Who We Are

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The History of Our School

This history of Baydon St Nicholas Church of England School page takes us from the school’s inception to 1993 when the school had just celebrated 150 years of its existence.  It makes very interesting reading and really shows the advancement of village education, particularly from the latter half of the twentieth century onwards.  Present day readers may be bemused by some of the measurements and financial statements prior to decimalisation.  To help with this, please see the notes below.

Finance – sterling – in use until 1971.A school photo from around 1909 of Baydon St Nicholas Primary School
£ = pounds
S = shillings.  There were 20 shillings in every  pound.
d = pence.  There were 12 pence in every shilling.
There were two half pence to every penny and four farthings to every penny.
Imperial Measurements
16 ounces = 1 pound (0.453592 kilograms)
14 pounds = 1 stone (6.35029 kilograms)
A hundredweight = eight stones or 112 pounds (equal to 50.8023 kilograms)
A 1 gallon loaf of bread is referred to in the first paragraph.  Apparently, such a loaf weighed 8 pounds and 11 ounces.

Life in Baydon in the Nineteenth Century

Agriculture went through some very depressed times in the 19th Century and the agricultural labourers whose children went to Baydon School would have been enduring great hardship, barely subsisting.  Children, boys aged ten to twenty, could labour as plough boys with work being done by the piece, including breast ploughing, turnip hoeing, reaping hedging, threshing and spreading manure.  Women and girls could pick flint by the load, children being paid 6d per load.  Working in this way, children could earn 3 shillings per week.  Girls could earn women’s wages and a family could subsist on the earnings of their children.  Poor relief was given for every child above two, the allowance being the value of 1 gallon loaf of bread.

Because of their circumstances, many children received little schooling with many absences.  In the early logbooks of the school there are indications that attendance was very poor at times with children absent minding babies while their mothers worked in the fields and numbers down due to haymaking.  Education for children was not felt to be of great importance as evidenced by comments made in the school records in 1983, “So many parents do not value education in the least for their children” and later in1898 “Father avers that education is the ruin of children.”


A School for Baydon

In 1833, during the Schools Enquiry, Baydon had a Sunday School.  The National Society feels this was probably in existence earlier than this.

In the 1830s Baydon had a population of three hundred and fifty people.  There were very few landowners and a few small farms.  In his report to the National Society, the curate, Reverend Maynick, stated “there was no school of any description in the parish,” although he wrote in an accompanying letter to the Society;

“Upon the sudden departure of a Curate, I undertook pretemporal the duty of Baydon and found there a small school of about 20 children held in the chancel and aisle of a small church.  From a little exertion this rapidly increased and has lately been much augmented by the addition of several scholars from a dissenting school lately discontinued.”

By a Deed of Gift dated 28th January 1843, the Right Honourable William, Earl of Craven, gave to the vicar and churchwardens and the overseers of the poor the piece of ground on which the present school and the schoolhouse stand.  The gift was under and by virtue of an Act of Parliament passed in the fifth year of the reign of Queen Victoria.  The gift was clearly stated to be for the purposes of school and the schoolhouse.  The freehold of the site would have reverted to the Craven Estates:  however, Mr and Mrs Mather generously purchased the freehold reversion of the site.  They placed it in trust to ensure that the site will remain the property of the church if and when it ceases to be used as a school.  If ever the church ceases to exist in the village, the site will become the property of the Parish Council for use as a village hall and playground.

After the Deed of Gift was received, no application was made to the National Society for money to build the school, which was the normal procedure.  Hence, it appears that the local church, churchwardens and some generous local people paid for the building and donated materials.

In the application to the National Schools Board the cost of the building was estimated to be £335.

Costs included             £245.00 labour and materials

£ 10.00 fitting up

£ 80.00 – £220.00 cartage

The school was probably erected later in 1843.  In 1846/7 20 boys and 26 girls attended the new school on weekdays, with an additional 30 boys and 26 girls on Sundays.  They were instructed by a mistress who was assisted by a pupil teacher.  The mistress received the £25 per annum and was provided with a house.  The total cost of running the school amounted to £35 which was raised by subscriptions and children’s pence.

