Discovery leads to Chantry link with school in France

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School pupils in Morpeth have said bonjour to youngsters in France after a historical link was discovered.

In the course of researching a book that went on to be published earlier this year, Bridget Gubbins was trying to find out the specific place of origin of the de Merlay family in Normandy.

Morpeth became a place of great importance soon after the Norman invasion in 1066 when the barony was granted to William de Merlay by William the Conqueror. The former was one of the king’s followers.

Bridget and her sister visited one of the locations of interest – Le Merlerault – in summer 2014 and they met the Mayor of the village.

They exchanged contact details and after returning home, Bridget was able to verify that William de Merlay grew up in Le Merlerault.

The Mayor was keen to establish a link with young people in Morpeth and after staff at both schools were put in touch with each other, they have arranged for groups of pupils from École Ernest Millet near the village and Chantry Middle School and Technology College to become pen friends.

Bridget said: “I’m very pleased that there is a connection between the two schools because there is a fundamental historical link between Morpeth and Le Merlerault.

“I also correspond with Pascale Bolin, whose grandson attends École Ernest Millet, and she told me that he was thrilled to receive a letter in French from a Morpeth pupil and the class are writing back to their English counterparts.”

The Chantry students, who are in Year 7, enjoyed writing their initial letters.

Emily Evans said: “I am looking forward to finding out all about my pen friend Lorine and to see whether she is interested in the same things that I am.”

“We put a few gifts in with the letters and I also included a Pog in mine, which is maybe something that Loane hasn’t played before,” said Cole Thompson.

For the full story of how Bridget discovered the historical link with Le Merlerault, you can get a copy of Juliana and Ranulph of Morpeth Castle. Ranulph was the son of William de Merlay.

It is available at local bookshops and the Chantry building in Bridge Street. Alternatively, you can call the author on 01670 515790.