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A local history and genealogy site for Wimpole, a village and parish in South Cambridgeshire.
Curated by Steve Odell.

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Wimpole (Church of England) School
General History, 1853-1946.
Rules for Lord Hardwicke's School at New Wimpole, 1853
A local history and genealogy page for the Parish of Wimpole.
The first formal Wimpole Village School dates from 1853 when 'School House' and the 'Wooden School' were built by Lord Hardwicke for his new village of New Wimpole. The replacement 'Brick School' was built in 1876 as a Church of England designated school and this served the parish until the school building had to be demolished in 1946 (the brick structure being declared "absolutely unsafe for the children").
Wimpole (CE) Village School c1900
Wimpole (C of E) School, New Wimpole (c1900).
Girl Pupils with Samuel Horsfield, School Master
[Context: If the scene in the above image and the modern scene today
were somehow combined/overlapped with each other, the schoolgirls
would be neatly lined up down the middle of the Village Hall...]
The Wimpole Schools:
General History
A schoolmaster was recorded in Wimpole between 1589 and 1611 and a Sunday School in 1788. No further details are known.
Wimpole's first school "for poor children" opened in 1807, founded and supported by Elizabeth Yorke, Countess of Hardwicke. It was said to be "well managed and well attended". There were 74 pupils in 1818, and 66 in 1825, including 15 from Arrington. The school had became wholly supported by Philip, Earl of Hardwicke by 1833, when attendance had risen to 80.
A Sunday school was started in the same year (1833) supported partly by the Earl and partly by the Rector. It was attended by about 70 boys and had a lending library. There was also "a winter evening school, held in the Rectory kitchen".
In 1847 the combined day and Sunday school, supported by subscription, and intended for Wimpole and Arrington, had 67 day and 94 Sunday pupils. There was "one schoolroom and a teacher's house" although I have been unable to determine the location.
The present village of Wimpole (called ‘New Wimpole’ prior to April 1999) was begun in 1836, when cottages began to be built along Cambridge Road for some of Lord Hardwicke's estate workers. A large house for a village schoolmaster and the new 'Wooden School' followed in 1853.
From 1871 the village school was designated as "Church of England". <>In 1873, 21 children attended an evening school held during the winter, and 25 boys who had left the day-school attended the Sunday school.
The Yorkes maintained the day-school in New Wimpole until 1875, and from then onwards an annual government grant was received.
A new school building (known locally as the 'Brick School') with accommodation for 75 pupils was completed at New Wimpole in 1876. In 1906 the school building was in the ownership of Viscount Clifden, from whom it was leased for five shillings a year.
Average attendance was 80 in 1877, 52 in 1906 and 35 in 1938, when there were mixed and infants' classes.
The 'Brick School' was a Church of England registered school and served the parish for almost seventy years until the school building was closed suddenly in 1946 (the brick structure having being declared "absolutely unsafe for the children") and demolished in 1948.
From 1946 to 1949 the school was held in the village hall with some pupils being transferred to Arrington and Orwell schools. From 1948 all remaining Wimpole pupils were transferred to a new temporary school being established in Wimpole Park.
Wimpole Park County School (c1948-c1955) was a temporary post-war community school set up within the Wimpole Estate near the bottom of Arrington Hill. Children from the age of seven up to school-leaving age were drawn from the tenants, evacuees and squatters living in the old US Army hospital huts, plus some pupils from Arrington and Wimpole (and some seniors from Orwell).
In 1962 all the remaining village schools were closed and pupils from the parishes of Arrington, Croydon, Orwell, Tadlow, Whaddon and Wimpole were sent to a new Church of England primary and junior school built in Orwell.
Pupil Group Photographs: Wimpole (C of E) School (c1900-1940)
Pupil Group Photographs: Wimpole Park County School (c1949-1934)
Rules for Lord Hardwicke's School at New Wimpole (1853)
"(1) Scale of Payments:
- Children of the labouring poor, one penny weekly. If more than one scholar from the same family, the extra ones will be admitted for one half-penny.
- The children of servants (of a higher condition) upon Lord Hardwicke's Estate shall be admitted upon payment of seven shillings and sixpence quarterly.
- The children of Farmers upon the estate, ten shillings quarterly.
(2) Children will be required to know their alphabet before they can be admitted to the school.
(3) The money paid for the schooling will go towards defraying the expenses of the school, and must be paid regularly every Monday morning: if not, the children will be sent home.
(4) Any scholar remaining absent from school for one week without a satisfactory reason being given to the Master of Mistress, will be expelled.
(5) The girls will be provided with work, which will be paid for according to a fixed scale of prices. On Friday afternoon they will be permitted to make and mend their own clothes, when pains shall be taken to teach them to do so neatly. The money collected for the work, with an annual donation of five pounds from Lady Hardwicke, will form a clothing fund for the girls, and be distributed at Christmas in articles of clothing.
(6) The School hours are from nine to five in summer, and from nine to four in winter. Parents are particularly requested to send their children in good time, as the doors will be shut a quarter of an hour after the school opens. It is also hoped that they will send them neat and clean; no finery will be permitted.
(7) The children will be allowed to bring their dinners and remain in the playground from twelve till two, and the elder scholars will be employed by the Master and Mistress in cleaning the schoolroom and premises.
(8) The work of the day will be begun and ended by prayer, and on The Sabbath the scholars will attend the morning and evening services of the Church, headed by the Master, or Mistress, who will be held responsible for their good conduct."
Address to Parents
"The object of Lord and Lady Hardwicke in supporting this school is to combine the advantages of Education with a taste for honest and active industry, to install into the minds of the scholars a true knowledge of Christ's Religion, a love of virtue and detestation of vice, combined with a praiseworthy desire of improving the condition of life in which it has pleased God to call them.