Plans of the school

There were no specific plans for Baydon School.   It was designed in accordance with the National Schools’ basic schools’ design, with adaptations particular to Baydon School.  The written specification was as follows:

The school was to be built on ground between the churchyard to the north and the site was described as a “field to the extent of and acre” owned by Lord Craven.  It was to be enclosed, surrounded principally by a quick set hedge.

The walls were to be 16 inches thick and built of bath stone and flint in alternate squares externally, with chalk and flint internally.

There were to be 4 casement windows.  The roof was to be constructed with foreign timber and slate, plastered with a layer of straw reed placed longitudinally between the rafters, affording coolness in summer and warmth in winter.   The floor was to be wood pavement 3 inches deep.  The heating was an Amott stove.

Part of the specification included:

provide and hang a bell, weighing half a hundred weight of best metal with wheel, rope, pulleys etc.; complete and fix strong iron pivots, let in stone, in the bell turret to hand the bell to.”

The school was to house at least 40 boys and 40 girls in one room (to be divided if necessary).

Early School Records

The parish records commenced in 1831 with a record of charities distributed and other parish expenses.  However, the school was not used for their meetings until Friday September 30th 1853.  The business discussed concerned the upkeep of the road to Wanborough and to Aldbourne.  All parish meetings were held in the school for many years.

1870 Act

The National Society states that as the school retained its voluntary status it was unlikely the Act affected the school very much.  However, on 18th November 1870 at a vestry held in the school, according to due notice given for the purpose of considering the best mode of complying with the New Education Act, it was unanimously agreed by all present to adjourn the vestry until Monday 21st November at 6 o’clock in the evening.  At the adjourned meeting, it was unanimously agreed that the voluntary system funds should be collected for school purposes and that the government should be appealed to for aid for the building of altering the present buildings for a teacher’s residence, and that the necessary school funds should be raised by rate.  The meeting was adjourned until 28th November at 6pmand again to Friday 2nd December at 12 noon.  At this vestry it was agreed that a committee should be appointed to carry out the requirements of the Elementary Education Act on the voluntary system.  Six men were appointed.


21st December.  The vestry met to take into consideration the necessary repairs to the school.  There was one dissentient on the grounds that the present bedroom ought still to e retained as such and that the present plan gives no domestic accommodation to the school.


13th November.  Vestry held for the consideration of general business connected with the school management and the application of the mistress and her assistant for increase of salary.  It was proposed and seconded that the salaries be respectively raised £5 per annum.

19th December.  Vestry held to accept the resignation of the mistresses.  It was agreed that an advertisement should be inserted in the National Register for a fresh mistress offering £40 per annum with half the pence and half the government grant.


13th March.  Vestry held.  It was agreed that such of the managers as should visit Swindon on Monday should keep an appointment arranged to take place with a Miss A Staley of Purton, whose application seemed promising.


30th July.  Vestry met for the purpose of making a rate to meet the expenses of the school.  A rate of 3d was agreed.

21st May.  Vestry met in the National School to consider and arrange for the water supply of the village.  It was proposed and seconded that additional water supply is not required, inasmuch as, should other resources fail, Mr Bayspoole will admit the public to the use of his well between the hours of 2 and 8pm.

5th August 1875.  School rate of 3d again agreed.


10th February.  Meeting held in the National School to consider the request that £5 additional salary should be paid to the assistant mistress.  Two tons of coal to be allowed for the use of the schoolmistress.  One of the managers agreed to provide 1 ton and the parish the other.  (2 shrouds cost 6/-, 2 coffins 24/-; the rent of one local cottage was 6d per week and another 1s.6d.)

1877 to 1883.  School rate was reduced to tuppence-halfpenny.


29th March.  Seven gentlemen were appointed managers of the school.  The vestry agreed that 3d in the £1 rate should be allowed for the support of the national schools.

