Mary Dormer Harris Memorial Bursary was inaugurated at a public meeting, chaired by the Mayor, at Leamington Town Hall on the 1st February 1938 to commemorate Miss Mary Dormer Harris, the Warwickshire historian, who died in a road accident in March 1936, aged 68. At the meeting reference was made to her interests in helping and encouraging young students, in the study of history, in local drama and musical activities and in the warm hearted and generous help she gave to other less fortunate than herself.

An executive committee was elected whose members later became the Trustees. Donations ranging from 5 shillings (25p) to £50 flooded in, totalling over £500. Invitations were sent to Heads of Secondary Schools and Colleges in Warwick, Leamington and Stratford areas to nominate a student for the first bursary of £10, which was awarded in July 1939.

Further additions have since been made to the Trust's funds to enable the amount to be substantially increased and awards continue to be made annually. There is no examination and candidates are not interview, so much depends on the information provided by heads of schools and Colleagues about the achievement, personality, interests and home circumstances of those who wish to be nominated.

The Trustees do not necessarily confine awards exclusively to students who share Miss Harris's interests, although applicants should have embarked on their final year as 'A Level' students and be intending to go on to higher education. In choosing the recipients regard is not only given to academic attainment but also to their circumstances, character and promise in its widest sense being designed to help any promising student to whom such a grant would give encouragement and support.

The calibre and merits of candidates are always very high and the choice is often difficult. Therefore the no-award of a bursary should not be regarded in anyway as a failure: this would have been the last thing that Mary Dormer Harris would have wished.



Typical Awards: Grants of £750

An application is invited each year from one promising Sixth Form Student from each of the education establishments listed below. It would be hoped that the award of a Bursary would give encouragement and support to the student(s) in undertaking their studies. Information regarding applications/criteria is sent to the establishment during the Autumn Term. As Mary Dormer Harris who was keen to encourage and support young people had a special interests in drama, debating international affairs and law, awards are generally made with reference to these considerations. Application does not entail any examination or interview. Assessments are made based on the completion of an application form in the candidate's own handwriting. The application form which is available from the applicant's school or college and must be endorsed by the Head Teacher, Head of Sixth Form or other member of schools' staff.  All information is treated as confidential. New applications to be received by mid February each year by the Honorary Secretary to the Bursary.


Aylesford School and Language College
Shelley Avenue
Warwick CV34 6L

Campion School and Community College
Sydenham Drive
Royal Leamington Spa CV31 1QH

Kenilworth School and Sports College
Castle Hill Rouncil Lane
Kenilworth CV8 1FN

Kineton High School
Banbury Road
Warwick CV35 0JX

King Edward VI School
Church Street
Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6HB

The King's High School for Girls
Banbury Road
Warwick CV34 6YE

The Kingsley School
Beachamp Avenue
Royal Leamington Spa CV32 5RD

Myton School
Myton Road
Warwick CV34 6PJ

North Leamington Community School and Arts College
Binswood Avenue
Royal Leamington Spa CV32 5SF

Southam College
Welsh Road West
Warwickshire CV47 0JW

Stratford-upon-Avon College
The Willows
North Alcester Road
Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9QR

Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls
Shottery Manor
Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9HR

The Trinity Catholic Technology College
Guy's Cliffe Avenue
Royal Leamington Spa CV32 6NB

The Warwickshire College
Warwick New Road
Royal Leamington Spa CV32 5JE

Warwick School
Myton Road
Warwick CV34 6PP


Like most charitable organisations the Mary Dormer Harris Memorial Bursary is dependent on a regular income to meet its objective of providing financial help to deserving students. However  as the majority of the income comes from the interest on the Bursary's investments the current difficult financial situation has had an extremely detrimental impact. Although the bursary is always grateful for donations in the present economic climate such generosity is even more welcome. If you would therefore like to help the bursary continue its work in supporting deserving students we would be please to receive any financial donation you are able to make. Please make your donation  made payable to :-

The Mary Dormer Harris Memorial Bursary and forward to the Honorary Secretary to the Bursary.



If you are interested in the life of Mary Dormer Harris  you may wish to read her biography written by the late Leamington Spa author Jean Field. Not only does the book give an overview of the life and work of this extraordinary lady but also gives a real insight to the times which she lived and is therefore of great historical value. Copies of Jean Field's book which are available in both paper and hard back are available from the Honorary Secretary to the Mary Dormer Harris Memorial Bursary. Although the publication normally costs £19.95 for the hardback version and £9.95 for the paperback plus postage a packing we are able to offer the book at £12 for the hardback and £9.50 for the paperback with postage and packing included (UK addresses only).

If you would like a copy please forward forward detail of your name  address  whether a paper or hard back version is required  plus your cheque for the appropriate amount  made payable to the Mary Dormer Harris Memorial Bursary  to the Honorary Secretary to the Bursary.