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Wiltshire Community History

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Box - Box Church of England Primary School, Box

The original school was set up in 1708 by the vicar, the Rev. George Millard. In 1710 Lady Rachel Speke left £100 for the school and there were bequests by other members of the Speke family. Thomas Speke gave his house adjoining the churchyard as a house for the master and accommodation for a school, plus £100 in 1719. From 1727 a large room in the newly built workhouse was especially designated for the school. There were six other bequests of £100 and in 1733 19 acres of land at Fogham were bought and the income used for the upkeep of the school. By 1737 there were 30 children on the first floor of the workhouse being taught the catechism and the 3 Rs with the addition of needlework for the girls. The children taught were probably aged from 7 to 12 years. The school continued to prosper for the next century with 30 poor children being taught, but by the mid 19th century other children, in addition to the children paid for by the charity, were attending the school. In 1851 the infants and some girls were moved to Henley into the newly formed Henley Girls School. (see below) In 1858 a master was teaching 70 boys on the first floor of what was described as a factory-like building - the workhouse, known today as Springfield. A picture of school life was recorded in 1863. The boys used copy books, reading books and maps and wrote on slates. They were taught sewing as well as the normal subjects of reading, writing, arithmatic and the Christian religion.The school year was divided by the following holidays - 3 weeks in late August and early September (harvest time), 2 weeks at Christmas, a week at Whitsun and between 1 and 2 weeks at Easter. School fees, other than for the charity children were 1 penny (0.5p) or twopence (1p) a week. Unfortunately just over a decade later, in 1875, the school is described as being in a ruinous state but the use of this typically Victorian phrase may have exaggerated the situation as the new church school was built in that year. The charity school continued until 1876 and then the pupils were transferred to the church school. By 1851 infants and girls had been separated from the boys, at the Charity School in the workhouse, and moved to Henley into a building later known as Henley Cottages. They were accommodated in a room 40 feet long by 24 feet wide and 23 feet high, heated by a coal stove. The infants were in a gallery in the same room and there were frequent complaints that it was too noisy. In 1863 there was one certified teacher and three pupil teachers with 131 girls and infants. The vicar gave scripture classes and a lady came in to take knitting classes. For the mistress the school day began at 7.00 a.m. when she gave lessons to the pupil teachers, who were aged 13 years or older. She continued with their lessons, after school for the younger children had ended, until 5.00 p.m. The pupil teachers could eventually pass exams and do approved work to become monitors and earn between £20 and £30 a year. In 1869 the sewing work included making a pinafore, a chemise ( undergarment a little like a petticoat or slip), and a nightdress. Some classes also made samplers and by 1870 the girls appeared to be doing homework. It was noted that school numbers were always low on wet days and at other times when the weather was bad. Attendances were also low when it was Club Day in the village. After the church school opened in 1875 the girls and infants were transferred there. On 23rd May 1871 a School Board was formed. There were five members with the Rev. George E. Gardiner as Chairman and Thomas Vezey of Quarryhill as Clerk to the Board. Henry Chandler was the Attendance Officer. The Board set about the task of building a new elementary school as the existing schools on two sites were inadequate. The Church School was built as an elementary Board church school in 1875 at a cost of £2,700 with accommodation for 400 pupils. There were two separate schools - boys, and girls and infants in the same building, with different entrances. The boys were taught by a master (Mr C. Hewlett) and one teacher (Mr R. Trowbridge) while there was a mistress (Miss C. Gray) for the girls and an infant teacher (Miss B. Gray). There were graded fees with the children of labourers paying 2d ( about 1p) a week, those of artisans paying 4d (about 1.75p) and those of tradesmen paying 6d (2.5p). All children who paid in advance by the quarter (every 3 months) had their school books, slates and pencils provided free of extra cost. A Night School was run by the vicar during the winter months on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.30 p.m. Fees were 1 shilling (5p) a month of 4d (about 1.75p) a week. In 1876 the infants were being taught such songs as 'O We're All Weaving', 'Little Bo Peep', 'Song of Sixpence' and 'Dance Thumbkin Dance', while the older children were learning such songs as 'Poor Old Joe', 'Be Kind to the Loved Ones at Home' and 'All Among the Barley'. During harvest time many children were kept at home to help and often girls were absent for gleaning - gathering the fallen ears of corn from the ground after the sheaves of corn had been removed. This provided poorer families with free corn to grind for making their bread. In 1881 the infants' school was separated from the girls and by 1883 there were two certified teachers and two stipendary monitors to help the master in the boy's school. In 1889 there were 267 pupils at the school - 114 boys, 98 girls and 55 infants. This had increased to 355 pupils by 1899 - 116 boys, 132 girls and 107 infants. By 1907 there were 340 pupils at the school and the county council had become the local education authority, while in 1908 various sports were introduced as a part of the curriculum. The Night School continued in the early 20th century. In 1921 a domestic science course for the girls was started in the Methodist Schoolroom, further to the west along the High Street. The boys' and girls' schools amalgamated in 1922 to become a mixed school. Also in 1922 it was reported that the sanitary conditions were very poor and that the earth closets needed replacing. The county council threatened to withdraw support from the school and the work was undertaken. During World War Two 96 children from St. Mary Abbots in Kensington and Old Oak Schools were evacuated to Box and taught in the school with 168 local children. After the War the school became a voluntary controlled school, known as Box Church of England Primary School and by 1955 there were 182 pupils. In 2010 the school site was extended after the purchase of the old school garden; this area is now known locally as Willow Garden. The playground was extended to the east by the provision of a swimming pool which was replaced with a flat multipurpose court in 2015. In 2002 there were 165 pupils aged between 4 and 11 years; the number of pupils in 2007 was 173. In October 2008 the school celebrated its 300th anniversary - a rarity in a village school that can trace an unbroken line of education in successive schools for 300 years. Further information about day to day life in the school will be found in the school log books in the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office.

 

Note: School Still Open - Current Details:

Address
High Street
Box
Corsham
SN13 8NF
Wilts
  
Telephone No.01225 742663
Fax01225 743976
Age Range4 to 11
District Council Area
NurseryNo
ResidentialNo
Special Facilities AvailableNo
Web Sitewww.boxprimaryschool.org

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Box Church of England Primary School, Box
 
Box Church of England Primary School, BoxImage Date: 2003
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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Box Church of England Primary School, Box
 
Box Church of England Primary School, BoxImage Date: 2003
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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Box Church of England Primary School, Box
 
Box Church of England Primary School, BoxImage Date: 2003
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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Box Church of England Primary School, Box
 
Box Church of England Primary School, BoxImage Date: 2003
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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