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Our Unique Georgian Heritage Centre

The Donnison School is a thriving community hub that offers many opportunities for community engagement.

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Elizabeth Donnison in her will dated 1777 left the princely sum of £1,500 to establish a local school for girls. The school was built to educate 36 poor girls from the Sunderland Parish in 1798.


The girls were taught reading, writing, arithmetic and domestic skills which would help them secure employment in service and hopefully find a husband!


The headmistress's house was added in 1827 by a substantial bequest from Elizabeth Woodcock.  It ceased to be a school after 1900 and became private accommodation for the caretakers of Holy Trinity Church nearby.


Finally, unoccupied and derelict, it was bought in 2001 for £2,400 by Living History North East through voluntary contributions from a handful of committed individuals.


It took 6 years to secure funding before the extensive restoration work on this listed building could commence.  Work finally started in October 2006 and was completed in  August 2007. The site was  officially opened in December that year.

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