Chigwell: Schools

Pages 38-41

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

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The history of Chigwell School, founded in 1629 by Samuel Harsnett, Archbishop of York, was described in an earlier volume of this History. (fn. 1) It is now an independent public school. A new dining-hall and workshop building was opened in 1910; (fn. 2) a memorial chapel was added in 1924; (fn. 3) an assembly hall was built to mark the tercentenary of the school (1929) and in 1948 Grange Court was acquired as a junior school. In 1953 there were 350 boys, under the headmaster, 17 assistant masters, and 1 mistress. (fn. 4) Buckhurst Hill County High School for boys was opened in 1938. In 1953 there were 549 boys under the headmaster and 19 assistant masters. (fn. 5)

In 1711 there was a Charity School at Chigwell attended by 10 poor girls who also received caps, bands, and aprons from a private benefactor. (fn. 6) In 1713 the school was receiving £16 a year from subscriptions and a girl had recently been put out as an apprentice. (fn. 7) There were still only 10 pupils in about 1768, when the school was supported mainly by the collection at an annual sermon. (fn. 8) By the early 19th century, however, 'the Charity School' (presumably the same) was attended by 72 girls. (fn. 9) It was then endowed with £132 Stock and was called the Blue School because a dozen or more children received a blue uniform. (fn. 10)

In 1818 the Blue School was united with a School of Industry for girls, founded in 1815. The latter had been supported by subscriptions, charity sermons, and by the proceeds of the pupils' work, which amounted to £7 in 1815-16 and £16 in 1817-18. It was held in a house which in 1815-16 was rented for £9 a year, and its mistress was paid £14 14s. in 1815-16 and £27 6s. in 1817-18. From its foundation it had been in union with the National Society, and this association was maintained after the amalgamation with the Blue School, the first title of the new school being the National School of Industry for Girls. In the new school the 'blue girls' continued to wear their uniform as long as they behaved well. Misconduct was punished by the transfer of the uniform to others considered more deserving. The endowment of the Blue School was transferred to the new school and a further legacy of £100 seems to have been received in 1818 from a Mr. Lewis. (fn. 11)

Until about 1838 the number of pupils seems to have remained constant at about 45. (fn. 12) After 1818 the salary of the mistress rose to £30 together with 10 per cent. of the children's earnings and a coal allowance. Subscriptions rose steadily and income continued to be received from the children's work. (fn. 13) The school was supervised by a Ladies Committee. In 1836 this decided to build a new school, with accommodation for 100 girls, in order to provide for the increasing population. The vicar gave a site on the Vicarage Field. (fn. 14) The committee realized £202 from the sale of endowments, collected £173, and received £55 from the government, £25 from the National Society and £10 from the Diocesan Board. (fn. 15) The new schoolroom was built opposite the grammar school. (fn. 16) It was opened as a National School in 1838. (fn. 17)

The Ladies Committee continued to manage the school. It was energetic and successful in obtaining subscriptions and other local support. But the standard of teaching was low. In 1841 an inspector found a poor achievement in the three main subjects (fn. 18) and in 1852 another inspector reported that the curriculum was limited and that the teaching methods were those of the early monitorial system. (fn. 19) The school also had a bad reputation locally at this time. In 1848 the retiring Vicar of Chigwell described it as very inefficient . . . 'principally because of some antiquated rules enforcing the wearing at church of . . . ugly caps and short-cropped hair-this offends the little tradespeople, who prefer sending their daughters 2½ miles to a British and Foreign [i.e. Dissenting] school at Chigwell Row'. (fn. 20)

In 1875 the school appears to have received its first annual grant from the government. The average attendance was then only 47. (fn. 21) The population of the parish was increasing rapidly, however, and attendance rose to 75 in 1886 and 114 in 1902. (fn. 22) The annual grant rose from £28 in 1875 to £54 in 1886 and £119 in 1902. (fn. 23) In 1904 there were 155 children under 3 teachers and a monitor, and the average attendance was 131. (fn. 24) In order to provide for the increased number of pupils the school was enlarged in 1891 to accommodate 200. (fn. 25) Under the 1902 Education Act it passed under the administration of the Essex Education Committee, Epping District, as a non-provided school. The average attendance fell to 101 in 1915 and 85 in 1929, but rose to 138 in 1938. In 1935, at the request of the managers, the name of the school was changed to St. Mary's Girls and Infants Church of England School. In 1947 the school was granted controlled status. In 1948 it was reorganized for junior girls and infants and in 1950 it was closed in accordance with the County Development Plan. (fn. 26) The building is opposite the grammar school. It is single-storied, of red brick with a tiled roof.

