DEAN FREE GRAMMAR SCHOOL
MR. C. I. ELTON’S REPORT
This is at present an elementary village school, in which from 60 to 70 children are taught reading and writing, and arithmetic. They are all taught in one room, which is ill ventilated and overcrowded. The children are for the most part very young, being admitted as mere infants and rarely remaining over 12 years of age. Owing to the increased demand for labour in this part of the county, the farmer’s children are removed as early as those of the rest, which is contrary to the usual practice. The master complains, moreover, of a great irregularity in attendance, the numbers being hardly ever the same for the three days following. Though this is still called a grammar school, it is many years since any demand has been made for instruction in Latin grammar. The most advanced scholars are taught the rules of joiner’s work, carpenter’s work, and the elements of land surveying. These boys, however, do not attend in the summer, being required to help their parents in farm or field work. The master is very successful in teaching arithmetic, of which he possesses a remarkable knowledge. The children are accustomed to work out the sums set upon the blackboard by three different rules consecutively, where this can be done, and are thus trained in the principles of the rules applied. Difficult sums in interest and in proportion were worked by the upper classes of boys and girls without any mistakes, and the younger children were quick at practice and reduction, and knowledge of weights and measures. Even the very young children were not allowed to leave off working their sums until they brought out the correct answer, without further help than a fresh explanation of the rule. The reading and writing were better than in the average schools of this class, the latter being particularly neat. The clergyman of the parish bore testimony to the goodness of the discipline in the school and the perseverance of the master, who has been at its head for many years. The terms for instruction are moderate; viz. 4s. a quarter for reading alone, 5s. for reading and writing, and 6s. for everything taught in the school. No children are taught gratuitously.
The master called my attention to the following grievance. In 1779, a sum of £211 was borrowed by the churchwardens from the school stock, interest being regularly paid for it to the master. This arrangement was sanctioned in 1821 by the Charity Commissioners. It is thought, however, that such payments of interest cannot properly be made out of the poor rates under the present law; the master has therefore lost the interest for many years. The rector and parishioners are desirous that the money should be restored with arrears of interest, but they do not know how it should be done.
There is a more important question respecting the original endowment.
John Fox, an eminent goldsmith, in 1596 bequeathed £150 to the Company of Goldsmiths for the benefit of this school, founded by him. The bequest ran thus: “to the intent that they should purchase lands and tenements to the clear yearly value of £8 or £9 or more, and should pay to a learned school master to teach poor men’s children in the free grammar school then erected at Dean, the yearly sum of £10.”
It is stated that an estate was purchased with the money. The Company, however, pay only an annuity of £10 to the school and nothing else. If they were a charitable corporation this might be held a justifiable interpretation of the unusual clause above extracted. But as the matter stands, it is believed that the whole surplus rents and profits belong to the school, whether a learned school master can be procured for £10 per annum or not. Further, that the Goldsmiths’ Company are trustees for the school, which character they are not at present willing to adopt. They pay an “annuity” of £10 and appoint the master nominated by the parishioners and nothing more.
DIGEST OF INFORMATION
(Cath. ComM. Rep. v. 54, A.D. 1821.)
Foundation and Endowment. – John Fox, citizen of London and goldsmith, by his will, dated 14th March 1596, founded this free grammar school for poor men’s children in Dean.
School Property. – Part of the school funds have been lost. The parish borrowed the rest, and were accustomed to pay interest on it (£21) out of the rate, but have paid none for several years. The founder bequeathed £150 to the Goldsmiths’ Company, to the intent that they should purchase lands above the yearly value of £8, and should pay yearly to the master £10. This is paid as an annuity, and any surplus is retained by the Goldsmiths’ Company for their own use. Master has no residence. Buildings bad. Whole income £12 14s.
Objects of Trust. - Free grammar school for poor men’s children.
Subjects of Instruction prescribed. – Grammar.
Government and Masters. – The Goldsmiths’ Company are trustees, but do not visit or know anything of the school, beyond appointing the master, on the recommendation of the parishioners, and paying him £10 out of the proceeds of Fox’s charitable bequest.
State of School in Second Half-year of 1864
General Character. – Mixed elementary village school.
Masters. – Master’s income from endowment £12 14s. Some arrears of interest are due from the parish. (See Assistant Commissioner’s Report) All children pay school-pence.
Day Scholars. – About 50 boys and
Instruction, Discipline, etc. – No knowledge necessary on admission. School classified variously according to subject. School course occasionally modified according to future career of boys. Promotions made according to general proficiency. School examined at intervals by the rector. There is a Sunday school.
Punishments: blow on the hand given by master.
Playground adjoining, about 100 square yards, open to all.
No boys gone to the university or any other school for many years. School merely elementary.
School time, 47 weeks per annum. Study, 30 hours per week.
Play time, 10 hours per week.
Paul Haslam transcribed the original document, converted to HTML by Steve Bulman.
Paul has an interest in education in the county, and further historical documents may follow in due course.
1. In the original text money is shown as e.g. 4l, i.e. 4 librum, or £4. To avoid confusion, I've regularised all of these as £.
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman