BHO

Great Wilbraham: Education

Page 318

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.

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Citation:

EDUCATION.

Schoolmasters were reported in 1610 and 1665. (fn. 1) In 1686 a dissenter was keeping a school. (fn. 2) In 1818 two day schools taught 44 children, (fn. 3) and there were three dame schools with c. 70 pupils in 1833. The Baptists' new Sunday school for 49 children then rivalled the one with 77 children started by the vicar in 1829. (fn. 4) By 1845, besides the church Sunday school with c. 75 pupils, there was a National day school taking 40 children, opened in 1840. Its master and mistress taught in two school rooms, sharing a teacher's house, (fn. 5) perhaps the Old School, a timber-framed cottage of 1640 on High Street. (fn. 6) In 1851, when half of c. 100 children receiving schooling attended regularly, there were two schoolmasters. (fn. 7)

About 1870 the National school was kept in a large room attached to a farmhouse, provided by the squire Edward Hicks, who managed it with the vicar. Average attendance under the uncertificated mistress was only 40 out of c. 100 potential pupils. Hicks had promised the site for a new school, built soon after, just south of the church; the building was bought from the Hicks estate in 1964. (fn. 8) The vicar taught there in the 1880s and 1890s. (fn. 9) At his death in 1889 Hicks left the interest on £200 to the National school, as long as it remained a church school, teaching from the Bible and Prayer Book. (fn. 10) That sum was still received in the 1970s. (fn. 11)

The new school, designed to hold 120 children and enlarged in 1900 to add an infants' class of 40, (fn. 12) was usually kept by a mistress in the late 19th century, but mostly by a master after 1905. (fn. 13) Attendance ranged from c. 65 in the 1870s and 1880s (fn. 14) to over 80 in the earlier part of the 20th century. (fn. 15) Although numbers fell by a quarter after the older children were sent to Bottisham village college from 1937, (fn. 16) they had recovered to c. 75 by the 1970s. A proposal to close the school in the early 1980s was beaten off, and the Victorian building still housed the church primary school in 1989. (fn. 17)

Footnotes

  • 1. Proc. C.A.S. lxx. 186-7.
  • 2. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/70, f. 40v.
  • 3. Educ. of Poor Digest, 67.
  • 4. Educ. Enq. Abstract, 62; cf. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/21.
  • 5. Nat. Soc., Inquiry, 1846-7, Cambs. 8-9; Camb. Chron. 12 Dec. 1840, p. 2.
  • 6. D.o.E. list; cf. C.R.O., 515/SP 247.
  • 7. Gardner's Dir. Cambs. (1851); Camb. Chron. 2 Aug. 1851, p. 4; P.R.O., HO 107/1759, ff. 546, 552; cf. ibid. RG 9/1021, ff. 8v.-9.
  • 8. P.R.O., ED 7/5, no. 55; ibid. RG 11/1581, ff. 110-20; C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/24; Gt. Wilbraham Parish Guide (1965), 4; cf. Black, Cambs. Educ. Rec. 74.
  • 9. e.g. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/31; C 3/39.
  • 10. E.D.R. (1889), 265; Char. Com. file 311335.
  • 11. C.R.O., P 174/AM 2, s.a. 1970.
  • 12. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1875-6 [C. 153-I], p. 532, H.C. (1876), xxxii; Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1910 (H.M.S.O.), 24; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1908).
  • 13. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1885-1922); C.R.O., P 174/25/6, passim; Camb. Evening News, 27 Mar. 1975; 25 Mar. 1985. For school life in early 20th cent., G. W. Beeton, 'My School Boy Days, 1907-13' (typescript in Cambs. Colln.).
  • 14. e.g. also Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1885-6 [C. 4849-I], p. 487, H.C (1886), xxiv.
  • 15. e.g. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1910, 24; 1919, 15; 1932, 17.
  • 16. Black, Cambs. Educ. Rec. 79; Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1938, 19; C.R.O., P 174/AM 1, p. 329.
  • 17. Parish Guide (1965), 6; Newmarket Jnl. 28 Jan. 1977; Camb. Evening News, 20 Nov., 21 Dec. 1981; 18, 29 Jan., 11 Feb. 1982; 16 Dec. 1988.