College House, 130 High Street was a day and boarding school was run here by the two Misses Earles in the 1860s and taken over by Mrs. Mary Froome in the 1880s.
The 1861 census has "Emma Earle (33 years) School Mistress" living at 7 High Street (today this is the southern end of Martin the Newsagents). It seems that the two sisters soon moved to 130 High Street, as the 1869 Post Office Directory has "Misses Sarah and Emma Jane Earle, High Street", and the 1871 census shows Emma Jane Earle (38 years – again a remarkable feet to have aged only 5 years since the last census!), School Mistress at 130 High Street. Kelly Directory of 1877 lists "Misses Sarah and Emma Jane Earle, day and boarding school, High Street".
By the 1881 census, Mrs. Mary Froome (37 years) was School Mistress of the "Private School". It is said she came from Chievely. The 1891 Kelly Directory is the first reference to the property being names "College House" - by which it is still known today.
We know of a number of local people who attended this school. Mrs Barbara Hope attended as a rising 6-year old, and was there for five years until she went to Cheltenham Ladies College. The headmistress wrote to Mrs Hope's parents, commending the "very good grounding". She remembered that Mrs Froome, a widow of a farmer, always wore "widow's weeds", entirely black apart from a coloured ribbon in her cap. On a Monday, the children used to wonder which colour she would wear that week. Mrs Froome taught the younger children, from 5 years. There were 7-8 of them, who were taught in the first downstairs room on the left, between 9am and noon. She remembers learning the "three Rs" plus scripture. There was one pupil teacher. Some children were weekly boarders. Mrs Froome had two daughters - one married and the other remained single and taught the older children in a room upstairs overlooking the garden. These older children also had lessons between 2-3pm. There were five pupils upstairs. Boys left at 8-10 years, girls at 12-14 years.
The advert for College House School, Marlborough Times 11 Jun 1898 is for Mrs Froome and Miss Froome as Principals.
The school closed in 1914, and it moved to 29 Church Street, run by Miss Richens.
- College House, 130 High Street
Some further personal anecdotes include:
Leo Cowell-Townsend also attended this school, along with Dr Starkey Smith's son John, three Peart children (from the Trout Farm) – Lon, Mary and Margaret, and one other, making six in all when he was there. He recalls that Miss Froome also gave piano lessons – and Leo went on to be a very good church organist.
A letter from Mrs Joy Peart to Lois Pihlens on 13 Jan 1992 gave an interesting insight into schooling in the early part of the 20th century. She states "Lancelot's sister ... told me they went to the vicarage – then driving in a pony and trap they both attended College House. She was only five, and cried a lot, so a bib was put around her neck saying 'I am a cry baby'. The school was run by Miss Froome."
Mrs Froome taught for forty years, helped in the later years by her daughter, Miss Froome. The deeds of 129 High Street state that Mrs Froome was occupant of College House in 1919, but in the next year College House was owned by Mrs Mary Tubb – who ran it as a boarding house. Gwen Nicol remembered that the school moved in c1920 to 6, Parsonage Lane, but closed soon after.
Anne Gresham-Cooke also attended Mrs Froome's school - but after it had moved to Parsonage Lane. She remembered that Mrs Froome died suddenly, about one week after her retirement, having enjoyed a week in London seeing exhibitions and going to the theatre.
- Piano Examination Certificates [HHA Archive A43]