Tetbury: Education

Pages 281-282

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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The history of the original Tetbury grammar school, founded under Sir William Romney's will and maintained by the feoffees until the end of the 18th century, has been outlined in another volume. (fn. 1) Some details of the school in the time of the Revd. Henry Wightwick may be added here. On Wightwick's appointment as master in 1721 the salary was increased to £30 and a house acquired for him. He later had to carry on the school in the face of difficulties caused by the disputes over the trust estate; the feoffees stopped paying his salary in 1746 and did not resume it until after 1758, and their failure to repair the schoolroom forced him to remove the school to his house. (fn. 2) Wightwick had other sources of income, for he was rector of Ashley and also taught about six private boarding pupils together with the ten or eleven charity boys. (fn. 3)

By the late 17th century the feoffees were also maintaining a charity school for teaching children to read and write. (fn. 4) It was taught by a dame in 1691, (fn. 5) and in 1741 by a master who received a salary of £6. (fn. 6) It was probably discontinued soon afterwards.

The Scheme for the trust estate drawn up in 1830 provided for salaries of £70 and £35 for a master and mistress to teach poor boys and girls and a sum of £30 for the expenses of the school; it also associated the vicar with the feoffees in the management of the school. A new National school was built by subscription at the entrance to the Charlton road and was opened in 1837. Although the feoffees attempted to reduce the scale of payments laid down by the Scheme, the school was apparently supported by the endowment alone until 1848. (fn. 7) By 1847, however, an infants' school, supported by subscriptions and pence, was held in association with it, and the two schools then had a total attendance of 279. (fn. 8) A new schoolroom for the infants was added in 1849, and teachers' houses were built in 1862. (fn. 9) In 1885 the schools' average attendance was 400 (fn. 10) and they required enlargements in the following years to house 500 by 1894. (fn. 11) In 1912, as the Tetbury C. of E. schools, they had an average attendance of 380, falling to 321 by 1936. (fn. 12) In 1974 the total attendance was 526, organized as separate junior and infant schools. (fn. 13) The payments under the 1830 Scheme, known as the Romney Educational Foundation from 1906, (fn. 14) were used in 1974 to cover particular expenses of the C. of E. schools and Sir William Romney's School. (fn. 15)

Elizabeth Hodges of Shipton Moyne by will dated 1723 gave £30 charged on Lorridge farm near Stinchcombe to augment the charity schools of Tetbury, and a small augmentation to the charity was made by Matthew Sloper by will dated 1770. (fn. 16) The implementation of Elizabeth Hodges's will was hampered by litigation but in 1725 her trustees agreed to set up a separate school at Tetbury for teaching poor children reading, writing, and accounting, and in 1730 it was decreed in Chancery that 15 boys should be taught. (fn. 17) The school was opened in 1730. (fn. 18) Fifteen boys were still being taught by the charity in 1818 when the master also took a larger number of fee-paying pupils. (fn. 19) The endowment was later applied to the National school. (fn. 20)

In 1818 the parish also had a number of dame schools, (fn. 21) and in 1833 there were eight small feepaying schools with a total of 103 pupils. (fn. 22) A church Sunday school had been started by 1788 when Anne Wight endowed it with £100, and further endowments were added by Sarah Paul, Ann Gastrell, and John Webber. (fn. 23) It was teaching 174 children in 1833 by which time two Baptist Sunday schools had been started. (fn. 24) A Presbyterian school was being held in 1735 (fn. 25) but no further reference to it has been found.

In 1921 a grammar school, called Sir William Romney's School, was opened at the Ferns in Long Street; it was supported by the county council and the original attendance was about 60, rising to 129 by 1934. (fn. 26) In 1952 the school was reorganized as a comprehensive school and it had an attendance of over 400 children by the mid 1960s. In 1969 it moved to new buildings on Lowfield Road north of the town, where 625 children from a wide area were being taught in 1974. (fn. 27)


  • 1. V.C.H. Glos. ii. 438-9.
  • 2. Glos. R.O., D 566/R 5/1.
  • 3. Ibid. L 7/3, 15.
  • 4. G.D.R., V 5/300T 5; Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 210v.
  • 5. Glos. R.O., D 566/B 2/1.
  • 6. Ibid. 5.
  • 7. Ibid. B 1/1; Ed. 7/35/315.
  • 8. Church Schools Inquiry, 1846-7, 16-17.
  • 9. Glos. R.O., D 566/B 1/1; R 5/4.
  • 10. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1885), 593.
  • 11. Ibid. (1894), 311.
  • 12. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1912 (H.M.S.O.), 168; 1936, 124.
  • 13. Ex inf. county educ. dept.
  • 14. Char. Com. files.
  • 15. Ex inf. Mr. Phillips.
  • 16. 18th Rep. Com. Char. 359, 361.
  • 17. Glos. R.O., D 149/R 67; D 1571/R 24.
  • 18. Ibid. D 1571/R 22.
  • 19. Educ. of Poor Digest, 314.
  • 20. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1885), 593.
  • 21. Educ. of Poor Digest, 314.
  • 22. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 328.
  • 23. 18th Rep. Com. Char. 363-4.
  • 24. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 328.
  • 25. G.D.R. vol. 285B, f. 19.
  • 26. Glos. R.O., D 2487/Q 1.
  • 27. Ex inf. the headmaster.