26th June.  A meeting of the managers (7 were present) resolved to retain the services of Miss Croome as school mistress until August 5th.  It was the wish of the managers that she should receive a portion of the grant and that Miss Bogue should receive the sum of £1 to defray her expenses to London and that her services should be retained until August 5th.

An estimate was asked for the repairs of the east end of the school.  It was proposed and seconded that the vicar should take the chair at managers’ meetings and be correspondent for the school.

2nd August.  Managers’ meeting.  3d in the £1 rate again agreed.  It was agreed to spend the following:

  1. £5.7s.6d for repairs to the east side of the school; same to be executed in a good and substantial manner and to be completed by September 14th.
  2. Whitewash to dwelling house. 2 coats = 15s.
  3. The papering of the dwelling house and alterations to windows.

12th October.  Experienced pupil teacher A M Watkins – testimonials and correspondence were examined and held to be satisfactory.  The managers agreed to accept her services.  More coal was allowed for the schoolmistress.  Another blackboard to be obtained in place of one broken.  The broken windows in the schoolroom were because they had not been put in firmly and were to be replaced as part of the contract.


25th October.  3d in £1 levied.  It was decided to ask Aldbourne how much rate they levied for their school and to advertise for an assistant mistress not to exceed £20 a year.  It was resolved to open the school which has been kindly and liberally enlarged and restored at the cost of the Baroness Burdett Coutts with a suitable ceremony as soon as the works are completed.


22nd May.  It was unanimously agreed that the Baroness Burdett Coutts desire to be placed upon the School Management Committee would be cordially acceded to and that nothing would give them greater pleasure than her voice in the management of the school.

It appeared that the opening ceremony took place in May 1885.

26th June.  It is resolved that, for the future, if any complaint of any kind should be found with any matter connected with the school, it should be brought before a committee of managers through the correspondent and that the present mistress, who has now sent in her resignation, should be requested to reconsider her determination.


16th June.  Managers met to consider the position and powers of the present managers of the school and, for this purpose, to inspect and consider any deeds and trust documents affecting the school.  The vicar was not present and the meeting was obliged to adjourn.

14th August.  A long and heated argument as to whether the vicar was acting correctly over the appointing of the managers when hitherto the vestry had controlled the school.  The Trust Deed (1843) is mentioned.


20th January 12 noon.  The meeting confirmed the appointment of the managers.  School rate 3d.


31st October.  Mrs Wood to be interviewed about engaging her as mistress of Baydon School.


8th February.  The ratepayers of the Parish of Baydon are unanimously of an opinion that the management of Baydon School should be carried on under the voluntary system as heretofore and are decidedly against having a school board.  The ratepayers present all consented to pay the rates under the voluntary principle and a copy of this resolution to be sent to the vicar.

10th June.  The Education Department was to be informed of this resolution as soon as the ratepayers should be sufficiently represented.


22nd January.  The new scheme was authorised by the Charity Commissioners.  Acting on the powers these conferred upon them, the managers appointed the curate-in-charge as the correspondent.  The headmistress, Miss Hedger, had been appointed by the vicar and was not certificated and so the school was not able to earn the government grant.  Hence, three months’ notice was given to the headteacher.  The late headteacher treated the new scheme and the action of the managers with marked contempt.  She returned the dismissal.

5th May.  The new headteacher (1st class certificate) commenced duly.

11th August.  School meeting held in Tubbs Farm.  Rate to be 6d for ensuing year.  Unanimously agreed that the government grant for 4 months in 1890 (January 5th to April 30th) be applied for.

Summer 1891.  The school fees were paid by a Mr J P Brown and the attendance was good considering they were not in the school.   The curate conducted prayers every morning.  Punishment was given to a boy for carelessly allowing a book to fall to the floor.  The new head commented that “the children needed to work very hard:  they forget their tables, spelling is faulty and when children are punished they go to the other school.”  (Note:  This would have been at the school which was still occupied by the dismissed headteacher).

26th August.  School holidays commenced.

29th August.  School premises case came before the magistrate.

16th September.  Obtained possession of school premises.

