Twickenham: Schools

Pages 163-166

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

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By the gift of John and Frances West in 1720, Twickenham shared with Reading and Newbury the right to send as many children to Christ's Hospital as the endowment would support. Most were to be boys, and a preference was given to founders' kin. During the 19th century the founders' kin gave considerable trouble to the vestry, who made the elections. The West's Charity boys were said in 1840 to be perhaps the lowest class admitted to the school, though the governors refused to take those whose parents were actually on relief. When they left, the boys were apprenticed, usually in their own parishes, to rather inferior trades. The property of the charity was in London, and as it rose in value Twickenham's share increased. By 1840 the parish had seven places at Christ's Hospital and from 1911 to 1951 there were eighteen. (fn. 1) Since 1951 the number has been reduced, and in 1958 there were 7 boys and 3 girls from Twickenham on the foundation. (fn. 2)

In 1648 the vestry appointed a schoolmaster and repaired part of the church house to be used as a school. (fn. 3) The 'maids' school', which was repaired in the same year, (fn. 4) may have been separate, so that the school in the church house may have been for boys only. It seems to have been discontinued by 1669, but was to be resumed in the old schoolroom in the house in 1683. In 1686 a schoolmaster was appointed and was to take three poor boys free, presumably in addition to his private pupils. He was given notice to find other accommodation in 1699, (fn. 5) and nothing more is heard of the boys' school until the mid-18th century, except that some bequests were made to the free or charity school of Twickenham in the intervening period. (fn. 6) In 1749 the school, which had been much neglected, was revived, and a schoolmaster was appointed who was forbidden to take private pupils. There were 20 boys in the school until 1785 when the number was raised to 30. Various houses were used, and from 1750 ten of the pupils were boarded. All were given clothes. They did a good deal of industrial work-picking oakum, making nets and pins, and so forth-of which the master received the profits. Parents sometimes objected to the boys being apprenticed when they left, but the trustees insisted on this as they considered that it was one of the chief ends of the charity. (fn. 7)

The first reference to a school for girls after 1648 occurs in 1717, when its account books begin. (fn. 8) Most of the income came from subscriptions, but later there were also a few small endowments from legacies. The girls were given clothes, and in 1776 there were 24 of them, learning to read and write and being trained as 'common servants'. One woman seems to have served as schoolmistress from 1727 to 1789. In 1796 the girls' school was brought under the same management as the boys', and in 1809 both schools were replaced by new schools on Bell's system for both boys and girls. (fn. 9) The endowments were supplemented by a legacy of 1789 to the Sunday school, which was now also absorbed in the new school. (fn. 10) A new building was erected in the same year on the east side of School Alley, near its upper end. (fn. 11) About 1822 the school had an income of £135, and there were 110 boys and 70 girls, of whom 30 boys and 24 girls received free clothes. (fn. 12) In 1824 a fund was started to give prizes to children for good conduct as servants after they left: this was still being applied in the same way in 1897. (fn. 13) By 1860 the number of boys in the school had dropped to 80, and some pupils were still given free clothes, though the clothes were described as ridiculous and the schools as a disgrace to the parish. (fn. 14) Already, however, following the arrival of G. S. Master as vicar in 1859, the 'demoralizing system of gratuitous instruction' (fn. 15) had been replaced by 2d. fees, and the schools had begun to receive government grants. In 1862 new buildings for boys, girls, and infants were opened in Arragon Road. (fn. 16)

By 1819 there were also twenty schools in the parish chiefly supported by charity and containing some 260 children. (fn. 17) In 1833 there were several schools, including an infant school on Samuel Wilderspin's plan which had been started in 1830 and is probably identifiable with Lady Shaw's infant school. Lady Shaw also supported the Congregational church in First Cross Road until 1849, and the school may have met from 1844 in the Sunday school there. (fn. 18) About 1862 a British school for boys was opened in the Baptist schoolroom across the Green and a few months later a girls' department opened in the Congregational schoolroom. (fn. 19) The school received a government grant for a while before it closed about 1872, apparently for lack of subscriptions and pupils. (fn. 20)

In the meantime the schools of Holy Trinity Church in Vicarage Road had been built in 1842 as a memorial to Archdeacon G. O. Cambridge, (fn. 21) whose name they have since borne, and whose widow left them a small endowment. Like the church, they were designed by G. Basevi. In 1862 an infant school in connexion with Holy Trinity was opened in Colne Road, and this later ranked as part of Archdeacon Cambridge's schools. (fn. 22) At Whitton the Education Department used Kneller Hall from 1847 to 1856 for the training of masters for pauper and criminal children, (fn. 23) and the village school seems to have been opened under their auspices about 1850. (fn. 24) After 1856 it was an ordinary National school, though it was called an industrial school for some years. (fn. 25) The Montpelier chapel school, whose building still (1958) stands on the west side of Orleans Road, was built in 1856 for about 50 children and had to be enlarged before 1870. (fn. 26) By that date all the Church schools and the British school had about 700 pupils. (fn. 27) No school board was formed, and instead the voluntary schools were extended. (fn. 28) The first part of St. Stephen's school in Turk's Lane (now Winchester Road) was opened in 1876 under government inspection. A rented room across Orleans Road added to the accommodation at the Montpelier school from 1879, but the main building was later condemned by the Education Department, and the school was closed in 1896, when a second building of St. Stephen's was opened. This was the present school in the Chertsey Road, which then faced the older building (now demolished) across Winchester Road. (fn. 29) At about the same time both Archdeacon Cambridge's and Whitton schools were enlarged, (fn. 30) while a Roman Catholic school had been started in 1893. This was St. James's in Grosvenor Road, and its building may have stood on the site of the first St. James's chapel, which had been replaced some years before. (fn. 31)

