Dedham: 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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'Dedham: Education', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001), pp. 183-185. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

. "Dedham: Education", in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001) 183-185. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

. "Dedham: Education", A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001). 183-185. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

In this section


Queen Elizabeth's Free grammar school, (fn. 1) incorporated in 1575, apparently derived from a school kept in a house given by Joan Clark (d. 1541). By 1548 the churchwardens had built a grammar school with some of the money raised by selling church plate. The school was endowed by William Littlebury, by will dated 1571, and continued, apart from a brief closure from 1664 to 1668, until 1889. (fn. 2) An apparently earlier timber-framed schoolhouse with three floors of accommodation at the east end of the grammar school site was demolished before 1923 (fig. 28, no. 35). The school was extended in brick to the west c. 1732. It was converted to private housing after the school closed, and classrooms built on part of Frog meadow c. 1868 (fig. 28, no. 32) were demolished after 1923. (fn. 3)

The associated English school at Shermans (fig. 28, no. 16) was founded under the will of Edmund Sherman (d. 1601), rebuilt in the 1730s, and closed c. 1873. The house was converted to a private house, and bequeathed to the National Trust by Marshall Sisson in 1978. (fn. 4)

The schools kept in a chamber in the 1620s and in a house in 1650 were probably the English school, (fn. 5) but the unlicensed private school complained of in 1664 (fn. 6) may have been only one of many short-lived schools in the parish. In 1708 there were several dame schools. (fn. 7) In 1810 a French priest taught French in the parish. (fn. 8)

In 1698 the vicar and lecturer William Burkitt settled 5½ a. of land in Stoke-by-Nayland (Suff.) to pay school dames to teach poor children to read the scriptures; the endowment was applied to an 'ABC' school in the late 18th century. (fn. 9) In 1810 there were three endowed boys' schools, presumably the grammar school, the English school, and the former 'ABC' school; a day school for 50 girls was supported by voluntary contributions, and 40 children attended evening schools. (fn. 10)

There was a National school by 1813, and in 1818 it taught 20 boys and 70 girls. (fn. 11) Edward Betts built a new schoolhouse south-west of the church in 1825. (fn. 12) Fifty-one boys and 34 girls attended the school in 1833, 69 boys and 60 girls in 1841. (fn. 13) In 1859 the boys were transferred, apparently to the English school, and their classroom converted for infants. (fn. 14) Seventeen children from the former British School were admitted in 1873 and a new classroom was built for the infants. (fn. 15) Accommodation for 60 boys was built in 1875, and new classrooms in 1891 and 1904-5, presumably the surviving very plain red-brick building with low pitched slate roofs (fig. 28, no. 4). (fn. 16) In 1937 the formerly Mixed school was reorganized for juniors and infants; it was awarded Controlled status in 1954 as Dedham Church of England (Controlled) Primary school. (fn. 17) In 1973 it moved to new buildings at Parsons Field. (fn. 18)

In 1851 there was a Congregational Sunday school with 45 children; by 1866 it was a British school. Although a room was built for it in the new Congregational chapel in 1872, the school closed in 1873. (fn. 19)

A Charity Commissioners' Scheme of 1873 required the grammar school trustees to build a new boys' school to replace the English school. The school opened in 1873 with 67 boys, and from 1874 received annual government grants. (fn. 20) In 1882 the trustees built the red-brick Boys' Elementary school south of the town in Crown Street. The accommodation was reduced from 76 to 61 places in 1910, and the building was improved in 1915. (fn. 21) There were only 34 on the roll when the school closed in 1937; the senior boys were transferred to Manningtree and the juniors to Dedham Mixed school. The building was later converted to a private house. (fn. 22)

For several years from c. 1842 the lecturer, George Taylor, supported a dame school for up to 60 children in a converted malting on Dedham Heath. (fn. 23) By deed of 1857 he gave nearby land at the junction of Long Road and Castle Hill for a schoolroom, which was also licensed for church services. Dedham Heath National Infants school, for 67 children, opened in 1858. Construction of the Gothic style building, in red-brick with blue diaper dressings, was funded by subscription and a government building grant. Yearly government grants were received from 1878. (fn. 24) In 1880 the average attendance was 44 which declined steadily to 16 in 1911. (fn. 25) There were 17 pupils when the school closed in 1951. It was later converted to a private house. (fn. 26)

A young ladies' boarding school changed hands in 1750, and that or a similar school was apparently still functioning in 1765. Another school, for the daughters of farmers and tradesmen, opened in 1769. (fn. 27) A private boarding school for 11 girls opened in 1824 and continued in 1833 when there was also a private day school for 15 boys and girls. (fn. 28) Ladies' boarding schools were recorded from 1863 to 1878. Girls' schools recorded at Ivy Cottage from 1881 to 1898, and at Ivy Lodge in 1866 and 1894, were perhaps a single school held at Ivy House (fig. 28, no. 17). It may have transferred next door to Shermans, where there was a private school for girls by 1897; that school continued in Gould House after 1914 and was recorded in 1937. (fn. 29) From 1890 to 1893 the philologist Richard Morris ran a private school in the grammar school buildings. (fn. 30) Little Garth school, founded in 1940 and later occupying the Hewitt Memorial Hall, moved to Great Horkesley in 1994. (fn. 31)


In 1818 the income from Burkitt's charity, £6 a year, was applied to the cost of the National school. (fn. 32) In 1869 the school's land in Stoke-by-Nayland was sold and part of the proceeds used to buy a small plot of land and two cottages next to the school. One of the cottages, presumably the late 17th-century building now known as Old School House on School Lane, was used as a teacher's house. (fn. 33) The remaining money, which had been invested, was used in 1913 to improve the school building. (fn. 34)