19th October.  School re-opened in the proper school.

2nd November.  FREE EDUCATION COMMENCED IN THIS SCHOOL.  Attendance improved, but for some years yet children were frequently absent to help in the hayfield, gathering  potatoes or minding the baby while mother worked in the fields.  Attendance was halved on very wet days.  The subjects mentioned were:

Scripture, Arithmetic, English, Reading, Drawing (boys), Needlework (girls), Grammar, Geography and English history.

To make up for the long summer holiday, the school only closed two days for Christmas.  However, many children took at least a week.  400 attendances were necessary to obtain the government grant.


The first three months were very cold with much snow and frost.  Attendance was poor.  Some parents were afraid of influenza and kept their children at home.  Even April 11th – 15th was snowy with many absent.

18th April.  A holiday, being Easter Monday.  ‘The great irregularity of attendance makes satisfactory progress next to impossible’ is the comment against a note to say the government examination would take place on 23rd May.

2nd May.  £30.15s.11d. was required to wipe off all current accounts up to the end of the year (April 30th), and it was resolved that unless all the ratepayers pay their rate now overdue, the managers will be reluctantly compelled to inform the Education Department of their inability to continue under the voluntary system.  A week later a rate of 3d was made to meet the outstanding accounts.

26th May.  Ascension Day.  A holiday was given.

4th – 20th June.  Two weeks Whitsun holiday.  The attendance during the summer was poor because of whooping cough and diphtheria.

25th July.  School closed for Aldbourne Feast and Rural Sports.

12th August – 26th September.  School closed for summer holidays, but as harvest was late many did not return for some weeks.

9th November.  An entertainment was given in the evening in aid of school funds.  A day’s holiday was given for the room to be prepared.  The next day was the infant teacher’s 21st birthday and another day’s holiday was given.  She kindly gave the children a tea and entertained them with games.

December.  School and parish unsettled because of the vicar’s continued absence.


The infant teacher gave in her notice because of the continued illness of her sister.  She was needed at home.

6th March.  The new infant teacher commenced duties.  Attendance was irregular although reports of the teaching were good.  ‘So many parents do not value education in the least for their children.’  Another comment was ‘babies sent by mothers with their older children are often very tiresome and a great hindrance!’ It appears from the admissions register that some were only two years old.  On one occasion, a two-year-old was so much trouble he was removed from the register for one year.

17th April.  Some boys from Russley threatened not to attend a drawing examination (annual event) but were told they would miss a tea treat and be expelled.  They attended but made no effort.

19th June.  A parent told his daughter not to curtsey to the teacher as he was a landowner.  The girl was expelled for disobeying the teacher.

July.  The headmistress gave in her notice and the infant teacher decided to do so as well.  She said, “I do not care to stay in Baydon another winter; it is so intensely cold and dull.”

The Baroness Burdett Coutts gave a tea treat before the school closed on July 26th for the summer holiday.

11th September.  School re-opened.  Attendance poor because soldiers were in the neighbourhood.  Friday was a holiday to see a sham fight.  The new infant teacher came from Avebury.

21st and 22nd September.  Two days’ holiday given on account of a good and grand rest given to the whole parish by the Lady Baroness Burdett Coutts.

6th October.  The infant room was measured by an official who said the infants were to be taught in the junior room with the older children as the big room could hold 50 to 60 children.  This decision obviated the necessity of the classroom being enlarged.  The infant room was used as a reading room.  The HMI reported the education was inefficient.  The managers were warned the grant would be withheld if this happened again.  The managers had failed to sign the registers regularly.  The needlework was meagre.  The infant teacher was nervous of teaching in front of adults.  The monitor was more sure of herself but her manners were against her if she were to succeed.

26th October.  Fire lighted for the first time.  Two boys punished for smoking paper in the classroom.  Many children at home with chilled feet.


January.  Only 7 children present.  The register had 40-50 names on it.  The exceedingly fluctuating attendance is one of the greatest drawbacks to progress in Baydon School.

30th January.   Managers’ meeting held in the reading room.

