Theydon Bois: Schools

Pages 257-258

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

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Despite a rapidly increasing population there was little educational provision in Theydon Bois in the early 19th century, possibly because of the absence of a resident clergyman or landlord and the poverty of the inhabitants. (fn. 1) In 1807 and 1818 there was no school in the parish. (fn. 2) In 1822 a small school was set up in union with the National Society, but in 1828 it had only 8 pupils and in 1833 only 12, all of whom paid fees. (fn. 3) This was probably the school which in 1839 had 14 pupils and was administered in connexion with a Sunday school. Conditions were by then more favourable to the establishment of a proper school. Both the Sunday school and a dame school in the village were well attended, an adult school existed and it was thought that there would be local support for a new school. (fn. 4) In 1840 the curate organized the building of a schoolroom for 60 children on a freehold site given by the patron of the curacy, Mrs. Dare. The National Society gave £30 towards the building, the government £32, and Mrs. Dare apparently £100. The total cost was £300 and the deficit was met by other local subscribers. The school was affiliated to the National Society. The trustees were to be the curate and churchwardens. They and 12 parish representatives were to act as managers. It was proposed that the school should be financed partly by annual subscriptions and partly by fees of 2d. a week for each child. (fn. 5)

The school seems to have made progress from the start. In 1846-7 it had 40 children under a mistress and 2 monitors who between them were paid £35 a year. (fn. 6) In 1851-2 an inspector found the schoolroom attractive and the children neatly dressed. The mistress, he reported, was untrained, but seemed 'well adapted by character for such a school, where no great amount of intellect is required and where the attainments are necessarily confined'. 'Arithmetic', he added, 'moderate. Geography etc., mere names.' (fn. 7) Attendance probably increased at this time and in 1860 the building was enlarged at considerable cost, the government granting £100 and local subscribers making large donations. (fn. 8) In 1871 there was estimated to be accommodation for 112 children, not quite sufficient to ensure universal elementary education in the parish. (fn. 9) The population continued to grow and in 1894 the school was enlarged to provide places for 127. (fn. 10) In 1898 the average attendance was given as 87. (fn. 11) In 1900 it was 109, and in 1903 the school was again enlarged to provide 188 places. (fn. 12) Local subscribers contributed generously to the school: in 1900 66 were giving 2s. 6d. a year or more. (fn. 13) The government grant was £45 in 1893 and £117 in 1902. (fn. 14)

By the Education Act of 1902 the school passed under the administration of the Essex Education Committee, Epping District, as a non-provided school. In 1906 the average attendance was 150. (fn. 15) In 1912 the school was transferred to the Essex Education Committee and became a provided council school. In 1929 the average attendance was 144. In 1932 the school was reorganized for mixed juniors and infants. In 1948, owing to increased attendance, temporary accommodation was hired at the local telephone exchange. (fn. 16) In May 1952 there were 6 teachers and 206 children. (fn. 17) The original school is a one-story building of brown brick with a slate roof, bearing the inscription 'Theydon Bois School 1840'. It stands beside the parish church. There are later additions, including a large classroom dated 1903.


  • 1. E.R.O., D/P 30/28/19; inf. from Nat. Soc.
  • 2. E.R.O., D/AEM 2/4; Retns. Educ. Poor, H.C. 224, p. 273 (1819), ix (1).
  • 3. Nat. Soc. Rep. 1828, p. 83; Educ. Enquiry Abstr. H.C. 62, p. 291 (1835), xli.
  • 4. E.R.O., D/P 30/28/19; inf. from Nat. Soc.
  • 5. Nat. Soc. Enquiry into Ch. Schs.1846-7, pp. 18-19; Min. of Educ. File 13/365; Mins. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1857 [2380], p. 96, H.C. (1857-8), xlv; inf. from Nat. Soc.
  • 6. Nat. Soc. Enquiry into Ch. Schs. 1846-7,pp. 18-19.
  • 7. Mins. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1851 [1480], p. 286, H.C. (1852), xli.
  • 8. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1863 [3349], p. 439, H.C. (1864), xlv.
  • 9. Min. of Educ. File 13/365.
  • 10. Schs. under Bd. of Educ. 1902 [Cd. 1490], p. 74, H.C. (1903), li.
  • 11. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1898).
  • 12. Min. of Educ. File 13/365; Educ. Cttee. Handbk. 1904, p. 151.
  • 13. Min. of Educ. File 13/365.
  • 14. Retns. of Schs. 1893 [C. 7529], p. 716, H.C. (1894), lxv; Schs. under Bd. of Educ. 1902.
  • 15. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1906).
  • 16. Min. of Educ. File 13/365.
  • 17. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.