The diversity of educational provision within Tattenhall village was immense – Parish Schools, Charity Schools, Sunday Schools, British Schools, National Schools, Academy Schools, Day and Boarding Schools … the list goes on.
What is clear historically, however, is that individualism gave way to common civic purpose with several wealthy, philanthropic, Tattenhall residents becoming pro-active in voluntary school provision i.e. before the State took on responsibility for education.
In this respect a number of charitable organisations were established in the 1700s (e.g. The Parish School), whilst later the Church of England National School (erected in the early 1850s on the site of the former structure on the High Street) as well as the Non-Conformist British School (opened in 1869 in the former ‘Place of Worship’ on Rosemary Row) were also established.
All of these, of course, pre-dated the 1870 Elementary Education Act (The Forster Act) which introduced compulsory universal education for children aged 5-13. This Act, however, was permissive i.e. it advised but did not compel the local school boards to enforce attendance. Only in the last decade of the 19th Century was the 1891 Education Act passed which provided free elementary education at a cost of 50p (equivalent) per pupil.
Whilst Frank A Latham* in his book ‘Tattenhall’ – ‘The History of a Cheshire Village’ (1977) documents aspects of schooling within our village, we have tried to highlight the sheer diversity of educational provision that existed in Tattenhall (*we would wish to acknowledge the profound contribution of Frank Latham MBE in relation to the history of Cheshire villages, not least our own – Frank died on his 89th birthday, January 2013).
Education for the poor…
As early as 1677 there is reference to school provision stating that a ‘John Farren came to teach at Tattenhall near St Michael’s Day anno domini 1677 and continued his painful calling during the remaining part of his life’. Similarly, Frank Latham makes reference to school provision in 1678 whereby Henry Newcome was ‘collated’ to the Rectory of Tattenhall and acquired a licence to be schoolmaster.
We have also identified educational provision in the form of an Indenture dated 25 March 1780 in which Samuel Peploe LL.B (Tattenhall Rector 1743-1781) and Gentleman, Mr John Larden
‘do hereby acknowledge and declare that the sum of monies for the providing and maintaining of a free school at Tattenhall for the future education of poor boys in reading, writing and arithmetic be limited to 18 boys – 14 (being) and belonging to the township of Tattenhall, (whilst) the others to Golborne Bellow and Newton’
It would appear, therefore, that Samuel Peploe Jnr (son of Samuel Peploe, Bishop of Chester) was a catalyst in educational provision (his father had also been instrumental in establishing a Blue Coat School in Preston). Documents held at the Cheshire Archive relating to the ‘Peploe Charity’, together with applications for charity, ‘Charity Accounts’ and ‘Bank Books’, are testimony to the long term significance of this local benefactor. Even in death, Samuel Peploe bequeathed in his Will the ‘interest on £200 to be distributed in clothing at Christmas’. It is perhaps fitting, therefore, that he was described as a ‘gentle and liberal man’.
In the Cheshire Public Record Office the ‘Accounts of Children Clothed and Educated’ under the ‘Tattenhall Blue School Charity’ also reveal the extent of hardship in our local area.
In 1803, for example, a pupil who was admitted by the name of ‘Morgan’ was then turned out of the school in 1804 for ‘inattention’ but he was allowed another year, upon a trial of amendment.
There are references to the purchase of ‘boys and girls suits; pairs of shoes; copies of the New Testament; mending of ‘Morgan’s shoes’ and Stockings at Christmas (1805)’.
In Golborne Bellow, there are references to the purchase of ‘Blue Cloth; a pair of mitts; making of shirts; tippet; cap; petticoats; jackets; stockings and shirts.’
In 1808 a ‘Place of Worship’ was erected in what is now known as ‘Rosemary Row’. Situated at the furthest end of the village, the approach to it in wet weather, in particular, was very inconvenient. It was neither ‘commodious nor comfortable’ and from a hygienic point of view it was very ‘objectionable’. Since it had neither Vestry, nor Class Rooms, the ‘Sabbath School, Prayer and other meetings’ were held in this one building. Plans to move location were thwarted by the Cattle Plague which broke out ‘with great violence’ in the neighbourhood but in January 1868 an opportunity presented itself for establishing a Day School in this location.
Fitted out as the temporary ‘British School’, it is reported in the Chester Chronicle, 23 January 1869 that there were 123 children already in the school and ‘had it not been for sickness so prevalent among the poor, the number in all probability would have been upwards of 140’. The school (identified as ‘The British School’ for boys and girls on local maps – see OS Map above) was under Government Inspection and in 1870 numbered over 150 children. Since the building was now used solely for school provision, an alternative site was required for worship. The outcome was the New Congregational Church (and Manse) located on the High Street – see ‘Buildings’ section.
The Minister of the New Congregational Church was Andrew Craig Todd who was born in Calcutta. In the 1871 Census he was listed as an ‘Independent Minister’ and resided at ‘Chapel House’ and then presumably ‘The Manse’ upon its completion.
By the 1891 Census, however, and no longer Minister of the Congregational Church, Andrew Craig Todd was enumerated as a ‘School Master’ and was resident at ‘Craigside’, a property adjacent to the Righi. Up to 8 scholars (aged between 5-14) were resident at this property on Census night. It seems plausible to presume that by 1891, therefore, Andrew Craig Todd may have been the School Master of a small boarding school and was part of Tattenhall’s educational provision.
‘The British School’ in Rosemary Row was not secular i.e. it was non-denominational but it was regarded (by some) to be the Non-Conformist School in the village. Presumably, like other British Schools, it adopted a model proposed by the Quakers whereby a large number of children were arranged in classes and monitors were set over them. The monitors were taught by the Master and the monitors then taught the children. The British Schools were regarded to be a sequel to the Sunday School Movement. The Committee set out to manage ‘The British School’ locally comprised Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists and Congregationalists. For some, this provided a positive appeal as the National Society, in developing National Schools, stood steadfast in the teachings of the Church Catechism. Denominational preference was regarded by some to have paralysed much of the ‘Christian’ educational efforts.
