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Wiltshire Community History

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Compton Bassett

Compton Bassett Church of England School

Compton Bassett Church of England School Date Photo Taken 2011
Uploaded 06/03/2013 14:43:12
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

In 1858 the school, erected in 1854, was described as ‘picturesque with a commodious schoolroom’ when H.M. Schools Inspector William Warburton also wrote that 50-60 children were taught remarkably well with music especially good. The schoolroom had a wood floor and parallel desks while the master’s residence had been “lent” by the principal proprietor in the village. Teaching was by an uncertificated master and his mother and the school was said to be doing its work well. A further inspection in 1893 notes that the National School classroom measures 15’ x 12’ but states that the ‘offices’ [toilets] do not satisfy the requirements of Rule 7, which states they should be separate. At this time the average attendance was 68, and holidays at harvest time were 5 weeks. In October of the same year children were absent because of diphtheria and whooping cough, by November new ‘offices’ for both boys and girls were completed. At this time the rector was visiting 3 or 4 times a week giving children scripture lessons, other regular visitors were Major and Mrs Heneage.
We only hold log books for the school from 1894, education had become free from 1891, but these provide a wealth of information about activities in the school. The list of subjects for object lessons to be taught to the infant class during 1894, submitted to H.M. Inspector, were – a candle, cotton, orange, cow, tiger, dog, garden, glass, cat, coal, the oak, sheep, pig, water, lead, elephant, coffee, basket, the grocer. In July inclement weather prevented several children from attending school and after the 5 weeks harvest holiday some children were still absent due to harvest work. In November of that year the school closed for a time as the roads were impassable due to floods. In February 1895 two children were sent home as their heads were full of vermin and later in the month they were still infested and contaminating other children. Even at the end of March it was reported vermin were still affecting children. In November of this year a four year old died of ‘a throat disease’ and several other children were absent with sore throats. The Medical Officer ordered 16 scholars to remain absent due to diphtheria and sore throats. In February of the following year one third of all pupils were absent due to illness and in June a truant pupil was reproved by the rector for misconduct. The Inspector’s report in August stated that the children were orderly but the instruction they received ‘in no way appears to develop intellects’.
On Christmas Day of 1896 the teacher resigned after 24 years. The new Headmaster, who arrived in January 1897, found the children to be backward and lacking in intelligence. The girls had not learned needlework or knitting. The slates were in bad order and new ones had not arrived two months after an order was placed. It took supplies four months to arrive; in May the new Headmaster resigned, and a temporary one was engaged until July. H.M. Inspector notes the children have improved in elementary subjects since last year but they were having no P.E. If this subject was not included, the grant would be withheld next year. The new Headmistress introduced P.E. when she commenced duties in September and extra holiday was allowed to help with the potato harvest, as rain was expected. During December many children were absent because of measles, and the school was closed for several days because of bad weather. The Christmas holiday had to be extended as many pupils were ill, only seven pupils escaped measles. In February and March of 1899 there were poor attendances because of snow, though the average attendance for the year ending in June was 42. January 1900 saw the Managers again searching for a new mistress and on February 19th a new certificated mistress took charge. The death of Queen Victoria saw the school closed, and it was again closed for the death of Major Heneage, both during 1901. January 27th to 28th of 1902 saw half the pupils absent due to illness and also heavy rain.
In June a holiday was declared to celebrate peace between England and South Africa after a three year war. At this time H.M. Inspector’s report said ‘the children were in very good order and have received careful instruction and progress is very satisfactory’. During November diphtheria was again present amongst pupils, whilst in December several children were absent attending a cattle show in Calne. The Schoolmistress died suddenly in March 1903 and the rector conducted school until the appointment of a new mistress. During May heavy rain prevented children attending and in July the school opened early to enable boys, who had to take tea into the hayfields, to attend. During June and July 1904 Drill was not taken due to great heat, and on July 22nd 33 pupils visited the seaside. The report by H.M. Inspector said good general progress had been made, but the school should be properly heated and ventilated. In September several children were absent due to whooping cough and on October 31st,as only 7 children were present, the Medical Officer closed the school.
