Early in the 19th century, it was left to the local church or chapel to open a school but sometimes it was a wealthy clergyman or parishioner. A dozen or so elementary schools were built in Kent from 1800 to 1833, including Newchurch, before the government made a grant of ￡20,000 to Kent to build schools. The National School was built in Newchurch in 1843 and The Old School House was built three years later in 1846.
Granny Head, the school caretaker, outside the ‘Old School House’, a dwelling belonging to the school, c. 1920
The school closed in 1946 when children were taken and returned to school in New Romney by bus, and the school was bought by the Parish Council for use as a village hall. From 1885 it became necessary for the teacher to keep a daily log book, and this gives us some valuable insight into village life at that time, as the following extracts show.
Newchurch Mixed School, February 9th, 1885
I, Mary Steer commence my duties as mistress of this school today. I find the School in great disorder, and generally very backward. The Rector visited the school this morning.
Very few children at school this morning owing to the heavy rain. One of the biggest boys left school.
The attendance is much better today. Mr. Cobb visited the school this afternoon. Began to teach the children a new song. ‘Soft falls the snow.’
Admitted one new scholar, and readmitted a little girl after a long absence through being very ill. Second Standard began to do their arithmetic on paper.
Gave the 1st Standard Infants a lesson in Arithmetic, and also in Reading.
Revd Cobb visited the school on Friday afternoon and heard the children sing.
The Rector visited the school this morning. The attendance is very low today.
18th June, 1897
The sheep shearing has taken a good many boys away from school (as ‘lock boys’) Fred & Percy Mitchell, James Nye, William Head, John Harris are among the number.
The Old School is now a private house.
Dimensions of the schoolroom were height 11 feet to wall plate, length 36 feet, width 13 feet 6 inches.
Class photograph taken at Newchurch
School years reminiscences of Charles Homewood (born 1917)
“I remember walking over a mile to school along the road, which was mostly beach. The school had about 50 of us in 2 classes split into the 5 to 8‘s and 8’s to 14. When I was in the lower class, the bigger boys went over the wall into the Rector's orchard and threw back some apples. The Rector came round to the school playground and the apples were still coming over the wall. All the big boys lost their playtime, but they all brought letters to say they had to go home for their dinners so they would not lose their dinner playtime.
When I was older, on my way to school I had to deliver cans of milk to the Rectory, the shop and the pub, and on Saturdays and Sundays as well. My hands would get very cold carrying the milk cans in winter, but I would get a 2p bar of chocolate from the shop and pub, and nothing from the Rectory. I had a bike to ride to school when I was about 12. Then I had to take my younger sister on the bar as well as the milk.”
School photograph c.1920, taken at Newchurch Mixed School
Please email us if you can identify anyone else
School photograph c.1922, taken at Newchurch Mixed School
Do you know anyone in this photograph? Please email us if you can identify anyone