Victoria County History



T P Hudson (Editor), A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland

Year published


Supporting documents




Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Steyning: Education', A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1: Bramber Rape (Southern Part) (1980), pp. 245-246. URL: Date accessed: 28 November 2014.


(Min 3 characters)


The history of Steyning grammar school from 1614 to 1907 has been recounted elsewhere. (fn. 3) The school seems to have existed before 1614. Five schoolmasters were mentioned in the parish between 1579 and 1607, (fn. 4) and the first master of the grammar school after its endowment in 1614 had been licensed to teach in Steyning in 1609. (fn. 5) Part of the endowment of the grammar school, including its building, had belonged to the brotherhood of the Holy Trinity before 1548, (fn. 6) and the school may be a continuation of one run by that body. From 1912 the school was assisted by the county council, (fn. 7) and after 1944 it became a voluntary controlled school. Large additions were made in 1912, including a science laboratory, an art room, a workshop, a library, and a music room. (fn. 8) The number of pupils rose from fewer than 50 in 1914 to 133 in 1921 (fn. 9) and 365 (including 93 boarders) in 1958. At the latter date there was no girls' grammar school nearer than Worthing or Horsham. (fn. 10)

The original school building in Church Street consists of two identical three-bay timber-framed ranges probably dating from the 15th century. Each range has a continuous jetty and a large first-floor room with crown-post roof. The central brick porch is dated 1614, but was altered in the 19th century. The building is cased with brick below and hung tiles above, the original upper-floor windows having been removed and dormer windows added. (fn. 11)

Other schools existing in the town before 1800 were a short-lived boarding school in the 1660s kept by a dissenter and patronized by the Fagg family of Wiston, (fn. 12) and a school for young children in 1775 run by a Mr. Baker. (fn. 13) A dame school for poor children existed in the 1780s and in 1820, the mistress receiving 2s. a week from the overseers. (fn. 14)

Steyning National school was established in 1812. (fn. 15) In 1818, when it had 74 pupils, (fn. 16) it may have occupied the schoolroom mentioned as being in High Street opposite the White Horse inn. (fn. 17) It was then supported by subscriptions, (fn. 18) but by 1833 fees of 1d. a week were also payable. (fn. 19) A new school in Church Street was built with a building grant in 1841. (fn. 20) The building, with a cement-rendered Gothic faôade, survived in 1976. In 1846-7 116 children attended on weekdays; there were separate schoolrooms for boys and girls, and besides a paid master and mistress there were several unpaid teachers. (fn. 21) In 1856 the school was receiving an annual grant. (fn. 22) A new school and a teacher's house were built c. 1858 on a new site east of Church Street. (fn. 23) Average attendance in 1893 was 177. (fn. 24) Steyning Infant (National Society) school was established in 1846 in a building belonging to the vicar at the south-eastern end of High Street. (fn. 25) In 1855 it was supported by subscriptions and fees of 1d. a week; average attendance was 45. (fn. 26) The schoolroom was enlarged in 1872, but average attendance had dropped to 12 by 1874. A new building was built in 1883 next to the National school; there were 92 children on the roll in 1887, when the school was receiving an annual grant. (fn. 27) In 1914 average attendance was 50. (fn. 28) In 1919 the two schools were amalgamated as Steyning C. of E. School. (fn. 29) Average attendance in 1932 was 211. (fn. 30) A new building on the northern outskirts of the town was opened in 1963, (fn. 31) the old buildings being absorbed by the grammar school and afterwards demolished. There were c. 430 children on the roll in 1976. (fn. 32)

Numerous other schools were recorded in the town during the 19th century. In 1818, besides the National school, there were a day-school attended by 28 boys and girls, and 7 dame schools accommodating 116 children under seven. (fn. 33) In 1833 there were 6 day-schools besides the National school, attended by 153 children in all, and one boys' boarding school with 23 pupils. (fn. 34) A dissenting school was attended by c. 15 to 20 children in 1850. (fn. 35) There were four elementary schools besides the National school in 1871, with at least 88 pupils. (fn. 36) Other private schools existed in the town in the 19th and 20th centuries; (fn. 37) most were short-lived, presumably because of the prestige of the grammar school. (fn. 38)

