Woodford: Education and charities

Pages 358-360

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

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


In this section


In 1796 there was a Sunday school at Woodford, apparently Anglican, where most of the children of the poor were taught and clothed charitably. (fn. 1) By 1807, if not before, the only Sunday school was being held by Dissenters, but in 1801 two day schools of industry were founded, one attended by 20 boys and the other by 20 girls, and both supported by voluntary contributions. (fn. 2) The boys were accommodated in the workhouse from 1810 and the girls from 1815. (fn. 3)

Woodford Green county primary school, Sunset Avenue, originated as a National school for boys, opened in 1814. (fn. 4) This soon absorbed the boys school of industry. By 1818 attendance had fallen from 90 to 69 and some supporters withdrew their subscriptions on the ground that the school encouraged delinquency and impeded juvenile employment. It was thereupon agreed that no boy should be kept after the age of 14, that part-time schooling should be arranged for those obtaining employment before that age, and that the curriculum should be confined to reading, writing, and only a little arithemetic. (fn. 5) The girls school of industry was probably absorbed a year or two before 1820, (fn. 6) when a building for the National school was erected on a site west of the present Links Road, just over the boundary in Walthamstow. (fn. 7) In 1846–7 the total expenses of the school were some £130, of which £60 was paid to the master and £30 to the mistress. There was a clothing club attached to the girls department. (fn. 8) By 1865 the school was receiving an annual grant. (fn. 9) During the early 19th century the number of pupils was often less than 120 (fn. 10) but in 1872 it rose to 186. (fn. 11) In 1880 the school was taken over on lease by the school board, which enlarged it in 1889. (fn. 12) A scheme of 1898 provided that various small bequests to the National school should provide exhibitions for higher education. (fn. 13) In 1907 the boys department was rebuilt and other departments were enlarged. (fn. 14) In 1937 the school was reorganized for mixed juniors and infants, and in 1953 the Essex education committee bought the freehold of the premises. (fn. 15)

St. Paul's Church of England school, Woodford Bridge, was opened in 1859, in association with the National Society. In the following year it was moved from temporary premises to a new building near the church, erected with the aid of a government grant. It was receiving an annual grant by 1865. (fn. 16) The attendance rose from 59 in 1865 to 154 in 1872. (fn. 17) Between 1886 and 1890 the school was taken over by the school board, but it seems to have been closed by 1906. (fn. 18) The building, which stands in a prominent position on the green, is of red brick with stone dressings; it was in use in 1965 as the church hall. In 1851 a room at Woodford Bridge, rented by the clergy for church services, was also being used for an endowed infants school. (fn. 19) This may have survived until the 1890s when there was a National infants school at Woodford Bridge. (fn. 20)

From 1806 until at least 1861, when a new schoolroom in Horn Lane was built, the Congregationalists held a Sunday school in their Mill Lane chapel. This building was also used for a British school formed in 1854, (fn. 21) which in 1859 had 85 pupils under a master and two pupil-teachers. (fn. 22) There were 100 pupils when it was closed in 1871. (fn. 23)

In 1871 a school board was formed for Woodford. (fn. 24) Besides taking over the two church schools already described, the board built two new schools, both of which survive as county primary schools. The first of these was Churchfields, opened in 1873 with 273 places. An infants department was added in 1885. The school was enlarged in 1891 and substantially rebuilt in 1908. The average attendance was 223 in 1878 and 788 in 1899. (fn. 25) The school was reorganized in 1937 for juniors and infants. (fn. 26)

Oakdale county junior and infants schools. Cowslip Road board school, for girls and infants, was opened in 1897. By 1922 this was being used for girls and boys, the infants being accommodated in a temporary building erected in the previous year on a neighbouring site in Oakdale Road. (fn. 27) The school was reorganized for juniors and infants in 1937. In 1953 separate new buildings for juniors and infants were opened in Oakdale and Woodville Roads, and renamed Oakdale. (fn. 28)

Ray Lodge county junior and infants schools originated as Snakes Lane council elementary school, opened in 1904, with accommodation for about 1,000 children. (fn. 29) In 1937 the girls department was reorganized for junior girls, the boys department remaining unchanged. In 1950 the school was divided into mixed juniors and infants. (fn. 30)

