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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A part of the profits of the ancient endowment of parish lands held by the Bisley feoffees was allotted to the payment of a school wmaster. (fn. 1) Thomas Knight, the unlicensed schoolmaster recorded in 1616, was probably supported by the charity. (fn. 2) In 1662 the feoffees agreed to pay £10 of their income to a schoolmaster (fn. 3) and between that year and 1704 five masters were licensed to teach the school at Bisley, usually called the free school. (fn. 4) A building for use as a school-house and courthouse standing at the north-west corner of the churchyard was conveyed to trustees by Thomas Tayloe of Over Court in 1685. (fn. 5) In 1735 16 boys were being taught reading, writing, and accounting in the free school, (fn. 6) and about the same number were taught in the early 19th century. In 1818 the master was still receiving a salary of £10 (fn. 7) but from the 1820s he was paid £13-15 out of the funds of Ridler's charity, possibly because a part of the endowment of that charity had been acquired with an accumulation of the Bisley feoffees' funds. (fn. 8) From 1855 the free school boys were taught at a new National school built at the north-west corner of the churchyard, evidently on the site of the old free school building. (fn. 9)
Another charity school, known as the Bisley Blue Coat school, was founded by John Taylor, clothier of Stroud, who by will dated 1732 left a house and c. 30 a. of land in Upton St. Leonards to support the education and clothing of 10 boys. (fn. 10) By 1736 the trustees of the charity were employing a schoolmaster at a salary of £8. Eight boys were being taught in the 1770s, and in 1807 the master was receiving £15 for teaching 15 boys. (fn. 11) In 1826, when his salary had been reduced to £12 12s., the same master taught the Blue Coat and the free school and in 1839 he was also taking some private pupils. The rental of the land belonging to the charity was £25 in the mid 18th century but was raised to £52 10s. in the early 19th. (fn. 12) From 1855 the Blue Coat boys were taught at the National school. (fn. 13) The charity continued to clothe the boys until the early 20th century. (fn. 14) In 1815 the bulk of its annual income, which then came from stock, the land having been sold in 1863, was assigned to finance scholarships for Bisley boys at the Marling School, Stroud. (fn. 15)
Walter Ridler, clothier, by will dated 1699 left £300 to the poor of Bisley and his niece Joan Ridler by will dated 1714 left another £300. Mary Ridler, Joan's sister, by will of 1715 charged an estate at Haresfield with a rent of £30 to answer for the interest on the two benefactions and apparently directed the proceeds to an educational purpose; a further £2 was later added to the rent-charge to answer for a gift of £40 by Thomas Ridler. (fn. 16) About 1775 £220 accumulated from the charity together with another £200, accumulations of either the Ridlers' or the Bisley feoffees' charity, were invested in stock and in 1785 Ridler's charity had an annual income of £49 13s. (fn. 17) From 1717 the funds of the charity were used to support a number of small schools in different parts of the parish. A total of over 160 children were being taught in 1732, and in 1785 six dame schools were teaching 148 children. In 1795 the charity was supporting dame schools, whose teachers were each paid £7 a year, at Chalford, Eastcombe, Oakridge, and Bisley, and Sunday schools, whose teachers were paid £5 4s., at the same places. (fn. 18) In 1811 there were weekly schools at Oakridge Lynch, Avenis Green, Chalford Hill, and Eastcombe, and Sunday schools at Bisley and Chalford. By 1818, however, difficulties in finding suitable teachers had led to the closure of all but one of the weekly schools, and most of the resources of the charity were applied to maintain a Sunday school with c. 180 pupils, apparently that in connection with the Church of England chapel at Chalford. (fn. 19) From the late 1820s the charity, besides paying the salary of the master of the free school, helping to support Sunday schools at Chalford and Bisley, and expending another part of its funds on calico for the poor, also made contributions to the various church day-schools started then; its contribution of £5 to those schools in 1829 had been increased to £21 by 1846. (fn. 20)
The schools towards which Ridler's charity contributed in 1829 included one in Bisley village where in 1839 40 girls were being taught to knit, sew, and read; besides £3 from the charity, the school was financed by pence and contributions by the vicar. (fn. 21) The master of the boy's National school built in 1855 received the whole or part of his salary from Ridler's charity, (fn. 22) and the new school was also supported in part by the Blue Coat school trustees, who managed it with the clergy, and the Bisley feoffees, who maintained the building; further sums were raised by pence and voluntary contributions. In 1871 the average attendance was 108, including both boys and girls, the old church girls' school having presumably been absorbed. (fn. 23) In 1910, as the Bisley with Lypiatt C. of E. school for mixed juniors and infants, it had an average attendance of 121, falling to 70 by 1936, (fn. 24) and in 1972, by which time it had been renamed Bisley Bluecoat school, the attendance was 63. (fn. 25)
