South Mimms: Education

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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'South Mimms: Education', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham, (London, 1976) pp. 304-306. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]


There was a schoolmaster at South Mimms in 1580. (fn. 1) In 1752 the vestry appointed a man to teach children at a school held in the church (fn. 2) but there was still no endowed school in 1800, when the education of the poor was financed by voluntary subscriptions. (fn. 3) In 1816 a Sunday school accommodated c. 70 children (fn. 4) and in 1819 it contained 155 children, some of whom were partly clothed by subscriptions. In addition four unendowed day schools provided for 185 children by 1819: 14 or 15 poor girls were clothed and educated in a school founded by Mrs. Byng of Wrotham Park; a school at South Mimms and Potters Bar contained 100 children; a school at Bentley Heath accommodated 30; and another at Barnet and Hadley contained 40. (fn. 5) In 1833 there were ten day schools, one for 20 girls paid for by Mrs. Byng and the other nine containing 166 boys and 74 girls at the charge of their parents; 3 Sunday schools, accommodating 99 boys and 80 girls, were all supported by voluntary contributions. (fn. 6)

Although plans for a National school were made c. 1816 (fn. 7) it was not until 1834 that one was started. A permanent brick building, consisting of a mixed schoolroom and an infants' classroom, separated by the teachers' residence, was erected in Blanche Lane in 1836. (fn. 8) The school received a parliamentary grant of £75 in 1837 (fn. 9) and was afterwards financed by voluntary contributions, school pence, and, from 1870, regular parliamentary grants. In 1857 a master and a mistress had charge of 93 children and an evening school was run in connexion with the day school. (fn. 10) Matthew Arnold commented adversely in 1871-3, but was pleased after the school's enlargement in 1874, while still critical of the examination work. (fn. 11) By 1878-9 the teaching in the infants' class earned high praise, (fn. 12) although irregular attendance continued to hamper progress in the junior school. (fn. 13) In 1884 the school was rebuilt for 180 children (fn. 14) and by 1893, with an average attendance of 115, (fn. 15) it was described as a well-ordered country school doing creditable work. (fn. 16) It later became known as St. Giles's Church of England school and in 1958 moved to new premises closer to the church. In 1972 it was attended by 121 pupils. (fn. 17)

A National school, later known as St. John's Church of England school, was built at the expense of the first incumbent of St. John's in Potters Bar in 1839, (fn. 18) on land in Barnet Road given by George Byng. It was a brick building, consisting of a schoolroom for boys, girls, and infants, and a teacher's house, where the parlour was occasionally used as a classroom. It was maintained by voluntary contributions and school pence and, after 1870, regular parliamentary grants. There were 41 pupils in 1839, taught by a master and mistress, and 77 in 1857. (fn. 19) The infants were transferred to their own school on vicarage land in 1862, (fn. 20) described as a 'succursal' of the National school (fn. 21) but in practice a separate institution, erected and governed by the incumbent. The schoolroom and teacher's house formed one building which was surrounded by a playground. The children were taught plain needlework, and the average attendance in 1878 was 46. The school was maintained by voluntary contributions, which were supplemented by the founder, and by school pence. (fn. 22) On the founder's death in 1890 the infants' school was placed under the same management as the junior school, and, with rising attendance, was in constant financial difficulty. After subsidence under the old premises the juniors moved in 1872 to Southgate Road, where land had been given by Mrs. Kemble. The new school, incorporating houses for a master and mistress, was built with a little help from the National Society. (fn. 23) The average attendance in 1872 was 65 (fn. 24) and 117 by 1888. (fn. 25) The building was enlarged in 1893. (fn. 26)

Christ Church Parochial or National school was established in 1844 in St. Albans Road, the year before Christ Church itself was built on an adjoining site. The first classrooms (in 1972 the headquarters of the Barnet Division of the British Red Cross Society) were taken over for the girls when new premises for the boys were built in Alston Road in 1880. (fn. 27) In 1892 a separate infants' department was added on land given by Lord Strafford (d. 1898) adjacent to the original school, to replace a temporary iron room which had been condemned. The schools were erected without aid from the National Society, although from 1893 grants were received from the Society, in addition to a parliamentary maintenance grant which had been paid since 1872. In 1876 92 children were attending the schools (fn. 28) and by 1893 the average attendance had risen to 462. (fn. 29) In 1952 the girls joined the boys in Alston Road, where the infants were also accommodated, under a separate head. The infants moved to a twoclassroom building in Byng Road in 1962 whither the juniors followed in 1968, after three more classrooms had been added. (fn. 30)