In 1807 there was a Church of England Sunday school in Chigwell, apparently for boys and girls. (fn. 27) In 1820, after the establishment of the National day school for girls, the Sunday school seems to have been reserved for boys. It was then in union with the National Society and had some 50 pupils. (fn. 28) It did not lead to the formation of the usual type of National day school for boys because the English School, which was part of Archbishop Harsnett's foundation, already provided the necessary facilities. (fn. 29) The English School was sometimes called the National School. (fn. 30) In or shortly before 1881 the English School was discontinued. In that year the parish vestry passed a resolution deploring this fact and protesting against the refusal of the governors of Harsnett's Schools to allow the Chigwell School Board (founded 1871: see below) the free use of the English School building and the annual grant of £20 that had been paid to the English School. The resolution pointed out that this refusal contravened one of the clauses of the scheme drawn up by the Charity Commission for the management of Harsnett's Schools. (fn. 31) The protest was forwarded to the Commission and appears to have been successful at least as to the building, for in 1886 the English School was stated to be under the supervision of the school board. (fn. 32) It was handed back to the grammar school in 1898. (fn. 33)

In 1886, however, the school board completed the building of a new boys' school in Chigwell village, on a site to the east of the High Road, at a total cost of £2,893. (fn. 34) There was accommodation for 153 boys. The average attendance rose from 55 in 1886 to 105 in 1902 and the annual grant from £32 to £121. (fn. 35) By the Education Act of 1902 the school passed under the administration of the Essex Education Committee, Epping District. In 1904 there were 128 boys under 4 teachers. (fn. 36) Numbers fell to 85 boys in 1930. (fn. 37) When St. Mary's School was closed in 1950 the County School was reorganized for mixed juniors and infants and in May 1952 there were 199 children on the roll and 6 teachers. (fn. 38)

In 1831 the nonconformists in Chigwell Row set up a day school at which in 1833 there were some 50 pupils who paid a fee of 2d. a week. (fn. 39) In 1839 its supporters built a permanent schoolroom near Miller's Lane. The government made a building grant of £80 and the school was completed in 1844. The trust deed stated that the purpose of the school was to educate the poor according to the principles of the British Schools Society. (fn. 40) During its early years the school gained some pupils at the expense of the National School for Girls at Chigwell, which was unpopular among the small tradesmen of that village. (fn. 41) In spite of this it encountered difficulties and in 1857 seems to have been closed. In May 1858 it was reopened with the help of the Essex Congregational Union: there were then over 70 pupils. (fn. 42) But difficulties continued. (fn. 43)

In 1871 a school board of 5 members was set up for the parish of Chigwell. (fn. 44) In 1873 the supporters of the British School transferred their building to the board, retaining their right to use it for religious purposes. (fn. 45) There were then some 52 children in attendance. (fn. 46) In 1885 the school was rebuilt, after a fire, to accommodate some 165 children. (fn. 47)

Average attendance rose from 86 in 1886 to 104 in 1902 and the annual grant from £71 to £101. (fn. 48) By the Education Act of 1902 the school passed under the administration of the Essex Education Committee, Epping District, as a provided school. It was reorganized for girls and infants, the accommodation being estimated in 1911 at 90 places for girls and 60 for infants. The average attendance was 88 in 1910, 72 in 1929, and 56 in 1938. In 1948 it was reorganized for junior girls and infants, the seniors being transferred to Grange Hill Temporary Secondary School. (fn. 49) In May 1952 there were 93 pupils and 3 teachers. (fn. 50) The increase was due to the building of the Hainault estate. The school is on the north of Lambourne Road near the Lambourne boundary. It is single-storied, of red brick with a tiled roof and has a teacher's house attached.

By 1845 there was a National School at Chigwell Row. (fn. 51) It was apparently held in a cottage. In 1852 local Churchmen raised £190 or more towards the cost of a permanent schoolroom. The government gave £70, the National Society £25, and the owner of the site gave the land. The building was finished in 1853. (fn. 52) It was used as an infant school in connexion with the National School at Chigwell. (fn. 53) It still existed in 1874 but it was discontinued shortly after, presumably because of the establishment of the new board school. (fn. 54) The building was subsequently used for parochial purposes, and was known as All Saints Schoolroom. (fn. 55) It is of red-brick and stands on the north side of Lambourne Road near All Saints Church.

