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 interviewed  so much depends on the information provided by heads of schools and their 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  as it is 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 any way as a failure: this would have been the last thing that Mary Dormer Harris would have wished.    
 

Charity Commision Registered Charity 528762     About Mary Dormer Harris     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 also as a member of the local League of Nations Union and In 1916 became the first lady to address the Leamington Literary Society and in 1917 she became one of the two first ladies elected as members.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.A fascinating biography  “Mary Dormer Harris - The Life and Works of a Warwickshire Historian”  by Jean Field  was published in 2002. This well illustrated book is of great interest to those wishing to learn more about Miss Harris's life and to local historians alike.  See below for further details of the book and how to purchase it.     Bursary InformationTypical 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 (See details below)  Participating Schools  Aylesford School and Language CollegeShelley AvenueWarwick CV34 6LACampion School and Community CollegeSydenham Drive Royal Leamington Spa CV31 1QHKenilworth School and Sports CollegeCastle Hill Rouncil Lane Kenilworth CV8 1FN  Kineton High SchoolBanbury Road Kineton Warwick CV35 0JXKing Edward VI SchoolChurch Street Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6HBThe King's High School for GirlsWarwick CV34 4HRThe Kingsley SchoolBeachamp Avenue Royal Leamington Spa CV32 5RDMyton SchoolMyton Road Warwick CV34 6PJNorth Leamington Community School and Arts CollegeBinswood Avenue Royal Leamington Spa CV32 5SFSoutham CollegeWelsh Road West Royal Leamington Spa CV47 0JWStratford-upon-Avon CollegeThe Willows North Alcester Road Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9QR.Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for GirlsShottery Manor Shottery Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9HRThe Trinity Catholic Technology CollegeGuy's Cliffe Avenue Royal Leamington Spa CV32 6NBThe Warwickshire CollegeWarwick New Road Royal Leamington Spa CV32 5JEWarwick SchoolMyton Road Warwick CV34 6PP     Donations     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 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities your donation  made payable to the Mary Dormer Harris Memorial Bursary  to the Honorary Secretary to the Bursary (See details below)     Mary Dormer Harris - The Life and Works of a Warwickshire Historian.  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 Secreetary to the Bursary (See details below).