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Schools in Collyweston

Martin Goodwins ‘Book of Collyweston’ states that up to the early eighteenth century the school was housed in the Lady Chapel at the Church, prior to it being used as the Tryon family vault, with the rector being responsible for teaching.


In the Education returns of 1833 it was reported that there existed two ‘day’ schools in the village attended by 32 children for which the parents paid a small fee. A former resident of the village referred to one of these as a “Penny School” which she believed was in a cottage on the Stamford Road, opposite The Drove, parents paying a penny a week for their child’s education.


The census return of 1851 lists 2 schoolmistresses; Elizabeth Stokes aged 65, wife of William Stokes a 66 year old Agricultural Labourer and Mary Close, aged 38, wife of George Robert Close a Slater who had two daughters one aged 5 and one aged 7 months.


The 1881 census lists Sarah Skinner (aged 17) daughter of Henry Skinner who lived at the bakery, as a Teacher.

Goodwin’s book suggests that some Collyweston children were educated in Ketton as the school register for 2nd February 1866 states that Collyweston children were unable to attend due to very wet weather, presumably the road was flooded at the bridge. In April of the same year a new school was opened in High Street (now the Village Hall) it was built on land originally owned by wheelwright John Islip. Despite this several Collyweston parents chose to continue to send their children to Ketton rather than use the new school in the village.


In 1876, under the Education Act of 1870, a School Board was created which held its first meeting in the school on 9th March 1876 its members were:

Rev N B Milnes (Chairman), Mr W Close, Senior (Vice Chairman), Mr W Close, Mr J T Stokes, Mr T Laxton (Clerk), Mr G Cayley (Treasurer)

By this time it was decided that the school was too small and it was to be replaced by a larger one. The specification for the new school required the careful demolition of the existing building retaining as much of the original materials as possible to be used in the construction of the new school. The new school was built during 1877 and opened its doors on 1st January 1878 on the same site as the original with the addition of half an acre of Birds’ Field in Elgar Furlong, purchased from the Marquis of Exeter, and also a cottage and grounds on the west side from John Barr of Easton, i.e. 28 High Street. It was built by Messrs William Perkins & sons of Easton using Ketton stone at a total cost of £475 and had 70 pupils. The school consisted a room 39ft long by 18ft wide with a central coal fire (which often smoked) and a curtain dividing the room. There were separate playgrounds for boys and girl with a wall between them, the girls had 2 dry closets and the boys 2 dry closets and 3 urinals. Scotney Services were paid 10 shillings.


In 1886/7 an existing house, No 18 High Street, built around 1637 and occupied by Mr Frederick Tyers, was purchased and converted into a schoolmasters house. It had 3 bedrooms, closet, living room, kitchen, scullery, pantry and a small front garden. On 27th October 1877 Richard Barker of Pickwell was appointed head-teacher at a salary of £85 per annum “with unfurnished house and coals”.

The fees paid by the children’s parents were:

1 child 4d a week

2 children belonging to the same family 3d per child per week

3 children or more belong to the same family 2d per child per week


The extract from the School Register below shows the first child entered was Jane Harrod, daughter of George Harrod. She left on 28th June 1878 and went into domestic service.


The Book of Collyweston contains other interesting events including a reference to the school being extended to cater for 100 children in 1889.

In April 1910 the following members were elected as representatives of the managing body of the school James Knapp, G J Close, J C Lilley, A Close, J Close and J F Burbidge, and in the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting of 15th August 1910 the following was recorded:


The next business was as to whether the proposed new school was desirable or not, on a show of hands the meeting was unanimous in the negative. Councillor W G Pick proposed and was supported by Councillor A Close that two petitions be sent, one to the Local Government Board, the other to Council Council with signatures from householders and ratepayers in the Parish.


The Chairman then asked Councillor Lilley to read a petition on the subject containing 7 good reasons why a new school should not be provided, chiefly because it was not by any means necessary and that it would be a waste of public money! The petitions were sent, one to the Local Government Board, the other to the Northamptonshire County Council. Minute signed by Wm McCarthy Chairman.

On the 16th September 1910 the following letter was received from the Local Government Board, Whitehall.


To the Reverend W McCarthy

Dear Sir

I am instructed by the Local Government Board to advert to the petition signed by you and other inhabitants of Collyweston relative to the proposal to provide a new public elementary school for that Parish, and I am to draw your attention to the provisions of Section 8 of the Education Act 1902, and to point out that the question of the necessity for a new school is a matter for the determination of the Board of Education, and not one in regard to which this Board have any jurisdiction.


I am, Revd Sir your obedient servant Noel Russel, Assistant Secretary

Clearly the Parish Council didn’t like it and sent a response which regrettably is not recorded in the minute book as a further letter was received from Whitehall on 19th October 1910 address to Revd McCarthy at the Rectory.


Revd Sir

With reference to the letter of the 29th ultimo signed by yourself and sixteen others, I am directed to state that the Board of Education are in communication with the Local Education Authority on the subject of your representations.

I am Revd Sir your obedient servant, G B M Coore


The matter clearly rumbled on and another letter this time from the Office of the Clerk of the Council at County Hall Northampton dated 1st November 1910 was sent to Revd McCarthy

Dear Sir

The petition signed by yourself and a large number of other inhabitants of Collyweston against the election of a new school in that Parish was submitted to and read at a meeting of the County Council on Thursday last, when it was directed that the same be referred to the Education Committee.

Yours faithfully, J A Millington, Clerk of the County Council.


