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The British and Foreign Society:

Whilst the National School was the Church of England School, Hungerford also had a British and Foreign Society School in the High Street. It is thought to be on the site of the United Reform Church schoolroom, although the exact site is as yet unclear.

The British and Foreign Society was set up in 1808, originally under the founder's name, Joseph Lancaster, a Quaker, as the Royal Lancastrian Society. In 1814 it was renamed the British and Foreign Society. It provided voluntary schools by subscriptions and later it was aided by government grants.

The British and Foreign Society was non-denominational, and provided elementary education, run on a monitorial system, teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.

The British School:

There is some doubt about the origin of the British School in Hungerford.

In his book "The Story of Hungerford", Rev. WH Summers comments on the Congregational Chapel, saying "In 1801 a building was obtained and fitted for services; in 1805 the first pastor was appointed; the chapel was altered and enlarged in 1817, and later used as a schoolroom". It is possible that the Congregational Chapel Schoolroom was where the British and Foreign Society School was held. The Congregational became the United Reformed Church in 1972, but the URC History Society is unable to give the answer (see letter 9 Nov 1991).

Norman Hidden's notes include: "It would seem from the above references that a permanent meeting house for Congregationalists was in existence prior to Friend's will in 1815. According to Charles Camburn (Summers, p.164) "as early as 1801 a building was obtained and fitted for services, and in 1817 it was altered and enlarged and is now [c.1920] used as a schoolroom. The first pastor was appointed in 1805." This is said to have been W. Paxton. The date 1817 is derived from the front left cornerstone of the present chapel which reads "The chapel erected in 1817 having become inadequate, this corner stone was laid May 28 1840 by the Rev. Richard Frost". The Victorian County History however, gives 1806 as the date of the building of the chapel on a site "at the back of the present chapel" and after the building in 1840 of the present chapel the old chapel was used as a Sunday school. It gives as its authority the Congregational Year Book for 1912 (VCH Berks iv 85). The deeds enrolled in Chancery (C54/9786) show that the site did not fully or legally pass to the church until 1818 following the purchase by Graham and Barfield, presumably agents of the Congregational Church in Hungerford, who sold their 'rights' to a group of Congregationalist trustees in 1818 (which included among them John Barfield)."

The 1847 Kelly's Directory lists the British School in the High Street (Mistress Miss Louise Carter) along with the other "Public" Schools, including the National School and the Wesleyan School.

In 1884, the Pigot Directory has the British School in the High Street, with Elizabeth Lowe as Mistress, and in the 1847 Kelly's it was Miss Louisa Carter, who was still there in 1850 (Slater's Directory).

The schoolroom continued in use into the 20th century, and an additional room was added in 1906 in memory of Rev WH Summers, the resident pastor 1901-1906. This became The Manse School.

Photo Gallery:


32 High Street. The British School was probably in the schoolroom behind

- 32 High Street. The British School was probably in the schoolroom behind.

Teachers at the British School:

1844 - Elisabeth Lowe
1847 - Miss Louisa Carter
1850 - Elizabeth Carter