Theydon Mount: Schools

Pages 282-283

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



In 1818 there was no school in the parish, although the poor were said to desire schooling for their children. (fn. 1) In 1826 Mrs. Letitia (later Lady) Bowyer Smijth set up a girls' school in some cottages, paying the fees of needy children and taking an active interest in the work. It is possible that these cottages were situated at the brickfield near Hill Hall. In 1836 Sir John Smijth established a boys' school, which the Smijth family largely maintained in the years following. In 1839 the rector, besides making financial contributions, carried out most of the detailed administration at both schools. There were 33 boys and 42 girls in attendance, the fee evidently being 1d. per week. The textbooks of the National Society were used but neither school was a National School. (fn. 2)

About 1846 a new mixed school was built, apparently on the site of the boys' school of 1836. Members of the Smijth family seem to have paid most, if not all of the cost, and to have remained for many years the owners and chief source of income; in 1846-7 Sir E. Bowyer-Smijth was stated to be the only contributor. Children attended the school from Stapleford Tawney as well as from Theydon Mount. After a successful start the school seems to have declined. In 1846-7 there were about 70 pupils under a master and a mistress who were paid £40 and £14 a year respectively. (fn. 3) By 1871 there were only some 36 pupils and the building was in poor condition, despite continued support from the Smijths. The government declared that it could not be considered an efficient school for the 31 children from Theydon Mount and the 30 from Stapleford Tawney needing elementary schooling unless it was thoroughly repaired. (fn. 4) Theydon Mount parishioners were now prepared to accept responsibility for the school and in February 1873 the Smijth family transferred ownership to the rector and churchwardens as trustees. The building was repaired so as to accommodate up to 50 pupils, the building of a new school at Stapleford Tawney making greater accommodation unnecessary. (fn. 5)

In 1880 the school seems to have been reorganized and officially reopened as Theydon Mount Church of England school. In 1881 the first government grant was received, one of £12, and this amount rose slowly to an average of about £44 in 1890-1900. Other income came from 'school pence' and from a voluntary rate which in 1880 yielded some £33. The master was paid £36 in 1877 and £52 in 1886. In 1887 he was replaced by a mistress who also received £52. (fn. 6) The population of the village was declining and average attendance at the school was only 27 in 1893 and 23 in 1899. (fn. 7) Under the Education Act of 1902 the school passed under the administration of the Essex Education Committee, Ongar District, as a nonprovided, mixed elementary school. Its average attendance was 37 in 1900, 45 in 1910, 36 in 1929, and only 24 in 1938. In 1939 it was reorganized for mixed juniors and infants and in 1942 it was closed because of the insufficient number of pupils. The children were transferred to Theydon Garnon school. (fn. 8) The building is now used for parochial and social purposes. (fn. 9) It is single-storied and of brick, with a slate roof.


  • 1. Retns. Educ. Poor, H.C. 224, p. 273 (1819), ix (1).
  • 2. Howard and Burke, Theydon Mount, x; E.R.O., D/P 30/28/19.
  • 3. Nat. Soc. Enquiry into Ch. Schs.1846-7, pp. 18-19; E.R.O., D/AEM 2/8.
  • 4. Retns. Elem. Educ. H.C. 201, pp. 112-13 (1871), lv; Min. of Educ. File 13/367; Chelmsford Chron. 9 Aug. 1872.
  • 5. Min. of Educ. File 13/367.
  • 6. E.R.O., D/P 142/28/4.
  • 7. Retn. of Schs. 1893 [C. 7529], p. 716,H.C. (1894), lxv; ibid. 1899 [Cd. 315], p. 74, H.C. (1900), lxv (2).
  • 8. Min. of Educ. File 13/367; inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 9. Inf. from Chelmsford Dioc. Council for Relig. Educ.