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Wiltshire Community History

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Longbridge Deverill - Crockerton C. of E. Primary School, Longbridge Dev

A school was built by the Marquis of Bath in 1845. It had accommodation for 95 children and by 1846 there were 30 children at the day school and 70 in the Sunday School. There was a master who received a salary of £18 a year, paid out of subscriptions and fees. In 1858 there were between 40 and 50 children being taught by an uncertified mistress in what was described as a good schoolroom with boarded floors and parellel desks. There was an unfavourable report on the standard of discipline and instruction. In 1863 the schoolroom is described as being 35 feet long by 18 feet wide by 20 feet high, while the classroom was 13 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 6 inches by 15 feet high.

The school logbooks begin in 1863 and present an interesting picture of the school in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1863 there was a mistress, a pupil teacher, a paid monitor and a junior monitor. Monitors were aged from 14 to 16 years and pupil teachers started at 16. Pupil teachers were taught by the head, outside normal school hours and took examinations at Salisbury. Some monitors also went to the Diocesan Training College at Salisbury to become teachers. Between 1863 to 1872 there were 4 mistresses here, with only one staying any length of time. Some Crockerton parents sent their children to Longbridge Deverill School as that was kept by a master, but in October 1872 Sydney Horlock, the assistant master at Longbridge Deverill took over at Crockerton. He remained headmaster until February 1906. During the 1860s the HMI reports indicated that the school was improving (1866 - 'children are in nice order and passed a very fair examination') but from 1869 to 1872 both instruction and discipline declined. The report in early 1873 indicates that the new master was improving matters, although the children were still backward. The reports for the 1870s are fairly good although the school seems to have suffered more than most from lengthy absences of many of its older pupils and this adversely affected performance in HMI exams.

Much of the teaching seems to have been elementary, with instruction mainly in the '3 Rs' of reading, writing and arithmetic, along with scripture. It was only the oldest children who had lessons in geography and history and mainly the older girls who did needlework. Later in the 19th century other subjects such as natural history, science and drawing were taught. All children were involved in singing, which in the earlier years was dominated by hymns. By the 1870s there were more secular songs such as 'Winter Time', 'Watching for Pa', 'Through the Snow', 'Beautiful Butterfly', and 'Oh how I love the bright blue sea'. In the 1860s school songs were learned. These were probably fairly moral in tone. Some of the scripture lessons were given by the vicar and the children learned both the Collect and the Catechism.

The school day began at 9.00 a.m. and often included a short morning service at the church. The pupils were divided into an infant class and various standards based on age and ability. Normally all the standards would be taught together in the main schoolroom. Younger children would write out passages of text dictated to them and learn and repeat both poetry and prose. This helped them with both their reading and writing. In arithmetic they would learn simple addition, subtraction, division and their multiplication tables, before moving on, when they were older, to compound subtraction, fractions and the metric system. In needlework the girls, besides learning to sew and knit, would tackle more difficult tasks such as cutting out the material for a baby's cap. The older children might study such subjects as Scotland or the counties and towns of England in geography. Lunch was between 12 noon and 2.00 p.m. with some children going home while others ate their packed lunch at the school. Afternoon school was from 2.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. and children had object lessons, studying all aspects of one item or idea. In wintertime, October/November to Easter, afternoon school was from 1.30pm to 4.00pm to give the children a chance of getting home before it was too dark. Home lessons, normally things to be learned, were given from the mid 1860s.

School holidays were similar to those of the late 20th century. Easter was Good Friday plus one week, there was a week at Whitsun, four weeks Harvest Holiday in the summer and one week (two from 1872) at Christmas. There were a variety of special holidays, some annual and others one-offs. A half day holiday was given after an HMI inspection and another on Ascension Day. The annual choral festival and annual teachers' meeting for the Wylye Deanery meant a full day's holiday. Other holidays were for celebrations, the marriage of the Prince of Wales on 10th March 1863, the marriage of the vicar's daughter, the installation of the new organ in Crockerton church, and thanksgiving for the recovery from illness of the Prince of Wales. Coronation Day warranted a longer afternoon playtime while a Friday afternoon was given on the rare occasions of school on a Saturday morning.

