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Local History - Sparsholt School

on Mon, 01/07/2024 - 12:00am


Sparsholt School

The earliest record of the education of Sparsholt children was when the Rev Richard Edmondson, vicar 1634-74, settled an annuity of £2.10 for ‘the use of instructing the poor children of the Parish of Sparsholt in reading and learning the Church Catechism’. This teaching was doubtless given in the Church. By 1805 the Rev Thomas Pearson recorded ‘A Sunday School is established at Sparsholt and it is proposed to support it by subscription:’ By 1842 the Sunday School was held in its own building, believed to have been situated somewhere near the Blacksmith’s shop south of Tavistock House.

In 1870 a Mrs Manning was in charge but the building and teaching were not considered adequate. For these reasons the Inspector of Schools decreed their Ministry grant should be withdrawn. Inevitably this decision roused the village into action, and it was agreed to levy a voluntary rate, together with subscriptions, to build a school. A site was given by the Vicar and work commenced. The cost on completion was under £650 which included the costs of conveyance and the school bell. Louisa Mackney was appointed temporarily as headmistress, until in September 1872, Emmanuel Honey and his wife Sophia began their long tenancy of the school house.

HM Inspector reports in August 1881 “Mr Honey is zealous in his work, and the results of his teaching, both of infants and other children, are good. He should now aim at securing intelligence in Reading and facility in working Arithmetical problems. Needlework is well taught. The Tone of the School is very good.” There was a scale of fees for attendance at the school, consisting of a Roll Fee (6d a week payable in advance or £1 for the year) and a School Fee. School Fees varied according to the employment of the parents, so Labourers paid less than Tradesmen etc.  Also there was a system of reductions for families with more than one child, and penalties for poor attendance. One child per year could be nominated to be excused the Roll Fee.

During WWII, 20 evacuees arrived in Sparsholt from Kent. They were accompanied by Miss Thomas, a teacher from Dagenham.  Mr Alec Sharp of Westcot supplied school milk, and the children used Eastmanton Hall for PE and other activities. One of the school treats was the annual outing to White Horse Hill. The local farmers lent wagons, in which all the children were conveyed to the top of the hill. Here games were played and a picnic devoured before returning home tired after an exciting day. The school was threatened with closure in 1961 when there were just 17 pupils left. Despite the objections of the School Managers, the school finally closed in 1964. The building was bought from the Diocesan Trustees in 1968, mainly due to the generosity of Charles Griffin, who gave the greater part of the buying price in memory of his wife Nellie and his son Leonard, both former pupils at the school. Mr. Griffin was roadman for the village, keeping the highways in excellent order. In addition he was part time gardener to the Rev. Edward Walker.


Extracted from Sparsholt. A Parish Record Part 1 by Violet M Howse.