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Eggington British School

Eggington British School was established in 1848. A minute book [X270/8] survives and the first entry reads as follows: “On February 29th 1848 a Public Meeting was held in the Independent Chapel, Eggington, with a view to the establishment of a British School in the Village. The Revd. M. Castleden of Woburn presided. The following resolutions were moved, seconded and carried”.

“Resolution 1 Moved by the Revd. J. Sleigh”
“Seconded by Mr. William Welch”
“That next to the saving grace of God in the heart the education of the young in whatever is useful and elevating is the greatest blessing that can be conferred upon them”

“Resolution 2. Moved by the Revd. J. Andrews of Woburn”
“Seconded by Mr. Henry Bird”
“That as a want of the means of education in this Village and neighbourhood has long existed and been felt, this meeting rejoices in the establishment of a British School and pledges its good will and support”.

“Resolution 3. Moved by the Revd W. C. Robinson of Ampthill”
“Seconded by Mr. Eliab Read”.
“That this School be aided by annual subscriptions and managed by a Committee according to the usual custom of British Schools”.

On 10th March the first committee meeting was held in the chapel school room, where Sunday school was wont to meet. It was decided to have a committee of sixteen with the largest block, naturally, belonging to the Independents, six in number, but also having five each from the Wesleyan Methodists and Church of England. It is not clear whether this plan was ever enacted. The secretary was to be Rev. J. Sleigh. Committee members would be taken from subscribers of not less the five shillings per annum. The following committee members were elected: Thomas Southam; David Stevens; John Batchelar; William Cantling; Eliab Read; Henry Bird and John Olney. Four more were appointed at the next meeting, being: James Olney; Thomas Gadsden; John Pickering and Thomas Mitchell. Rev. J. Sleigh was elected president, Thomas Southam vice-president and William Pantling treasurer. The teacher’s salary was fixed at £21.

The following important school rules were established: “That a single child of the labouring class pay 2d and every additional child of the same family 1d each. That children of farmers and herdsmen pay 3d and 2d according to the same rule”. “That boys be not continued in the School beyond ten years of age”. “That the committee have power to expel any Child of whose conduct the Teacher may make complaint”. “That the hours for school be from 9 to 12 o’clock A. M. and from 1 to 4 P. M”. “That the children have holiday every Saturday afternoon”.

At the next meeting it was decided that no child younger than four should be admitted and that the children would have a fortnight’s holiday at midsummer and at Christmas. Take up was unexpectedly low and in December it was decided to have a lecture at Stanbridge on education to arouse interest.

The minute book ends with the midsummer holiday of 1864 despite a reasonable number of blank pages still being available. The Education Act of 1870 required a questionnaire to be filled out and the parishes of Eggington, Stanbridge and Tilsworth submitted a joint reply that no efficient school was in place and that a school for forty infants was needed in the village. These facts suggest that the British School did not reopen in the autumn of 1864. Today a modern house stands on the site both of the Congregational chapel and the British School.