By 1902, when the urban district council became the local education authority, the four Church of England schools and one Roman Catholic school together contained about 2,400 children. (fn. 32) The first council school was Trafalgar, in Third Cross Road. Temporary buildings were opened in 1904 and permanent ones, for 1,150 pupils, in 1906. (fn. 33) The Orleans Council School, off Richmond Road, had temporary buildings in 1910, and permanent ones were opened in 1911 and 1914. The Nelson School, Nelson Road, remained in its temporary accommodation from 1911 until 1928, and there was also a temporary council school in an Anglican mission room in Gould Road from 1919 to 1927. (fn. 34) The Heathfield School in Powder Mill Lane was opened in 1931, and, as Whitton filled up, received a succession of new classrooms in huts. (fn. 35) A voluntary school, the Bishop Perrin Memorial C. of E. School, was opened in 1936 to cater for the same new district. (fn. 36) Of the older Church schools, St. Mary's, the original parish school, was rebuilt in 1931, and St. Stephen's lost its older building when the Chertsey Road was constructed. (fn. 37)

All these were elementary schools. Until 1909 the nearest secondary schools were at Isleworth and Hampton. In that year the county and urban district councils jointly opened the girls' secondary school in Clifden Road for 220 pupils. At the same time the Hampton Grammar School for boys was enlarged, and 76 of its 221 pupils came in 1912 from Twickenham. (fn. 38) The girls' school was enlarged in 1936. (fn. 39) The building also housed a technical institute which was replaced in 1937 when the technical college in Egerton Road was opened. (fn. 40) Another secondary school, the Thames Valley County School for boys and girls, was opened in 1928. (fn. 41) In the meantime, the elementary schools, except for St. James's, which continued to take all ages, had been reorganized in the early 1930's so that all but Orleans took only primary pupils. Orleans took infants as well as seniors, and another school, the Kneller Council School, Meadway, was opened in 1935 for seniors. (fn. 42)

In 1937, when the borough was enlarged, it handed over its educational responsibilities to the county council. (fn. 43) Since then, the county council have opened two primary schools: these are an infant school in Cobbett Lane, opened in 1951 to supplement the existing Heathfield School, which was then restricted to juniors, and Chase Bridge Primary School, Kneller Road, opened in 1954. (fn. 44) In 1937 St. James's Roman Catholic School was rebuilt and in 1938 St. Edmunds's R.C. Infant School in Nelson Road, Whitton, was opened. (fn. 45) In 1958 the county primary schools had some 2,150 pupils between them, and the county secondary modern schools 1,870. The Thames Valley County Grammar School had 585 pupils, the Twickenham County Grammar School 851 (all girls), and the secondary technical school in Egerton Road 633. Of the Church of England schools, St. Mary's Parochial School had 287 juniors and infants, Archdeacon Cambridge's had 247 juniors at Vicarage Road and 114 infants at Briar Road, St. Stephen's had 348 juniors, Whitton had 54 junior boys, and Bishop Perrin Memorial School had 289 juniors and infants. The two Roman Catholic schools were St. James's, with 325 pupils, and St. Edmund's, with 191 infants. (fn. 46)

The police orphanage and Fortescue House boys' home, the second of which is still in existence, both had schools. The Royal Military School of Music succeeded the training college at Kneller Hall in 1856 and there has been a Roman Catholic training college at Strawberry Hill since about 1926. (fn. 47) A good many private schools are known to have been kept in the parish since the 17th century. William Fuller (1608-75), afterwards Bishop of Lincoln, had a school there during the Interregnum, and there was a 'fanatic schoolmaster' in the parish in 1685. (fn. 48) Ironside mentioned 'three capital boarding schools' near London Road among those existing in the late 18th century. Saville House, Twickenham House, Wellesley House, Arragon House, Grosvenor House, Holly House, Fortescue House, Bath House, and Brook House were all used as schools at different times in the 18th and 19th centuries. (fn. 49) In 1833 there were three boarding schools for boys, two for girls, and five private day schools, besides the probably humbler private schools at which there were some charity pupils. (fn. 50) In 1902 ten schools were entered in Kelly's Directory, and in 1957 there were seven private schools, most of which took both boys and girls. (fn. 51)