A British school existed in Union Street, Barnet, from c. 1854 to 1866. It was served by a master and mistress and was attended by an average of 80 boys and 50 girls. (fn. 31)

By 1870 four schools in South Mimms were connected with the Church of England or the National Society, while one school had no religious ties. There were two public schools accommodating 172 children, two private voluntary schools with 187 children, and one private 'adventure' school with 21 children. Two other establishments omitted to make returns. (fn. 32) One of the schools recorded was presumably the Barnet ragged or free school which had been founded in 1856; it was given new buildings in 1872, (fn. 33) probably no. 1A Union Street, (fn. 34) which was later used by the Y.W.C.A. (fn. 35) and from 1941 by Christian Spiritualists. (fn. 36)

A fifth Church of England school was erected by Lord Strafford (d. 1886) at Bentley Heath in 1876, to accommodate 50 infants. Average attendance was 40 in 1890 (fn. 37) but had fallen to 15 in 1904-5 (fn. 38) and to 9 in 1906. (fn. 39) The school was closed in 1914. (fn. 40)

The five Anglican schools accommodated c. 1,352 children in 1904-5. (fn. 41) Under the 1902 Act control of education in South Mimms passed to Middlesex C.C., except for the Barnet portion of the parish, containing the Christ Church schools, which was transferred to Hertfordshire C.C. (fn. 42) In 1910 Hertfordshire C.C. opened a senior and junior mixed school in Byng Road, (fn. 43) which in 1918-19 was attended by 178 seniors and 166 juniors. (fn. 44)

St. John's Church of England infants' school was handed over to Middlesex C.C. by 1919 (fn. 45) and St. John's junior mixed in 1920. (fn. 46) Under the recommendations of the Hadow Report, St. John's schools were reorganized in 1933, the High Street school becoming a senior mixed school and the Southgate Road building accommodating juniors and infants. Cranborne junior mixed and infants' School opened as one school in that year (fn. 47) but was reorganized as two schools in 1936 and was then extended. (fn. 48) The seniors moved from High Street to a new building at Parkfield in 1938, when the juniors and infants transferred to the senior school (fn. 49) which was renamed Ladbrooke, after the farm which one stood beside it. (fn. 50) St. John's was retained as a separate infants' school.

By the 1944 Education Act Potters Bar (including South Mimms) was controlled by a district education sub-committee. (fn. 51) Grammar and technical education had to be obtained in Enfield, Southgate, or Wood Green until 1948, when Parkfield secondary modern school was changed into a comprehensive school. (fn. 52) More classrooms were built and, in order to meet the full secondary requirements of South Mimms and Potters Bar, new buildings were erected at Mount Grace, where first-year secondary children moved in 1952. (fn. 53) In 1954 Ladbrooke juniors moved to Parkfield, leaving Ladbrooke to the infants' school. (fn. 54) Mount Grace comprehensive school was officially opened at the same time. The growth of local housing estates led to the building of a new science block in Church Road and extensions to Parkfield. Mount Grace became organized as a lower school in the Walk (formerly Parkfield), housing firstand second-year pupils, and a main school in Church Road, for third- to sixth-form boys and girls. (fn. 55) In 1972 there were c. 1,500 children. (fn. 56) In 1973 building had started on Owen's school, in Sawyers Lane, and some pupils had been transferred there from Islington. (fn. 57)

More primary education was provided with the opening of Oakmere schools in 1958 (fn. 58) and Sunnybank schools in 1960. (fn. 59) Oakmere infants' school opened with 176 children, of whom 131 were transferred from Ladbrooke school. Three classrooms were added in 1961 and there were 230 children by 1972. Oakmere junior school opened with 196 children transferred from Parkfield junior school. Five classrooms were built in 1964 and by 1972 the school accommodated 321 children. In 1960 the rest of Parkfield junior school transferred to the new Sunnybank junior school, whereupon Parkfield became Mount Grace lower school. (fn. 60) Post-war extensions were made to Cranborne infants' school, which, with Cranborne junior school, contained 741 pupils in 1974. (fn. 61) At various times hutted accommodation has supplemented the permanent buildings at Ladbrooke primary school, which by 1972 had a roll of c. 320. (fn. 62)

