Wanstead: Education and charities

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.

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'Wanstead: Education and charities', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6, ed. W R Powell( London, 1973), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol6/pp336-337 [accessed 15 July 2024].

'Wanstead: Education and charities', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Edited by W R Powell( London, 1973), British History Online, accessed July 15, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol6/pp336-337.

"Wanstead: Education and charities". A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Ed. W R Powell(London, 1973), , British History Online. Web. 15 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol6/pp336-337.

In this section


A school board was formed for Wanstead in 1880, after complaints from Leyton that Wanstead children were crowding Harrow Green school. (fn. 1) At that time Wanstead's only public elementary school was the Church school. Between 1882 and 1900 the school board built four schools with nearly 5,000 places, all at Cann Hall. Under the Education Act (1902) those four schools were all placed under the Leyton 'Part III' authority. (fn. 2) The rest of Wanstead then became the direct responsibility of the Essex county council which in 1908–11 built an elementary school with manual instruction centre attached and an infants school, all at Aldersbrook. A county technical school built in central Wanstead in 1912 was closed in 1930. Before the First World War secondary education was thought to be adequately provided by the local private schools, (fn. 3) and Wanstead county high school was not opened until 1924. In 1930–4 Aldersbrook school was reorganized, and in 1937 a Roman Catholic infants school was opened. Since the Second World War the county council has built a new primary and a new secondary (modern) school, and the Roman Catholic school has been provided with permanent buildings, as a primary school.

Primary schools.

Wanstead Church of England primary school, High Street, is said to have been established in 1786 by the rector, Samuel Glasse. (fn. 4) In 1795 he and his leading parishioners petitioned Sir James Long, Bt., for leave to build a school on the forest waste of the manor. (fn. 5) Presumably the school was then in temporary premises. The foundation stone of the permanent building was laid in 1796. (fn. 6) In 1807 there were 28 boys and 37 girls in the school, of whom 12 boys and 15 girls were being clothed. (fn. 7) The school was supported by subscriptions. Some permanent endowments were also received, which by 1834 were producing £20 yearly. (fn. 8) The main endowment of £470 had been given by George Bowles, partly in his lifetime and partly by his will dated 1813. The girls department was described in 1807 as a school of industry, and the school accounts for 1839–55 show that the sale of the girls' work raised a few pounds each year. (fn. 9) Shortly after 1818 the school went into union with the National Society. (fn. 10) After 1832 attendance rose steadily, and by 1846–7 there were 105 boys and girls, and 50 infants in a separate department. (fn. 11) In 1861 the boys department began to receive an annual government grant. (fn. 12) The school was enlarged in 1865, and from that time a grant was also received for the girls. (fn. 13) In 1875 the Education Department reported that the Wanstead boys department was among the best in Essex in writing and arithmetic. (fn. 14) The school was reorganized in 1934 for junior boys, junior girls, and infants, and in 1953 for mixed juniors and infants; it was granted Aided status in 1950. (fn. 15) The buildings, several times enlarged, include the original schoolroom of 1796. (fn. 16)

Aldersbrook county junior mixed and infants school, Harpenden Road, originated in 1908, when the county council opened an elementary school in Ingatestone Road. (fn. 17) A separate infants school was opened in 1911 on an adjoining site in Harpenden Road. In 1930 the Ingatestone Road school was reorganized for mixed seniors and mixed juniors, and in 1934 the juniors were combined with the Harpenden Road infants. The buildings were enlarged in 1934–5. During the Second World War the school was temporarily reorganized in one department. In 1948 it was again divided into a senior mixed (secondary modern) school and a junior mixed and infants school.

Nightingale county junior and infants schools, Ashbourne Avenue, South Woodford, were built on land formerly part of Nightingale farm. (fn. 18) The junior school was opened in 1954 and the infants school in 1956.

Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic primary school, Chestnut Drive, originated in 1937, when a parochial infants school was opened in the church in Cambridge Park. (fn. 19) In 1961 the present buildings were completed for mixed juniors and infants and the school was granted Aided status.

Technical and secondary schools.

Wanstead technical school, Woodbine Place, was built by the county council in 1912. (fn. 20) It was closed in 1930. A cookery and handicraft centre was attached to the county council's school at Aldersbrook (1908).

Wanstead mixed county high school was opened in 1924 in the old rectory, Redbridge Lane. (fn. 21) Permanent new buildings in the rectory grounds were completed in 1927. During the Second World War the school was evacuated to Newent (Glos.). The buildings were extended in 1964.