Dedham Educational Foundation was established by a Scheme of 1917 to administer the assets and lands of the Free Grammar School Foundation, including the former town stock. (fn. 35) Of the accumulated income, £1,250 was allotted to the Boys' Elementary school in compensation for a yearly grant of £50 witheld since 1889; the money was used for improvements to the school. Thereafter the Foundation was to maintain the boys' school, and the residue of the income was to provide secondary, technical, and university exhibitions for children from the five parishes which had benefitted from the original grammar school charity: Dedham, Ardleigh, Great Bromley, Bradfield, and Stratford St. Mary. (fn. 36) After the closure of the Boys' Elementary school in 1937 the funds were used to provide bursaries for secondary pupils to study for degrees or technical qualifications and, in some cases, to help with the ancillary expenses of education. In 1995 the yearly income of the charity was c. £8,000; grants of c. £350 each were awarded. (fn. 37)

The Dedham Primary School Charity was established by will, dated 1907, of Mary Ann Eyre who left £1,000 to be spent on clothing for poor children in the village school. (fn. 38)


  • 1. The history of the grammar school, and of the associated English school, was written in V.C.H. Essex, ii. 538-41.
  • 2. Ibid.; E.A.T. n.s. xiii. 167; Cal. Pat. 1572-5, 559; E.R.O., D/P 26/25/19; ibid. D/ACR 4, f. 160v.
  • 3. V.C.H. Essex, ii. 539-41; Rendall, Dedham Described, 31, 34-5; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Essex XIX. 13 (1923 edn.); above, this par., Domestic Archit., Buildings of the town centre; Dept. of Env., Buildings List.
  • 4. V.C.H. Essex, ii. 539-41; F. G. Emmison, Wills of Gentry and Merchants, 307-8; Rendall, Dedham Described, 54-5; inf. from Mr. and Mrs. M. Archer; E.C.S. 21 Apr. 1978; above, this par., Domestic Archit., Buildings of the town centre.
  • 5. E.R.O., D/P 26/5/1; D/P 26/25/7; ibid. D/DR M43.
  • 6. Guildhall MS. 9583/2, pt. iv, no. 65.
  • 7. S.P.C.K. Letter Bks., vol. 1, no. 1535.
  • 8. Lamb. Pal. Libr., Randolph papers 10.
  • 9. E.R.O., D/P 26/25/7; D/P 26/25/65; ibid. Q/RSr 1, pp. 374-5.
  • 10. Lamb. Pal. Libr., Randolph papers 10.
  • 11. E.R.O., D/P 26/25/67; Educ. of Poor Digest, 253.
  • 12. Nat. Soc. file; P.R.O., ED 49/2063; E.R.O., D/CT 113.
  • 13. Educ. Enq. Abstract, 273; E.R.O., D/ACM 12.
  • 14. Nat. Soc. file.
  • 15. E.R.O., Acc. C458 (uncat.).
  • 16. Nat. Soc. file; Dedham Par. Mag. Jan. 1876; Aug., Nov. 1892; Jan., Apr. 1905; Jones, Hist. Dedham, 149.
  • 17. E.R.O., C/ME 33, p. 503; C/ME 48, p. 291.
  • 18. Ibid. C/ME 64-5; Colch. Expr. 1 Mar. 1973.
  • 19. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1866); P.R.O., HO 129/8/205; ibid. ED 2/162; E.R.O., Acc. C458 (uncat).
  • 20. Jones, Hist. Dedham, 121; Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council 1873-4 [C 1019-I], p. 323, H.C. (1874), xviii; Schools in Receipt of Parl. Grants, 1900-1 [Cd. 703], p. 69, H.C. (1901), lv; E.R.O., E/ML 8/1.
  • 21. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1886); Rendall, Dedham Described, 16; P.R.O., ED 21/5090.
  • 22. E.R.O., C/ME 33, p. 503; ibid. E/ML 8/1.
  • 23. Maltings Farm: Jones, Hist. Dedham, 161; Nat. Soc. Inquiry 1846-7, Essex, pp. 6-7; E.R.O., D/CT 113.
  • 24. Jones, Hist. Dedham, 162; Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council 1877-8 [C 2048-I], p. 706, H.C. (1878), xxviii; A. F. J. Brown, Meagre Harvest, 33.
  • 25. Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council 1879-80 [C 2562-1], p. 590, H.C. (1880), xxii; E.R.O., E/Z 2.
  • 26. E.R.O., Acc. C458 (uncat.); ibid. C/ME 46, p. 130.
  • 27. E.J. xxxiii. 59; xxxiv. 8, 10; Ipswich Jnl. 28 Jan. 1769.
  • 28. Educ. Enq. Abstract, 273.
  • 29. E.C.S. 10 Jan. 1866; 13 Jan. 1871; 8 Jan. 1881; 3 Jan. 1891; 2 Jan. 1897; White's Dir. Essex (1863), 134; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1866 and later edns.); Rendall, Dedham Described, 55.
  • 30. D.N.B.; E.R. iii. 162.
  • 31. Dedham Par. Mag. Aug. 1983; inf. from V. Webber; below, Gt. Horkesley, Manors.
  • 32. Jones, Hist. Dedham, 81; Educ. of Poor Digest, 253.
  • 33. P.R.O., ED 21/5092; ED 49/2063; E.R.O., Acc. C458 (uncat.); Dept. of Env., Buildings List.
  • 34. P.R.O., ED 21/5092.
  • 35. Below, this par., Char.
  • 36. P.R.O., ED 35/761.
  • 37. Inf. from trustee.
  • 38. Jones, Hist. Dedham, 150.