St. John's National School, Buckhurst Hill, was built in 1838 by local Churchmen. The lord of the manor gave a site next to the church and the National Society contributed £35. The building cost £209, most of which was defrayed by local subscribers. (fn. 56) By 1840 there were about 50 pupils, nominated by subscribers. Parents paid 2d. a week for the first and 1d. each for other children. (fn. 57) In 1846 there were 43 children under a mistress who was paid £45 a year and 3 monitresses. (fn. 58) In 1866 the Charity Commissioners authorized a new scheme of management which gave control of religious teaching to the minister (later the Rector of Buckhurst Hill) and the management to the Vicar of Chigwell, the minister, and 6 representatives of the subscribers. (fn. 59) In 1869 Edward North Buxton gave additional premises in Albert Road. These were used for an infants' school. (fn. 60)

The district of the Chigwell school board, founded in 1871, included Buckhurst Hill, and a board school (see below) was promptly built there. The National School maintained its voluntary character and continued to use the building next to the church. The managers, however, let the Albert Road infants' school to the board at a nominal rent, retaining the right to use the building on Sunday and two week-nights. (fn. 61) The average attendance at the National School rose from 71 in 1872 to 158 in 1886, and the annual grant from £48 to £140. (fn. 62) By 1882 or earlier the school had ceased to take boys, but in spite of this the rapid increase necessitated its enlargement and this was carried out in 1887. (fn. 63) The average attendance continued to rise: in 1899 there were 237 girls and 88 infants. (fn. 64) In 1904 there was official accommodation for 394, but there were 403 children on the roll, under 11 teachers and 3 monitresses. (fn. 65) By the Education Act of 1902 the school passed under the administration of the Essex Education Committee, Epping District, as a nonprovided school. The average attendance fell to 298 in 1914 and 225 in 1930. In 1938 it was reorganized for junior girls and infants. (fn. 66) In May 1952 there were 326 children and 11 teachers. (fn. 67) The school was given controlled status in 1951. (fn. 68)

The school board for Chigwell parish was at first strongly opposed locally and in 1872 a petition for its removal was sent to the government. (fn. 69) This failed, but with other protests it may have caused the board to drop its plan to build a school to replace the National School at Buckhurst Hill. In 1872 the Board built a school in Princes Road and accepted the use of the infant department of the National School (see above), paying only a nominal rent but accepting responsibility for repairs. (fn. 70) The board school at first accepted both boys and girls, but from about 1886 it took only boys, the girls attending the National School. (fn. 71) Attendance at the board school rose from an average of 139 in 1873 to 246 in 1886 and the annual grant from £95 to £236. (fn. 72) In 1884 the infants' school was enlarged to about 164 places and in 1894 the boys' school to about 362 places. (fn. 73) By the Education Act of 1902 the schools passed under the administration of the Essex Education Committee, Epping District. In 1904 there were 290 boys on the roll, under 9 teachers, of whom 2 were certificated, and 153 infants under 5 teachers, 1 of whom was certificated. (fn. 74) Attendance declined to 229 boys and 91 infants in 1938, when the schools were reorganized for junior boys and infants, and in 1940 the boys' and infants' departments were amalgamated in a single establishment. (fn. 75) In May 1952 there were 326 children, under 13 teachers. (fn. 76) The building in Princes Road is single-storied, of yellow brick with a slate roof. Attached is a teacher's house of similar construction.

Owing to the building of the large London County Council housing estate at Hainault the Essex County Council has since 1945 been carrying out a programme of school development in this area which was still incomplete in 1952-3. The following schools were established during this period. (fn. 77)

The Grange County Secondary Modern School (mixed), Manford Way, was opened in September 1950. In May 1952 it had 421 pupils and 24 teachers.

Manford Way County Primary School was opened in November 1948. In May 1952 the junior school had 468 pupils and 12 teachers and the infants' school had 320 pupils and 9 teachers.

The Coppice County Primary School, Manford Way, opened an infants' department in September 1952 and in the following November had 213 pupils. The junior department was to be opened in 1953.

Grange Hill County Primary School, Woodman Path, is a temporary school, opened in February 1948 with accommodation for 240 juniors and 160 infants. In September 1950 there was accommodation for 760 children. In May 1952 there were 888 pupils at the school.

A branch of St. Anthony's Roman Catholic School was established at Woodman Path in September 1952, and in November 1952 had 344 pupils. This and all the above primary schools are for mixed juniors and infants.