Despite the best efforts of Revd McCarthy and his supporters in the Parish they were finally overruled in a letter of 22nd November 1910


Revd Sir

With further reference to the letter of 29th September last, signed by yourself and sixteen others, I am directed to state that the Board of Education are satisfied that the existing school premises cannot be made satisfactory.

I am, Revd Sir, your obedient servant G B M Coore


With the decision taken to build a new public elementary school an acre of land was leased from the 5th Marquis of Exeter (William Thomas Brownlow Cecil) on the site of the ‘Pinfold Paddock’ at the top of The Walks adjacent to the A43 (Stamford Road). The new school cost £1800 and accommodated 112 children aged between 4 and 16; it was opened on 16th October 1911 by the Marquis of Exeter.


The school had 2 entrances, one for boys, one for girls with separate cloakrooms, a large hall, infant classr, junior classroom with a moveable partition separating the junior room from the senior room. There were 2 large playgrounds, one for boys and one for girls, a lush lawn to the front and western side.

In 1962 King’s Cliffe Secondary School was opened and students from Collyweston were transferred there at age 11, Collyweston then became a 2 classroom Primary School.


One of the highlights of the school year was the May Day celebrations, which in the 1960’s generally took place in June due to cold weather. A few days prior to the event the school children would visit residents of the village asking if they would donate flowers from their gardens to decorate the May Queen’s Crown and flower baskets/posies for her attendants. The morning would be spent decorating the Crown and making other floral decorations, a May Pole was erected on the lawn and parents and villagers would be invited to attend a display of country dancing and listen to the children singing May Day folk songs including Now is the Month of May, The Cuckoo and Come Lasses and Lads. They danced the Cumberland Square 8, wove ribbon patterns round the May Pole and loved every minute. The May Queen, who was generally the eldest girl in the school, sang a solo “From out the Leafy Woodland” (quite daunting for an 11 year old!)


A Christmas party was put on for the children by Headmaster Sid Fletcher and his wife Hilda (who taught the infants). As school dinners ceased in the early 1960’s the children were asked to bring a plate, bowl, knives, forks and spoons and were served food by the teachers. Party games were played such as “spin the plate” with the children waiting until it was about to fall then calling the name of the teacher in the hope that they wouldn’t make it in time! They used foil milk bottle tops, flicking them onto the floor to see who could go the furthest, play pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs and of course sing! Those who all have fond memories of their time at our lovely little school, if you have any memories we would love to hear form you, please contact us via our blog.

The Children also took part in the Annual Drama Festival at King’s Cliffe Secondary School, pictured below are the cast of the Princess Who Cried for the Moon, in 1965 and The Toys that Came Alive performed in 1966. In 1966 the total attendance at the school was approximately 22 children, 11 juniors and a similar number of infants.


As numbers fell regrettably the school was closed in 1996 . Today there are probably more kiddies in the village than there has been for many years and unfortunately they have to travel to neighbouring villages for their education.


List of Head Teachers

1866 – 1877 William Elgar

1877 – 1886 Richard Dixon Baxter

1886 – 1890 M Spawton

1980 – 1898 Thomas Daunt

1894 – 1898 Miss Harriet Fanny Hamfield

1894 – 1999 W Harris Brown

1899 – 1901 H Buxton

1901 – 1936 Walter Kirby

1936 – 1950 R S Guffick

1950 – 1975 H S Fletcher

1975 – 1993 Mrs S Christine Brennan (nee Murphy)

1993 - 1995 Miss Joan Mchale

The Princess Who Cried for the Moon 1965
May Day Colly School 1966.jpg
The Toys that Came Alive 1966.jpg
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Collyweston School 1952

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Memories of Collyweston School during the early 80's

The daily run to school from the layby at entrance and into the school through the imposing iron gates was the start to the day. For those who lived in the village Anne Depelette was our lollypop lady who marshalled kids across the A43 from the bottom of the drove to the railings on the other side.

Once in the playground the smooth tarmac surface was decorated with painted lines of hopscotch and snakes.

Orderly queues were formed soon after the large brass hand bell hand been rung and the children were walked to their respective classrooms.

The school had 2 classrooms. Mrs Wallace taught in the smaller classroom which was closer to the farm track called "the walks". Mrs Wallace was a sturn teacher and it was not difficult to feel the wrath of Mrs Wallace. The classroom teachings of Mrs Wallace were more of a practical nature and included water, funnels, sand and mess.

Miss Murphy was entirely different with her teaching style. She always had a smile on her face and was a proactive teacher. Her classroom was huge. Miss Murphys classroom comprised of an alphabet in big letters being mounted to the wall. A large bookcase full of books about pirates and other mythical stories was positioned under the front windows. As you looked towards the end doors to this classroom you could not fail to spot Mrs Cutts office.

Lunchtimes at Collyweston took place in the centre hall which had a chequered floor. The pre-cooked dinners were bought to Collyweston school in large stainless steel trays from Easton Garford School as Collyweston had no large scale cooking facilities

PE was always a popular subject. Collyweston PE lessons involved throwing coloured bean bags and hula hoops on the playground and in summer running from the bank in the corner over the mole ridden grassed area. The tarmacked area always had a strong smell near the steps where boys played with model toy cars.

Music was also taught by external teachers in the hallway and the hum of badly played recorders and violins playing twinkle twinkle little star was enough to drive you mad.

Occasionally we were walked to the church for harvest festival. We were encouraged to grow our own flower gardens in cardboard boxes to display in the church.

Other trips included Grendon Hall where music was played and to Newton Field centre where we were shown newts and plants growing before being asked to draw what we had seen for hours on end.

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