Woodford Bridge Garden City council elementary school was opened in 1913 for boys from the local Dr. Barnardo's Home. In 1946 the boys were transferred to other Woodford schools but the building was later used as a temporary primary school for the Hainault L.C.C. estate (1948–54), as an annexe of Roding junior school (1954–5), and an annexe of St. Barnabas secondary boys school (1956–65). (fn. 31)

Roding junior mixed and infants schools. North Woodford primary school, Roding Lane, was built in 1939 and used by the fire service during the Second World War. It was opened as a county junior school in 1946, when single-storey buildings were added. It was reorganized in 1952 for mixed juniors and infants, and renamed Roding. (fn. 32)

St. Anthony's Roman Catholic school, Mornington Road, was opened in 1900 as an elementary school. It was reorganized for juniors and infants in 1946. A new block was opened in 1965. (fn. 33) The school has Aided status.

Madeira Grove special school for mentally defective children was opened in 1913 and closed in 1939. (fn. 34) The building is now (1965) used as a clinic.

Woodford's oldest secondary school is Bancroft's, founded in 1727 and moved to High Road, Woodford Wells, in 1889. Its earlier history has been described in a previous volume. (fn. 35) It became a Direct Grant school in 1919. Science laboratories were opened in 1910, an art and handicraft block, an assembly hall, and a science block in 1937, and a boarders' recreation block in 1964. In 1965 the school contained 430 boys, of whom 30 were foundation scholars, 250 held local authority free places, and the remainder were fee-paying. There were 90 boarders. (fn. 36) The original buildings, of red brick with stone dressings, stand round a quadrangle and were designed in the Tudor style by Sir Arthur Blomfield. (fn. 37) The central feature of the impressive three-storey front range is an embattled gatehouse tower with an oriel window and angle turrets.

Woodford county high school, High Road, Woodford Green, was opened for 100 girls in 1919 in Highams, an 18th-century house, which lies mainly in Walthamstow. In 1928 a north wing was added, in 1929 an assembly hall, and in 1938 a south wing. In 1965 there were 630 girls. (fn. 38)

St. Barnabas county secondary (modern) schools for boys and girls were opened as senior schools under the same roof in 1937. In 1965 the first part of a new boys school was opened on the playing-field. The girls school took over the whole of the original building in 1968 when the boys school was completed. (fn. 39)

St. Paul's Roman Catholic secondary (modern) school was opened in 1960 in temporary accommodation at the Dominican convent, Chingford, and at Debden and Woodford primary schools. In 1964 a permanent building was opened at the corner of High Road and Sydney Road. The school has Aided status. (fn. 40)

Among early private schools at Woodford was a boarding school at which James Greenwood (d. 1737), grammarian, taught. (fn. 41) By 1807 there were 5 private day-schools for about 50 young boys and girls, the teachers being paid 'partly by the more opulent parishioners, partly by the parents themselves'. (fn. 42) In 1848 there were at least 7 private boarding- and 2 day-schools, in 1863 4 boarding- and 7 day-schools. (fn. 43) During the rest of the 19th century directories usually list 11 private schools of various kinds, and by 1926 the number had risen to fifteen. (fn. 44) There were still in 1965 some 7 private schools, including a nursery school for deaf children and a Roman Catholic school for girls. (fn. 45)

St. Aubyn's preparatory school for boys, Woodford Green, was founded in 1884 by Rhoda and Fanny Crump assisted by other members of their family. (fn. 46) It was originally accommodated in two houses, which still survive, opposite Bancroft's school in High Road. In 1893 the school moved to Woodford Green, occupying premises on the site of the present Hawkey Hall. By 1906 it was recognized by the Board of Education. (fn. 47) A second move, to Pyrmont House, Woodford Green, took place at the end of the First World War. In 1922 the school, with about 100 day boys and 15 boarders, was bought from the Crumps by Lt.-Col. W. H. Colley, who was still headmaster in 1969. New buildings and a swimming bath were added in 1927–35. The school was evacuated to Cumberland in 1939, but returned to Woodford in 1946. In 1954 Mr. H. H. Colley, son of Lt.-Col. Colley, became joint headmaster. By 1969 it had been decided to accept no more boarders, in order to provide additional accommodation for day boys. The school then included a newly-built junior department. St. Aubyn's now takes boys between the ages of 5 and 13½. (fn. 48) Since 1922 many have proceeded to public schools on scholarships or through the common entrance examination.

