History of The National School

Wivenhoe's National School was in Wivenhoe's High Street but there was an earlier one

High Street Project Team

Plans for the National School built in the High Street in 1849. The upper storey was added in 1873. On the left of the picture the layout of the desks can be seen.
Wivenhoe Memories Collection

The National School was founded with help from the National Society

What is the National Society?  National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church in England and Wales.

In 1848 the Church of England Minister in Wivenhoe appealed to the National Society because the National school at that time could be compared with a “cowshed”.

The location of the building is not known. It had 2 rooms that could hold 60 but was in fact containing upwards of 200 children. There was a small dirty yard with no playground. There was one privy for the school shared with 6 families who lived around the yard.

A new school in 1849

In 1849, the new school was built in the “Elizabethan” style, at a cost of just over £1,000 raised through voluntary contributions to the National Society.

There were 2 teaching rooms for infants, boys and girls. Girls and boys were taught together and this was not popular with the middle classes at that time. It was funded by voluntary contributions and scholars were asked to pay a penny per week.

In 1873 the school was enlarged and an additional upstairs room added as well as an additional privy. Girls and boys could then be separated.

In 1891 a new school was built at Phillip Road for infants and the girls. By now the schools were run by the “School Board” and were no longer under the control of the church. From that time the National School was known in Wivenhoe as “The Boys School”

More about the National School and other schools in Wivenhoe can be found in an article by Pat Marsden here. Topsy Jennings wrote about life at the school in Phillip Road – click here



  • Pamphlet “The Growth of Popular Education In Wivenhoe” 1954 Basil Slaughter
  • “The Day Before Yesterday”, Olive Whaley

To return to the High Street Trail index – click here

This page was added on 31/07/2018.

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