Educating Alphingtonians

National School and other schools

Records show that a National School was situated in Alphington possibly in the cottages that once surrounded the front of Alphington Church. It is thought that the boys from the poor families of Alphington and the surrounding parishes were taught at this school and at first only reading was on the timetable but later on writing and arithmetic were added. There was only one master/teacher, Mr Marker held this post before Mr Thomas Brewer took over.

Thomas Brewer can be found living in 1841 at All Hallows on the Walls, Exeter with his parents John and Sarah Brewer.

In 1851 he is living in Alphington and recorded as a schoolmaster. He is married to Mary nee Patey and also living with them is his father-in-law, John Patey a gardener.

In 1861 Thomas and Mary Brewer are living at the Grocers Shop next door to the Post Office, Exeter Road (today Church Road). Thomas is recorded as a school master and a tailor, his wife is a tea dealer and grocer.

In 1871 Thomas Brewer now recorded as a National School master was living with his wife in the Exeter Road, seemingly the same Grocers Shop.

From these records I assume Mr Marker was running the school in 1841. I cannot find a Marker family in the Alphington in 1841, the family seems to have come from Ide. It would have been quite possible for Mr Marker to travel from Ide down Ide Lane to the school in Alphington.

There were three or four dames schools in the village, here attendance was voluntary and pupils paid a couple of pennies for their lessons. The sons of the local gentry were educated by minor clergy, possibly in the old Apple Loft and the girls were taught in their own homes by a governess.

Lewis Hynes Halloran's school

An Irishman called Lewis Hynes Halloran (28th December 1768-8th March 1831) opened a Roman Catholic school near the Alphington Cross in 1788. This was the first Roman Catholic School in Devon and was known as the Alphington Academy; Protestants were also able to attend. Pupils were aged from 6 to 13 years, there were 30 boarders and some day boys. One of his pupils was Robert Gifford First Baron Gifford. The curriculum consisted of English, Latin, Greek, various branches of maths and other sciences. Fees were £20 with a one guinea entrance fee.

Lewis had joined the Royal Navy in 1781, he was arrested on a Coroner's Warrant and charged with the murder of a fellow midshipman who he had quarrelled with at Plymouth in 1783. Apparently, there is no record of a trial.

At some stage Lewis became a Protestant. He was a friend of the Rector William Ellicombe and he educated one of his sons, Richard at his school. Richard succeeded his father as Rector of Alphington village.

Lewis closed his school by September of 1796 as he had financial troubles. In 1805 he was a Chaplain in the Navy and was on the ship Britannia. In November 1818 he was charged with forging a tenpenny Frank and his sentence was seven years penal transportation to Australia, he arrived in June 1819. He was seen as being a disreputable rogue.

He founded the Sydney Grammar School in about 1819 and he modelled this on his old school in Alphington. The Sydney Grammar School is still in existence, I found their website and they recorded their origins as going back to 1825, it obviously took time to plan and build the school.

Revd. Samuel Cake's school

A school was set up for the sons of gentlemen by the Revd. Samuel Cake. Samuel was the curate at Moretonhampstead and had moved to Alphington in 1788.

I found an appointment record for Samuel Cake for the position of Curate dated 8th November 1773 the location was given as Doddiscombleigh and his wages were £40 a year payable quarterly.

I cannot be sure of the exact year when this school closed but it must have been before 1807. A note I found quoted 'Johanne Elliott aged 9 apprenticed to Rev. Samuel Cake for an Estate called Buscoves in husbandry in the Parish of Alphington 1799'. Mr Cake was summoned concerning his apprentice, in 1807 it was recorded in the Apprentices Book, 'Discharge of Johanna Ellicott, bound 1799 (aged 9) to Rev. Samuel Cake, Mr Cake having left the Parish without making any provision for his said apprentice.'

Therefore, I would imagine that Buscove Cottage was the school.

Caroline Place

Caroline Place is a terrace of three houses that stands on the corner of the Chudleigh Road and Ide Lane and they were thought to have been named after Caroline of Brunswick, Consort of George IV. I was told that the houses were connected by a couple of inside doors making them all one building at some time and also it was thought that there had been a school there at one stage.

In 1851 Ann Pocknell, 45, proprietor of houses; Emily Pocknell, 18; Amelia, 15; and Edward, 14 lived at No. 1. John Arney Bab, 46, proprietor of houses; Ann, 45; Annie, 26, school mistress; Eliza, 16; Laura, 10, scholar at house; Henry A, 8, scholar at house; John A, 3 lived at No. 2. Under this record was Sarah Finnimore, 75, pauper, formerly a servant; Edward, 29, agricultural labourer, possibly they were lodging in the house. I think these records give us the evidence of a school being situated at Caroline Place. John Tuckett, 78, retired farmer; Elizabeth, 48; Jane, 44; Mary Nott, 16, servant lived at No. 3.


Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick

Belvoir was a farm house built in approximately the 17th Century and was part of the Alphington Estate owned by the Earls of Devon.

