St Catherines School

 

Places: We are just starting to add some of the notable places that can be found in Bletchingley.

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In 1566 John Whatman provided to the village a plot of land complete with a croft and orchard on the Bletchingley to Croydon Road (now Stychens Lane) so that a free school could be established. The rents and profits from the land should be paid to the schoolmaster “Towards his pains in instructing such children as should be born in Bletchingley”.

Unfortunately the school did not last and the buildings were converted to be used as almshouses for the poor people of the village.

But by 1631 a second attempt was made to establish a school. John Evans of London, gentleman, had the “pious intention to lay out £400 for the foundation and maintenance of a free school in Bletchingley” and an agreement was made by local worthies to purchase land for the “aforesaid purpose”. Twenty three people made donations to pay for the repairs of the schoolhouse.

Mr John Harston was appointed schoolmaster who agreed to take twenty free scholars at £1.00 each, ten at 10s and another ten at 16s each. Believed to all have been paid for by Mr Evans.  The village still has a record of the first pupils to attend. 

Reported that Robert Blackwell should continue as schoolmaster of the John Evans School in 1656.

He should continue according to his labour and diligence; if he was found to be negligent or insufficient on learning or found to have committed any notorious crime or be infamous of life he would, with three months notice, be expelled. He would receive 20 pounds  a year from the rents of the land.

He was required to teach in both English and Latin tongues and to teach basic arithmetic. There were a number of rules that had to be applied to both the teacher and his pupils.

Other teachers were Mr Heaseman, Mr Quilton and the Rev Steele.

See Article on Schools in People and Places for more information, including more on the rules imposed.

The schoolmaster should teach freely without any gift or reward in the English and Latin tongues and to write and cast accounts according to the rules of arithmetic twenty male children of the poorest inhabitants plus five male children of the next degree to the poorest. He should have no more than 40 children unless he employs an usher (at his own expense).

The schoolmaster should not be absent for any more than 28 days in any school year.

They should be employed in any vocation other than school teaching and must not act as a lecturer or curate in any parish other than Bletchingley. 

If any of the poor scholars should be disorderly, remiss or careless in coming to school, unclean, and not fit in respects of the society of the school, and upon admonition or correction does not improve should be expelled and another child chosen in their place.

The trustees would be allowed to enter the school to make sure it was fenced, repaired and enclosed and to make sure that the children were benefitting from their learning. The children should go to Church on Sabbath days with their testaments and bibles in decent order.

Any absence from church and any irreverent behaviour, at any time, should be punished.

These orders and any new orders should be written down and displayed publicly at the school for all to see. The deeds and papers relating to the school should be kept in the Parish Chest at the Church under lock and key.

“About four to five years ago” Mr Heaseman, who had been schoolmaster for many years died and left his house in a very dilapidated state.  Mr George Quilton was appointed next who proposed cutting down a number of trees on the land and using the timber to repair the house. This was agreed and at the same time a new schoolhouse was built but which cost more than had been contemplated. As Mr. Quilton had painted and papered more rooms than was necessary he was asked to leave.

The Rev Steele was appointed in his place. It is reported that he ran the school as per the instructions above but was not required to teach Latin. He now had 25 children of which twenty were from the poorest class and who received their education for free. The other five were from the next to poorest – their parents had to pay. The school house could now take boarders.  

In 1873 the building in Stychens Lane was erected as the new school.

Village School

Photograph (1908) by Jarvis Kenrick of an earlier photograph of the "old" school in Stychens Lane

Original photograph at Surrey History Centre

The "new" school in Stychens Lane - Jarvis Kenrick 1907. Original picture at Surrey History Centre

Coronation Day 1911. Note the flaggs held by the children.

Photograph: BCHS records

Date unknown. Girl in dark hat and stripy outfit believed to be Gwen Smith

Photograph: BCHS records

Date unknown - Class photograph with teacher

Photograph: BCHS records

Maypole dancing early 1930s.

Note the tall decorated maypole

Photograph: BCHS records

We have quite a few pictures and information about the building of the new school but unfortunately we are unable to access them at at this time because of  lockdown.

Please come back to this page later on when we may have been able to update the details