There was a short-lived evening-school attended by c. 40 boys in the 1870s. (fn. 39) Steyning County Secondary Modern School on the northern outskirts of the town was opened in 1953 to accommodate nearly 400 pupils and to be a cultural centre for the town. (fn. 40) In 1958 there were c. 450 children at the school. (fn. 41) In 1968 it was amalgamated with the grammar school as a co-educational comprehensive school called Steyning grammar school. (fn. 42) In 1976 there were 1,830 pupils, (fn. 43) the old grammar school buildings accommodating the lower forms. Under a scheme of 1958 the old endowments of the grammar school, which in 1966 produced c. £130 a year, were to be used to provide educational benefits supplementary to those provided by the education authority, and grants for further education or training. (fn. 44)


3 V.C.H. Suss. ii. 424-5. Min. bks. of the sch. governors from 1819 survive at the sch.
4 W.S.R.O., MP 150, f. 162v.; ibid. Ep. I/17/9, f. 193; Ep. I/17/11, f. 14v.; Ep. I/17/12, f. 109; Ep. I/22/1 (1584); Ep. I/23/5, f. 48; Ep. I/23/7, f. 17.
5 Ibid. MP 150, f. 162v.
6 Ibid. TD/W 118; Chantry Rec. (S.R.S. xxxvi), 79-81; S.A.C. xvi. 240-1.
7 J. Sleight and G. Cockman, Steyning Grammar Sch. [1974], f. [25].
8 Butler, Steyning, 106; undated sch. prospectus at Chich. Ref. Libr.; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1922).
9 Sleight and Cockman, Steyning Grammar Sch. f. [25].
10 W.S.R.O., MP 172, f. 9.
11 Lacey & Lacey, Timber-framed Bldgs. p. 81; cf. S.A.C. v. 126.
12 Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 137.
13 S.A.C. lii. 72.
14 W.S.R.O., Par. 183/31/2, ff. 134, 148; Duke & Cox, Steyning, 76.
15 2nd Ann. Rep. of Nat. Soc. (1814), 111.
16 Educ. of Poor Digest, 970.
17 Wiston Archives, p. 185.
18 Educ. of Poor Digest, 970.
19 Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 982.
20 Mins. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1849-50 [1215], p. ccxliv, H.C. (1850), xliii.
21 Church School Inquiry, 1846-7, 14-15.
22 Ed. 7/123.
23 C 54/15195 no. 13; W.S.R.O., E 183A/6/1.
24 Return of Schs. 1893 [C. 7529], p. 604, H.C. (1894), lxv.
25 Ed. 7/123; O.S. Map 6", Suss. LI (1879 edn.).
26 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/47/4.
27 Ed. 7/123.
28 Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1914 (H.M.S.O.), 525.
29 Ed. 7/123.
30 Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1932 (H.M.S.O.), 388.
31 Plaque on bldg.
32 Ex inf. the headmaster.
33 Educ. of Poor Digest, 970.
34 Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 982.
35 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/2 (1850).
36 Returns relating to Elem. Educ. H.C. 201, pp. 396-7 (1871), lv.
37 Pigot, Nat. Com. Dir. (1832-4), 1052; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1855 and later edns.).
38 e.g. Schs. Inquiry Com. [3966-X], vol. xi, p. 266, H.C. (1867-8), xxviii (9).
39 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/1 (1878, 1881).
40 S.C.M. xxvii. 479-82.
41 W.S.R.O., MP 172, f. 9.
42 W. Suss. Gaz. 29 May 1975.
43 Ex inf. the sch.
44 Char. Com. files.