It was once known as Pawlings and there were Pawling families in Alphington during the 1600 and 1700s. Records show: Alex Pawling marrying John Silstone on 15th July 1662; John Pawling christened on the 7th February 1683 and his death on 19th February 1684; Francis Pawling christened on 21st July 1687. Other death records are: John Pawling in 1671; Grace Pawling in 1675; John Pawling in 1690 and Ann Pawling in 1774.

In 1861 Pawlings was occupied by Benjamin Horatio Shaw originally from London and a merchant, his wife Blanche Amelia Shaw, Victoria H. Robinson a professor of music and Emma Ford a house servant.

By 1871 Benjamin Horatio Shaw was retired, Blanche Amelia Shaw was 'engaged in tuition'. Other residents were Julia Dick a teacher of French; Elizabeth Bradley, James H. Wade aged 8 a scholar; Harry N. Pierce aged 10 a scholar, Edward C Pierce aged 7 a scholar, John H. Pierce aged 6 a scholar and Emma Tootall a domestic servant.

Benjamin died in 1877 and a record in White's Devonshire 1878-1879 shows Mrs Blanche Shaw as an exor. of Mr Benjamin Horatio Shaw and running a ladies boarding and day school. The cottage was now known as Belvoir.

From records dated 1881 and 1883 for Belvoir Henry Hookins a classical tutor and a widow was resident, his daughters Edith a governess and Ellen a scholar were living with him. Other residents were Henry's sister-in-law Margaret Cockran a governess and Edith Cliff a servant.

Henry Hookins came from St Thomas and first married Amelia Kingswell on the 28th August 1837. He married his second wife, Mary Ann Cockran on 20th August 1853 they had five children. Mary Ann died at Monte le Grande on 23rd December 1868. Henry died on the 7th March 1899 at Loretto House, Homsey Lane, Upper Holloway, Middlesex.

Rock House

In 1841 records show that Rock House was a school. There were rumours that Charles Dickens courted some of the pupils at the School. His parents rented Mile End Cottage in the village from 1839 for about four years. Anna Cunningham and Margaret Cunningham were the school mistresses and Lucinder Jenkins was a teacher. The pupils were: Mary Cunningham aged 11; Marrianna Jenkins aged 11; Fanny Lye aged 15; Ethelinda Willing? aged 15; Julia Soosewill? aged 15; Elizabeth Hawkins aged 13; Sophia Lawrence aged 9; Ellen Pitts aged 8. There was one other resident, Charlotte Warren and also Jane Couch a servant.

In 1851 Anna Maria Cunningham lived at 11, Victoria Terrace, St Leonards, Exeter, she was head of the house, a widow and a gentlewoman, born in Ireland in 1781. Other members of the household were: Margaret Cunningham aged 47 born in Ireland and a school mistress; Lucy Jenkins aged 41 a school mistress; Mary Jenkins aged 34 a school mistress; Marianna Jenkins aged 20 a scholar at home; Beprie Jenkins aged 11 a scholar at home; Charlotte Warren aged 36 a cook; Maria Aske aged 18 a house servant; Louisa Radford aged 17 a house servant; Anna Baucke aged 22 a teacher. Other scholars at home were: Adelaide Paater aged 21; Martha Barham aged 16; Anne Cox aged 15; Isabella Langley aged 15; Harriette Michaelmore aged 13; Louisa Wallis aged 12 and Emily Wallis aged 11.

The Church House

By indenture of feoffment* dated 20th December 18th Elizabeth I (1576) stated that William Courtenay by indenture dated 3rd October 15th Henry VII (1500) had given to John Rowe and others and their heirs a parcel of land lying within the manor of Alphington for the use of the Parishioners of Alphington. The intent was that a house called The Church House should be built and it would be for the Parishioners. The rent would be one penny.
*[Feoffment or enfeoffment is the transfer/total relinquishment of land or property that gave the new holder the right to sell it as well as pass it on to his heirs as an inheritance.]

John Rowe and the others built The Church House, John Rowe survived all the other feoffees and he granted and eafeoffed the parcel of land and house to Edward Whiddon and others and their heirs. The land and house had to be used as stated in the deeds. Therefore, it was for the use of Edward Whiddon, others and Parishioners of Alphington for ever.

It was thought The Church House was used as a charity house for those villagers not receiving Parish pay. The house could have been split in two, one part used as alms houses and the other part as a school.

A lease dated 3rd May 1784 shows The Church House was an inn called the Vernon's Head. The holder of the new lease was Elizabeth Blatchford widow of William Blatchford.

At 4am on the 15th September 1871 a fire started in The Church House. Four fire engines arrived at 5am but a lack of water meant that only two engines could be used. The other two acted as feeders bringing water from the Alphin Brook. The building was destroyed by the fire and only the protruding walls were left.

Myrtle Cottage/House

This cottage dates back to at least 1833 and the 1841 Census shows the cottage was a school run by Emma Clifford and her daughter also Emma. The head of the household was Thomas Clifford a commercial traveller. The pupils were: Clara Wippell aged 11, Caroline Henderson aged 12, Alice Culder aged 16, Mary Goode aged 12 born in Ireland, Elizabeth Godfrey aged 14.