Archbishop Harsnett provided for 4 Woodford boys to attend his schools at Chigwell, founded in 1629, 2 at the English school and 2 at the Latin, (fn. 49) though in 1835 there was none at the latter. (fn. 50) John Fowke (d. 1691) of Claybury, Ilford, by his will endowed places at Christ's Hospital (Lond., now Horsham, Suss.) for 8 boys, of whom 2 were to be from Woodford. (fn. 51) This charity was regulated by a scheme of 1899. (fn. 52)


Under a scheme of 1899 all the following charities for the poor were combined under the name of the Woodford Parochial Charities. In 1961 the total income from these charities was £116, most of which was spent on gifts of coal, food, and clothing.

Robert Rampston (d. 1585) left rent-charges for the poor of various Essex parishes. That for Woodford was £1 a year, charged on Stone Hall in Little Canfield. (fn. 54) It was still being paid in 1961.

Elizabeth Elwes, by will dated 1625, left £40 to buy land, the rent from which was to be given to the poor. In or before 1645 this money, with another £100 belonging to the parish, was lent to John Hayes at 5 per cent interest. In 1657 he repaid £40 of it, and for the remaining £100, which included Mrs. Elwes's legacy, undertook to pay £5 a year as a permanent rent-charge on his estate of Horns Inn (later the George) and land adjoining Parsons Grove in Wanstead. This rent, known as Poor's Stock, was by the end of the 17th century being used to provide premiums for apprenticing poor children. In 1857 it was stated that 'the charity will now revert to its original application of general relief to the poor'. The rent was still being paid by the owner of the George Inn in 1899, but was subsequently redeemed for £200 stock. (fn. 55)

Sir Henry Lee, some time before 1658, gave for the poor an annual rent of £2 charged on his land at Woodford. (fn. 56) In 1835 and 1899 this was being paid from the Naked Beauty (later Hurst House) estate. It was later redeemed for £80 stock.

A number of small sums bequeathed for the poor in the 18th and earlier 19th centuries came to be administered together. William Prescott, by will proved 1731, Richard Warner (d. 1775) and Robert Moxon, by will proved 1786, each left £50. Hannah Cooke, by will dated 1809, left £20, and John Godfrey, by will dated 1810, left £10 10s. (fn. 57) In 1829 the total capital of these charities was £260 stock, the income from which was spent on bread for the poor.

Another group of charities consisted of £500 left by Jonathan Rogers about 1811, £100 left by John Harman (d. 1817), and sums totalling £85 given at unknown dates by three other persons. In 1834 the combined capital of these charities was £731, and the income was spent on clothing for the poor in October.

Ellen Hawkes, daughter of the above Jonathan Rogers, by her will proved 1818, left £300 stock for the poor. In 1834 the income was spent along with that from the previous group of charities.

Ellen Dod (d. 1814) directed that stock should be bought to provide an income of £10. From this £1 1s. was to be paid to a preacher on New Year's Day, Epiphany, Good Friday, and Ascension Day, and 10s. to a priest for saying prayers on Easter Eve. The remaining income was to be spent on bread for the poor on the sermon days: £1 6s. on Good Friday and £1 on the other four days. In 1899 the capital fund was £334.

Henry Burmester, by will proved 1823, left £100 in trust to provide bread for the poor.

John Popplewell, by deed poll of 1820, which took effect on his death, gave £500 stock, in trust to maintain a tomb in the church, and to provide coal for the poor, 10s. being given to the parish clerk for administering the charity. In 1831, shortly after his death, his sisters Ann and Rebecca Popplewell added £300 to the capital of this charity. The clause relating to the tomb seems to have been ineffective.

J. Strudwicke Bunce, by will proved 1875, left £693 in trust to provide coal at Christmas for 25 aged poor. (fn. 58)

Thomas Reed, by will proved 1885, left £1,000 in trust to provide clothing for the poor in October.

