Painswick: 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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'Painswick: Education', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 85-86. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]


A schoolmaster was recorded at Painswick in 1576. Schoolmasters were again recorded in 1671 and 1695 (fn. 1) and a school-house in 1692, (fn. 2) and, although the parish was said to lack a school c. 1708, (fn. 3) John Parker was headmaster at Painswick in 1711. (fn. 4) The parish school was placed on a sound basis by Giles Smith who in 1707 ordered £200 to be raised from the sale of lands within 5 years of the decease of himself and his wife to teach 10 poor boys to read, write, and cast accounts. The number of boys was increased to 20 by a further sum of £250 raised by subscription which with Smith's bequest was used in 1725 to buy an estate in Haresfield and a gallery in the church for the use of the boys. The school was held in the town hall where in the 1820s 26 boys were instructed freely alongside some paying pupils. John Hillman (d. 1814) left £450 to the school and the sum was allowed to accumulate until 1826 when £625 of stock was held and £169 in cash remained unapplied. The interest was used to apprentice one boy annually and to supplement the income of the schoolmaster. (fn. 5) In 1833 25 boys were taught at the school, known as the Endowed school. (fn. 6)

In 1828 two cottages at Butt Green in the north part of the town were fitted out by W. H. Hyett as a boys' school, known as the Edge and Spoonbed school in 1833 when it had 134 pupils; it continued there until 1836. In 1833 a girls' National school with 88 pupils was housed in former industrial buildings at Ham Butts, and a girls' benevolent school, with 46 pupils, was carried on as a nonsectarian school in a house near Fairview at the south end of New Street. In 1837 the benevolent school moved to the cottages at Butt Green which had been vacated by the boys' school, and it later moved to premises in Bisley Street before uniting with the girls' National school c. 1844. Later the girls' school and an infants' school, which had been started in the cottages at Butt Green, (fn. 7) became part of a new National school where boys also were taught. In 1847 new buildings, designed by George Basevi, were opened south of the churchyard. (fn. 8)

In 1853 the National school and the Endowed school were amalgamated to form the Painswick United National and Free schools. The Endowed school had been held since the demolition of the old town hall in an upper storey of the new town hall, which became the home of the boys' section of the united schools. The schools, which catered for pupils up to the age of 15, followed the advice of W. H. Hyett and laid stress on practical training, including carpentry and printing for boys, and sewing classes for girls. The average attendance at the United schools was 140 in 1857 (fn. 9) but in 1861 the union was dissolved (fn. 10) and the Endowed school, with 26 free and other fee-paying pupils, continued its independent existence until its closure in 1867. (fn. 11)

A classroom was added to the Painswick National school building in 1855 (fn. 12) but the money derived from subscriptions was no longer a sufficient income for the school and the other National schools already established in the parish, at Sheepscombe, where a voluntary rate of 3d. helped to meet expenses, Slad, and Stroudend. In 1877 a school board was formed for the parish to which the Painswick boys', girls', and infants' sections, and the Sheepscombe, Slad, and Stroudend schools were affiliated. (fn. 13) Two other parochial schools, the Edge Church of England school and the Beeches Green Roman Catholic school remained aloof from the school board. The board continued to administer the other schools in the parish and formed a united school district for Painswick and Uplands after the latter was made a separate parish in 1894. (fn. 14) From 1897 until 1899 the expense of building a new school at Uplands led to friction between the two parish councils, finally resolved by the levying of a differential rate. (fn. 15) Under the Act of 1902 the responsibilities of the school district were taken over by the county council.

After the formation of the school board the three sections of the Painswick school, known as the Painswick Board school, were held in the town hall and the National school building, which was enlarged in 1881. A gallery was erected in the school in 1887 and a new schoolroom built for the infants' section in 1897. (fn. 16) Known as the Painswick County Primary school, it had an average attendance of 246 in 1910 and 196 in 1932. The boys' and girls' sections were amalgamated soon afterwards. (fn. 17) New premises for the infants' section were opened in 1970 at the Croft, near Gloucester Street, but the juniors remained in the old school building in 1972 when there was a total of 160 children on the school roll. (fn. 18)