The work of the school suffered from the absences of children. Some of these were regular ones connected with the farming year; February, when permission was given to gather fallen wood from the plantation from the late 1870s; March/April, potato setting or dropping; July, bird scaring, hay making, and (from 1875) fruit picking; August, start of harvest - taking dinners and teas to parents; September to early November, potato picking; November, acorn gathering. Events at Warminster often tempted children to take a day off school, including the October fair and circus visits, Sangers' Circus from 1876. Other absences were recorded for fishing events at Crockerton Pond, a meeting of the Yeomanry in the neighbourhood and looking after younger brothers and sisters. In 1867 some children were away from school for want of books. From 1875 older boys were frequently used as beaters when the Marquis of Bath was pheasant shooting.

The weather might also affect attendance with wet and stormy weather keeping many, especially the younger ones, at home. On one occasion only half those on the school roll were present. Heavy snowfall also cut down numbers and in January 1865 only 9 children managed to get to school on one day while on a day in December 1875 no infants turned up owing to a snowstorm. There were often epidemics of illness keeping many children at home. In the 1860s and 1870s these included measles (1863 and 1876), scarlet fever (1864/5 when 2 children died, and 1876 between July and November), chicken pox (1866); diphtheria (June to November 1876). The effects of the diphtheria and scarlet fever outbreaks in 1876 left the children with no spirit for work. There were also frequent colds, coughs and sore throats, and in 1866 it was recorded that the coughing was interrupting lessons. Some older children were also absent from school for periods of some months as they took jobs and only returned to school when the work was finished.

From January 1874 the Half Time Act, whereby children spent half a day working and half a day at school, came into force. This applied to children aged over 8 years and the employers using them paid for the schooling of one penny (0.4p) a day. The main local employer to use children under this Act was Messrs Jupe & Son, the silk mill, and as they employed children from other villages this meant that these children then went to Crockerton as the nearest school to the employer. In July 1877 there was a depression in the silk trade, many workers were laid off, and the half timers returned to full time education. Trade had revived by October and they were taken on again. At this time there were also half timers working for local farmer, Mr G. Forward. The silk factory closed in February 1894, which brought the half time scholars to a close.

A few special events should be noted as they enlivened the routine of school. The annual school tea party was in July while on 2nd March 1866 there was a Day of Humiliation and Prayer brought about by the effects of the cattle plague. More happily, in 1871, the two top classes received a penny (0.4p) each from the vicar so that they could attend a magic lantern show, while in 1894 the master and mistress took 14 pupils on an excursion to Weymouth.

Punishment for misbehaviour at school was often being kept in after school to do extra work or re-do work badly done the first time. Misbehaviour punished by these means included throwing stones, lighting fires, inattention, disorder both at church and on the way back, talking, pond sliding, not doing home lessons, and not knowing their tables. Truancy was punished by caning while punishment for some offences, such as stealing apples and telling lies was handed over to the vicar.

By 1903 this was described as an elementary (all ages) school and it was taken over by Wiltshire County Council in c.1907 when the average attendance was 60. In 1930 the older children (11+) went to secondary schools in Warminster, and Crockerton became a junior and infant school. There were only 27 pupils here in 1955 but this had increased to about 50 in 1968 when there were two classrooms of 476 square feet and 388 square feet, as well as a staff room. In 1998 there were 2 large open plan classrooms, a small office/staff room/library, cloakroom and toilets. There was also a mobile classroom on a small playground and a plot of land for a small playing field. The school serves Crockerton and surrounding villages and in 2002 there were 85 pupils.

Note: School Still Open - Current Details:

BA12 8AB
Telephone No.01985 212168
Fax01985 212168
Age Range4 to 11
District Council Area
Special Facilities AvailableNo
Web Sitewww.crockerton.wilts.sch.uk

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Crockerton C. of E. Primary School, Longbridge Deverill
Crockerton C. of E. Primary School, Longbridge DeverillImage Date: 2001
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Crockerton C. of E. Primary School, Longbridge Deverill
Crockerton C. of E. Primary School, Longbridge DeverillImage Date: 2001
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Crockerton C. of E. Primary School, Longbridge Deverill
Crockerton C. of E. Primary School, Longbridge DeverillImage Date: 2001
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