Prisca coborn or Cobourne (1622-1701), the
widow of a Bow brewer, left property at Bow,
Stratford, and Bocking (Essex) to maintain a school
for not more than 50 poor children at Bow; the boys
were to learn reading, writing, and accounts, and the
girls reading, writing, and needlework. The master
and his wife were to receive £50 a year and the
balance was to be used for placing out the children.
She left it to the discretion of her executors either
to maintain a separate school or to add the Coborn
revenues to those of the Jolles school, which was
originally a grammar school but by 1711 was teaching only reading, writing, and arithmetic. (fn. 6) The two
schools are shown separately on Gascoigne's map of
Stepney (1703), Mrs. Coborn's free school being on
the north side of the road between Bow church and
Bow bridge. The schools appear to have been amalgamated later, but in 1809 the Coborn trustees,
anticipating an increase in the revenues of the charity,
applied to the Court of Chancery for leave to erect
a new school and school-house. The new buildings,
on a site to the west of Old Ford Road, (fn. 7) were opened
in 1813, but their cost considerably exceeded the
estimate and the trustees had to seek parliamentary
powers to sell part of the estate and to grant building
leases. (fn. 8) The resources of the foundation remained
so strained that by 1819 the biannual gifts of shoes
and stockings to the children had been discontinued,
the payment of apprenticeship grants had been suspended, and it was proposed to reduce the salary of
the master, Charles Champnes, Curate of St. Mary's,
from £100 to £80, and that of his wife from £60 to
£50. There were no boarders and no foundationers,
but about 70 boys and 30 girls were taught in association with the National Society. (fn. 9)
By 1869 numbers had risen to 250 boys and 170
girls, but it was still organized as a National school.
In 1873 a new scheme was prepared under the
Endowed Schools Act to reorganize the school in
order to give secondary education to 200 boys and
200 girls. The Bocking estate was sold and part of
the proceeds used to purchase and extend a building
in Tredegar Square known as Stepney Grammar
School. The school did not prosper in its new surroundings, and by 1884 was in financial difficulties;
two years later the girls' school was closed and the
master's salary reduced, but as the decline continued
the Charity Commission decided to strengthen the
Coborn foundation by amalgamating it in 1891 with
the Coopers' Company's schools under the name
of the Stepney and Bow Foundation. (fn. 10) The Coopers'
Boys' School took over the Tredegar Square building, and the Coopers' Girls' School at 86 Bow Road
was renamed Coborn School, moving to new buildings at 31-33 Bow Road in 1898. Miss Jessie Winifred Holland, headmistress 1903-10, married Sir
William Foster, historian of the Coopers' Company
and its schools, and was herself the authoress of a
short history of Coborn School. (fn. 11) Miss M. G.
Philpot, headmistress 1929-56, was awarded a
C.B.E. for her services to education. In 1951 the
school was granted voluntary aided status, and in
1963 there were over 540 girls on the roll. In 1963
there were plans to remove the school to a site in
||P.C.C. 3 Hern. The school archives are to be found
in Coopers' School.
||A tablet erected in 1813 to the memory of the foundress
was incorporated in a wall of Messrs. Bryant and May's
match factory: Brymay Mag. Summer 1951.
||Act for Incorporating the Trustees of Prisca Coborn's
Charity, 56 Geo. III, c. 30 (priv. act): preamble includes
summary of Chancery proceedings.
||2nd Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 547, pp. 133-6, App.
297-300 (1819), x-B.
Ret. Endowed Char. Lond. H.C. 394, pp. 606-9 (1897),
lxvi (2); see p. 293.
||Lady Winifred Foster, Notes on Hist. of Coborn Sch.
to which the present writer is indebted.