Stroud: Education

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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'Stroud: Education', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 141-144. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]


There was a school at Stroud in 1576 but the schoolmaster, who did not have a licence and failed to teach the catechism, was then dismissed. (fn. 1) Unlicensed schoolmasters were again reported at Stroud in 1613 and 1619. (fn. 2) Thomas Webb of the Hill, in Painswick, by his will dated 1642 left a rent-charge of £40, on an estate in Hucclecote, and a house in Stroud for the establishment of a school in the town: £20 of the rent-charge was assigned to the maintenance of four poor boys, £6 to their clothing and repairs to the house, £4 and two rooms in the house to two poor widows who were to care for the boys, and £10 to pay a schoolmaster. (fn. 3) A schoolmaster of Stroud subscribed in accordance with the Act of Uniformity in 1662, and in 1677 a headmaster and another master, who was to teach English and accounting, were licensed to teach in the 'public school' in Stroud. (fn. 4) Richard Bond, appointed curate of Rodborough in 1685, was also to educate the children in the 'free school' of Stroud. (fn. 5) Webb's school was enlarged by a gift of Henry Windowe who by his will dated 1734 left lands in Stroud for a payment of £5 to the schoolmaster and £4 to the widows for the education and maintenance of two additional boys. (fn. 6) In 1750 the endowment was augmented with £200 stock bought with an accumulation of the funds of Webb's charity. (fn. 7) In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the boys, who were known as the Red Boys from the uniform clothing with which they were provided, appear to have usually been schooled for three years and were afterwards apprenticed at the expense of the charity. (fn. 8) At that period they were taught in the market-house, and the master also took fee-paying pupils. The school was discontinued in 1865 and the boys were supported instead at the National school, (fn. 9) and in 1887 the charity was assigned as part of the endowment of the Marling School. (fn. 10)

A society for providing charity schools at Stroud was founded by the curate William Johns c. 1700, (fn. 11) and in 1712 60 poor children were being taught and 12 clothed. (fn. 12) In the early 18th century the society supported six schools - in the town, and at Quarhouse, Thrupp, Paganhill, Whiteshill, and Ruscombe; but by the beginning of the 19th century there were only three - a school for the town at Stroud Hill, one at Whiteshill, and one at Thrupp. The schools were supported by church collections and subscriptions and run by managers and a treasurer. Regulations made in 1732 laid down that children from 4 to 7 years should be taught, being admitted and discharged at quarterly meetings; that the children should be given religious instruction and be regularly examined; and that the boys should wear caps and bands and the girls coifs and ruffs provided by the society. In 1813 the schools were reorganized. A new schoolroom was fitted up at the workhouse for the Stroud Hill school, and the Whiteshill school was rebuilt; new masters for the two schools were appointed and sent to London and Bristol to study the Bell system. That system was never fully introduced, however, because of the lack of suitable monitors, many of the children having to leave at 7 years old to work in the woollen industry. The new system was not adopted at all for the third school, at Thrupp, which remained under a mistress, but it was given a new building in 1818; it was partly maintained for many years by the Wathens of New House. In 1816 the three schools were teaching a total of 167 pupils, 73 at Stroud Hill, 76 at Whiteshill, and 18 at Thrupp. In 1784 the assistant curate William Ellis started Sunday schools at the market-house, Whiteshill, Stroud Hill, and Thrupp, and in 1788 he started one at Paganhill, which was, however, defunct between 1803 and 1823. The Sunday schools were separately financed until 1804 after which date they were supported out of the same fund as the dayschools. In 1816 the Sunday schools had a total of 512 pupils and 54 teachers. (fn. 13) In 1822 the annual income of day and Sunday schools was £117; with the exception of £1 from the charity left by William Johns in 1720, £4 10s. from stock bought in 1799 with various legacies, and £1 10s. from stock given by Thomas Hughes in 1813, the sum was raised by subscriptions and church collections. (fn. 14)