There have also been a number of private schools in the parish of Chigwell. In 1588 John Cambes of Chigwell was presented before the Archdeacon of Essex for 'that he teacheth a scoole'. (fn. 78) In 1795 a Mrs. King advertised the opening of a school in Chigwell for young ladies. (fn. 79) In 1810 there was a boarding academy for young gentlemen at Chigwell under the supervision of John Ray, the fee being 30 guineas a year. (fn. 80) Ray died in 1816, when the school apparently closed. (fn. 81)

About 1824 F. C. L. Klingender opened a school at Buckhurst Hill House, (fn. 82) held on lease. By 1831 he had raised mortgages totalling £1,000 on the property (fn. 83) and in 1833 he offered the premises for sale at £1,690, asking nothing for any goodwill attached to the school. (fn. 84) He was adjudged bankrupt in 1834. (fn. 85) Francis Worral Stevens, who had been a master at Bruce Grove, Tottenham (Mdx.), under Rowland Hill, took over the school and continued it until 1848. (fn. 86) The house was then empty for a year but the school was reopened in 1851 by Thomas Bickerdike who in that year had an assistant master and 15 boarders between 9 and 14 years of age. (fn. 87) Bickerdike left Buckhurst Hill in 1853 and the house was not afterwards used as a school. (fn. 88)

Between 1850 and 1859 there was a school near Broomhill run by Mary Moss. (fn. 89) In 1851 she had 15 boarders of both sexes between 3 and 10 years of age. (fn. 90) Miss Howell and Miss Lake had a girls' day school in the High Road from 1848. (fn. 91) In 1854 they moved into part of the premises of Harsnett's Grammar School and remained there until 1865. (fn. 92)

Hannah Hurren had a day and boarding school at Chigwell Row from 1848 to 1850. (fn. 93) From 1856 to 1869 the Revd. William Earle, M.A., had a boys' school at Grange Court in Chigwell village. (fn. 94) In 1878 the Misses Ann and Catherine Howell had a private school at Broomhill, the Revd. W. L. Wilson a collegiate school at Oakhurst in Horn Lane and there were five private schools at Buckhurst Hill. (fn. 95) Oakhurst later became a school and home for destitute Armenian boys under the Revd. G. Thoumaian. (fn. 96) From the late 19th century the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary have kept a school at the Manor House in High Road, near Woodford Bridge. (fn. 97) In 1950 there were also two private schools at Buckhurst Hill. (fn. 98)


