In 1816 Lady Anne Bingham, daughter of the Second Earl Lucan married Alexander Murray of Broughton and the couple set up home at Cally. A few years later Lady Anne established a school for girls beside the Cally Lake, which became known as Lady Anne Murray’s Charity School. Girls aged between three and fourteen from Gatehouse and the surrounding neighbourhood attended the school.
From Estate archives and other records we learn that the children were also provided with shoes and other items, as accounts for the local draper James Campbell and clog maker Andrew Mclean still exist. In 1826 Maragaret Mclure was paid £18 for “conducting” the school. By 1841 the teacher was Isabella Anderson who lived at the nearby Lake Cottage, and she was followed by Janet Boyd. Following the death of Alexander Murray, owner of the Cally Estate, in 1845 Lady Anne left Gatehouse. The new owner of Cally, Horatio Murray Stewart, continued to support the charity school and in 1850 he made a path around the lake, which he planted with rhododendrons some of which survive today.
Joseph Barrett, master of the Cally School for boys married Anne Titley the teacher at the Cally girls’ school in 1859. It is likely that the two schools were amalgamated after this. Thomas Faed, the celebrated Victorian artist, was born and raised in Gatehouse of Fleet. His works were often based on local scenes and many of the features of the room in the above painting, such as the leaded window and the panelled dado, are similar to those in the old school.
In 1933 Cally House and the surrounding grounds were purchased by Forestry Commission Scotland who used the building as a store. Over the years the old school was hidden by vegetation and gradually became unsafe. The local community, however, was determined to keep this historic building and with the support of Forestry Commission Scotland funding was secured to tell the story of Cally Old School and make it safe for the future.