During April 1905 19 children were absent because of measles and the Medical Officer closed the school for 3 weeks. In May the children gave a concert, the proceeds of which were to pay for a trip to the seaside. During June and July the schoolmistress had no assistant, though pupils numbered an average of 38. In October a new assistant was engaged but left after 10 days, and in December the mistress herself resigned. In September the children were warned of the dangers of being run over by a motor car when journeying to and from school. In October the rector again warned of the dangers of motor cars. In 1906 overall control of the school passed to Wiltshire County Council. The new mistress engaged in January 1906 said the children’s work was much below average, but little could be done until help arrived. In March the assistant teacher failed her exams so could not continue; a new assistant was appointed in June and another in September. The visit of the King and Queen to Calne during 1907 caused the school to be closed whilst in June of 1908 children were absent ‘owing to soldiers camping in the district.’ May 1909 saw all children medically examined, with their height and weight recorded, and the boys were instructed in the measurement of land. In July the rector returned after five months’ absence. In October the school was reported as the best attended school in the Calne District. December saw the weighing scales brought from Cherhill and all pupils present were weighed and measured, the machine was then forwarded to Yatesbury.
On Christmas Eve all the children were invited to tea and entertainment at Compton House. The days for the weighing of pupils during 1910 were to be May 13th and November 13th. On May 17th a holiday was granted for the funeral of King Edward V11. July brought the news that a pupil had gained a scholarship to attend the Technical School in Calne for three years. The assistant teacher left after four years and the lower school had no teacher. A temporary supplementary teacher was appointed but only remained for a few hours. During 1911 the school was closed for a week for the coronation of George V and Queen Mary. Two pupils gained scholarships to Calne whilst two failed to pass the examination for Labour Certificates. School Managers agreed that no children should remain in school during dinner hour but those that came from The Freeth and those who live below Dugdales, some distance from the school. The mistress sought further exemption and these were allowed for four children aged between five and six. During January of 1912 heavy snow caused poor attendance and February 12th saw only 25 in school, six had impetigo, the others flu. By the 23rd February the school was almost empty as many pupils had flu, and the medical examination due on the 27th was postponed. During March whooping cough was present and school closed for two weeks. On April 15th school re-opened with 42 on the books but only 18 present, On April 23rd the school again closed with whooping cough the reason. School did not re-open until May 15th. On October 14th the school again closed with scarlet fever present; on November 11th work started again but only 22 were present and the Medical Officer sent the children home again on November 20, the reason given was ‘fever’. On November 29th 12 children were present; Dec. 6th, 12, Dec.13th 14 and Dec. 20th 15.
During February 1913, Lord Fitzmaurice presented the school with a gift of a pianoforte. On March 19th a pupil was caned for disobedience and sulkiness. Once more the school opened early to allow children to carry tea to the hayfield. July saw the children invited to the Rectory for tea, whilst in September a half holiday was given to allow children to go to a treat given by Mrs. Hornsby Drake at Compton House. In December it was mumps which caused absenteeism, but mothers were able to attend to hear and inspect children’s work. In March 1914 snow caused pupils to be absent again, whilst in July many were away with chicken pox, which was still around in September and October, causing absences. Poor attendance during March of 1915 was caused by influenza and chilblains, whilst one pupil was excluded whilst their head was cleaned. Impetigo and measles was the reason given for absences in April. In May a pupil was given 2 strokes of the cane across his back for disobedience, in consequence of which the teacher received a threatening letter from the pupil’s mother.
During July a lesson was taken on the subject ‘the French Flag’, after which the children sang The Marseillaise and six shillings and sixpence was contributed to the Flag Fund. A pupil was noted to be attending Calne Secondary School every Thursday for Domestic Courses. The school closed for a week during June 1916, to enable boys to help with the haymaking, and in July a pupil gained a scholarship to attend school in Trowbridge. October saw a diocesan inspection;, it was noted as being the first for many years. The work was reported as very satisfactory on the whole. Mrs. Hornsby Drake presented the school with a Roll of Honour. The Medical Officer closed the school from October 19th until November 20th because of measles. In December Archdeacon Bodington visited and spoke to the elder scholars on their duty to