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Wiltshire Community History

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Box - Charity School, Box

The 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. 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, arithmetic 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.
 

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Charity School, Box
 
Charity School, BoxImage Date: 2003
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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Charity School, Box
 
Charity School, BoxImage Date: 2003
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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