In 1835 the Stroud charity school society opened a new girls' school on the National plan on the west side of Brick Row, (fn. 15) and in 1840 a National school for infants was started at Holy Trinity church. (fn. 16) In 1844 a new National school was built in Castle Street and the girls transferred to it, the Brick Row building becoming the boys' National school. (fn. 17) During the reorganization the old school at Stroud Hill and an infants' school started at Paganhill c. 1830 were discontinued. (fn. 18) In 1836 the National and church schools were teaching 312 day pupils and 495 Sunday pupils, (fn. 19) and by 1856 the number of day pupils had risen to 421 but only 243 then attended the Sunday schools; at the latter date the society's day-schools were the boys', girls, and infants' National schools in the town, a boys' school and a girls' school at Whiteshill (probably sharing the same building), and the school at Thrupp which was mixed. (fn. 20) The payment of weekly pence had been introduced at some of the schools by 1836 and at all of them by 1845, but for some years the bulk of their income still came from subscriptions and collections. (fn. 21) Government grants were applied for by the boys' and girls' National schools in 1848 and for the Thrupp school in 1867. (fn. 22) A new building was provided for the Whiteshill school in 1858 (fn. 23) and for the Thrupp school in 1875. (fn. 24)

The various dissenting communities in the parish ran Sunday schools from the early 19th century; by 1833 there were six dissenting Sunday schools with a total of 787 pupils. (fn. 25) The Wesleyan Methodists had started a Sunday school by 1818. (fn. 26) The new Congregational chapel opened in 1837 had large Sunday schoolrooms, and a new Sunday schoolroom was built next to the Old Meeting in 1854. In 1858 a Sunday schoolroom was built adjoining the Primitive Methodist chapel in Parliament Street. (fn. 27) The earliest day-school supported by the dissenters appears to have been an infant school in Summer Street established by the Congregationalists in 1832. (fn. 28) In 1839 a British school was built at Badbrook and in 1854, when it applied for a government grant, its income came in about equal proportions from voluntary contributions and pence. (fn. 29) A British day-school was established before 1847 at Ruscombe in the former Independent chapel and had an attendance of 90-100 c. 1870. (fn. 30) An unsectarian school at a building called the People's Hall in Silver Street was opened in 1874. (fn. 31)

In 1881 a school board for Stroud was formed and took over the church and British schools of the parish. (fn. 32) In the subsequent reorganization two new schools were built and opened in 1884: they were a boys' school in Church Street which replaced the Brick Row National school (fn. 33) and a mixed school in Parliament Street, to which were transferred the infants from Summer Street and the boys from Badbrook British, which became a girls' and infants' school. (fn. 34) The former British school at Ruscombe was closed by the board in 1887 when a new school building was opened at Whiteshill; it was higher up the village than the original Whiteshill school, which was opposite the church. The two Whiteshill buildings were thereafter used for boys and for girls and infants respectively. (fn. 35) The board also enlarged the buildings at Castle Street in 1881 and at Thrupp in 1887. In 1889 the four board schools in the town - Castle Street girls' and infants', Church Street boys', Parliament Street mixed, and Badbrook girls' and infants' - had a total average attendance of 660, the Thrupp mixed school had an average attendance of 192, and the two schools at Whiteshill had a total average attendance of 256. Three schools then remained independent of the board: Summer Street had reopened as an unsectarian infants' school and had an average attendance of 100, the People's Hall school survived, also with an average attendance of 100, (fn. 36) and Brick Row had reopened in 1888 as a church school and had an average attendance of 70. (fn. 37)