In 1965 the Potters Bar and South Mimms portion of the parish became part of the mid-Hertfordshire division, while responsibility for education in the southern part of the parish, which contained Foulds junior mixed and infants' school, Christ Church Church of England school, and Queen Elizabeth's boys' grammar school, passed to Barnet L.B. (fn. 63) Foulds school, formerly Byng Road council school, had been extended in 1918 but became a junior school only in 1954. In 1972 it was attended by 298 pupils. (fn. 64) Christ Church remained Voluntary Aided, with 202 children. (fn. 65) Queen Elizabeth's grammar school for boys, (fn. 66) founded in 1573 and situated south of the boundary in Wood Street, moved in 1932 to a new building in the scholastic Tudor style in Queen's Road, within South Mimms parish. (fn. 67) It was reorganized as a comprehensive school in 1971. (fn. 68)

A private boarding school for boys, later called an 'academy', (fn. 69) existed at Salisbury House, Potters Bar, in 1805. (fn. 70) In 1819 there were six dame-schools (fn. 71) and in 1823-4 Thomas Haigh ran a boys' classical academy at South Mimms. (fn. 72) A dame-school that was frequently criticized by the masters of the South Mimms National school (fn. 73) eventually closed in 1883. (fn. 74) In Potters Bar twelve children were admitted to the National school between 1875 and 1877 from Mrs. Disney's school, although there is no further record of her teaching. (fn. 75) In the later 19th-century there were various private schools but they were usually short-lived. (fn. 76) There are several private day schools of fairly recent growth: Anthorne, in Quaker's Lane, incorporating Potters Bar high school, opened in 1932 (fn. 77) and caters mainly for girls wishing to train for ballet and drama, although boys attend the preparatory and kindergarten departments; (fn. 78) Linden school was opened in Ladbrooke Drive in 1932 for boys and girls from 3 to 11 years of age and in 1966 was occupying premises in Byng Drive for 65 pupils; (fn. 79) Lochinver House school was founded in 1947, extended in 1970, and attended by 220 boys aged 5 to 13 in 1972. (fn. 80)

Roman Catholic schools have existed since 1866, when St. Andrew's school was built in Union Street, Barnet. It was a boarding school, conducted by the fathers of the Institute of St. Andrew, and was attended by c. 100 boys in 1890. (fn. 81) Boys were frequently transferred at the age of 14 to St. Joseph's House, where they were apprenticed to a trade, (fn. 82) and by 1905 the school had its own press, where pupils could learn printing. (fn. 83) The fathers also ran St. Pancras's school, which was started in 1874 (fn. 84) to give a full middle-class education to c. 60 boys. In 1890 the average attendance was 40. (fn. 85) By 1896-7 St. Andrew's school had been transferred to Brunswick House, (fn. 86) Wood Street, outside the parish, and in 1911-12 St. Pancras's school also moved there. (fn. 87) A Roman Catholic school also existed at nos. 3-5 Union Street from c. 1889 to 1911. (fn. 88) St. Catherine's, a boarding school for poor girls, was run on the same lines as St. Andrew's school (fn. 89) and had an average attendance of 25 in 1886, (fn. 90) after which it is not recorded.

Another Roman Catholic school, also called St. Catherine's, was established in Stapylton Road in 1909 (fn. 91) to accommodate 58 infants and juniors. It was attended by 55 children in 1918-19 (fn. 92) and by 71 in 1938. (fn. 93) A larger school was built in 1961 in Vale Drive, (fn. 94) outside the parish, but the school has an annexe within the boundary, in Union Street. (fn. 95) Pope Paul Roman Catholic school was erected at Great Slades, off Baker Street, in 1967 and was attended by 187 children in 1972. (fn. 96)


