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.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In 1708 Lord Orford founded and endowed a school where children were to be instructed in English and arithmetic, but if the schoolmaster taught Latin 'or any other foreign tongue' he was to be dismissed. (fn. 1) By 1712 a school had been built opposite the church. Of red brick, the long schoolroom, 12 m. by 6 m., is of nine bays divided by six pilasters, in classical style, with four round-headed windows each side of a central doorway. A two-storeyed master's house stands behind the north-west end. (fn. 2) In 1821 the Chippenham estate added space behind the school house for infants, so permitting the attendance of children from Snailwell parish. (fn. 3) The school was in good repair in 1875, but in 1910 and 1955 the infants' classroom was cramped, and in 1955 only a curtain divided the two junior classes in the main schoolroom. (fn. 4) There were places for around 33 infants and 86 seniors c. 1885-1978. (fn. 5)
Lord Orford left an annuity of £20 from the Chippenham estate to pay the schoolmaster. (fn. 6) In 1770 Thomas Harwell left £3 for the upkeep of the school, and in 1790 the teacher received a supplement of £5 5s. (fn. 7) In 1837 the master, who had to rely upon additional private means, charged parents extra for books and heating. (fn. 8) By 1875 the teacher's salary had risen to £42; voluntary subscriptions raised £10 17s., and schoolpence £12 2s. 6d. (fn. 9) In 1875 the school was not eligible for a full government grant because the teacher was not certificated, but it received such a grant from 1885. (fn. 10) Since the closure of the school in 1978, interest on the charity's investments has paid for occasional children's outings, and for gifts commemorating historical and cultural events. (fn. 11)
Lord Orford had not fixed the number of pupils, but in 1730 there were 12 children at the school, and by 1818 it taught 40 children paying fees, and 19 others supported by subscription. (fn. 12) Even then the school could not meet demand from the poor. In both 1833 and 1875 average attendance was 36-7 pupils, (fn. 13) and in both 1837 and c. 1871-77 the school roll included children from adjoining parishes. (fn. 14) After 1875 attendance rose by 20 in each decade until 1910 when there were 100 pupils, but by 1919 it had fallen to 77, and then halved during the mid 1930s. (fn. 15) In 1935 responsibility for the school was transferred to the county council, and during the Second World War there were 39 local pupils and 33 evacuees from London. (fn. 16) In 1954 the seniors from Chippenham school were transferred to Burwell council school, and again in 1967 to Burwell village college. (fn. 17) In 1955 there were two junior and one infants classes. (fn. 18) In 1978 the school was closed, and the remaining 25 pupils moved to Isleham school. (fn. 19)
In 1955 girls learnt housecraft, while the boys studied metalwork and woodwork. (fn. 20) In 1837 an evening school held in winter charged 1d. a night for children aged over 12, who made greater progress than those attending the day school. (fn. 21) About 1900 c. 28 pupils attended an evening school which offered drawing, needlework, and woodwork. (fn. 22) In the 19th century there were schoolmasters, and in the 20th school mistresses. (fn. 23)
In 1818 there were 63 children in five unendowed schools, two of which were dame schools. (fn. 24) In 1833 there were 40 children in two infants schools, one started in 1830. (fn. 25) In 1837 three dame schools taught sewing and spelling, and in 1885 there were two dame schools with 20 children. (fn. 26) In both 1871 and 1881 among pupils aged 12 or over, girls outnumbered boys two to one. (fn. 27) A Sunday school supported by voluntary contributions between 1806 and 1818 increased its numbers from 50 to 80 children, but had closed by 1820, and there was still no Sunday school in 1833. (fn. 28)