The Old School

Map Location nw19

An article on the history of education in the village, including the buildings shown here, can be found in our booklet on page 49.

In the aerial photo, on the far left is the first school and master's house, built in 1865; Gordon Goymer identified these as the old Church Hall and School House, the latter housing the caretaker (Mrs Roper in his time). Centre-left is the Board School, built in 1890; third and second from right are extra classroom blocks added later, likewise the canteen block, far right.

The schools were demolished in 1990. The redeveloped site is now known as Old Schools Court. [BFP article]

Now (2005) the hard playground on the right is still there, the court lines just visible.

School Snippit

This cutting is from the Ipswich Journal of 4th January 1777,

e-mailed (on 8.3.2015) by Mr Sidney's relative, Robin Bone of Solihull.

Mr Bone believes that the school transferred to Woolpit, where it appears to have been run by three successive generations of the Sidney family.


Read below what one-time pupils have told me.

There are several photos of classes in the picture archive.


1. The Old School, 1915
(Trevor Sadler Coll. No. 42) .. Full size

2. School Road
(Paul Peachey Coll. No. 45)

3. The Old School
(Trevor Sadler Coll. No. 40)

4. The Old School
(Trevor Sadler Coll. No. 41)

5. School, 1935
(Paul Peachey Coll. No. 03)

6. The Old School, 1970s

7. The Old School, 1980s

8. The Old School, last days!

George Russell: The Church School was in School Road; the teachers were Miss H Brand, Grace Wretham and Grace Brand. This school closed in about 1920.
The Council School was next door - the headmaster was Mr Jimmy Wilson, followed by Mr Henry Stearn. Some of the other teachers were: Mrs Wilson, Miss Durrant, Miss Johnson, Miss Goodchild, Miss Olley, Miss Russell, Miss Southgate and Miss Bradley.
There were also two Private Schools - Miss C Baker at Ivy House and Miss Boby in Church Road.

Billy Farrow: Young Billy enjoyed his days at school. Mrs Wilson was the Head, and her husband also taught there - they lived down the bottom of 'this road' (Wetherden Road??). The classes were often large: 20-40 children of many ages in one class, with a single teacher for all subjects. There were 8-10 garden plots, 2-3 boys to a plot: Billy was put in charge of the school garden and had to dole out the seed. Here he became a keen gardener, and had much satisfaction from what he grew. During the war, their schoolmaster was an officer with the local volunteers, and he'd practise his training with the boys during playtime, marching about the school yard with poles for rifles. They used to play football and cricket on an ordinary open meadow {Pye's Meadow, I presume} where the Blackbourne estate now is.

Ella Kinsey: She first went to school at the age of 6, walking from the farm to the Baptist Church, to classes run by Miss Watts; the building was put up by public subscription. Miss Watts was very religious - she did the preaching in the chapel; she thought it a pity the space was not being used in the week, so started the school.
Went there until left the Hill Farm, when she went to a private school here in the village, in Norwood House on Church Road; this was run by a Miss Boby, who had been a maths teacher at Roedean but wanted to be near and look after her ageing parents at Bacton.

May Fox: When she was 5 years old she went to the old school in School Road; she missed a lot because of asthma, but it was a lovely school. Jill Jacob's mother Dorothy was also there, and Duncan's brother. The Headmaster was Mr Henry Stern: "You were OK with Mr Stern if you could do maths!". He lived in Cooks Rd in the north half of a pair (now a single dwelling where David Hawes lives).
Miss Durrant was another teacher, lived opposite Grove Lane with her sister.
In the 1928 photograph, Mrs Goodchild the teacher is there - not quite-top row on the right end.

Dorothy Redit: went to school from age 5 to 14; she liked it all right, and was good at spelling.
Schoolteachers were Harriet Durrant, Miss Goodchild, Henry Sterne, Miss Ollie (she didn't live in the village).
Mr Sterne lived in Cooks Road. He was a good master, strict, used a cane; "if you didn't know the answer, say 'black beetle' or anything!"
There was a blackboard (chalk) on the wall, and they all had little slates as well as pencil & paper.
Lovely playing field used to be where they've built the new primary sch; wonder what happened to the big honours board from the Old Sch: John Wyatt (White?) became a doctor, Jonny Palmer, these gained 11-plus scholarships - if they passed the 11-plus they went to King Edward or Culford or Silver Jubilee (which was in Bury).
Jack King was a caretaker at the school, Maureen and Denny's father.

Fred and Cicely Buckle: Went to the Old School from 5-14, walking home to Wetherden Road for dinner and back again.
Cicely's parents Florence & George Rush walkd to school from Oak Lane, also walking home for dinner.
Henry Sterne was schoolmaster, a real discipliarian; Miss Durrant lived opposite Tate&Lyle, in the house on the corner;
Infants had one teacher in one small room; the other two classes were in another bigger room; there was a gardening space outside.
Girls had cookery in Woolpit, getting there by bicycle when older (perhaps they walked when younger - had to anyway to go to the doctor's, which was then in Pepys House, and the dispensary).
School bell would ring - we'd be up at shop corner...

Stan King: Stan went to the old school in School Road (pulled down in 1990) from age 5 until 14. At first the headmaster was Mr Stern, a bit of an old devil who would pull your hair or rap your knuckles. He lived in Arven House, next to the old village hall. Miss Durrant was the infant teacher - she lived in Yew Tree House, Ashfield Road; he was in her class from age 5 to 7 years. She was nice, always gave you a penny for your birthday. There were three classes at the school, each having the same teacher all day. At 7 he moved into the next classroom. "We seemed to learn more then than they do today: we had a garden, with a plot each to look after; we grew chrysanths and sold them at 20 for a penny, and a pear tree, selling pears at 4-a-penny, the money going to the school. We had temperature and rainfall guages. School was a happy time". The headmaster took games: they paraded in pairs like soldiers through the village to Pye's Meadow (where the Blackbourne housing estate now is). The girls played rounders. But if the arithmetic lesson wasn't good enough they had to miss out on their sport! Johnny Palmer was the next Head - he came from Norton, and lived in East View, Ashfield Road. At age 13-14 they were allowed 6 weeks leave on special permit, to work on the land, potato picking etc. - but they couldn't all go at the same time! Stan spent all his holidays doing gardening for people, earning pocket money. School holidays were good fun, so much to do: you could take a packed lunch and a bottle of lemonade and be in the harvest fields all day - harvest-time had character then - the old binder, the horses and rabbits.
When the war started there were a lot of evacuees arrived. They stayed in houses in the village. The evacuees appreciated the country peace, and the welcome they received. The old church hall and the adjacent wooden hut, next to the school, were turned into classrooms. The school was sometimes so crowded they had to miss an afternoon, and make it up on Saturday morning.

Charles Nunn: His children went to the local school. The headmaster Mr Sterne had given way (during the war?) to Mr John Palmer, who had been C's teacher in Norton.

Jill Jacob: They went to the old primary school in School Road, from well before 5 years old until the 11-plus, and then to Beyton. Although they were entitled to school dinners, Father insisted that they go home to dinner (a matter of pride...).
Her own children went to the same school (in the 70s-80s); Hannah rode with her on her postal round, being dropped off at school at 9 am; she went on to Beyton at 9 years, as it was by then a middle school.

Stewart Hurrell - Read his school memories, click here