Earls Colne: Education

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.

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'Earls Colne: Education', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001), pp. 102-103. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol10/pp102-103 [accessed 23 June 2024].

. "Earls Colne: Education", in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001) 102-103. British History Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol10/pp102-103.

. "Earls Colne: Education", A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001). 102-103. British History Online. Web. 23 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol10/pp102-103.


Earls Colne Grammer school, which had been endowed c. 1519 and, after sev- eral vicissitudes, closed in 1884, was re-opened in new buildings in York Road in 1893. (fn. 1) Under a Scheme of 1909 four of the eight governors were appointed by the County Council, and 25 per cent of the pupils came from elementary schools. Financial problems in the 1920s were overcome by the sale of the school's estates under a Scheme of 1926, and by gifts totalling £2,000 from Reuben Hunt. Numbers rose steadily to 131 pupils, in accommodation for only 80, in 1926, but fell in the 1930s. The school, by then classified as deficiency aided and almost entirely funded by the County Council, was adapted to specialize in agricultural sci- ences. In 1947 it became Voluntarily Controlled. In 1958 there were 258 pupils and the school was very overcrowded. New buildings were added in 1966, and the school flourished until 1975 when, despite local opposition, it closed as a result of the introduction of comprehensive secondary education. (fn. 2)

Between 1753 and 1939 several private day or boarding schools, mainly for girls, were estab- lished in the parish. They included one run by members of the Mann family at Priory Farm, Colne green, from the 1890s until 1917. (fn. 3)

A Quaker school was recorded in 1810 and 1818. (fn. 4) A Baptist Sunday school, started before 1816, had c. 90 pupils in 1829, 134 in 1833, and 80-90 in 1841, including children from neigh- bouring parishes. (fn. 5) The British school recorded in 1860 was probably that on Colneford hill, in White Colne, which served all the Colne par- ishes from 1850 to 1874. (fn. 6)

In 1813 the parish church opened a Sunday and day school for 180, maintained by public contributions; it was a National school in 1814. The day school closed in 1817, but 50 boys and 40 girls attended the Sunday school in 1818. (fn. 7) In 1837 the vicar's wife ran a school of industry for 44 girls. In 1838 Mary Gee of Colne House founded and maintained an infants' school for 100 children on the workhouse site; by 1844 some older girls also attended. (fn. 8) Those schools were presumably the day school for 50 girls and the infants' school for 72 boys and 48 girls reported in 1841, when Mary Gee also sup- ported an evening school for 40 men and boys. (fn. 9) By deed poll of 1868 Mary Gee's executors con- veyed her school house in trust to the vicar. It may have been used as a girls' and infants' department of the National school in Park Lane until its sale in 1871. (fn. 10)

In 1843 the vicar, Robert Watkinson, built a boys' day school in Park Lane which he and his wife maintained until her death in 1870. It was settled in trust in 1871. In 1872 another school, with two classrooms for 157 girls and infants, was built nearby with the proceeds of the sale of Mary Gee's school house and donations from the National Society, the Diocesan Board of Education, and the vicar. (fn. 11) By the 1870s the schools were being used in the evenings and on Sundays as well as during the week. The boys' school was enlarged in 1875, the girls' in 1893. (fn. 12) By 1909 there was accommodation for c. 260 children, 40 from outside the parish, but the schools were overcrowded and younger boys were moved into the girls' school. The school buildings were condemned by the local authority in 1909, but the managers could not raise the money for new ones, and in 1922 agreed to lease them to the local authority as a temporary Council school. From 1933 the school was leased to Essex County Council for 5s. a year. (fn. 13) In 1930 the boys', girls', and infants' departments were amalgamated into a Mixed school with infants, which in 1938 was reorganized for juniors and infants as a County Primary. A wooden building was erected on the opposite side of Park Lane in 1938; demountable and relocatable class- rooms were added before 1974 to provide accommodation for the younger children. A new school was built on the north side of Park Lane in 1983, and the buildings on the south side of the road were sold. (fn. 14)

In 1860 another church school was established in Coggeshall Road to cater for c. 80 infants who lived too far away to attend the village school. It received an annual government grant from 1878, and was recorded as a Mixed school from 1882. Numbers fluctuated between 35 and 44 during the 1880s and declined to 27 in 1901. (fn. 15) In 1921 the school was taken over as a temporary council school. It closed in 1931 and the children were transferred to Park Lane school. (fn. 16)


  • 1. For the history of the school to 1907 see V.C.H. Essex, ii. 526-7.
  • 2. A. D. Merson, Earls Colne Grammar School, Essex: A History, 112-45.
  • 3. Earls Colne 1700-1974, 19, 49, 54-5; E.R.O., D/ACM 2/8; P.R.O., RG 9/1111; RG 12/1419.
  • 4. Digest Returns Sel. Cttee. on Educ. Poor, H.C. 224, p. 252 (1819), ix (1); Lamb. Pal. Libr., Randolph papers 9.
  • 5. T. Henson, Centennial Memorials of Earls Colne Baptist Ch. 12; E.R.O., Q/CR 3/2/36; ibid. D/ACM 12; Earls Colne 1700-1974, 53.
  • 6. Annual Rep. Brit. and Foreign Schools Soc. (1897), 24; below, White Colne, Educ.
  • 7. Earl Colne 1700-1974, 49; Digest of Returns on Educ. Poor, H.C. 224, p. 252 (1819), ix (1); E.R.O., D/ACM 12; Nat. Soc. file.
  • 8. Earls Colne 1700-1974, 49, 54; White's Dir. Essex (1848), p. 142; Mins. Educ. Cttee. of Council 1843-4, H.C. 655, pp. 75-6 (1845), xxxv.
  • 9. E.R.O., D/ACM 12.
  • 10. Nat. Soc. file.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. Returns relating to Elem. Educ. 1893 [C. 7529], p. 166, H.C. (1894), lxv.
  • 13. Earls Colne 1700-1974, 52; Nat. Soc. file; E.C.C. Educ. Cttee., Ledger of Schools opened, closed etc.
  • 14. E.C.C. Educ. Cttee., Ledger of Schools opened, closed etc.
  • 15. Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council 1878-96, esp. 1883-4 [C. 4091-I], p. 632, H.C. (1986), xxiv; 1885-6 [C. 4849-I], p. 512, H.C. (1886), xxiv; Schs. in Receipt of Parl. Grants 1900-1 [Cd. 703], p. 69, H.C. (1901), lv.
  • 16. Nat. Soc. file; E.C.C. Educ. Cttee., Ledger of Schools opened, closed etc.