Doveridge History: Village School

The Village School

Prior to the introduction of formal education children from modest homes received a rather haphazard educational provision. Wealthier families could afford a personal tutor but for the vast majority of children basic instructions in the three ‘R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) was either provided in the home or in the houses of those perceived to be more learned though not necessarily trained in the art of teaching. The latter establishments were generally known as Dame Schools. Doveridge was thought to have had two Dame Schools, one of which may have been ‘The Gables’. Some educational input also came from the Church and the Sunday schools.

The village recognised the position of schoolmaster long before the first village school was built. A tombstone in the churchyard was erected in memory of Thomas Harrison who died on 6th October 1787 who is recorded as being the village schoolmaster. A David Harrison, a relation, is also known to have taught in the village for over fifty years prior to the demise of Thomas and it would appear that the Harrison’s taught the village children from the early decades of the 18th century. The schoolmasters’ relatively modest income was provided by the pupils ‘school pence’ supplemented by the donation of local benefactors.

Original School
Original School

The first purpose built school in Doveridge was created in about 1797. The money for the building was donated by Sir Henry Cavendish although it seems probable that the sum involved, £100, was in fact money contained in the will of Mary Burgh and held in trust by Sir Henry. Money contained in the will of Lucy Bakewell is thought to have financed the schoolmaster’s house. The original school stood in the centre of the village and in later years became in turn a bake house and then the old Post Office. It is currently a private dwelling and workshop.

In 1833 the government of the day conducted a national survey of all educational facilities in the country and the returns from Doveridge dated December 24th 1833 provided the following information:

The Parish School 67 pupils (50 boys and 17 girls)
Mrs Archer’s School 35 pupils (10 boys and 25 girls)
Mrs walker’s School 33 pupils (9 boys and 24 girls) (ages varying from 3-17 years)

Two Sunday Schools were also recorded:

Established Church 100 pupils (50 boys and 50 girls)
Wesleyan Methodist 31 pupils (16 boys and 15 girls) ( ages ranging from 4 to 14 years)
Old School
Old School

The old village school provided education for over 40 years until a new and larger school was built in the High Street. Initially the new school catered for girls and infants but by 1874 it served the needs of all the children. Schools during this period still required pupils to pay their ‘school pence’, which often led to problems especially with the families of the poorest people. The school’s daily record notes problems with attendance, discipline and frequently illness, which on occasion forced the closure of the school for periods due to the lack of pupils fit to attend. The poor attendance record of girls was a continuing cause of concern arising from the financial strains on the parents purse, the demands of helping to run the household and the fact that boys’ education was seen to be of far more importance.

The financial burden was eased in 1891 with the national introduction of free education of all children and in 1895 the school was enlarged to accommodate a greater number of pupils. In 1903 the County Council took control of the school a function previously exercised by the church though the church continued to maintain an active interest in its development.

During this period the school flourished and standards improved both in the basic subjects and in the breadth of the curriculum. Doveridge School gained an enviable reputation in local musical competitions. In 1937 the school was officially designated a ‘council school’. During the Second World War the school provided education for evacuees from Manchester. To accommodate the increase of pupils a two-tier system was introduced as a temporary measure. Doveridge children attended from 9.00am until 12.30pm and Manchester children from 1.00pm until 4.00pm. The school was also designated a junior school with pupils transferring to Uttoxeter for their secondary education.

In 1974 the junior section was transferred to a new school at the top of Pickleys Lane and the Infants section followed in 1979. The school and master’s house were sold with the proceeds from the master’s house remaining in the village in the form of a Trust Fund supporting the education of young people and students from the village between the ages of 18 and 25 who are pursuing a full time course of education.

No record of the history of Doveridge School would be complete without mentioning Sidney Twigg who served as Head teacher from 1910 until his retirement in 1951 with a short break for military service during the 1914-1918 war. His contribution not only to the education of Doveridge children but also to the life of the village gained him both the respect and the admiration of all those who came into contact with him.