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Wiltshire Community History

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Manningford - Manningford Bruce Church of England School

A single storey, white-washed, thatched school with wooden floor was built around 1841 and was still in use in 1971. In 1859 between 25 and 35 pupil, including some from Manningford Bohune, were at the school when a yearly sum (£2.8.0d) was received from the George Wells charity. The Rev. Wells had left in his will shares to be sold after his death, the capital raised to be invested and the income to be used to teach poor children reading and catechism. After 1873 the children from Manningford Abbots were again attending the Manningford Bruce school and it had become the custom for that parish to pay a yearly sum of £17.10s.0d towards the upkeep of the school.
Unfortunately there are no Victorian school log books in Wiltshire & Swindon Archives, but the following general information would be relevant to the school for the latter part of the 19th century. Fees were paid for each child until 1891, normally at the rate of one penny or twopence a week and the 'school pence' were collected by the schoolteacher. There would have been a schoolmaster, or schoolmistress, with assistant teachers, pupil teachers and monitors. The pupil teachers were taught by the head before lessons started, took exams, sometimes went to the Diocesan Training College and eventually became teachers themselves. They mainly taught the younger children. Monitors were also paid but tended to be younger and helped to look after the younger children or teach the infants.

School holidays were at similar times to those of today but often there was only two days at Easter but a week at Whitsun. The summer holidays were of five or six weeks and were called the Harvest Holidays as the children either helped with the harvest or carried food and drink to their parents, who were working in the fields. There were more half-day and whole day holidays for special events. Half a day would be given after the annual H.M.I. or Diocesan inspections and there were holidays for school treats, choir outings, chapel teas, Christmas parties and at times when the school was needed for other purposes.

There were also many unauthorised absences. These would be for seasonal work, such as haymaking (June) and early or late harvest (July or September), being kept at home to help their parents, and working when they should have been at school. Bad weather such as heavy rain, cold weather, or snow kept children away from school, often because their parents couldn't afford to buy them suitable clothes. Apart from the usual colds and coughs there were more serious illnesses than today and these included, mumps, measles, whooping cough, scarletina and diphtheria.

The elementary subjects were the '3 Rs' - reading writing and arithmetic. Scripture was often taught by the vicar and children would have attended church for services on some days. Older children were taught history and geography and there may have been some study of natural history. Singing was taught to all ages and all the girls and some of the boys would have done needlework. Drawing had been introduced by the 1890s.

Sixty six children from the three Manningfords attended in 1905, when the school moved into overall management by Wiltshire County Council and was known as the Church of England School, but by 1942 there were only 28 pupils. The school had been leased to the Salisbury Diocese since 1903, and in 1945 it was conveyed to the Diocesan Board of Finance. In 1971, 60 children from the three parishes were taught by a master and 2 part time assistants, additional accommodation provided at this time by the use of a mobile. Number decreased during the 1970s and the school closed in 1977 with most of the children moving to Woodborough School.
 

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