The Free School at Kirkleatham 1709-1869

The Free School opened in 1710 in a purpose-built building that is now Kirkleatham Hall Museum. Although the Free School had a fine building, an income from endowments, a salaried Master and Usher, pupils from local gentry families, school rules and a curriculum, it did not really flourish.

Sir William’s great-nephew and heir, Cholmley Turner, took little interest in it. His life was shaped by being Lord of the Manor of Kirkleatham, an MP for the County, and a gentleman farmer with sizeable estates and interests to manage. In these pursuits, he was successful, but the Free School was neglected, and in 1757 it was subsumed into the general estate. His successors took a similar position. However, in 1810 the direct Turner line ended with the death of Charles Turner, the 2nd baronet.

His widow and heir, Teresa, remarried in 1812, to Henry van Sittart, and they had a daughter, also named Teresa. This lady, known later as Lady Teresa Newcomen, after marriage to her cousin Arthur Newcomen, devoted herself to local projects, for example, the construction of Christ Church Coatham.

She also oversaw negotiations with the Charity Commissioners which produced a reconstitution of the original 1709 Free School and Foundation, agreed by 1855 in a new ‘Scheme of Management’.

As a result, in 1869 the school was allowed to relocate to Coatham Road in Redcar town centre.


Later this became the site of Redcar Central Library and now houses the ‘Heart’ Leisure Centre and Council Offices. The Coatham memorial Hall, once the school’s ‘Great Hall’ remains on the site.

Free School Gallery