A school had probably been founded at Sheepscombe in 1822 (fn. 19) and certainly by 1833 when it had 40 pupils. (fn. 20) A new building was built at the west end of the village in 1873 (fn. 21) but it was unsatisfactory and the school was transferred in 1880 to a former Sunday school building on the lane to Far End, which was enlarged. (fn. 22) In 1910 the school had 62 pupils, but the average attendance had declined to 18 by 1936. (fn. 23) In 1972 there were 33 children on the roll. (fn. 24)

A National school was built at Slad in 1838 (fn. 25) and had an average attendance of 44 in 1847. (fn. 26) Financial difficulties led to a temporary closure before the formation of the board in 1877. (fn. 27) In 1910 there were 56 pupils, and it had 20 in 1936 (fn. 28) by which date it had become an infants' school. (fn. 29) In 1966 the school was transferred to a terrapin classroom in the grounds of Uplands County Primary school and it was absorbed by the Uplands school in 1968. (fn. 30)

An infant school with 45 pupils was recorded in Stroudend in 1833. (fn. 31) New school buildings near the site later chosen for the church at Uplands were opened in 1872 when the average attendance at the school was 27. (fn. 32) The school closed temporarily in 1877 (fn. 33) but subsequently expanded rapidly and two new classrooms were added in 1880; (fn. 34) it had an average attendance of 186 in 1889. (fn. 35) A new school, called the Uplands school, on a site north of the earlier buildings, was opened in 1899. (fn. 36) It had an average attendance of 267 in 1910 and of 175 in 1936. (fn. 37) In 1972 there were 198 children on the roll. (fn. 38)

A Church of England school was opened at Edge in 1872 and was financed by voluntary contributions and pence. (fn. 39) In 1890 there were 49 children on the roll (fn. 40) and in 1910 the average attendance was 50, increasing to 58 by 1936. (fn. 41) A terrapin classroom was added in 1963 and 54 children attended the school in 1972. (fn. 42)

A Roman Catholic school was established in a house at Beeches Green in 1859 and had a fitful career until placed under government inspection in 1874. It was reorganized and reopened with 41 pupils in 1875. In 1883 new buildings for the school, called the Rosary school, were built on a site formerly reserved for the chancel of the Catholic church. (fn. 43) The school, which had 92 on the roll in 1890, (fn. 44) was closed temporarily from 1891 until 1893, (fn. 45) and had an average attendance of 80 in 1910 and of 59 in 1936. (fn. 46) It continued as an all-age school and grew rapidly after the Second World War, having 230 pupils in 1957. (fn. 47) In 1964 it became a primary school for children up to 11 years and in 1967 it was transferred to new buildings (fn. 48) west of the convent. In 1972 there were 296 children on the roll drawn from Stroud town and a wide area north and west. There was a Catholic secondary school for girls attached to St. Rose's convent for some years before it closed in 1970, and Catholic children of secondary age attended school at Gloucester in 1972. The convent also ran St. Rose's Special school for physically handicapped girls, founded in 1912 and housed at Stratford Lawn, Beeches Green, in 1972; it catered for boarding and day students up to the age of 16 years. There were 64 pupils on the roll in 1972 when the school was beginning to extend its facilities to handicapped boys. (fn. 49)

A classroom at the Painswick National school was used for an adult evening class in 1855, (fn. 50) and in 1864 a regular night-school, which included a science class, was held there with an average attendance of 20. (fn. 51) In 1892 the former Endowed school foundation was used to establish an evening-school at Painswick for boys aged 12-20, of whom 26 would be taught freely. In 1901 the coffee tavern premises were acquired for the school, (fn. 52) but the estate at Haresfield was sold in 1922 (fn. 53) and the school had ceased to function by 1972 when children attending the parochial primary schools usually progressed to secondary schools in Stroud.

