One of the larger independent schools in the town was Westfield House School. An advert in the Parish Magazine of 1871 clearly states "Westfield House, Classical and Mathematical School, established 1842. Headmaster: The Rev. W.H. Coleman, BA, LLD. Pupils prepared for the universities, public schools and middle class examinations".
It was well advertised in the local directories, including 1844 Pigot [Thomas Coleman, boarding and day school]; 1847 Kelly [Thomas Coleman, gent's boarding school, Westfield Cottage (sic!)]; 1850 Slater's [Thomas Coleman, boarding and day school, Westfield House].
Westfield House is in Parsonage Lane between the new vicarage and the railway line. The adjacent Westfield Cottages were occupied in 1841 by Eliza Blackwell, and in 1851 by "Blamires (aged 40 years), schoolmaster – 6 pupils". Perhaps he had these additional pupils living out.
The 1861 census has Thomas Coleman (50 years), schoolmaster with 10 pupils.
The entry in the 1869 Post Office Directory describes "William Hobday Coleman, BA, TCD, Westfield House School, Classical, Mathematical & Commercial School". Perhaps this was Thomas Coleman's son, who took over the running of the school, and who was, between 1869 and 1884, the Curate of Hungerford.
By 1871, the census records 12 pupils lodging with William Hobday Coleman (28 years). In the same year (1871) the Parish Magazine, in addition to the advert reproduced above, included a description of H.M. Rev. Coleman, BA, TCD, "late of St Mary's Hall, Oxford and Cuddesden Theological College. First place awarded to a pupil from Westfield House in Greek Public Examination out of 700 candidates. During 1870, several pupils passed public examinations, some of them with high marks in history, geography, grammar, scripture, Latin, French, Greek, Arithmetic and Euclid (=Geometry – Euclid was an Alexandrian mathematician).
An article in another Parish Magazine of 1871 records a local cricket match: "Match played on Friday 19th April at Hungerford. The newly elected Mayor having obtained a holiday for the school, the boys improved the occasion by having a Cricket Match – one house against the other – the Lower House v. The School". The article gives the names of the boys involved, innings and scores. A return match on Monday 11th September resulted in a victory for the School by 47 runs.
The 1877 Kelly Directory echoed that of 1869, and the 1881 census showed William Coleman (37 years) at Westfield House – although there is no record in the census of any pupils.
The school closed for 5 years, then re-opened:
The school closed in 1884, but only for a few years, as in 1889 it re-opened with Mr W R Taylor as headmaster, with three boarders and eight day boys. Mr Taylor remained until 1893.
In May 1893 the Curate of Hungerford, Rev. John Frederick Charles Denning, MA, became headmaster.
[Mrs. Barbara Hope thought that her father, Astley Hope and his brother, attended the school during Rev Denning's headship. Both were excellent cricketers, as were Rev Denning and his two sons Bob and Jack. His daughter Irene always kept score!]
The 1895 and the 1903 Kelly Directories describes it as a Preparatory Boys Boarding School.
It appears that Rev Denning was the last headmaster of the school, which closed around 1906. The Rev Denning continued to live at Westfield House until his death c1939.
Jack Williams recalled that between 1939-45 Westfield House was a base for Spanish Republican soldiers, who volunteered to serve with the British Army. Various other military units, including New Zealanders, the Rifle Brigade were based there, as well as, in 1943, the Royal Signals.
Owners since 1945 have included:
c1959: Mr Stone, Lloyds bank clerk., who split the house into two dwellings (to accomodate a work colleague, Lyn Woldridge).
Westfield House was offered for sale in 2004 with a guide price of £325,000. (See sale advert).
- Advert in Parish Magazine 1871 for Westfield House School
- Westfield House School, 1874. James Smallbones is front row, 5th left, kneeling. His brother Edwin Smallbones is back row, second from right.
- Parish Magazine, esp Jun 1889, May 1893.