William Gentle was born in Cambridgeshire, England in 1824 and married Ann Bolton in 1846. Together they had two children, Rebecca and Samuel born in 1847 and 1850. William arrived in Fremantle aboard a ship named the “Clyde” in 1863. He was later joined by his family and son in-law, John Endersby, in 1864. The family first leased some land in the Quellington area and later purchased the land from the crown.
William and Samuel worked together on the farm and developed an interest in the sandalwood industry. Samuel’s grandson, Robin shares this interest of his forefathers and still plants and harvests sandalwood seeds today. Samuel married Susannah Bailey in 1874 and had ten children. Their first house was built using the “wattle and daub” method. This was done by making dried mud slabs and then white washing them. The roof was thatched with grass-tree rushes and the floor was beaten mud.
The first school house at Quellington was built by Samuel Gentle for the education of his children. It was a replica of the old homestead and was positioned beside it. It was not long before other settlers in the area asked Samuel if their children may attend the “Gentle School” as it was commonly known. This was agreed for a payment of one shilling per week to go towards the teacher’s salary. The earliest letter we can find in the archives relating to the Quellington School is dated 1884. At this stage there were 18 students attending the small thatched school room. It was at this time that the Education Department approached Mr Gentle in regards to building a bigger school for the area and Samuel donated one and a half acres of land for the new building. The building of the new school commenced in 1895 by the contractors Thorn, Bower and Stewart, using the “English Garden Wall” style of bricklaying.
Quellington School opened and closed many times due to the changing number of students in the district, illness and seasonal work. Over the life span of both the original and new Quelington School, an approximate total of 23 teachers have been employed, with most living on the property throughout their contract. The school house closed the doors for the final time on October 27, 1944 and the furniture was shifted into the York school where the remaining six children were transported by bus. The bus driver Mr E. Davey and his family rented the building until 1952 at which point Samuel s son, Mark Gentle bought the building from the Government for 175 pounds. Mark and his wife Ivy then lived at the school while their new home was being built. Since that time the school house has been used as shearers quarters and storage shed and has even housed grain at one point.
In 1993, Robin Gentle and his wife Gwen decided to renovate the old building and turn it into a Farmstay rather than see it slowly fall apart. Together with their son Bruce, they were able to do much of the work themselves while employing local handy men and contractors for the more specialized areas. Gwen has thoroughly enjoyed running the holiday accommodation and has made many friends over the years with whom she has remained in contact. It was in early 2015 that Bruce and his wife Karen decided that the physical side of maintaining the Farmstay was becoming too much for Gwen. They took over the job of completely renovating and refurbishing the property both inside and out. The new design features bring added comfort and convenience while keeping true to the school house appeal.
Bruce and Karen’s daughters are sixth generation Gentle’s who were raised on the same farming land that their ancestors cleared over 150 years ago.