22nd March.  School closed for Easter.  All teachers resigned.

27th March.  Managers’ meeting held in school.

29th March.  Mrs Jane E Evans appointed head teacher and commenced duty, 1st class certificate.  She found the children fearfully backward.  Copy books and slates were still in use.  Half a gallon of ink was provided, and punishments were frequently given for spilling ink.  Lateness was another difficulty.  Russley children only attended on dry days, but boys from Russley attended better than Baydon boys.

19th April.  A rate of 4d levied to meet expenses of the school.  The amount of liabilities to date were over £30.

8th June.  50 children present; the largest number known then with 69 on roll.  The children still lacked application.

5th October.  36 out of 68 present.  Notes sent to parents about absenteeism.

The inspector reports ‘The new mistress deserves encouragement in her work.’  The grant was to be raised.

Children apparently walked home at playtime if they felt like it.  The headteacher said they would be caned when next they came to school if they did this.  One girl who was duly caned brought her grandfather with her and he was insolent.


During the year the headteacher was away ill three times (doctor’s orders).  She was away to attend a teachers’ meeting in Marlborough to meet the Bishop of Salisbury on Monday October 23rd.   The HMI’s report is that ‘Every effort is being made by the managers and teachers to raise the character of the school.’


7th February.  Infant teacher absent; gone to Russley for a change of air.

21st February.  Magic lantern was given in the evening for the first time.  School children were admitted at reduced rates; 1d each.

27th March.  The infant teacher suffered cuts and bruises as one of the older boys attacked her with stones on the way to school.

24th July.  The infant teacher left to enter Ripon Training College.

7th September.  Another teacher telegraphed but now unavailable.  Headteacher had to take the whole school until October 2nd when a teacher from Oxford began duties.  She had been teaching for five years and was apparently capable.

16th October.  Jumble sale held in school to buy two lamps for the churchyard.

HMI’s report satisfactory and grant given.

4th December.  Much absence – chicken pox.  Boy of 9 admitted; never attended school before.  Boys admitted are always poor.  Girls are more forward in every class.


9th February.  Headteacher heard her son was taken ill at his boarding school in Stroud.  She fetched him home.

26th February.  A child was taken ill in school and complaint was made to the Sanitary Inspector.

5th March.  Despite order to mend a broken window, it was not done.  Snow and rain penetrated cupboards and made books wet.

26th March.The school is so fearfully draughty that one or other of the staff as well as children always have colds, neuralgia of toothache’ writes the headteacher.  The headteacher walked to Aldbourne to complain about the drains.

3rd April.  The head’s son was taken to Victoria Hospital, Swindon with an inflamed knee in a closed cab.

18th May. The assistant’s father died suddenly, and she left.  This was the eighth week in the year the headteacher was left to run the school alone.

12th June.  The headteacher’s son was discharged from hospital.

15th June.  Head’s son suddenly taken seriously ill and he died.  School was closed until after the funeral.

June 1897.  HMI’s report satisfactory.  Grant given.

29th October.  First recorded visit under Art.84B of a Sanitary Inspector.


24th January.  An aid grant of £25 made by the Department of Education to the school for providing adequate staff, salaries and apparatus.  The head was ill for a week.  The managers appointed a supply teacher and deducted one week’s pay from the head to pay the supply.  Three children were absent; their chilblains were so bad they could not put on their boots.  Elementary science was added to the curriculum.  Cattle were allowed in the school playing field and cleaning infants after playtime was difficult.  No needlework was sold as bread was too expensive and the parents could not spare any money.

13th August.  Mrs Evans resigned.  She had raised the standard of the school and worked well.  She kept a servant in the house and spent her evenings visiting absentees. However, the managers decided to take away her share of the grant and insisted the assistant teacher shared her house.  It seems that she had private means and was too outspoken to be appreciated and the managers had difficulty keeping out of debt.

26th September.  Mrs Palmer, who was trained at Bristol Training College 1892-1893 took charge.  She had no assistant and this lowered the school grant.