A National School…
‘we have just completed very handsome and commodious school rooms and a Master’s house. In the Boys’ School, a certified master from Cheltenham began work three weeks ago. An Assistant Master has also been sanctioned by the Committee of Council for 1 year for the experiment of a ‘night school’ for older lads.
I am very sorry to leave at this critical stage … the morality of the people is, I think, above rather than below the average’
It is likely that the village was anything but ‘backward’ since Tattenhall also boasted a Reading Room attached to the National School with some 500 volumes, newspapers being added later and in which lectures were occasionally held.
The need for a ‘Tattenhall Senior School’…
Whilst the ‘Church of England National School’ on the High Street was fondly known as the ‘Top School’, the newly built secondary school which was opened as the ‘Tattenhall Senior Council School’ in 1913 soon became known as the ‘Bottom School’. The latter was located further down the High Street (beyond Tattenhall Hall) and close to Tattenhall Railway Station.
The Tattenhall Senior Council School which was to accommodate 150 children, had been erected under the supervision of the ‘prince of architects’, Mr Beswick, the County Architect at an outlay of approximately £2,800. Mr George Barbour of Bolesworth Castle declared the school officially ‘open’. It subsequently closed in July 1975, by which time pupils were transferred to the new purpose-built ‘Bishop Heber High School’, Malpas.
Below are some interesting entries lifted from the Head Master’s Log Books 1918-1941 which give a snapshot of rural life in Tattenhall village …
Dated 7 January 1918 – ‘Miss Smith, having married Corporal EM Richards on leave from France, has received leave of absence from the Managers and Sub-Committee’. (Mrs Richards, nee Smith, returned to duty on 15 January. Interestingly on the 16 January the log confirms that the Administrative Sub-Committee granted her further leave of absence of 1 week i.e. until such time as her husband returned to France).
Dated 29 October 1918 – ‘School closed by Medical Officer at 12 noon on account of a sudden outbreak of influenza (12 actual cases and 20 from infected houses), until 8 November’.
Dated 18 November 1918 – ‘School again closed by Medical Officer for a week. Last week, Harry Jones, Standard VI, died of the epidemic’.
Dated 1 April 1926 – ‘We are now allowed the use of the Recreation Field for Organised Games. Rent £3 per annum’.
Dated 21 May 1926 – ‘Timetables re-arranged in the morning for Empire Day Celebration. Holiday this afternoon’.
Dated 29 November 1940 – ‘Many children absent (75%) owing to last night’s severe air raids (8.5 hours).
Dated 10 January 1941 – ‘Mr Woodiwiss visited the school with reference to allocation of evacuees received from Liverpool yesterday. Head Teacher absent from 2pm to supervise allocation of Liverpool evacuees.
Dated 13 January 1941 – ‘Miss N Boyce, Evacuee Teacher, commenced her duties today.
Dated 17 January 1941 – ‘Total evacuees – 33’.
Below is also an extract from the ‘Punishment Book’ of Tattenhall Secondary School dated 1920 (the names of the ‘scholars’ have been omitted to preserve anonymity). It makes for interesting reading when studying the list of offences …
Private Day and Boarding Schools…
There were also a number of private schools which advertised in the Local Directories. In the History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cheshire by Francis White and Co., dated 1860, for example, the following is recorded
Tattenhall Academy, an institution for the education of young gentlemen, is conducted by Mr Richard Gray. Laburnum Villa, an educational establishment for young ladies is also under the superintendence of Mr R Gray. The Rev JGR Stephenson has also a first style classical boarding school for the education of the sons of the nobility and gentry in the neighbourhood of Tattenhall.
Within a decade, advertisements relating to ‘Hope House’ (a Preparatory School for boys under 12 years of age) and ‘Tattenhall House’ (an Upper School for boys aged over 12 years) are recorded (Morris & Co’s Directory, 1874).
With the impact of the railways, it is likely that Tattenhall village wished to advertise the merits of its accessibility together with its pleasant and healthy location, whilst at the same time promoting courses of instruction which prepared pupils for the Oxford and Cambridge Local examinations.
A ‘Ladies’ School’ at ‘Edge Croft House’, for example, (later known as ‘Craigside’ see above) advertised its scholastic merits under the close guidance of its Principals, namely Mrs Birch and Miss Woodley. At the Ladies’ School, in particular, it was claimed that
‘The health, the religious and moral training of the Pupils, and the formation of correct habits and tastes (were) of the first importance’.
There are many references to individuals who became School Teachers – regrettably too many to mention. The selection of just one group of women, however, gives insight into the significant contribution to educational provision that was made throughout the period. The Ellerton family lived on Church Bank. Mrs Ellen P Ellerton who originated from Faversham in Kent, was a widow but she was enumerated on both the 1871 and 1881 Census as a ‘School Mistress’. Her daughters, neither of whom married, were also teachers. Ellen E Ellerton was a teacher of English and her sister, Mary Gertrude Ellerton, was a teacher of Music and, for over 40 years, was the village Organist at St Alban’s Church (a brass Memorial Tablet erected by those who appreciated her devoted service is located in the North Aisle of the Church). These women continued to live on Church Bank following the death of their mother and they are all buried in St Alban’s Churchyard. What a difference just one family must have made to the educational provision within our village.
The Park School…
Should you wish to read specifically about the primary school then simply click on ‘The Park School’ to be directed to this section of the Website
The Park School was opened on 30 April 1970 by Lady Plowden because the building on the High Street was ‘no longer fit for purpose’ (see plaque below).