  • 1. Guildhall MS. 9537/4.
  • 2. Brittain, South Mymms, 118.
  • 3. Lysons, Mdx. Parishes, 238.
  • 4. Brewer, Beauties of Eng. and Wales, x(5), 756.
  • 5. Educ. of Poor Digest, 539.
  • 6. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 576.
  • 7. Brewer, op. cit. 756.
  • 8. Ed. 7/86; O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. I. SW. (1864 edn.).
  • 9. Mins. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1854-5 [1926], p. 202, H.C. (1854-5), xlii.
  • 10. Ed. 7/86.
  • 11. Brittain, South Mymms, 119-21,
  • 12. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1878-9 [C. 2342-1]. p. 749, H.C. (1878-9), xxiii.
  • 13. Brittain, op. cit. 121-4.
  • 14. Kelly's Dir. Essex, Herts. and Mdx. (1890).
  • 15. Returns of Schs. 1893 [C. 7529], p. 424, H.C. (1894), lxv.
  • 16. Brittain, op. cit. 125.
  • 17. Ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 18. Story of Potters Bar, 121-2.
  • 19. Brittain, op. cit. 98; Ed. 7/86.
  • 20. Story of Potters Bar, 122.
  • 21. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1878-9, p. 746.
  • 22. Ed. 7/86.
  • 23. Story of Potters Bar, 124-5; Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1882).
  • 24. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1873 [C. 812], p. 460, H.C. (1873), xxiv.
  • 25. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1888 [C. 5804-I], p. 607, H.C. (1889), xxix.
  • 26. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1908).
  • 27. Barnet Press, 23 Feb. 1962 [cutting in Nat. Soc. files].
  • 28. Nat. Soc. files.
  • 29. Returns of Schs. 1893, p. 424.
  • 30. Ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 31. Craven & Co.'s Dir. Beds. and Herts. (1854); Kelly's Dir. Herts. (1866).
  • 32. Returns relating to Elem. Educ. H.C. 201, p. 242 (1871), lv.
  • 33. Ed. 7/87.
  • 34. Plaque on building states that it was erected in 1872.
  • 35. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1892-3).
  • 36. See p. 303.
  • 37. Kelly's Dir. Essex, Herts., Mdx. (1890).
  • 38. Public Elem. Schs. 1906 [Cd. 3510], p. 449, H.C. (1907), lxiii.
  • 39. Voluntary Schs. Rets. H.C. 178-xx, p. 30 (1906), lxxxviii.
  • 40. Ed. 7/87.
  • 41. Pub. Elem. Schs. 1906, 449.
  • 42. Kelly's Dir. Essex, Herts., Mdx. (1908).
  • 43. Ex inf. the headmaster, Foulds jnr. mixed and infts. sch.
  • 44. Bd. of Educ., List 21 (H.M.S.O., 1919).
  • 45. Ibid.
  • 46. Potters Bar, Official Guide [1972].
  • 47. M.R.O., Hist. Notes 1.5.59.
  • 48. Ex inf. the sec., Cranborne jnr. sch.
  • 49. M.R.O., Hist. Notes 1.5.59.
  • 50. Ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 51. Sturges, Schs. of Edmonton Hund. 218.
  • 52. Ibid. 99, 109.
  • 53. Mount Grace Sch. Hist. and Buildings [sch. pamphlet].
  • 54. M.R.O., Hist. Notes, 1.5.59.
  • 55. Mount Grace Sch.
  • 56. Ex inf. the sec.
  • 57. For the previous hist. of the school see V.C.H. Mdx. i. 310-11.
  • 58. Ex inf. Mr. B. Warren.
  • 59. Story of Potters Bar, 129.
  • 60. Ex inf. Mr. B. Warren.
  • 61. Ex inf. the headmistresses.
  • 62. Ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 63. See p. 296.
  • 64. Ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 65. Ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 66. V.C.H. Herts. ii. 79-81.
  • 67. Kelly's Dir. Essex, Herts., Mdx. (1933).
  • 68. Ex inf. Barnet L.B., chief educ. offr.
  • 69. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1855).
  • 70. Story of Potters Bar, 21.
  • 71. Educ. of Poor Digest, 539.
  • 72. Pigot, Lond. and Prov. Dir. (1823-4).
  • 73. M.R.O., D.R.O. 5/G1/1 (log bk. 1870-95), 113, 121, 127.
  • 74. Ibid. 245.
  • 75. Story of Potters Bar, 125.
  • 76. Kelly's Dirs. Mdx. (1862, 1866, 1870, 1874, 1878, 1886, 1898); Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1892-3).
  • 77. Sturges, op. cit. 181.
  • 78. Potters Bar, Official Guide [1972].
  • 79. Sturges, op. cit. 181; Story of Potters Bar, 130.
  • 80. Ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 81. Kelly's Dir. Essex, Herts. and Mdx. (1890).
  • 82. Catholic Dir. (1878).
  • 83. Ibid. (1905).
  • 84. Ibid. (1874).
  • 85. Ibid. (1900); Kelly's Dir. Essex, Herts. and Mdx. (1890).
  • 86. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1896-7).
  • 87. Ibid. (1911-12).
  • 88. Ibid. (1889-1900, 1910-11).
  • 89. Catholic Dir. (1878).
  • 90. Kelly's Dir. Herts. (1886).
  • 91. Ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 92. Bd. of Educ., List 21 (H.M.S.O., 1919).
  • 93. Ibid. (1938).
  • 94. Ex inf. the headmaster.
  • 95. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1969).
  • 96. Ex inf. the headmaster.