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The Creation of Dean Board School

Brook End and Pear Tree Cottage in 1933 [X504/1]
Brook End and Pear Tree Cottage in 1933 [X504/1]

Dean School Board was formed in February 1877. The church or National school probably still met in a cottage which had been used since at least the early 19th century (perhaps today's Pear Tree Cottage or Brook End) and the building was unfit. The curate began building a new NationalSchool but money ran out due to some subscribers not paying their promised shares. Thus a School Board was created  to complete the job. The following printed circular letter from Eli Eade, curate of Dean, in February 1877 sets out the position.




I am sorry to have to tell you that, in consequence of a large number of ratepayers declining to pay their promised and other Subscriptions both to the Building Fund and to the support of the School, the Managers have been obliged to give notice to the Education Department that it will be closed in December next.

As the first mover in procuring the School, I feel that it devolves upon me to explain to you how the matter now stands, and to ask your counsel and guidance with regard to the future.

With regard then (first) to our present position.

The Building Committee is about £143 in debt.

This arises in the following way: -

  • The Contract for the Building … £475
  • Extra for furnishing Desks, &c … £46-8-4
  • Extra for Books, Curtains, &c. … £20
  • Architect’s Fee … £25
  • Messrs. Budham, for preparing Trust Deed, &c. (about) … £10
  • [Total] £576-8-4

In order to meet this the subscriptions amount to only £433 10s. 2d., thus leaving a deficiency of £142 17s. 2d. upon work done.

But then about £20 or £30 at least is required for fencing and gravelling the Playground. So that bout £170 altogether is required in order to fully complete the work.

This, I think, could have been obtained in time, if those who had promised had paid their donations, which amount to upwards of £50, because then no doubt others would be influenced to subscribe; and the grants of £37 from the National Society and £30 from the Diocesan Board might be obtained, which are now (it is almost certain) forfeited, and the School might be carried on as originally intended.

Under the circumstances, however, I see only one of two courses left to the subscribers to follow: -

(a) Either to make up the deficiency by borrowing, and then to let the School to the School Board for the hours of secular instruction only, and retain the Building for its original purposes at all other tomes, of (b) to sell the School to the School Board, in order to pay off the debt at once and to cause the ratepayers to pay their original share.

I should much prefer the former course, since the Building would in such a case be retained in the Trusteeship of the Minister and Churchwardens and might be resumed as a Voluntary School in a few years, at a very trifling expense, under the increased grants of the new Revised Code; but I do not see my way to being able to pay off the borrowed money for too long a time to come, and therefore I think that the only course left to the subscribers is to sell the School altogether to the School Board.

There is little doubt but that in the latter case religious instruction will be preserved in the School, and that we may be able to use it for Night School Sunday School &c., as before.

The reasons why certain ratepayers refuse to pay their promised subscriptions, and others consequently decline to pay, have been already stated to you in the circular of the 22nd February last, and I think need not be repeated here, as they are sufficiently well known [there had been a dispute about the best site for the school and those not favouring the one offered by J. W. Rawson Ackroyd subsequently refused to pay]

We had hoped that the unwilling ratepayers would ultimately waive their objections when all the circumstances of the case were maturely considered, but I am sorry to say that they appear unwilling to do so, and we are therefore left to get out of our difficulties in the best way we can.

Then, in addition to the debt upon the Building, the Schoolmaster and Mistress have a claim of half-a-year’s salary (viz. £55) upon the subscribers, who promised “to support the School when built” and this will be due to them in December. I appeal therefore to ratepayers, subscribers, and friends to send as liberal a donation as they can afford to meet this liability as soon as possible. The School pence, which will amount to about £7 or £8, will be a small item towards it. We relied upon obtaining a grant from Government for the children’s instruction at the end of the School year, but I fear that this will now be forfeited. I have, however, written to the Education Department to ask whether they will give a grant for the half year in which the instruction has been carried on.

There can be little doubt but that we might obtain a grant of upwards of £30 at the end of the School year, and that the pence would amount to about £16, so that it would not cost much more to the ratepayers if they would decide to continue the Voluntary School for another half year, and support this decision by paying such a voluntary rate as would meet the expenses.

In any case the subscribers who have promised to support the School when built, are responsible for the expenses of carrying on the School, already incurred under those promises.

The questions remaining for us to decide are these: -

First. Shall we continue the School for another half-year in order to obtain the Government grant? Or (secondly) shall we cause a School Board to be formed at once by voting for it at the meeting to be called for the purpose of deciding the question on the 27th inst? This is the meeting called by the Summoning Officer upon requisition from one-third of the ratepayers, for the purpose of passing a resolution that it is expedient that a School Board should be formed for the parish. It will be held in the School-room at 2 o’clock p. m. Then with regard to the School Building, the questions are (first) – Shall we make up the deficiency to pay the builder either (a) by voluntary gifts or (b) by borrowing the money and paying if off by means of a bazaar or entertainments in the School-room, &c., in order to preserve the principles and privileges already obtained and so hardly contended for, as far as possible under the circumstances, and let the School to the School Board for the hours of secular instruction only? Or (secondly) shall we sell the School to the School Board? These are the questions which I think the subscribers ought to decide at a meeting called for the purpose.