The 1850 White's Directory shows a Mrs Emma Clifford living at 1, North Terrace, Exeter. In 1851 Myrtle Cottage was no longer a school.

Myrtle Cottage
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick

Alphington Board School

Alphington Board School
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick

The site of the burnt out Church House was bought for about £300 and the school board was formed on 31st March 1875. The board consisted of Thomas Woodman Esq. Chairman, Mr Frederick Loram Vice Chairman, Rev. Dr. Dennet, Messrs Robert White and John Way, Mr John Wills from the contributory Parish of Exminster and clerk, Shillingford St George was also a contributory Parish.

The architect of the school was Mr J. W. Rowell of Newton Abbot and Torquay. The builder was Mr H. Phillips of Exeter. The cost of the build which included the teachers residence was £2,300.

The school was completed in 1877 and opened in 1878. At first it consisted of boys and girls schools, headmaster's house and outbuildings. The playground use to be split by a brick wall and the boys would play on one side and the girls on the other.The school was enlarged in 1908.

Records from 1878, 1879, 1883 and 1897 show Mr John Bell as the Board School Master and Mrs Mary Addems as the Board School Mistress. A record from 1881 shows John Bell as the elementary teacher living in the school house. In 1883 200 places were available at the school and the average attendance was 145. In 1897 220 mixed places were available and the average attendance was 190. Mr John Bell left the school in 1919.

In the summer of 1929 it was said that Alphington had every reason to be proud of its school. At the fete the children danced beautifully and they all looked so happy, this was a marked feature of the school.

The praise continued and it was said that Mr Rickard had inspired his own energy and spirit into the children and they took a pride in everything they did.

Memories of the School in the very early 1940s

The teaching staff were, Miss Richards, Miss Ryall/Ryle, Mrs Bradford (nick named Fanny), and the head was Mr Rickard (nick named Joey).

When the children first started school they used slates and chalk for their lessons before moving on to paper and pencils.

During the War gas masks were carried everywhere by everyone and the children had to wear them while they did their lessons so that they would become accustomed to them.

There was free school milk and in the winter the milk arrived at the school frozen solid. The crates of milk were placed by the large coal fires that heated each class room. Sometimes the milk became too hot and apparently it tasted horrible.

The nit nurse would visited school regularly to cheek the children's hair for nits and also a dentist visited complete with treadle-operated drilling equipment.

Memories of the School in the late 1940s

Children from Alphington, Kenn, Kennford and Shillingford attended Alphington school, they would either walk to school or travel in by the number 66 bus. During snowy weather the bus could not run so the children walked.

Infants aged five to seven years were taught by Miss Richards in the hall where the pre-school is situated today. Both the library/quiet room and the kitchen are situated in the same position today and there was a hatch from the kitchen into the second hall from which three dinner ladies served the school meals, one of these ladies was Miss Coop.

More classrooms were situated in the present-day art block, the children aged between seven and nine were taught by Miss Walker in the room which is now used by the painting group. At the back was a spare room that was used for games and dancing, boys were taught carpentry and girls sewing in this room. The top class of the school, for the children aged nine to eleven years were taught in the room used by the potters today.

A coal fire heated every classroom in the colder months and the teachers use to stand by the fires while they taught the children.

The children would have to go out to play whatever the weather and on the wet days they would crowd under a lean-to, which stood against one of the playground walls. A high brick wall which roughly started from the infant's classroom wall and gently curled round until it met the playground wall on the left hand side separated the playground rather unevenly and also the girl's and boy's cloakrooms. The girls played in the larger part and the boys had the small one.

From a record dated June 1946. 'It is with sincere regret the whole village knows that Mr G. P. Rickard will leave his work at the school at the end of July. For 28 years he has worked hard to produce men and women, good citizens, by his influence as well as his teaching. Many a one looks back and thinks what they owe to him. The number of scholarships won, the interest in gardening and hard work have made good citizens. In all village affairs he has shown the greatest interest. Mrs Rickard's unfailing support will be a loss to the village, where so many love her quiet, cheery strength.'

Record from August 1946. 'The school room was crowded with scholars, former scholars, grateful parents, managers and friends, present and former staff of Alphington school on Wednesday 24th July. All met to express their gratitude to Mr G. P. Rickard for the wonderful work he has carried out in this parish during the 27 years of his mastership of the school. Mr Rickard has won the love of the children, the parents have felt they had a real friend in him, and the managers know that his work had won for Alphington School a foremost place in the county – always he has held the respect of the staff of the school for no one worked so hard for the welfare of the school as he did. The number of scholarships won and the way former pupils spoke of him, show what his influence has been. In all this he was helped and supported by Mrs Rickard whose kindly, quiet efficiency and bravery during the most anxious days of the war won our deepest respect. All hope he will enjoy many years of health and happiness in his retirement.'

The school closed in 1987.



Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick