Stapleford Tawney: Schools

Pages 238-239

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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A schoolhouse seems to have been built in 1725 or 1726 by direction of the parish vestry so that elementary subjects, the catechism, and Church of England doctrine should be taught to poor children. (fn. 1) In 1725 Sir Edward Smyth, lord of the capital manor (see above), lent £20 towards the cost of building, to be repaid from the rent of the Church lands. (fn. 2) In the same year, however, Mrs. Jane Luther, lady of Suttons (see above), repaid this debt. (fn. 3) It would seem, moreover, that Mrs. Luther undertook the entire cost of building for she stated in her will, dated 1745, that she had built the schoolhouse at her expense and had afterwards received a rent of 30s. a year for it. (fn. 4) She then stipulated that after her death this rent was to be used primarily to keep the schoolhouse and its premises in repair, the residue being used to purchase bibles and prayer-books for distribution amongst the poor. (fn. 5) Meanwhile in 1726 the vestry had decided to employ a schoolteacher at a salary of £5 a year (see Charities). (fn. 6) It is not clear, however, for how long the parish employed a salaried schoolteacher or who occupied the schoolhouse before Mrs. Luther's death in 1745. Soon after her death the schoolhouse was being rented by Thomas King, who also rented the Church house. In April 1748 it was reported that King owed £3 for two years' rent of the schoolhouse. (fn. 7) From 1750-1, if not before, the schoolhouse or at least the schoolroom was occupied by a master to whom the parish sent children on a per capita basis. In 1750-1 £5 18s. was paid to the schoolmaster out of rents from the Church house and lands. (fn. 8) In 1751-2 £5 13s. 10d. was paid from the same source for alterations 'in the schoolroom', it being stated that 'the shelves and partition was put up by the parish to be left when the tenant goes out'. (fn. 9) In the same year Mr. Lewthwaite was paid £2 17s. for 'schooling' and from then until 1783, if not later, 'children's schooling' was usually the main item of expenditure in the churchwarden's annual account of parish property. (fn. 10) This item varied in amount from year to year. In 1752-3 three children were sent to school at a total cost of 12s. 6d. (fn. 11) Usually, however, the annual cost was between £2 and £5. (fn. 12) It is not clear what arrangements were made for educating the poor children of Stapleford Tawney after 1783. In 1818 it was stated that there was no school of any kind in the parish. (fn. 13) In 1831 a meeting of the vestry recommended that the rector should 'allow £4 per annum to Samuel Parish schoolmaster being the rent for the house which he now lives in on condition that he continues to educate the poor children on the Sundays'. (fn. 14) In 1835 it was stated that the schoolhouse built at Mrs. Luther's expense was occupied rent-free by a schoolmaster who had been placed there by the rector and who had 30 feepaying pupils. (fn. 15) At this date the master probably still taught the poor children of the parish on Sundays in return for his rent-free house. The schoolhouse was still occupied rent-free by a master in 1848 and possibly in 1861 but probably not as late as 1863 and almost certainly not as late as 1871. (fn. 16)

By 1839 the poor children of the parish were attending a day school in Theydon Mount (q.v.). (fn. 17) In 1871 an inspector proposed that 30 Stapleford Tawney children should be accommodated at Theydon Mount and that the remaining 16 in need of elementary schooling should be found places at Stapleford Abbots. Churchmen in Stapleford Tawney, however, decided to found their own school on land given by the lord of the manor of Stapleford Tawney (q.v.). (fn. 18) A deed of 1873 appointed the rector and churchwardens as trustees of the school and declared that the religious teaching should be according to Anglican principles. (fn. 19) The new school, with accommodation for 60, was built in 1873-4, next to the church. A teacher's house was attached. The school was opened in 1874 under a certificated mistress (fn. 20) but, despite the receipt of annual grants from 1875 and an average attendance of 32 in that year, the falling population of the parish caused average attendance to fall to 15 in 1893. (fn. 21) In 1904 there were 30 pupils on the roll under two mistresses, one of them certificated, and the average attendance was 25. (fn. 22) By the Education Act of 1902 the school passed under the administration of the Essex Education Committee as a non-provided Church school. Average attendance continued to be low; in 1910 it was 19 (fn. 23) and in 1911 the possibility of closure was discussed. (fn. 24) Average attendance rose, however, to 23 in 1920 and to 32 in 1936. After the reorganization of the school for mixed juniors and infants in 1936 the average attendance again fell, reaching 15 in 1938. In 1939, in view of the low number of pupils, the school was closed. (fn. 25) The building is now used for village activities. It is a gabled building of red brick with bands of blue. The gables have pierced bargeboards.


  • 1. E.R.O., D/P 141/8/1.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 216, pp. 244-5 (1835), xxi (1).
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. E.R.O., D/P 141/8/1.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. Retns. Educ. Poor, H.C. 224, p. 271 (1819), ix (1).
  • 14. E.R.O., D/P 141/8/2.
  • 15. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 216, p. 245 (1835), xxi (1).
  • 16. White's Dir. Essex (1848), p. 438; ibid. (1863), p. 746; Coller, People's Hist. Essex, 490.
  • 17. E.R.O., D/P 30/28/19.
  • 18. Min. of Educ. File 13/367.
  • 19. Min. of Educ. File 13/347.
  • 20. Chelmsford Chronicle, 9 Jan. 1874.
  • 21. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1875 [C. 1513-1], p. 534, H.C. (1876), xxiii; Retn. of Schs. 1893 [C. 7529], p. 716, H.C. (1894), lxv.
  • 22. Essex Educ. Cttee. Handbk. 1904, p. 187.
  • 23. Min. of Educ. File 13/347.
  • 24. Essex County Chronicle, 1 Dec. 1911.
  • 25. Min. of Educ. File 13/347.