December.  Many children absent because of bad boots.  One family frequently absent ‘Father avers that education is the ruin of children.’  Despite regular fines, he refused to send the children.


January.  An assistant appointed.  Managers used to visit the school, listen to lessons and look at children’s work.

1st May.  Beginning of school year.

26th May. Conversational lesson on Queen Victoria taken instead of last lesson on Friday afternoon.  Children very much interested.

June.  Haymaking upset school.  Children absent in the afternoon to take father’s tea to him in the fields.

18th July.  Boys severely punished for throwing stones at girls on way home from school.

The additional grant of £5 per year could not be paid, despite the excellent work Mrs Palmer was doing in the school, until a census of the population living within 2 miles of the school by the nearest road was taken.  This was to be forwarded to the department for Inspectors of Schools.  The Inspector said the school was considerably improved.  Order was good and the children took an interest in their work. Spelling was still so poor that children had to learn spellings at home.

28th July.  School closed for 6 weeks.  During the summer holiday the school rooms were re-coloured, and the woodwork painted.

7th November.  A child fell in a puddle and was so wet he was sent home.  Holes in the playground had been reported in January and by November were considerably larger.

9th November.  Playtime altered to allow the children to watch the fox hounds meet.

20th November to 1st December.  Children sent home early as it was too dark in school to work due to fog.


20th January.  A grant of £6 given by the Salisbury Diocesan Association for maintaining expenditure of teacher salaries.

14th February.  Very heavy snow.  15 children came but sent home as no fire and their feet were wet.  The cleaner was unable to reach school.

16th February.  Snow 12-15 feet deep.

19th February.  Poor attendance because of floods.

19th March.  A bright little boy died – aged 8 years.  Three days later, children brought flowers to school and made a cross.  They finished school early and all attended the funeral.

28th May.  Playtime was prolonged for children to observe the eclipse of the sun through smoked glass.  The curate explained this.

6th June.  Half-holiday on account of the Fall of Pretoria.  Composition was still faulty because of the wrong use of personal pronouns.  Every June attendance dropped for haymaking.

July.  In July the children were kept at home because it was too hot in school.

2nd October.  Many children absent to pick sloes.

27th October. Another death – a boy aged eleven and a half – only absent one week.  Children again brought flowers and attended the funeral.

21st December.  School closed for Christmas. Every child given a bun.


First recorded play in the school – Cinderella.  It proved a great success.  The grant was given.

The school regularly attended church on Ash Wednesday and Ascension Day.  The problems of these years were of irregular attendance, constant movement of children in and out of the village and many children were admitted who had not previously attended

school and were too old for the infants.  In 1901 a standard ‘O’ class was made for these.  In these years, the number on register fluctuated between 40 and 50.  When one child had measles etc. the whole family was kept away and sometimes other families, in an effort to avoid the illness.  Scarlet fever and diphtheria are mentioned as well as the illnesses we still have. Consumption and TB were sometimes mentioned.

7th July.  First recorded school photographs.  The curate photographed the children in the vicarage garden.

October.  17 children left the village.

In Spring that year, some of the children bought a penny packet of flower seeds at school.  They took these home to tend. In the Autumn the children brought the flowers they had grown to school as a competition.  One bronze and two certificates were given for the best exhibits.

November.  The infant teacher gave notice.  She trained a 13-year-old scholar for four weeks, before she left, to take her place.  The teacher was presented with a writing case by the pupils.


6th January.  The rooms were again redecorated.

20th June.  The school was closed for a week by order of the managers on account of the coronation.  The King was taken ill, and the coronation postponed.

30th June.  School reopened.  Some visitors listened to the children sing and recite and rewarded them with sweets.

The 1902 HMI’s report was good. ‘This is a capital little school. The children are orderly, alert and well informed.’ The monitress passed the candidates examination for a four years’ apprenticeship.  She was fourteen years old.  For the first year she attended a course in Marlborough every Wednesday and taught in school the other four days of the week.

School was closed for the day when it was required for jumble sales, concerts and an occasional wedding breakfast.