Educational charities are described in another section. (fn. 59)


  • 1. Lysons, London, iv. 286.
  • 2. E.R.O., D/AEM 2/4; Lysons, London, Supplement (1811), 365.
  • 3. E. J. Erith, Woodford, Essex, 1600–1836, 80.
  • 4. Nat. Soc. Rep. 1814, p. 21.
  • 5. Ibid. 1818, pp. 240–1.
  • 6. Ibid. 1818, 1820; Erith, Woodford, 80.
  • 7. Kelly's Dir. Essex, 1886; E.R.O., D/CT 408.
  • 8. Nat. Soc. Enquiry into Ch. Schs. 1846–7, pp. 22–3.
  • 9. Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1865 [3666], p. 519, H.C. (1866), xxvii.
  • 10. Nat. Soc. Reps., 1820–38; White's Dir. Essex, 1848, 1863.
  • 11. Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1872 [C. 812], p. 410, H.C. (1873), xxiv.
  • 12. Ibid. 1880; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1890).
  • 13. Char. Com. Files 62132, 79890.
  • 14. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1908).
  • 15. Inf. from Min. of Educ. and Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 16. Educ. Cttee. of Council, Tabulated Reps. on Schs. in Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, 1859–60, p. 13; Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1865.
  • 17. Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1872.
  • 18. Kelly's Dir. Essex, 1886, 1890, 1906.
  • 19. H.O. 129/7/194.
  • 20. Kelly's Dir. Essex, 1894, 1898.
  • 21. A. G. Kidd, 'The Pioneers' (TS. Hist. Woodford Green United Free Ch.); R. L. Galey, Woodford Green United Free Ch. 115.
  • 22. Educ. Cttee. of Council, Tabulated Reps. 1859–60.
  • 23. Galey, Woodford Green United Free Ch. 115–16.
  • 24. Kelly's Dir. Essex, 1890.
  • 25. Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1878; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899, 1910).
  • 26. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 27. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1906, 1922).
  • 28. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee. and Min. of Educ.
  • 29. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1906).
  • 30. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee. and Min. of Educ.
  • 31. Ibid.; inf. from London Borough of Redbridge.
  • 32. Ibid. and inf. from Headmaster.
  • 33. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1926); inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee. and Headmistress.
  • 34. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1922, 1926); inf. from L.B. of Redbridge.
  • 35. V.C.H. Essex, ii. 548–9.
  • 36. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1922); inf. from Headmaster.
  • 37. N. Pevsner, Essex (2nd edn.), 432.
  • 38. Inf. from Headmistress; cf. p. 260, and M. M. Smith, Highams (Walthamstow Antiq. Soc. Occ. Pubn. viii).
  • 39. Inf. from school secretary.
  • 40. St. Paul's, Woodford Green (pamphlet for official opening); inf. from Headmaster.
  • 41. E.R. xlvi. 49.
  • 42. E.R.O., D/AEM 2/4;.
  • 43. White's Dir. Essex (1848, 1863).
  • 44. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1878 f.).
  • 45. Wanstead and Woodford Official Guide (1964–5).
  • 46. This account of the school is based on: St. Aubyn's School Magazine, 75th Anniversary Number (1961).
  • 47. M. Sadler, Rep. Sec. and Higher Educ. in Essex (1906), 150.
  • 48. Redbridge Official Guide (1966–7 and 1969 edns.).
  • 49. V.C.H. Essex, ii. 544.
  • 50. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 216, p. 164 (1835), xxi (1).
  • 51. Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 312, p. 100 (1820), v; V.C.H. Essex, v. 194, 248.
  • 52. Char. Com. File 62132.
  • 53. Unless otherwise stated this section is based on: Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 216, p. 164 (1835), xxi(1); Char. Com. File 62132 and Woodford G File; E.R.O., D/P 167/1/1, 167/8/2, 167/25/1–17.
  • 54. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 60, p. 157 (1833), xxviii.
  • 55. Char. Com. File 68877.
  • 56. E.R.O., D/P 167/1/1, f. 63. This was probably Sir Henry Lee who died in 1620: Genealogist, N.S. xii. 155; E.A.T. N.S. vii. 364.
  • 57. Morton Rockliffe's gift of £10, by his will dated 1777, was spent and not invested: E.R.O., D/P 167/8/2.
  • 58. Char. Com. File 28835.
  • 59. See above.