The board schools were taken over by the county council under the Act of 1902. A new infants' building for the Castle Street school was added in 1903 (fn. 38) and in 1907 the Badbrook school was closed. (fn. 39) In 1922 the four council schools in the town had a total average attendance of 670, falling to 559 by 1936. (fn. 40) The Castle Street girls' school was closed in 1964 and from 1969 the building, popularly known as the Black Boy from a chiming clock set up on it in 1844, was used as a teachers' centre. (fn. 41) In 1971 the three remaining schools, Castle Street infants, Church Street, which took juniors, and Parliament Street, which took juniors and infants, had a total attendance of 477. (fn. 42) At Whiteshill there was an average attendance of 182 in 1922, but a decline in the attendance to c. 130 led to the abandonment of the building opposite the church in 1932 or 1933 and all the children were subsequently taught in the other building; the average attendance at the school had risen to 162 by 1936 and had fallen to 85 by 1971. (fn. 43) The Thrupp council school had an average attendance of 160 in 1922 (fn. 44) and 140 in 1971 when it took both juniors and infants. (fn. 45)

Plans for a school to provide secondary education at Stroud were under discussion between Sir Samuel Marling and the Stroud feoffees in 1882, and after Sir Samuel's death the following year his children Sir William Marling, Walter Marling, and Mrs. Annie Robertson agreed to give £10,000 formerly offered by Sir Samuel. In 1887 the Marling family's endowment and a large part of the income of the Stroud charities were applied to the foundation and maintenance of a boys' secondary school, to be called the Marling School. The pupils, who included some boarders, were to pay fees, but £1,000 given by Frances, the widow of S. S. Dickinson, and other sums were applied to scholarships for boys from elementary schools in Stroud and district. The governing body was to include representatives of the Marling family, the Stroud feoffees, and the Stroud, Rodborough, and Painswick school boards. The new school was opened in 1889 in Tudor-style stone buildings in Cainscross Road designed by W. H. Seth-Smith. (fn. 46) By a new scheme in 1909 the school became a public secondary school and its endowments, with those of the Stroud School of Science and Art and the girls' High school, were placed under the administration of a body called the Stroud Educational Foundation. (fn. 47) In 1971 the Marling School had c. 750 pupils. (fn. 48)

The Stroud High school for girls originated as the Girls' Endowed school, which was opened in 1904 in a room at the School of Science and Art in Lansdown and in 1907 had an attendance of 70-80 pupils; the first headmistress was Miss D. M. Beale, a niece of the celebrated principal of Cheltenham Ladies' College. (fn. 49) In 1912 the school moved to new buildings, built of brick in the Queen Anne style, in Beard's Lane not far from the Marling School. (fn. 50) It had an attendance of c. 800 in 1971. (fn. 51) Two schools for providing secondary technical education were subsequently added to the complex of school buildings in the Beard's Lane and Downfield area: the Craft School (later called the Boys' Secondary Technical school) was opened in 1910, (fn. 52) and the Girls' Central school (later the Girls' Secondary Technical school) was started in the old Badbrook British school during the First World War and moved to its new premises c. 1924. (fn. 53) A large new secondary school, the Archway School, was opened on the north side of Paganhill village in 1961 (fn. 54) and in 1971 had an attendance of c. 520. (fn. 55)

The Stroud School of Science and Art was opened in premises in High Street in 1860 with c. 120 pupils. New premises, an ornate Gothic stone building in Lansdown designed by J. P. Seddon and a local architect W. H. C. Fisher, (fn. 56) were begun in 1892 but not completed until 1900. (fn. 57) Under the scheme of 1909 the school became the Stroud Technical school. (fn. 58) The classes in technical instruction were moved to the large new Mid Gloucestershire Technical College opened in Stratford Road in 1954, (fn. 59) the school of art remaining at Lansdown. The Brimscombe Polytechnic was established c. 1890 in the old canal company building at Brimscombe Port and in 1899 was providing a variety of technical instruction to a total of 453 students. (fn. 60) It was succeeded in the building in 1949 by the Brimscombe County Secondary school which moved to Eastcombe in Bisley in 1962 to become the Manor School. (fn. 61)