11th January.  First mention of books being supplied by Arnold and Sons of Leeds.  Previously they were supplied by the National Society.

The Inspector mentions all the windows that open are high and some fresh air inlets are needed.  These were place in the classrooms during the Christmas holidays.  The masons left the school in such a poor state that the children had an extra day’s holiday whilst the school was cleaned.


17th March.  School closed early to attend a service of consecration of the new piece of ground lately added to the churchyard.

All 1905 attendance was very poor because of whooping cough and only 33 were on the register.

During her second year of study, the pupil teacher did very well.  She attended Marlborough alternate weeks.  She was awarded the only prize given to a female student at the centre.  She completed her training of four years and passed her preliminary examination with distinction in history.


The autumn term of 1907 was poor for attendance because of measles.   One child died and the school closed for two weeks, but even then it was three months before all of the children returned.


There was another death in 1908 due to rheumatic fever.

16th June 1908.  First recorded medical inspection.  A doctor from Ramsbury attended. These visits were continued annually.

The big boys were allowed time off every summer to help in the fields.A school photo from around 1909 of Baydon St Nicholas Primary School

29th July.  A boy who was working in the fields was killed – aged 12.

8th October.  A boy died, making the fourth in ten months in this small school.


7th and 8th January.  A glazier spent 2 days in school repairing the windows.  He was supposed to have done the work during the holiday.

April.  New floor put in large classroom.


First ’weighing day’. Apparatus had arrived two months late.  Every child was to be weighed every six months in future.

16th November.  A penny bank was opened at the school.  There were 19 depositors and the same deposited 7s 7d.  The next week 9s 7d was deposited by 25 depositors.  Number on roll was 56.

During the Christmas holidays the school received 2 wire mats, 2 fibre mats, 2 coal scuttles and 2 sets of fire irons and coal shovels.


2nd February.  60 hat pegs and number plates arrived for cloakrooms. 1st April (instead of 1st May) now the day for promotions and new register.

26th May.  6 managers visited and examined the windows that are to be made to open by order of the Local Education Authority.

16th June. School closed for a week.  Coronation of King George V.  County Surveyor visited the school.  17 dual desks were received in lieu of broken ones.  The rooms were distempered and varnished.

31st October.  School bell fell.


8th January.  4 windows made to open as directed by the Local Education Authority.

29th April.  The pupil teacher resigned and was presented with a purse containing cash.

20th May. New assistant appointed.

  1. The HMI thought the heating in the big room inadequate; likewise, the cloakroom accommodation.


January.  A Hygiastic stove was installed in the big room by order of the local education authority.

Summer.  Pupil teacher left and a new one was appointed.  She left in December and another was appointed.


The Director of Education of Wiltshire County Council informed the correspondent that the school was classed as A II for women teachers and an increment of £5 per annum had been awarded to the headteacher.  In future, no application for an increase needs to be made.  The Education Committee will consult with the managers before granting an increase.  A school nurse is mentioned.  She inspected all heads monthly.


School hours were altered to help economise with coal as it was difficult to obtain.


The Ministry of Health requested the names of all children who had measles.  Over 30 children were absent; the school closed for two weeks and later extended for another week.  Measles cases returned but whooping cough began to spread.  Later, the school was again closed, this time for chicken pox.

The local education authority gave a half holiday for the children to pick blackberries.  They also had time off to collect horse chestnuts and acorns.  These were used in the manufacture of naval cordite.  Seventeen and a half bushels of acorns were sent to Wimborne.


21st January.  Three meals a week were cooked in school by the older children.  The scheme sounded satisfactory financially but was discontinued on March 25th after 698 meals had been provided for £4.10s and tenpence-farthing.  In the Autumn, the school collected 172 pounds of blackberries in one week.  For 5 weeks, large quantities of blackberries were picked for the army and navy.  School was closed from November 7th until December 2nd because of a severe influenza epidemic.


April 1919.  All coal used.  The vicar kindly provided coke and wood for the fire.

5th May 1919.  Fires ceased.