Nightingale mixed county secondary modern school, Elmcroft Avenue, was opened in 1957, adjoining the junior and infants schools of the same name; it was enlarged in 1969. (fn. 22)

The origin of Aldersbrook mixed county secondary school has been described above.

Private schools.

In 1807 there were three small private schools in Wanstead. (fn. 23) During the 19th century the number of private schools listed in directories slowly increased to a peak of 11 in 1898. (fn. 24) Among the few which survived for more than a short time were those of Ann Jenkins (c. 1848–70) and Mary Easton (c. 1863–1902). A report of 1906 mentions three private schools recognized by the Board of Education: Wanstead high school, Wanstead college, and Gowan Lea. (fn. 25) Wanstead high school, in Wellesley Road and later in High Street, was kept by Emily Walker (c. 1890–1908). Wanstead college, Woodford Road (c. 1892–1933), kept by Mr. and Mrs. Beecham Martin, was merged after Mrs. Martin's death with the neighbouring Gowan Lea. (fn. 26) Gowan Lea, Woodford Road, was founded by 1902 and closed in 1970. Its name was a rebus of the names of Miss Gowlett and Miss Freeman, joint principals c. 1902–8. (fn. 27) St. Joseph's Roman Catholic convent school, Cambridge Park, was opened in 1918 by the Sisters of Mercy, who came from Commercial Road, London. (fn. 28)


Wanstead Parochial Charities, (fn. 30) registered with the Charity Commission in 1962, include the following charities for the poor which together are administered by the rector and churchwardens of St. Mary's: Tylney, Plomer, Waldo, Bowles and Rushout, Rushout (for blankets), the Lying-in charity, Plampin, Hill, Spering, and Searle. In 1970 the income from these charities was distributed to the poor in the form of Christmas gifts. The Scott charity was separately administered, also by the rector and churchwardens. In 1928 the Charity Commission ruled that beneficiaries of Wanstead's charities might come from any part of the ancient parish, irrespective of modern boundary changes.

Robert Rampston (d. 1585) left a rent of £1 for the poor, charged on Stone Hall in Little Canfield. In 1834 it was spent along with the income from Tylney's, Waldo's, and Plomer's charities, on gifts of food, clothing, and cash. It was still being received in 1865, (fn. 31) but payment seems to have lapsed by c. 1880.

Frances Harrison, by her will dated 1689, with codicil 1690, devised for the benefit of the poor, a reversionary interest in her house in Wanstead. It seems unlikely that the reversion ever took effect, though the parish sought a legal opinion on the matter as late as 1838. (fn. 32)

John Tylney, Earl Tylney (d. 1784), bequeathed £100 stock in trust for the poor. In 1962 the income was £2 10s.

Robert Mangles in 1791 gave £69 stock in trust for the poor. It was stated in 1820 that the income of £2 had not been received since 1811, and there is no evidence of any later payments.

Thomas Lyttleton, assistant curate of Wanstead, in 1799 gave £50 for the poor, secured on a cottage in Cann Hall Lane, the occupier of which was to pay an annual rent-charge of £1 10s. In 1834 the occupier stated that £50 had been given to his father towards the building of the cottage on condition that he paid £1 10s. a year to the poor for the duration of his 21-year lease, starting in 1802. The rent was actually paid only until 1821.

William Plomer in 1803 gave £166 stock in trust for the poor. In 1962 the income was £4.

Mrs. Rebecca Waldo in 1810 gave £37 10s. stock in trust for the poor. In 1962 the income was £4 10s.

George Bowles of the Grove, by will proved 1817, gave £500 stock in trust to provide a donation of £1 each to 20 poor families on New Year's day. The income proved insufficient, and Anne Rushout, Bowles's niece and his successor at the Grove, during her lifetime made a voluntary gift of £2 10s. a year to enable the donations to be fully made. By her will proved 1849 she added £166 to the trust fund. In 1962 the total income was £16 13s. 4d.

Anne Rushout, by her will proved 1849, also gave £180 stock in trust to provide blankets for the poor. In 1962 the income was £4 10s.

The Lying-in charity was founded in 1864 by public subscription to provide maternity benefits for poor women. (fn. 33) The trust fund, which in 1865 totalled £166, was increased to £266 by further subscriptions in 1914. In 1962 the income was £6 13s. 4d.

