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Hungerford was an early adopter of the voluntary schools - its National School was built in 1814 in the High Street, only three years after the founding of The National Society. It was to run as a National Church of England School for nearly one hundred years before it closed in 1910.

Photo Gallery:


The old National School Building, Feb 2007

schools-014 nat school teachers newhooks ctr
schools-014 nat school teachers newhooks ctr

National School teaching staff, c1900. Mr & Mrs Newhook in centre, seated.

schools_10_national 1904
schools_10_national 1904

National School, 1904

schools-015 bessie macklin school cert 1906
schools-015 bessie macklin school cert 1906

Bessie Macklin's School Certificate in Standard IV, Jul 1906

080-war c1917
080-war c1917

Old National School building used as a VAD Hospital, c1915

- The old National School Building, February 2007.

- National School teaching staff, c.1900. Mr & Mrs Newhook in centre, seated.

- National School, 1904.

- Bessie Macklin's School Certificate in Standard IV, July 1906.

- Old National School building used as a VAD Hospital, c.1915.

National School Masters & Mistresses:

1844-c1855:       Joseph & Mary Hoskyn
c1855:                Samuel & Emily Brook
1867-71:            Thomas & Jane Pearce
1871-76 (Girls): Miss Turner
1876- (Girls):     Miss Wilken
1871-1910:        Mr & Mrs Newhook

The National School opened, 1814:

When the school was opened in 1814, the adjacent pre-existing building, now 41 High Street, Cameo House, which was to be used as the headmaster's house, was refurbished and clad in Bath stone – now available by canal transport from the quarries near Bath, the Kennet and Avon Canal having opened just four years previously. The National School provided Primary education only at a charge of one penny per week.

The Admissions register of 2,000 names exists (see BFHS). It ran on the Monitorial system – i.e. one master taught a large number of pupils through the senior monitors.

In 1837 the Headmaster was given authority to dismiss for the day any dirty children.

There was a close link to the Parish Church of St. Lawrence in The Croft. For example, in 1855 the whole school went to St. Lawrence's church for two mornings each week.

From 1844, the Master and Mistress were Joseph and Mary Hoskyn, and the 1844 Pigot Directory lists the Infants' School as being run by Kitty Hoskyn. (Warren Whitby from Pratville, Alabama, USA, kindly contacted the Virtual Museum to explain that Kitty was Joseph's younger sister, aged 19 years in 1844. Joseph and Mary were his Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents!)

[In 1858 a night school for older (over 12 years) children was set up, with a fee of 2d per week. It is not yet clear whether this was part of the National School.]

Between c1855 and 1867 Samuel and Emily Brook were heads, and between 1867 and 1871 it was Thomas and Jane Pearce (or Pearse).

In 1871 Mr & Mrs Pearce left and were replaced by Mr & Mrs Newhook, who had come from Farnborough, Hampshire. They were to remain for the rest of the school's life until 1910. (The NWN of 23 Mar 1933 reported "Mr James Newhook, headmaster of Hungerford National Schools from 1871 until his retirement in 1910, has died aged 88. He was secretary of Hungerford Hospital Collection during this time, £8,600 being raised for hospitals. He was organist and choirmaster at St Saviour's, Eddington, from 1871 to 1925".

The Girls school head was Miss Turner (1871-76) then Miss Wilken (from November 1876).

A few points of interest from the school records:

1816. The Admissions Register contains 2000 names over the 40 year period 1815-56 (held at the BRO), for example:

  • On 1 Oct 1816 Chas. and Thos. Tubb ages 5 and 6. Sons of Geo and Eliz. Tubb, carpenter, admitted on recommendation of Rev H. Sawbridge.
  • Also Rachael Toe, 10 year old dau. of Thos. Toe, Sexton, recommended by the Vicar's wife.
  • Also Sarah Hidden, 8 year old dau. of Wm. Hidden, Soldier. Rec. by John Pearce Esq. (Chilton Lodge)

The Managers' Minutes Book 1838-1910 (also at the BRO) includes:

  • 1837: Schoolmaster given authority to dismiss for the day any dirty children.
  • 1852 December: "That the children for the future be not allowed to go round and collect money as a reward for their singing, but that they be rewarded at the discretion of the Committee".
  • 1853 January: "A sum of £3.14.3 has been raised by subscription for the purpose of rewarding the 10 singing boys at Xmas 1852 after paying out 8s 3d for the collecting thereof, and clothing has been given them as such reward."
  • 2nd March 1853: Geo Gibbs the son of Thos. Gibbs, bricklayer, was brought before us and convicted of having within the last week stolen a prayer book and a pair of gloves. He has been in the school about 2 years and now aged 11. He was ordered to be placed upon a stool in the midst of the school room during the school hours of this day as a punishment."
  • In 1855 a man was deported from RG for 14 years for larceny.
  • 1855: All National school children taken to church service Wednesdays and Fridays. Protest. Thereafter 1st and 2nd class only on Wednesdays but whole school on Fridays.
  • 1856: Noted that the average attendance of children at school less than 3 years.
  • Report by the Diocesan School Inspector, "The knowledge of Holy Scripture the Church Catechism and of Arithmetic by the lst class is highly creditable to them and to their instructors. There is a considerable difference between them and other classes... but on the whole they are not ill taught.
  • 1857: Reported that Mr. Willmer the Master, was in the habit of frequenting public houses and remaining there till very late hours of the night and was occasionally intoxicated, and that this had occured again on Sunday night last. Willmer admitted the truth of the charges and was given 3 months notice to quite the school house and the job.
  • 1858: Night school started. Mon. Wed. Fti. Charge 2d. per week. Master paid 1/ per night.
  • 5th January 1863: Small numbers of children coming to the school is due to the very great prevalence of small pox which has been spreading itself in the parish for the last two months.
  • 11th August 1884: Commencement of Harvest holidays fixed for 8th August to terminate four weeks from that date.

Other references to the masters and teachers at the National School include:

1844 (Pigot's Directory) Joseph Hoskyn – Master of National School – boys and girls. Mary Hoskyn – Mistress.
1847 (Kelly's Directory) Joseph Hoskyn – Master; Mrs Ann (sic!) Hoskyn – Mistress.
1847 (Commoners List) Joseph Hoskins for National School
1850 (Slater's Directory) Joseph Hoskyn – Master; Mrs Ann (sic!) Hoskyn – Mistress.
1851 (Census) Joseph Hoskyn (3), National School Master
1861 (Census) Josiah Warry (29), National School Master
1864 (Billings Directory) The National Schools (sic!) are situated in the High Street. Average number of scholars in both: 130. Samuel Brook (Master); Emily D. Brook (Mistress)
1869 (Post Office Directory) Thomas Pearce (Master); Mrs Jane Pearce (Mistress)
1870 (Parish Magazine) Mr & Mrs Pearce paid £50 per annum – 180 boys and 145 girls. 9am – 12; 2-4 daily except Sarturday. Payments 1d, 2d and 6d per week.
1871 Mr Pearce was also organist and choirmaster at St Saviour's Church
1870s (NF) Option for boys elected to the Latin Foundation at the Free Grammar School in The Croft (yet lower standard in 3R's at the Grammar School!).
Nov 1871 Mr Newhook, Master at Farnborough, Hants., took over from Mr Pearse.

The Monitorial System:

The Monitorial System  (or Bell System, named after the founder of the National Schools System) was used exclusively in the National School, like most others at the time. It encouraged mindless attention to routine. Education equated twith the acquisition of a collection og factual knowledge. Work was minutely divided. Monitors were responsible for instructing a small group of pupils, who learned by rote. The teacher was a supervisor, examiner, and disciplinarian.

From the Parish Magazine Oct 1872: "There are vacancies in the National Schools for two Pupil teachers, one in the Boys School, and one in the Girls. Candidates should be from thirteen to fifteen years of age. They might be apprenticed on passing an Elementary Examination in February next. In the meantime it would be desirable that they should act as Monitors in the School, and be prepared for the Examination. During their apprenticeship they would receive a salary, and would also be specially instructed by the Master and Mistress in the subjects of the annual Examination. At the close of their engagement they will be perfectly free in the choice of their employment. If they wish to continue in the scholastic profession they may either at once Assistant teachers in a National School, or they may become Students in a Training College in order to be prepared for a Certificate as Master or Mistress.
Application should be made at once to Rev J B Anstice."

In 1876 the Managers of school were able to adopt a graduated scale of fees due to the good reputation and competition for places – Labourer's 2d per week; Mechanics and Artisans 3d; Tradespeople 6d.

Even this was insufficient however: "Since the passing of the 1870 Education Act it is as well to bear in mind that the education of the poor is no longer optional. The law lays the obligation of making sufficient provision for elementary education in each parish on the owners and occupiers of real property.

In Hungerford there were about 500 children to be educated.

The yearly cost of each child's education, according to the Government estimate, was £1.10.0

A failure to carry on the school by voluntary contributions would at once bring the parish under the compulsory operation of the Education Act
and would involve a very considerable and permanent burden on the rate—payers.

It will therefore be requisite to increase the subscriptions to the extent of £25 a year, and the Trustees confidently appeal to their fellow parisioners for such liberal contributions as will enable them to maintain the school on scale rendered necessary by recent legislation."

Miss Turner leaves, 1876:

From the Parish Magazine September 1876: "We regret to announce the removal of Miss Turner, who resigns the charge of the Girls' National School at Michaelmas, having presided over it for the last five years. Miss Turner has carried on the School with great zeal, ability and success: the Reports of H.M. Inspector have always been most satisfactory, and the managers have highly valued her services, while she has maintained a high standard of teaching and discipline, and has endeared herself to the children and their parents, and has gained affection and respect of all who have come under her influence. Before the Harvest Holiday the scholars and assistant teachers presented Miss Turner with a handsome cruet stand and set of silver salt-spoons, as a testimony of their gratitude for her past care and their good wishes for her future welfare."