  • 1. G.D.R. vol. 40, f. 211v.; Hockaday Abs. xlvii, 1576 visit. f. 103.
  • 2. G.D.R. vols. 116, 136.
  • 3. Glos. R.O., D 914/6; cf. G.D.R., V5/293T 1. Payment of the rent-charge was regulated by a Chancery decree of 1745 after ownership of the Hucclecote property had become divided: Glos. R.O., D 914/29.
  • 4. Hockaday Abs. ccclix.
  • 5. Ibid. cccxxiv.
  • 6. 14th Rep. Com. Char. 75.
  • 7. Glos. R.O., D 914/6.
  • 8. Ibid. 25, bill 1824; D 149/R 62, R 64.
  • 9. Fisher, Stroud, 56-7, 67.
  • 10. Libby, Stroud, 115.
  • 11. An Account of the Sunday and Weekly Charity Schools in Stroud (Stroud, 1815): copy in Glos. Colln. 31749.
  • 12. Glos. N. & Q. i. 294.
  • 13. Char. Schs. in Stroud; Stroud schs. reps. 1815-18, 1821-4 (among printed reps. bound in Glos. Colln. 31749).
  • 14. Stroud schs. rep. 1821-4; cf. 14th Rep. Com. Char. 76- 79.
  • 15. Stroud schs. rep. 1834-5; Glos. R.O., D 1180/10/40.
  • 16. Stroud schs. reps. 1840-1, 1845-6.
  • 17. Fisher, Stroud, 42, 165-6.
  • 18. Stroud schs. reps. 1829-30, 1842-3, 1844-5.
  • 19. Ibid. 1835-6.
  • 20. Ibid. 1855-6.
  • 21. Ibid. 1835-6, 1844-5.
  • 22. Ed. 7/35/308, 323.
  • 23. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1885), 618.
  • 24. Ibid. 583.
  • 25. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 328.
  • 26. Educ. of Poor Digest, 313.
  • 27. Fisher, Stroud, 320, 325, 327.
  • 28. Ibid. 320; Rep. Com. Handloom Weavers, p. 503.
  • 29. Ed. 7/35/306.
  • 30. Fisher, Stroud, 328.
  • 31. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1885), 583.
  • 32. Lond. Gaz. 3 June 1881, p. 2859; Glos. R.O., SB 38/1.
  • 33. Ed. 7/35/309.
  • 34. Ed. 7/35/310; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1885), 583.
  • 35. Glos. R.O., SB 38/2.
  • 36. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 900, 938.
  • 37. Libby, Stroud, 101; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 900.
  • 38. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1906), 310.
  • 39. Glos. C.C. Mins. xix. 185.
  • 40. Bd. of Educ., List 21,1922 (H.M.S.O.), 107; 1936, 124.
  • 41. Ex inf. the head teacher, Castle Street Infants sch.; Fisher, Stroud, 41-2.
  • 42. Ex inf. the head teachers.
  • 43. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1922 (H.M.S.O.), 108; 1932, 119; 1936, 125; ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 44. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1922 (H.M.S.O.), 108.
  • 45. Ex inf. the head teacher.
  • 46. Libby, Stroud, 104-28; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1894), 300.
  • 47. Glos. Colln. RF 293.2.
  • 48. Educ. Authorities Dir. (1971), 270.
  • 49. Stroud and Neighbourhood (1907); Stroud and District Residential Guide (1913), 34.
  • 50. Glos. Colln. (H) E 2.5 (49).
  • 51. Educ. Authorities Dir. (1971), 270.
  • 52. Glos. C.C. Mins xx. 243; xxi. 119; Ed. 7/35/309B.
  • 53. Stroud Jnl. Centenary Suppl. (1954), 5; Glos. C.C. Mins. xxxvi. 105.
  • 54. Stroud Valley Industrial Handbk. (1963), 7.
  • 55. Educ. Authorities Dir. (1971), 270.
  • 56. Libby, Stroud, 131-4; see above, plate facing p. 96.
  • 57. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1897), 305; (1906), 308.
  • 58. Glos. Colln. RF 293.2.
  • 59. Stroud Jnl. Centenary Suppl. (1954), 7.
  • 60. Glos. Colln. (H) B 14.31; RF 55.1.
  • 61. Stroud News and Jnl. 30 Jan. 1959; 13 Aug. 1970.