  • 1. V.C.H. Essex, ii, 544 f.
  • 2. E.R. xix, 161.
  • 3. Ibid. xxxiv, 103.
  • 4. Public Schs. Year Bk. (1953).
  • 5. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 6. S.P.C.K. Acct. of Char. Schs. (1711), 22.
  • 7. Ibid. (1713), 26.
  • 8. Morant, Essex, i, 170.
  • 9. E.R.O., D/AEM 2/4.
  • 10. E.R.O., D/P 166/28/3.
  • 11. Ibid.; Nat. Soc. Reps. 1820, 1828.
  • 12. Ibid.; Educ. Enquiry Abstr. H.C. 62, p. 270 (1835), xli.
  • 13. E.R.O., D/P 166/28/3.
  • 14. Ex. inf. Nat. Soc.
  • 15. E.R.O., D/P 166/28/3.
  • 16. Ex. inf. Nat. Soc.; E.R.O., D/CT 78.
  • 17. E.R.O., D/P 166/28/4.
  • 18. Ibid. 166/28/3, 4.
  • 19. Mins. Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1852, vol. ii [1624], p. 286, H.C. (1852-3), lxxx (1).
  • 20. E.R.O., D/P 166/3/3.
  • 21. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1875 [C. 1513-1], p. 531, H.C. (1876), xxiii.
  • 22. Ibid. 1886 [C. 5123-1], p. 518, H.C. (1887), xxviii; Schs. under Bd. of Educ. 1902 [Cd. 1490], p. 68, H.C. (1903), li.
  • 23. Ibid.
  • 24. Essex Educ. Cttee. Handbk. 1904, p. 145.
  • 25. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899).
  • 26. Min. of Educ. File 13/61; inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 27. E.R.O., D/AEM 2/4.
  • 28. Nat. Soc. Rep. 1820.
  • 29. V.C.H. Essex, ii, 544-6; E.R.O., D/P 166/3/3.
  • 30. e.g. in 1862-3: Kelly's Dir. Essex (1862), White's Dir. Essex (1863).
  • 31. E.R.O., D/P 166/8/11.
  • 32. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1886). The vestry minutes for 1881-6 also contain references to 'the Board School, Chigwell' which must mean the English School.
  • 33. E.R.O., D/P 166/28/10.
  • 34. Min. of Educ. File 13/60.
  • 35. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1886, p. 518; Schs. under Bd. of Educ. 1902, p. 68.
  • 36. Essex Educ. Cttee. Handbk. 1904, p. 145.
  • 37. Min. of Educ. File 13/60.
  • 38. Ibid.; inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 39. Educ. Enquiry Abstr. H.C. 62, p. 270 (1835), xli.
  • 40. Min. of Educ. File 13/62.
  • 41. See above.
  • 42. Essex Congr. Union Reps. 1858, p. 11.
  • 43. Ibid. 1860, p. 7.
  • 44. County Companion, 1880.
  • 45. Min. of Educ. File 13/62; Chelmsford Chronicle, 26 Jan. 1872.
  • 46. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1874 [C. 1265-1], p. 322, H.C. (1875), xxiv.
  • 47. Min. of Educ. File 13/62; Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1886, p. 518.
  • 48. Ibid.; Schs. under Bd. of Educ. 1902, p. 68.
  • 49. Min. of Educ. File 13/62.
  • 50. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 51. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1845).
  • 52. Inf. from Nat. Soc.
  • 53. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1855, 1862, 1870).
  • 54. Ibid. 1874, 1878.
  • 55. Ibid. 1902.
  • 56. Inf. from Nat. Soc.
  • 57. Ibid.
  • 58. Nat. Soc. Enquiry into Ch. Schs. 1846-7, pp. 4-5.
  • 59. Min. of Educ. File 13/46.
  • 60. Ibid. 13/45.
  • 61. Min. of Educ. Files 13/45, 46.
  • 62. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1872 [C. 812], p. 407, H.C. (1873), xxiv; ibid. 1886, p. 518.
  • 63. Inscription on school building; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1882).
  • 64. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899).
  • 65. Essex Educ. Cttee. Handbk. 1904, p. 144.
  • 66. Min. of Educ. File 13/46.
  • 67. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 68. Min. of Educ. File 13/46.
  • 69. Ibid. 13/45. See also E.R.O., D/P 166/8/11: 9 May 1872, for a resolution of the vestry protesting against the proposed expenditure of the school board.
  • 70. Min. of Educ. File 13/45; Chelmsford Chronicle, 26 Jan., 12 July, 15 Nov. 1872.
  • 71. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1882, 1886, 1890).
  • 72. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1873 [C. 1019-1], p. 407, H.C. (1874), xviii; ibid. 1886, p. 518.
  • 73. Min. of Educ. File 13/45; Schs. under Bd. of Educ. 1902, p. 68.
  • 74. Essex Educ. Cttee. Handbk. 1904, p. 144.
  • 75. Min. of Educ. File 13/45.
  • 76. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 77. The following account is based on information from the Ministry of Education, Essex Education Cttee. and Miss E. A. Phillips, Headmistress of Staples Road Infant School, Loughton.
  • 78. E.R.O., D/AEV/14.
  • 79. Chigwell Church Mag. Feb. 1939.
  • 80. Essex Union, 9 Jan. 1810.
  • 81. Chigwell Par. Reg.
  • 82. E.R.O., D/DDa M13.
  • 83. Ibid.
  • 84. Kent and Essex Mercury, 29 Oct.1833.
  • 85. Essex Union, 18 Feb. 1834.
  • 86. E.R.O., D/DDa M13.
  • 87. H.O. 107/1770, 195/1.
  • 88. E.R.O., D/P 166/11/17.
  • 89. E.R.O., D/P 166/11/14-23.
  • 90. H.O. 107/1770, 195/1.
  • 91. White's Dir. Essex (1848), 417.
  • 92. E.R.O., D/P 166/11/12-29.
  • 93. White's Dir. Essex (1848), 417; E.R.O., D/P 166/11/12-14.
  • 94. E.R.O., D/P 166/8/11, 166/11/20- 33. This house has recently been bought by the governors of Chigwell School.
  • 95. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1878).
  • 96. Ibid. (1899).
  • 97. Ibid. (1899).
  • 98. Chigwell U.D. Official Guide (2nd edn.), p. 34.