England. In 1917 Miss Gainey left after six and a quarter years. As a wedding gift she was presented with a silver plated tea pot, butter dish and knife. Her replacement was Miss Billett. In March with two teachers ill and only 13 pupils present due to a snow storm, the rector closed the school. Miss Billett was absent with measles during March, and as only 12 pupils were present also because of measles afflicting the others, school was closed from 23rd April until 7th May. During June the school closed early one day each week to allow cookery lessons, given by Miss Dix, it was closed for two weeks from 23rd June to allow children to help with haymaking. In October a further closure to allow children to pick blackberries for the Army and Navy, 52 ½ lb was sent to the agent on 15th October and a further 63 ¾ lb on October 22nd. At this time the Diocesan Inspector of Religious Study said there were decidedly good results and tone and discipline were excellent.
On Boxing Day the children and mothers were invited to an entertainment in school given by the rector and Colonel Greenstreet. The first visit of a dentist to the school was on 11th February 1918, when the nurse from Trowbridge also paid her monthly visit. More holidays, two weeks in June for the hay harvest, and four half days holiday in September and October, when a total of 436lb of blackberries was collected. A War Savings Association was opened on 21st October. On the 28th October the Medical Officer closed the school for two weeks because of influenza, then whooping cough. A telegram was received from Trowbridge that the school should be closed until after the Christmas holidays. On January 23rd 1919 mothers visited school for the delayed entertainment by the children, who then each received a toy, a bun and an orange. The school was closed for 10 days because of influenza, and then further closure to allow for the complete cleaning of the building. On July 19th ‘Joy Day’, an assembly at school at 1.30 to salute the flag erected on the lawn. Patriotic songs were sung, then all marched to the field where sports were held and the children given tea. The flag and pole were presented in recognition of peace by Mrs. Hornsby Drake. On 31st July the Headmaster of Evercreech Boys School gave a lesson to the pupils on breaking, raising and lowering the flag on the pole, also instruction on how to tie the correct knots on the rope. One week’s holiday was granted on October 17th for ‘Peace Week’. On November 11th, Armistice Day, the children went on the lawn to see the flag lowered to half mast. After a hymn two minutes silence was kept in memory of the glorious dead – according to the wishes of King George V. ‘Now thank we all our God’ was sung, and an address given by the Rector was followed by the National Anthem. The flag was hoisted until the end of the day. Photographs of the children were taken on February 26th.1920.
A Social Evening held in May, at which the children sang and recited ‘Daffodils’, a collection was taken and £2.14s.0d. was sent to Save the Children Fund. November 11th Armistice Day was observed and the flag flown at half mast. After two minutes silence a talk was given regarding the burial of the Unknown Soldier. A ‘Mothers’ Afternoon’ was held on 22nd December with an entertainment. Garments were made and toys were readily purchased. During June 1921 pupils joined students from Yatesbury and Cherhill at the church where an account of the history and building of the church was given. In July a pupil was sent home to be cleaned and was allowed back only after the nurse saw she had been properly cleaned. In November a heavy snow storm led to there being only 34 pupils present. On November 11th two minutes silence was observed on the lawn, after a hymn and words from the Rector the flag was hoisted, then saluted and three cheers were given. On December 5th the dentist visited and drew and filled bad teeth, whilst on the 9th a lantern slide show took place after school. February 28th 1922 was a holiday to celebrate the wedding of Princess Mary, and many pupils were absent on April 3rd owing to a snow storm.
There was a visit from a Rhodesian lady in May. She gave a talk regarding her work as a missionary and in a school in Rhodesia. April saw a poor report by H.M.I. In May 1923 seven children passed the County Standard Exam whilst six failed. On May 24th Empire Day was celebrated by parents and children, messages from the King and Queen were delivered by means of a gramophone. The nurse continued to pay monthly visits. In April 1924 only 28 children were present, the number on register being 47, sickness the given reason, and in November the dentist spent 3 days attending to children. In July 1925 H.M.I. reports the children are extremely apathetic and un-responsive in oral work, few able to talk sensibly about what they have read. September saw school closure, whooping cough was present. March 1926 a child sent home for one week ‘to be cleaned’, he was allowed to return after a week, but his sister was then sent home for the same reason. On March 31st Mrs. Tucker resigned after 19 ¼ years service. In June library books were received, later to be passed on to Yatesbury. February 1927 saw closure due to influenza, whilst in June school was closed as the teacher was ill. Two girls were attending cookery classes at Cherhill. The National Savings Scheme was started this year, and the Diocesan Inspector found ‘the tone and discipline of the school very satisfactory’.