Lord and Lady Hardwicke feel that their exertions unassisted by the parents of the children, cannot succeed; they therefore earnestly entreat them to assist by their own teaching and example at home to bring up their children in the fear of God, the Faith of Christ, Love and goodwill towards one another.
These Rules are printed for the satisfaction and instruction of the parents, and it is hoped they will lend their aid in carrying them out."
October 1st, 1853.
The 'Wooden School':
A new school and the 'School House' (the accommodation for the School Master] were both built in 1853 at New Wimpole, financially supported by the Lord and Lady Hardwicke. The school was a simple wooden building and was located in what is now the back garden of No 30 Cambridge Road.
The 'Wooden School' c1955
The old 'Wooden School' (c1853-c1958)
photographed in the 1950s
The 'Rules for Lord Hardwicke's School' for the new school are recorded above.
Families paid for their children to attend the school. In 1853, the 'poor' paid one penny weekly per pupil, and one half-penny for each extra child from the same family. Parents from the 'servant class' working for Lord Hardwicke on the Estate paid seven shillings and sixpence per child quarterly. 'Farmers' were expected to pay ten shillings per child quarterly.
The first 'New Wimpole' School Master was Mr John Harrison who served for approximately seven years from 1853. The Wimpole 1861 census records one Christopher Henry Llewellin as [temporary?] School Master. Parish Registers have Mr Samual Horsfield as the School Master by 1863 and he was still in post 38 years later and aged 68 at the time of the 1901 census.
The school was given registered 'Church of England' status in 1871, reporting to the Diocese of Ely.
After the larger 'Brick School' was completed in 1876, the old 'Wooden School' was converted into one then two small dwellings. The building was listed as an Almshouse in 1933 and it was still a residence in 1955 (and still called the 'Wooden School' by local residents) although demolished soon after. The building can also be glimpsed in the background of the two photographs of Wimpole School pupils taken around 1900.
"...I can just remember Mr. Harrison the schoolmaster, and his immediate successor. The only time I ever saw my father [the Reverend Henry Yorke, brother to Lord Hardwicke] in a real temper was after an interview with the latter, who had said he wasn't any longer going to stand "having Harrison always stuffed down his throat". To him succeeded the excellent Mr. Horsfield, who I found still at his post when I returned from New Zealand in 1897.
"Those were the days of the old wooden school. At Christmas 1872 was given a Penny Reading in the school, where for the last time before leaving England I appeared. Ever since that evening I have had a weakness for "Hard times come again no more" and a longing to hear again a ballad sung by my cousin Libbett, "A rose looked in at the window, One bright November morn"..."
From: 'Wimpole As I Knew It' A reminiscence of a Wimpole boyhood from 1852 to 1872 written in 1914 by the Rev Alexander Campbell Yorke.
The Wimpole (Church of England) School:
The new Wimpole (C of E) School [or the 'Brick School' as it was generally called by villagers] was built in 1876 at the eastern end of New Wimpole village, [then] just inside and along the old parish boundary with Orwell. The 'footprint' of the new school building is almost exactly that of the modern car park down the side of Wimpole Village Hall and the back windows of the school originally looked out north-eastwards across open fields.
[On the right hand side of the village car park (looking from Cambridge Road) - about half way down and hidden beneath ivy and other growth - you can still find part of the school's back wall. It was taken down to chest-high in 1946 and left to mark the site boundary. Although hard to access now, the other side of this wall bears the distinctive double line of brickwork seen in the image below.]
Wimpole (Church of England) School, New Wimpole, c1905
Wimpole (Church of England) School, New Wimpole, c1905
This image is the main school building pictured around 1905 by Royston photographer Robert Clarke . The image is also something of an optical illusion. Compare the building size your brain (probably) thinks it is against the size of the building when scaled against people (see main header photograph above).
Parish Registers have Mr Samuel Horsfield as the Wimpole School Master by 1863 and he was still in post (aged 68) at the time of the 1901 census. He retired in September 1905 after 44 years at Wimpole. His daughter Miss Emily Horsfield was School Mistress by 1881.
School House and 'The Chestnuts' c1905
School House and 'The Chestnuts' c1905
The pupils' outdoor grassed playing area, known to generations of school-children as 'The Chestnuts', because of the trees, originally extended from the school to beyond the modern driveway of School House (No 22 Cambridge Road), the then residence of the School Master. The iron fencing seen in the foreground remains largely intact even today, as does the iron 'School Gate', the main access point for pupils. Most of the chestnut trees have also survived.
School House and School Building c1925
School House and Wimpole (C of E) School c1925
Pictured in winter, the last image shows the relationship between School House on the left, the School building on the right, and the fenced-off outdoor playing area. The wooden gate leads to the 'Wooden School' residences. This amateur 'snapshot' c1925) was taken from Cambridge Road looking northwards, before the 'old' village hall was built.
After nearly 70 years, the village school was closed (as emergency action by the education authority) in the spring of 1946 when a surveyor's report declared the school building "absolutely unsafe for the children" (8 March) following damage to the foundations by tree roots.
Classes continued in the old Village Hall nearby for two years although some children were transferred to Arrington and Orwell schools from May 1946. From 1948 the remaining Wimpole pupils were transferred to Wimpole Park County School on the Estate. In 1962 all the remaining village schools were closed and pupils from the parishes of Arrington, Croydon, Orwell, Tadlow, Whaddon and Wimpole were sent to a new Church of England primary and junior school built in Orwell.
1903 (2nd Edition) Ordnance Survey Map
1903 (2nd Edition) Ordnance Survey Map, showing the location of the Village School
Wimpole School Pupils c1900
Wimpole School Pupils c1900

This page was last updated: 24 June 2020

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