At Chalford there was a church day-school by 1829, and in 1839 it was teaching 50 boys and had an income from pence and contributions by the clergy, with £5 from Ridler's charity. (fn. 26) In 1842 a new National school was built north of Chalford church (fn. 27) and in 1847, when it applied for a government grant, it had an income from pence, voluntary contributions, and a local subscription. (fn. 28) It was enlarged in 1885 to accommodate 158 mixed juniors and infants and it was again enlarged in 1905. (fn. 29) In 1910, known as the Chalford C. of E. school, it had an average attendance of 149. The average attendance fell to 86 by 1936 (fn. 30) and 49 by 1972. (fn. 31)
After the building of the new chapel for France Meeting in 1819, the Old Vestry was remodelled for use as a Sunday school and c. 1840 a day-school for boys and girls was started there in association with the Baptists of the Copse chapel. (fn. 32) In 1855 a new schoolroom was built adjoining the chapel at Chalford Hill and the school housed there was reestablished as a British school in 1866. It applied for a grant in the latter year when, financed by voluntary contributions and pence, it had an average attendance of 70. A new building south of the chapel was opened in 1874 with an attendance of 159. (fn. 33) A school board formed in 1899 managed the school for a few years (fn. 34) until the application of the 1902 Act, under which it became the Chalford Hill Council school. In 1910 it was teaching c. 230 mixed juniors and infants and, after some falling off in attendance in the 1920s, it regained its former size by 1936 when it had an average attendance of 251. (fn. 35) In 1972, known as Chalford Hill County Primary school, it had an attendance of 253. (fn. 36)
France Lynch had a church day-school attended by 24 infants in 1847, (fn. 37) which in 1853 was being partly supported by Ridler's charity. (fn. 38) A new National school was built west of the church there in 1868 and it was re-established in 1871 with an income from voluntary contributions, pence, and £20 from an endowment, and with an average attendance of 90 mixed juniors and infants. (fn. 39) It had an average attendance of 85 in 1910, falling to 60 by 1922. (fn. 40) It was closed in 1932 (fn. 41) and the children transferred to Chalford Hill Council school. The building was later used mainly for village social purposes. (fn. 42)
At Oakridge a church day-school had been started by 1829 and from c. 1837 it was housed in schoolrooms built adjoining the new church. In 1839 117 boys and girls were taught there by the curate serving the church who, apart from a contribution of £6 from Ridler's charity, supplied the funds. Associated with it was a Sunday school with an attendance of 158. (fn. 43) In 1860, when the dayschool had an attendance of only 33 and was supported by pence, voluntary contributions, and payments from a lectureship and the Bisley feoffees, a grant was applied for, (fn. 44) and in 1872 the school was transferred to a new building by the green north of the church. (fn. 45) In 1885 Oakridge National school had an average attendance of 90. (fn. 46) In 1910, as the Oakridge Parochial school for mixed juniors and infants, it had an average attendance of 93. The average attendance was 81 in 1936 (fn. 47) and had fallen to 33 by 1972. (fn. 48) A Wesleyan school was built at Oakridge c. 1864 and had an average attendance of 40 in 1885; it was apparently closed when the 1902 Act came into operation. (fn. 49)
A church day-school had been started at Bussage by 1831, and in 1839, when it was supported by the vicar of Bisley and by a grant of £3 from Ridler's charity, it was teaching 52 children, and there was an associated Sunday school with an attendance of 122. (fn. 50) A new National school was opened south of Bussage church in 1848, and in 1854, when it applied for a grant, it was supported by pence, voluntary contributions, and other sources, including a payment from the Bisley feoffees. (fn. 51) It was enlarged in 1884, and in 1885 had an average attendance of 77. (fn. 52) In 1910, as the Bussage C. of E. school, it had an average attendance of 54 and it maintained its size in 1936. (fn. 53) In 1972 the attendance was 50. (fn. 54)
There were church day-schools for boys and girls at Eastcombe by 1847, which were supported partly by pence and had a total attendance of 48. (fn. 55) A new National school was built near the south end of the village in 1868 and had an average attendance of 55 in 1885. (fn. 56) In 1910, as the Eastcombe C. of E. school, it was teaching c. 68 children. (fn. 57) It was closed in 1918 (fn. 58) and the building became St. Augustine's chapel of ease. The Baptist chapel at Eastcombe supported Sunday and day-schools in 1851 (fn. 59) and a British school was built south of the chapel in 1878. It had an average attendance of 61 in 1885. (fn. 60) It later became the Eastcombe Undenominational school and in 1910 had an average attendance of 87 mixed juniors and infants, falling to 40 by 1936. (fn. 61) In 1972, as the Eastcombe County Primary school, it had an attendance of 62. (fn. 62)