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Tilsworth Infants School

Tilsworth Infants School and children in the 1870s
Tilsworth Infants' School and children in the 1870s [P130/28/5/11]

Other than Tilsworth returns to national questionnaires in 1818, 1833, 1846/7 and 1870 in the Bedfordshire Historical Records Society volume 67 by D.W.Bushby, the only material on Tilsworth School held at Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in the parish archive.

On 2nd February 1854 the site for a school was conveyed by the Lord of the Manor, Sir Edward Henry Page Turner to the Vicar and Churchwardens [P130/29/1]. The land was described as a quadrangular piece or parcel of land of six poles lying against the south-east corner of Tilsworth churchyard being in length north to south 38 feet and east to west 43 feet bounded west by the churchyard, south by the public highway and on other sides by land of Sir Edward Henry Page Turner. The land was to be held in trust "for use as a school for the education of children of the labouring and other poorer classes in the parish of Tilsworth, and as a residence for the teacher. The school will be conducted upon the principles of the Established Church, and to be under the management of the Vicar, Churchwardens, and Patron of the living".

In May 1924 Thomas Green from Leighton Buzzard, Vicar of Tilsworth for the past forty years, wrote to the vicar, W.St.John Lindars concerning this conveyance, which is not quite what it seems [P130/29/1]: "There is no special deed of conveyance by which Mr.Page-Turner gave the building of the Church House to the Vicar and Churchwardens of Tilsworth. It was not necessary. Mr.Page-Turner pulled down an old building (a school room) and replaced it, but it was erected on the Vicar and Churchwardens' property".

 Tilsworth Church House March 2008
Tilsworth Church House March 2008

It is not quite clear when the school closed, although in 1886 the trustees approached the Board of Education to enlarge the building "formerly used as the infants' school" for use as a Sunday School and for entertainments [P130/35/2]. In 1950 it was noted [P130/35/3] that "A schoolmistress lived there, but prior to 1890 she married and since that date nobody has lived there. In 1890 the building was used as a Sunday School and concerts held there for the Church. In 1905 the present building, which is a Hall and not a school, was opened by the Archdeacon of Bedford, the old building having been pulled down".