Old School Hall - History

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Looking back in time...

Imagine the vast changes that have taken place between 1839 and 2024.

The Old School was built in a period of change with an emphasis on reform, and it was itself a new school and a significant development in Stanwick. The idea of a school in Stanwick reflected a change in attitude to the rural poor and to the value of education for all. The idea came from the Rector of Stanwick in 1838, the Revd. John Sergeaunt, MA(Oxon). He had already built a school at his last parish of Great Doddington near Wellingborough. In a letter of his dated 3 Feb 1838, he writes:“I am desirous of establishing a School in this Parish in union with the National Society.”

He goes on to refer to the flourishing school he built at Doddington which he left in 1837.

According to the 1839 legal document for the Stanwick school we can see that the agreement was signed on 31st August and it was enrolled on 19th September.

We also learn that the Rector gave the land from the orchard garden of the Old Rectory. From his letter dated 28 November 1839 we found that he also paid for the stone and its cartage. He refers to a ‘respectable builder’ called Litten from Wellingborough who estimated £245 for the work to build the school and a Master’s house.

This was accepted after gaining several estimates. He states that the funds and grants received or promised amounted to £197 19/3d. As the overall total cost was £252 14/4d he was troubled by the deficiency of more than £54 which he had to raise.

He refers to the exertion in gaining the funds to which he added his own subscription. He even refers to “despairing of even having a school if I did not on my own………begin the building.”

He went ahead with the building, and in the same November letter he writes: “The building is in progress. The walls are up, the window frames in, the roof on and just covered in.”

We owe so much to the Rector’s pioneering vision and determined drive that the Old School was built. We also owe much to all those who supported the Rector and for those who gave money. The two Churchwardens who became trustee owners with the Rector were George Gascoyen of Stanwick Hall and William Denton of Stanwick Lodge. In the 1841 census for Stanwick we read that the Rector, his wife Sarah and 11 of their children were living in the Old Rectory.

In 1851 he had 320 acres and employed six agricultural labourers. There is much to tell about this family, perhaps in another article. The new school in 1839 brought change to Stanwick, and it is possible that there were those who were against the loss of the orchard garden in order to put up a school for the poor children of the parish.

The Old School was inevitably bound up with further change as the Victorian age progressed. The expansion of the population and the important Education Act of 1870 showed up the inadequacy of the Old School. This led to an extension of the building. which explains the plaque showing 1876 over the porch. The Old School changed to meet the greater demands of State education in the 1870s and beyond. In a letter written by a later Rector, the Revd. W.F.M. Hamerton he states: “Under the Elementary Education Act of 1870, the Rector and Churchwardens granted the School to the Stanwick School Board and their successors by lease for 99 years on 15 June 1875.”

In the same letter written by the Rector on 27 August 1931 to the Secretary of the National Society he writes about the Stanwick settlement: “The Northampton(shire) County Council is about to surrender the School to the Rector and Churchwardens from whom they hold it on lease ……because the County Council in consequence of other arrangements have no further use for the premises. The site and buildings therefore will revert to the possession of the Rector and Churchwardens…governed by the terms of the original Deed of the 31st August 1839.”