A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.
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The £1 10s. a year left by Peter Hopkins, by will proved in 1643, for the education of poor children, was presumably paid to the keepers of dame schools, like the schoolmistress who died in 1701. (fn. 48) During most of the 18th century the money seems to have been used for apprenticing. (fn. 49) In 1774 the rector reported that he and the parish sent 10 or 12 children to school, (fn. 50) but there is no further evidence for a school until 1808 when 6 children attended an endowed school, presumably supported by Hopkins's charity, and 48 others paid a small sum weekly. (fn. 51) In 1815 there were only 15 boys and 15 girls at school, but in 1818 there were 60 very young children in the day schools, 6 of them supported by Hopkins's charity, which had increased from £1 10s. to £1 15s. (fn. 52)
Sunday schools provided the only education for many Bladon children. In 1802 60 children attended, and in 1815 the parish supported the boys while the rector paid for the girls. (fn. 53) By the early 1830s day school education had virtually ceased to exist and from 1831 to 1833 Hopkins's charity money was paid to the boys' Sunday school. (fn. 54) Most unusually Anglicans and Methodists co-operated in running the Sunday schools, the children separating after school to attend their own places of worship. Methodists inaugurated their own Sunday school in 1843 when they built a chapel. There was said to be no day school in the village at that date, (fn. 55) but a dame school for six children was reported in 1834. (fn. 56) and again in the early 1850s, when it was described as 'most inefficient'; it may have been in the schoolroom destroyed by fire in 1853. (fn. 57)
In 1858 the duke of Marlborough built a village school and teacher's house north-west of the church. The school was placed under the management of the duke's chaplain, probably because the then rector, G. W. St. John, took little interest in the parish. Six children were educated by Hopkins's charity, the remaining 78 paid 1d. or 2d. a week. (fn. 58) The school, later known as the Duchess of Marlborough's from the support of Frances Anne Emily Spencer Churchill, duchess of Marlborough, received a government grant from 1860. (fn. 59) The building was originally designed for 64 children, but there were 72 on the roll in 1868 and an attendance of 96 on inspection day in 1871. (fn. 60) Attendance was probably usually lower; in 1868 average attendance was only about three quarters of the younger and half the older children on the roll, (fn. 61) an unusually large number of absentees for the area. By 1888 the school could take 110 children, although average attendance was only 84. (fn. 62) The buildings were enlarged in 1889 or 1890 to accommodate 130 children, and by 1895 had room for 172 children (124 boys and girls and 48 infants) and an average attendance of 133. (fn. 63)
From the first opening of the new school the curate was allowed to use the premises for Sunday and evening schools. The evening school was recorded again in 1866 and in 1878, and the Sunday school in 1866 when a few young people who had left the day school attended it. (fn. 64)
The school belonged to the dukes of Marlborough until 1937 when it and the teacher's house were conveyed to the parochial church council. (fn. 65) Numbers had fallen to 65 by 1938, and in 1940 the school was reorganized as a junior school with 49 pupils, the seniors going by bus to Woodstock. By 1954 the parochial church council was unable to maintain the school's aided status, and it became a controlled Church of England school. (fn. 66) Attendance, which had risen to 66 in 1954, was only 42 in 1983. (fn. 67)
In 1904 a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners converted Peter Hopkins's educational charity into the Peter Hopkins Educational Foundation; under a new Scheme of 1971 the foundation was allotted 37 shares in the Charities Official Investment Fund, producing c. £1 a year. (fn. 68)
John Enders (d. 1843), by will dated 1839, gave £3 a year for the education of poor children of Bladon and New Woodstock. Payment was withheld until after a court order of 1878, but in the 1880s and 1890s the charity yielded c. £3 3s. 7d. a year for the school. The charity was registered in 1962 as providing £3 a year for education in New Woodstock and Bladon, although New Woodstock seems never to have benefited. (fn. 69)