Measles once more caused closure of the school in January 1928, when only 18 children were present out of a roll of 43. In June it was noted that all girls over the age of 11 must attend domestic science lessons at Cherhill Reading Room. In October cod liver oil was received for the treatment of a pupil. A letter was received in July 1929 from County Offices congratulating the school on attendance during the year. H.M.I. stated there was an improvement in oral and handwork but during the year a falling off of standards in English, Arithmetic, History and Geography. In June 1930 two pupils were to be given milk daily and in September the school became a Junior School, as pupils over 11 then attended school in Calne. The rector brought a wireless to school so that children could listen to the Armistice Service on November 11th. The school became a one teacher school in 1932; in 1933 this teacher became seriously ill and an uncertified teacher took charge. During playtime the teacher’s dog bit a child on the lip. The Doctor was called to give medical treatment and the teacher paid his bill of 3/6d. The headmistress returned to duty in 1933, but retired in March. On 20th June 1934 the children were taken to Trowbridge County Schools Sports. November 1934 saw the introduction of a milk scheme, but only 5 bottles were received. School was closed on November 29th for the wedding of Princess Marina and Prince George. In January 1935 3 new scholars were admitted bringing the number to 14, this rose to 20 by April. In June the children were taken to Whipsnade Zoo.
It was decided in 1936 that the desks were too large for the infants, in February six desks and 12 chairs were sent to Broad Town School, and on April 20th eight new desks and one teacher’s desk were received. The piano was reported to have worm in September 1934; it was treated in March 1935. School was closed for 26 days in June because of scarlet fever, and again from July 9th to 20th. An outing to Studland and Swanage took place in July 1937. By March 1938 the roll was 27. H.M. Inspector said it was impossible for one teacher to give adequate attention to varying needs, however marked improvement had been made.
September 11th 1939 saw 53 evacuees arrive in the village. The village hall was used as an extra classroom, there were 85 children, the headmistress and 4 assistants. On October 18th one table, two easels and 17 desks were delivered to the village hall. School hours were adjusted to allow teachers to catch busses. By April 1940 the number of evacuees had dropped to 18. The Whitsuntide holiday was cancelled. Gas masks were fitted and inspected. In July the Summer Vacation Scheme was implemented and in August the windows and skylights were splinter-proofed with muslin. A long drought in 1940 caused a shortage of milk and none was delivered to the school for one week during September. At this time The Home Guard were using the school room. February 1941 saw closure of the school because of chicken pox. Gas masks were regularly inspected. In January 1942 the school received a gift from America to the Children of Britain. The Chippenham Food Office also sent supplies of cod liver oil and blackcurrant syrup for distribution in the village. In April 21 lbs of seed potatoes were received for the school garden. In June nine children went to Swindon for a concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The teacher was given leave of absence for one week in January 1943 as her husband was on leave from the R.A.F. May saw a closure because of whooping cough, and a further closure in October to enable the children to help with the potato harvest. In December the W.V.S. scheme for supplying wellington boots enabled seven children to purchase pairs. February 1944 saw four boys reported for indecent behaviour, and in May a collection for the Overseas Tobacco Fund raised 28/6d. In March the school was closed after an outbreak of mumps, but the 8th and 9th May was granted as a holiday to celebrate the end of the war.
Measles closed the school in June 1945, and in September pupils had an outing to Severn Beach and Bristol Zoological Gardens. In November two well built children received supplementary clothing coupons. January 1946 pupils visited the pantomime in Swindon and in July had an outing to Poole and Sandbanks. In January 1947 only seven pupils were present because of snow, whilst in March roads were impassable also due to snow, and unfortunately the thaw brought flood water through the school. In October 1947 a Bush portable radio was presented to the school, whilst in November a holiday was granted for the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. School meals commenced in April 1950, and in 1951 children were warned of the danger of playing with ammunition found in the field. A Parents’ Club was formed in November 1952 After the war pupil numbers continued to fall and on the 23rd March 1964 the school closed.


Julie Davis said:

Thanks for letting us know Mark; we'll get the error corrected as soon as possible.
Posted 21/11/2019
Mark Gowers said:

Christmas Day entry of 1896 reads 1986 in error
Posted 20/11/2019

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