  • 1. 32nd Rep. Com. Char. pt. 6, [219], p. 320, H.C. (1840), xix; Twickenham Libr., Char. Com. Scheme for West's gifts, 1911; for elections, see Cobbett, Mem. of Twickenham, 177-8, 407-12, and Twickenham Par. Rec., Vestry Min. Bks. passim.
  • 2. Ex inf. Twickenham Borough Educ. Office.
  • 3. Par. Rec., Vestry Min. Bk. 1618-73, f. 15.
  • 4. Par. Rec., Churchwardens' Acct. Bk. 1636-65, ff. 92-93.
  • 5. Par. Rec., Vestry Min. Bk. 1618-73, f. 30; ibid. 1674- 1729, ff. 42, 56, 68, 95.
  • 6. 8th Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 13, pp. 395-8 (1823), viii; Lysons, Environs of Lond. iii. 602.
  • 7. Par. Rec., Charity Sch. Trustees' Bk. 1749-97; ibid. Minute Bk. 1749-1809, 30 Dec. 1749; 6 and 27 Oct. 1750; 30 Sept. 1752; 23 June 1772; Charity Sch. Memorandum (Acct.) Bk. 1749-1808, names the landlords to whom rent was paid.
  • 8. They are among the Par. Recs.
  • 9. Par. Rec., Vestry Min. Bk. 1790-1811, 25 Mar. 1809.
  • 10. Ibid.; 8th Rep. Com. Char. 398.
  • 11. M.R.O., Twickenham Incl. Award.
  • 12. 8th Rep. Com. Char. 398.
  • 13. Cobbett, Mem. of Twickenham, 151-2; Char. Com. files, rep. on Twickenham charities, 1898.
  • 14. Char. Com. files, rep. on Twickenham charities, 1898, citing similar rep. of 1860; cf. Inspectors' Reports among Par. Rec.
  • 15. Cobbett, op. cit. 154.
  • 16. Ibid. 153-4; Ed. 7/88, Twickenham, no. 1; for Master, see p. 159.
  • 17. Digest of Par. Returns, H.C. 224, p. 555 (1819), ix (1).
  • 18. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, H.C. 62, p. 582 (1835), xlii; cf. D.N.B. xxi. 232; Guildhall MS. 9580/7, p. 192; Twickenham Congregational Ch.: Triple Jubilee Celebrations 1952, 9; and see p. 162.
  • 19. British and Foreign Sch. Soc. Annual Rep. 1862; ibid. 1863.
  • 20. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council 1870, [C. 406], p. 503, H.C. (1871), xxii; ibid. 1872 [C. 812], p. 462, H.C. (1873), xxiv; Twickenham Libr., undated press-cutting.
  • 21. See p. 160.
  • 22. Ed. 7/88 Twickenham, no. 2; Char. Com. files, rep. of 1898.
  • 23. Cobbett, Mem. of Twickenham, 385-6.
  • 24. Char. Com. files, rep. of 1898; but cf. Ed. 7/88 Twickenham, no. 4.
  • 25. See Reps. of Educ. Cttee. of Council cited above.
  • 26. Date on building; Cobbett, Mem. of Twickenham, 145; Char. Com. files, rep. of 1898.
  • 27. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1870.
  • 28. See Memoir of Revd. W. M. Johnston (1905; copy in Twickenham Libr.).
  • 29. Char. Com. files, rep. of 1898; Ed. 7/88 Twickenham, no. 3.
  • 30. Char. Com. files, rep. of 1898.
  • 31. Ed. 7/88 Twickenham, no. 5; see p. 162.
  • 32. List of Public Elem. Schs. 1902-3, [Cd. 1490], p. 170, H.C. (1903), li.
  • 33. Ed. 7/88 Twickenham, no. 6; List of Public Elem. Schs. 1907, [Cd. 3901], p. 459, H.C. (1908), lxxxiv.
  • 34. Ed. 7/88 Twickenham, nos. 7-9; Bd. of Educ. List 21, 1922, 1932.
  • 35. Bd. of Educ. List 21, 1932, 1936, 1938; Twickenham B.C. Looking Backward: Charter 21st Anniversary, 14.
  • 36. Bd. of Educ. List. 21, 1936.
  • 37. Inscription on St. Mary's Sch. building; O.S. Maps 1/2,500 Mdx. xx. 12 (2nd and later edns.).
  • 38. Mdx. Cty. Council, Higher Educ. in Mdx. 1907, 59; Ibid. Supplement, 1912, 17-18.
  • 39. Richmond and Twickenham Times, 3 Oct. 1936, p. 6.
  • 40. Twickenham Libr., programme of ceremonial opening, 1938.
  • 41. Ex inf. Twickenham Borough Educ. Office.
  • 42. Bd. of Educ. List. 21, 1932; ibid. 1936, 1938.
  • 43. Ibid. 1938.
  • 44. Ex inf. Borough Educ. Office.
  • 45. Richmond and Twickenham Times, 10 Apr. 1937, p. 3.
  • 46. Ex inf. Borough Educ. Office.
  • 47. See p. 143.
  • 48. D.N.B. vii. 762; Guildhall MS. 9537/20.
  • 49. Lysons, Supplement to Environs of Lond. 317; Cobbett, Mem. of Twickenham, 340, 360, 362-3, 367.
  • 50. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 583.
  • 51. Ex inf. Borough Educ. Office; for the convent, see p. 162.