A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Schoolmasters, six in all, were frequently recorded from the early 1580s to the mid 1630s: they mostly taught reading and writing. (fn. 1) Rose Desborough by will proved 1699 left £10, yielding 10s. a year, for schooling poor children. (fn. 2) Although the parish had no organized charity school before 1800 (fn. 3) two or three children were taught c. 1800 under her bequest, (fn. 4) which was apparently lost soon after 1833. (fn. 5) William Lunn's bequest of 1828 (fn. 6) included £2 a year for teaching two boys, chosen by the rector and parish officers, reading, writing, and arithmetic. (fn. 7) A house was used partly as a school in 1826. (fn. 8) Four day schools recorded in 1833 had 62 pupils in all, including 4 paid for with the £2 10s. charity money. The church and the Baptist chapel each then supported Sunday schools with c. 35 pupils each. (fn. 9) The Baptists had a day school by the 1850s, (fn. 10) taught by the minister's sister. (fn. 11) It still possibly had 40 pupils in 1873, (fn. 12) but apparently only their Sunday school survived in 1879. (fn. 13) In the 1860s a farmer's widow kept a small boarding school for girls at the manor house. (fn. 14)
By 1846 the church had started a day school which had 122 pupils, including 57 infants, supported by subscriptions and school pence. (fn. 15) The rector gave the site for the building put up in 1846-7 east of Brook Street. Of grey brick in Tudor style, it had a high central schoolroom flanked by a classroom to the north and a teacher's house to the south. (fn. 16) Attendance, initially 114, had fallen to 48 by 1850, when the children learnt little from the 'unsystematic and desultory' teacher except Scripture. (fn. 17) In 1860 c. 98 children were on the books, the teacher uncertificated, and the rector met deficits. (fn. 18) Attendance rose from 67 in 1865 to c. 85 by the 1870s (fn. 19) and reached 135 by 1880, then steadily fell to c. 100 in the 1890s. (fn. 20) The dissenting farmers then paid a voluntary school rate, the rector having given up daily teaching in person to conciliate them and avoid the imposition of a school board. (fn. 21)
In 1884 the rector abandoned a night school because the older boys came irregularly, (fn. 22) but another was started in 1892, under the schoolmaster, a skilled woodworker; c. 60 pupils learnt reading and writing, and practical subjects, such as carpentry, needlework, and bee-keeping. (fn. 23) It had probably ceased by 1905, when the day school was attended by 36 infants and 86 older children. (fn. 24) Numbers there declined to c. 100 in 1914 and c. 65 in the 1920s and 1930s. (fn. 25) The older children went to Swavesey from 1947, (fn. 26) the old school having been closed as unsafe in 1946; the younger ones were sent to Knapwell school (fn. 27) until 1953, when the Diocesan Education Board opened large new school buildings north-west of Broad End, with 2 a. of playing fields. The old school was sold for a house. The new aided Church school, which received Lunn's bequest, also took children from Boxworth, Knapwell, and Conington. (fn. 28) Designed for 75- 80 pupils, it had 110 by 1973 and was enlarged to hold 140 in 1976. (fn. 29)