A charity founded by William Baylis (d. 1826) (fn. 54) provided money for apprenticing one boy each year to the teaching profession, and in 1898 it was used to provide an annual exhibition of £7 for any male resident of Painswick attending a teachertraining college. (fn. 55) Elizabeth Cox (d. 1845) bequeathed £350 towards the cost of founding a school for domestic servants. In 1856 the income was used to train at the Painswick National school two girls who boarded with the schoolmistress (fn. 56) but in 1898 it was being used to assist any girls from the parish attending domestic science college. (fn. 57)

A British school, built next to the Congregational chapel in Gloucester Street in 1844, had apparently closed by the 1870s. (fn. 58) Sunday schools flourished at Painswick, Sheepscombe, and Slad in the late 18th century and the early 19th, and the Sheepscombe school was claimed to be one of the earliest in the country. (fn. 59) There have been a number of small private schools recorded at various times since 1850. (fn. 60)


  • 1. Hockaday Abs. xlvii, 1576 visit. f. 102; cccix.
  • 2. Churchwardens' acct. bk. 1681-1753.
  • 3. Bodl. MS. Top. Glouc. c. 3, f. 170v.
  • 4. Hockaday Abs. cccix.
  • 5. 14th Rep. Com. Char. 62-6.
  • 6. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 323.
  • 7. Ibid.; Hyett, Painswick, 56-7, 59.
  • 8. Painswick National sch. min. bk. 1844-80, penes the vicar.
  • 9. Hyett, Painswick, 59-62; Annual Reps. of United National and Free Schs. (Painswick, 1855-9): copies in Glos. R.O.
  • 10. Sch. managers' min. bk. 1844-64, penes the vicar.
  • 11. Hyett, Painswick, 63.
  • 12. 1st Rep. Painswick Schs. (1855).
  • 13. Painswick Annual Reg. 95-6; Glos. R.O., SB 31/1.
  • 14. Painswick Annual Reg. 192.
  • 15. Ibid. 281-2, 287-9, 321-9.
  • 16. Glos. R.O., SB 31/2-3.
  • 17. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1911 (H.M.S.O.), 165; 1932, 117; 1936, 123.
  • 18. Ex inf. the head teacher.
  • 19. Glos. R.O., DC/E 2.
  • 20. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 323.
  • 21. Ed. 7/35/252; cf. O.S. Map 6", Glos. XLII.NW. (1855 edn.).
  • 22. Painswick Annual Reg. 97; Glos. R.O., SB 31/2; cf. O.S. Map 6", Glos. XLII.NW. (1903 edn.).
  • 23. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1911 (H.M.S.O.), 165; 1936, 123.
  • 24. Ex inf. county educ. dept.
  • 25. Ed. 7/35/253.
  • 26. Church School Inquiry, 1846-7, 15-16.
  • 27. Painswick Annual Reg. 96.
  • 28. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1911 (H.M.S.O.), 165; 1936, 123.
  • 29. W.I. hist. of Slad, 16.
  • 30. Ex inf. the head teacher, Uplands County Primary sch.
  • 31. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 323.
  • 32. Ed. 7/35/311.
  • 33. Painswick Annual Reg. 96.
  • 34. Ibid. 97; Glos. R.O., SB 31/1-2.
  • 35. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 900.
  • 36. Painswick Annual Reg. 340-1; cf. Glos. R.O., DC/E 8.
  • 37. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1911 (H.M.S.O.), 167; 1936, 124.
  • 38. Ex inf. the head teacher.
  • 39. Ed. 7/35/251.
  • 40. Painswick Annual Reg. 6.
  • 41. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1911 (H.M.S.O.), 165; 1936, 123.
  • 42. Ex inf. the head teacher.
  • 43. Ed. 7/35/307; Langston, 'Cath. Missions', i, pp. 112- 113.
  • 44. Painswick Annual Reg. 6.
  • 45. Ed. 7/35/307.
  • 46. Bd. of Educ., List 21, 1911 (H.M.S.O.), 167; 1936, 124.
  • 47. Langston, 'Cath. Missions', i, p. 123.
  • 48. Sch. min. bk. penes the head teacher.
  • 49. Ex inf. the head teachers, Rosary sch. and St. Rose's Special sch.
  • 50. 1st Rep. Painswick Schs. (1855).
  • 51. Glos. Colln. R 229.37.
  • 52. Glos. R.O., CH 2-3.
  • 53. Ibid. D 1379, sale partics.
  • 54. Glos. Colln. RR 229.18 (2).
  • 55. Glos. R.O., CH 5.
  • 56. Ibid. D 6/R 6.
  • 57. Ibid. CH 4.
  • 58. Hyett, Painswick, 59 and n.
  • 59. Ibid. 57-9.
  • 60. Glos. R.O., Painswick tracts, ii, no. 33; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).