Mount Bures Community Web Site

 

Mount Bures School

The School today located in Craigs Lane, currently used as the Village Hall.

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Long before the school was erected, in 1818 there were two dame (explanation, see foot of page) schools with 24 boys and 16 girls. An annual rent of £30 - £40 from an endowment of land was used to pay for the education of these poor children.

1818
"Population 216. A Sunday school, supported by voluntary contribution, in which 45 boys and girls are taught to read; the master has £7 per annum. The poor are unequal to defraying any expenses of education."

Source: Digest of Parochial Returns. Select Committee on Education of the Poor, 1818

Later in 1833, a Sunday school with 21 boys and 14 girls was run at the rectors expense.


The school as we know it today, made an appearance in 1873. The rector of Mount Bures, Thomas Brett, gave £160 towards the building of a school for 60 mixed age and infant children on land near to the church, given by John Garrard.
It subsequently opened that year, with 60 children on roll.

Daily attendance was very sporadic averaging about 50 during its first 20 year history. Typically most of the absenteeism was for harvesting the local crops, such as pea picking etc. Other reported reasons for being absent, were illnesses such as ringworm, scarlet fever, whooping cough and most frequently, the bad weather. Half day holidays were given to see the fox hounds meet, the horticultural show and to celebrate Empire Day. From 1878, it received yearly government grants to keep it functioning

1833
"Population 262. One Sunday School of 16 males and 20 females, is supported by the Rector."

Source: House of Commons papers, Volume 41. Abstract of Education Returns 1833



Conditions in the School were rather severe, it was not until 1887 that a cup and bucket were provided for drinking water.
Lessons, included knitting taught from the age of 7yrs, plus needlework for the girls.
Religion was taught on a daily basis. No child was ever withdrawn from religious instruction, though by 1870 this was illegal.The school was frequently visited by the Diocesan managers and the HM Inspector to check on the children's progress.
Miss Cooke, who teached at the school left in 1879 to get married. During her time Inspectors reported, "Reading deserves special praise for clear enunciation, good expression and easy fluency. Handwriting is carefully taught and copy books well kept ................."However, standards started to slide soon afterwards. By 1884, Miss Bessie Dare commented that "standards were poor" on her arrival, Unfortunately the only impact she made, was to make matters worse. She resigned in 1886 after an inspector wrote:-

" the teacher being poor and knowing nothing of the art of teaching infants, results were almost nil" The local nurse used to visit to check for head lice, in addition the children had regular dental and medical inspections.
The price of a mug of cocoa increased from half a penny to one penny.In 1936 the rector reported that he had "long kept this school and paid subscriptions of of my own pocket"It was enlarged in 1901 by the addition of a new infant classroom and reassessed to cater for 75 children

The last teacher was Miss Annie Doe who retired due to ill health in 1938.
By now the life of the school was ebbing away, the Head of Wakes Colne school made an inventory of stock and furniture. The school eventually closed on the 8th January 1939 with only 17 pupils, who were all transferred to Wakes Colne. Shortly after, the building was taken over for use by the parish.

NewsPaper Reports


Essex County Standard, West Suffolk Gazette
and Eastern Counties Advertiser, February 18th 1893


Suffolk and Essex Free Press, April 2nd 1893


Essex County Standard, West Suffolk Gazette
and Eastern Counties Advertiser, September 18th 1893

The Essex Newsman, September 23rd 1893

Essex County Standard, West Suffolk Gazette
and Eastern Counties Advertiser, June 20th 1896

Suffolk and Essex Free Press, June 26th 1899

Free Press and Post. August 3rd 1935

Essex and Suffolk Free Press, January 1947


Until the 1960`s it was in very poor state of repair, but the parishioners rallied around and it was completely refurbished inside and out, financed by fund raising and donations.
Today it is still in active use as the Village Hall, such as Harvest Suppers, Cheese and Wine Parties, Fund raising sales and other charitable activities.

It is a credit to the residents who have supported it throughout its 130 year history.



Dame Schools were small private schools that provided teaching for poor working class children before they were old enough to work. These schools were usually run by an elderly man or woman, perhaps in a cottage living room. They taught the children to read and write and other useful skills such as sewing. The quality of education received understandably varied.
Some teachers provided a good education, others were no more than child-minders. Bernard Shaw (Playwright) attended a Dame School and wrote:-

"My education, such as it was, was like that of thousands in my day. I went to old Betty W.'s school, and as I had 'finished my education' when I was seven years old, I must have attended her school between three or four years. The school was the only room on the ground floor of her little cottage. It was about four yards square.... the furniture was very scant, consisting of a small table, two chairs, and two or three little forms about eight inches high for the children to sit upon...
The course of education given by the old lady was very simple, and graded with almost scientific precision. There was an alphabet, with pictures, for beginners.. though she never taught writing, her scholars were generally noted for their ability to read while very young. I know I could read my Bible with remarkable ease when I left her school, when seven years old.
Betty's next grade. after the alphabet, was the reading-made-easy book...
The next stage was spelling, and reading of the Bible"

Historical information for all of these pages has been obtained from two major sources:-
"Mount Bures, its Lands and People" by Ida McMaster & Kathleen Evans
.
"The Victoria History of the Counties (Essex) of England, Vol X" by the University of London.