In the meantime I shall be very glad of any assistance or advice which may help us out of our present difficulties.

Perhaps you will permit me to state that I should be most thankful to any generous friend or friends who may be able and willing to assist materially in making up the deficiency, so that the School need not be sold to the Board (should that body, if and when it is formed, apply for it, which it most probably will do). But if means are not forthcoming to preserve it, I do not see what other course is left to us; and I am still of opinion that the case is one in which the Education Department will permit the School to be sold, notwithstanding the opinion of some to the contrary, since in the present case the voluntary donations could be returned to the donors.

I for my part should be very sorry if it should come to that, after all the trouble and anxiety I have had about it, because then there would not be the same security for the privileges and for the furtherance of the principles so hardly contended for; but I am prepared to accept the decision of the majority, feeling that I have done my best for what I believe to be for the spiritual welfare of the rising generation, combined with economy to the parish, and I can do no more.

Believe me, dear Friends, with my very best thanks for your kind and hearty co-operation,

Yours sincerely,


Curate in charge of Dean.

The following is the List of Subscribers to the Building Fund up to the present: - 

  • J. W. Rawson Ackroyd, Esq., the Site – 1 rood 21¼ poles, and £150
  • Captain and Mrs. Dalton £31
  • T. Milligan, Esq. £55
  • Mr. James Horsford £20
  • Thomas Harris, Esq. £6-4-0
  • Ven. Archdeacon of Bedford £5
  • Mr. Walter Islip £8
  • Rt. Hon. Lord St. John £20
  • Dowager Lady St. John £5
  • Mr. Strangward £9-10-0
  • Elias Collet, Esq. £5
  • Mr. Daniel Lovell £0-10-0
  • Mr. William Knibbs £0-2-6
  • Mr. Henry Corby £1
  • Mrs. Corby £0-10-0
  • Miss Peck £0-10-0
  • Mr. John Stains £0-7-0
  • Mr. Frederick Pentlow £0-1-0
  • Mrs. Gorham £10 and £2 annual subscription
  • Edward Campion, Esq. £2-1-0
  • Mr. Thomas Packwood £0-6-0
  • Mr. Robert Crawley £10
  • Mr. T. C. Brown £1
  • Mr. William Love £2
  • Mr. Edward Brown £0-2-0
  • Rt. Rev. Lord Bishop of Ely £5
  • William Lowndes, Esq. £1
  • Mr. John Porter £1-5-0
  • Mr. Bradshaw £1-16-0
  • Mr. J. Brawn £7
  • J. Martyn, Esq. £3
  • Mrs. Allen £1
  • Rev. C. Spooner £2
  • Mrs. Ecclesfield £0-1-0
  • Mr. William Lilley £0-1-0
  • Rev. R. P. Bent £5
  • Rev. William Mudge £25
  • Mr. F. Jakes £0-0-6
  • Mrs. Lawrence £0-2-0
  • Mr. William Bradley £0-2-6
  • Mr. Ball £0-16-9
  • Mr. J. Burgess £0-4-6
  • Mr. A. Carrington £0-6-0
  • Mr. William Baker £0-2-6
  • Mr. R. Baxter £0-12-6
  • Mr. Nathaniel Squirrell £0-2-6
  • Harvest Thanksgiving 1875 £1-5-4½
  • Mrs. Horner £0-10-0
  • Mr. William Islip £2
  • Dr. Hemming £1
  • Mrs. Adams £0-10-0
  • Mrs. Morris £0-3-0
  • Rev. R. Young £1
  • Thankoffering and Public Tea at School Opening, 8th June 1876: £5-5-5½
  • Rev. N. B. Young £2
  • Mrs and A. Dawson £0-1-6
  • Mrs. Nicholson £0-1-0
  • Mr. John Corbett £0-10-6
  • Harvest Thankoffering 1876: £1-8-1
  • Rev. E. Eade £20

The following establishment of a School Board was reported in The Bedfordshire Mercury of 17th February 1877 as follows: "On Monday last Dean was the scene of unwonted excitement by reason of a School Board election which is the first heldin the immediate neighbourhood, all the proceedings however passed off quietly. At the end of last year it was decided that a School Board should be formed. On January 28th, a meeting was held and for a board of five members, seven candidates were proposed, and as none of these were withdrawn an election was necessary. The various candidates resolving themselves into sectarian and unsectarian parties. The polling commenced at ten o'clock at Nether Dean, in the residence of Mr. Dunmore, and for some time there was a small crowd waiting to record their votes, but long before the close of the poll (five o'clock) all had done so. The result was as follows: Milligan, 114; Campion, 101; Busby, 97; Dalton, 89; unsectarian: Rev. Eade, 96; Horsford 71; Mrs. Spooner, 12, sectarian. The Board consists of the first five gentlemen. Out of about 127 voters, 120 polled, and only two papers were improperly filled up".

Dean School in 1933 [X504/1]
Dean School in 1933 [X504/1]