In 1883, because of an increased number of pupils (average 279 in 1882), a new class room was built, at a cost of £250.

1903 (Kelly's Directory) National C of E School: Mixed and Infants – for 320 children. Average attendance was 200 boys and girls, 80 infants. "Erected 1814, subsequently enlarged. Rev. Hy A. Sealy, M.A. Sec; M. Goulter, Esq., Treasurer; James Newhook, Master; Mrs Newhook, Mistress of Infants.

1905 (MK) Schoolmaster's house refaced(?) and school refurbished.

The number of children at the school grew rapidly education was extended to a wider age range. In 1867 the infants were moved to the Infant National School in Eddington.

A new Boys schoolroom was added in 1871, which could hold 120 children.

A Penny Bank was established at the National Schools for the benefit of the children in April 1876. Annual accounts were published thereafter in the Parish Magazines. The main savings were held in the Post office Savings Bank.

In 1877 the managers changed the fees chargeable for pupils attending the school. In place of one penny per week for all, they became:
- Children of Tradespeople and
Employers: 6d per week (3d for infants)
- Children of Artisans and
Mechanics: 3d per week (2d for infants)
- Children of Labourers: 2d per week (1d for infants)

If there were more than three children in a household, payment was required for only the elder three. At the same time, they decided to accept boys resident in the Union Workhouse.

Report on the National School, 1888:

From the Parish Magazine, July 1888: Report of Hungerford National School for the year ending April 30th, 1888:
The Secretary is happy to be able to congratulate the Committee and Subscribers on the increased prosperity of the School. The re-arrangement of classes adopted last year appears to have conduced to economy and efficiency without any countervailing disadvantage.

The number of Children at the Schools has been larger than in previous years; the average daily attendance having been:- Boys, 112; Girls, 84; Infants, 64; Total 260: as compared to last year - Boys, 102; Girls, 82; Infants, 73, total 257. The present number of Scholars on the Register is Boys, 144; Girls, 124; Infants 78; Total 346. The report of H.M. Inspector is very satisfactory, and the Grant, £257 10s, is the largest that the School has ever received.

Of the five Pupil Teachers in the School, four passed "well" at the Government Examination and one "fairly well"; two obtained First Class Diocesan Certificates for Religious Knowledge and three Second Class Certificates. At the Examination in Drawing, three obtained Certificates for Geometry and one for Freehand and perspective. It will be observed that the debt has been reduced from £27 19s. 1d. to £17 17s. 7d.

The Parish Magazine of June 1895 reported that both the National and Newtown Schools had been closed because of an outbreak of measles. The schools were closed for four weeks and re-opened 24th June.

By 1907 the school had dropped its "National" title, and was called the "Church (mixed and infants) School".

The National School closed in July 1910 and all children (as well as those from the Wesleyan School) moved to the new All-Age Council School in Fairview Road.

The building was used between 1915-18 as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) Hospital – Miss Wooldridge was Matron. (See also: 42 High Street, and First World War).

By 1920 the Kelly Directory explains it was used as the Technical Institute, for cooking and laundry. Miss Owen was the cookery mistress.

In the 1930s, Mrs Lilly Griffiths (North View) and Mrs Pam Bishini (nee Batt, who lived at the barber's shop in Bridge Street), remember going to the library in a room round at the back of the National School building as children.

During the Second World War it was also the Air Raid Precaution (ARP) Centre.

The 1939 Blacket's Directory still shows it as Technical Schools, and John Davies (past head of Primary School) recalled that even in the 1950-60s it was used for Domestic Science teaching, woodwork, and occasionally for accommodating junior classes.

It continued to be used for educational purposes until the mid 1960s when it was let for commercial use, prior to being sold by the Church in 1973.

Since the sale of 1973:

In 1973 the building was auctioned (by AW Neate) at the Town Hall. It was sold by the Trustees of Hungerford Church Charity for £52,000 including 41 HS. The land behind the school (to Prospect Road) was sold as a separate lot for £7,000 with planning permission for a house and garage.

Since then there have been a number of commercial owners, including:

- 1978 - A company selling fire-extinguishers

- 1993-2002 - High and Mighty offices

- 2003 - Dickins, Hopgood, Chidley, solicitors (started in 1996 behind Peter Stirland, in Bridge Street, moved to 110 High Street, and in 2003 to 42 HS. In 2006, they celebrated 10 years since partnership established.)
- 2007 - Solicitors renamed "DHC – Solicitors"

See also:

- 42 High Street

- First World War

- Second World War

- Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Service

- All-Age Council School in Fairview Road

- Infant National School in Eddington

- Admission Register (BRO D/P71 25/14/1)

- Parish Magazines