Mrs. Fanny Plampin, by her will proved 1864, gave £100 stock in trust to maintain a family vault in the parish church, the residue for poor widows not receiving poor-relief. The trustees maintained the vault until 1928, when the Charity Commission pointed out that they had been contravening the rule against perpetuities. In 1962 the income was £2 10s.

Margaret Hill, by will proved 1878, gave £500 stock in trust to provide blankets, clothing, or bread for the poor at Christmas. In 1962 the income was £12 10s.

Mrs. Mary Spering, by will proved 1884, gave £403 stock in trust for poor widows aged 60 years and over. In 1962 the income was £10.

Mary Ann Tickell Scott, by will proved 1922, gave £1,000 in trust for gifts at Christmas to 25 poor women, aged over 60 years and communicants of the Church of England. In 1953 the income was £35, which was distributed in cash to 18 persons. By 1971 the income was being used for the maintenance of the graves in the churchyard of St. Mary's.

Mrs. Emma Florence Jane Searle, by will proved 1958, gave 1/9 of her residuary estate, amounting to £1,833, in trust to Wanstead Parochial Charities. In 1962 the income was £94.


  • 1. J. Kennedy, History of the Parish of Leyton, 199; Leyton B.C. Year Bk. (1952–3), 82.
  • 2. For those schools see pp. 235–6.
  • 3. M. E. Sadler, Rep. Secondary and Higher Educ. in Essex (1906), 150–1.
  • 4. Lysons, London (1796), iv. 244.
  • 5. E.R.O., D/DCy Z2.
  • 6. E.R.O., D/P 292/28/7.
  • 7. E.R.O., D/AEM 2/4.
  • 8. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 216, p. 267 (1835), xxi (1); cf. Ogborne, Essex, 70.
  • 9. E.R.O., D/P 292/25/2.
  • 10. Nat. Soc. Reps. 1820 sqq.
  • 11. Nat. Soc. Enquiry into Church Schs. 1846–7, pp. 20–1.
  • 12. W. Eastment, Wanstead, 77.
  • 13. Ibid.
  • 14. Essex County Standard, 18 Aug. 1875.
  • 15. Inf. from Essex Educ. Dept.
  • 16. The foundation stone still survived in 1971.
  • 17. Paragraph based on: Essex Educ. Ctee. Mins.; inf. from Essex Educ. Dept.
  • 18. Paragraph based on: Educ. in Essex (1952–6), 20; ibid. (1956–60), 21; E.R.O., Cat. Title Deeds of E.C.C. Schs.; inf. from Essex Educ. Dept.
  • 19. Paragraph based on: Inf. from Revd. J. V. Hemming and Essex Educ. Dept.; Educ. in Essex (1960–64), 20.
  • 20. Paragraph based on: Essex Educ. Ctee. Mins.; E.R.O., Cat. Title Deeds of E.C.C. Schs.; Kelly's Dir. Leytonstone, Wanstead, etc. (1911 sqq.).
  • 21. Paragraph based on: Essex Educ. Ctee. Mins.; Wanstead Co. H.S., Programme of Opening (1927).
  • 22. Educ. in Essex (1952–6), 20; ibid. (1956–60), 21; inf. from Essex Educ. Dept.
  • 23. E.R.O., D/AEM 2/4.
  • 24. White's Dir. Essex (1848 and 1863); Kelly's Dir. Essex (1870 sqq.).
  • 25. M. E. Sadler, Rep. Sec. Educ. Essex (1906), 150.
  • 26. Eastment, Wanstead, 80.
  • 27. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1902 sqq.); M. E. Sadler, Rep. Sec. Educ. Essex (1906), 150; inf. from Mrs. H. G. Powell. Gowan Lea claimed to have been founded in 1855: Wanstead and Woodford Official Guide (1954), 7.
  • 28. Inf. from Revd. J. V. Hemming.
  • 29. Unless otherwise stated this section is based on: Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 216, pp. 265–8 (1835), xxi (1); Char. Com. files; E.R.O., D/P 292/8/16 (Report on parochial funds 10 Jan. 1820); inf. from Mr. E. T. Collyer, secretary to Wanstead charity trustees.
  • 30. This is a prescriptive title, used for many years before 1962. No scheme has been made to regulate this group of charities.
  • 31. E.R.O., D/P 292/25/3.
  • 32. Ibid. 292/25/6.
  • 33. Ibid. 292/25/3.