14th May 1919.  The drains were out of order.  The school was closed by order of the vicar while the drains and cesspit were opened.

16th June 1919.  First pupil mentioned as going to Marlborough Grammar School.  Children attended Aldbourne feasts and fairs regularly.

The 1920s and 1930s


21st April.  First box of books from the County library received.  After this, Bishopstone sent their books to Baydon and Baydon theirs to Mildenhall.  The books were very much appreciated.

20th September.  School painted and repaired during the summer holiday.


27th September.  School closed.  Children attended the unveiling of the war memorial in Aldbourne.

School attendance began to show a marked improvement.


10th September.  Bell turret renewed.  Outside painted. Windows repaired.

11th October.  First school dental inspection recorded.  Examined 16 children and found only 2 to be fit.


20th November.  A kettle was purchased for school use by order of the local education authority.  Price two shillings and eleven pence-halfpenny.


12th June.  A clean pail provided to be filled daily with fresh water from the parish tank so that children may have a supply of good water to drink.


16th November.  Hot cocoa provided for those who stayed to dinner.


18th February.  Another kettle purchased.  3s 3d.

30th September.  Mrs Palmer resigned after 29 years’ service.

13th October.  Mrs S Thorogood commenced as headteacher.  Number on roll was 40.


1st September.  All children taken to East Leaze farm to watch a threshing machine at work.


January.  A manager brought her portable radio to school for the children to listen to the King’s speech on naval disarmament.

5th February.  Comments on the school:

  1. Infant classroom. Insufficient lighting and ventilation.
  2. Puddles in playground should be filled.
  3. Children staying to dinner should have plates.
  4. Infant room required proper furniture.
  5. School needed redecorating – suggested light buff. Number on roll 38.


It is reported that nothing has been done to remedy the defects apart from the provision of a new stove.


1st April.  The beginning of secondary education for all.  7 senior scholars transferred to Lambourn Senior School.


6th January – 2nd February.  School closed because of whooping cough.

During the war the school received some evacuees – mostly from Bexhill and London.


25th July.  Mrs Thorogood retired after 20 years as headmistress.

13th August.  Miss Fawcett appointed headmistress.


26th April.  Holiday for the silver wedding of the King and Queen.


31st October.  Flush toilets installed in school and in schoolhouse.

The 1950s


18th April.  Sink and copper installed in small room.


21st May.  Commenced school dinners – from Chiseldon.


15th April.  Memorial Service for King George VI

18th February Hard surface put in playground.


1st – 3rd June.  Holiday for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth 11


6th April.  Miss Fawcett resigned.

20th April.  Ms Gradwell commenced as headteacher.


15th February.  Dangerous condition of school stove reported.  It was repaired during the half-term break.

31st August.  Mrs Gradwell resigned.

9th September.  Mrs Edwards appointed as headteacher.  Number on roll 42.


January.  School redecorated.  New washbasins fitted, repairs to roof, drains and stonework carried out.  Number on roll 34.

May.  The Parent Teacher Association was formed.

June.  Coal bunker built and ground at side of school levelled.

September.  Complete new floor in the infant room and new doors fitted to all cupboards.

The 1960s


January.  The vicar and representatives from the church and County Hall met to inspect the school buildings and a modified rebuilding plan was discussed.

March.  Number on roll 28.


February.  Number on roll 19.


Summer.  Mrs Bishop commenced duty as school meals server and Mrs Brown as cleaner.


September.  Leaded windows were replaced by new metal frames with clear glass.

November.  Rev. Hudson visited school to discuss linking the school to main drainage and suggested rebuilding should be carried out in stages.


6th October.  Mr Laid HMI discussed proposed extension plan and obtained general details of development of the village.

2nd November.  Mrs Cannings appointed crossing patrol; the first ever in Baydon.


17th May.  Juniors attended Hungerford Swimming Baths for the first time.

14th June.  Paper towels first used.


6th April.  Mrs Edwards resigned.

25th April. Miss Groves – County unattached Head in Charge.  Number on roll 38.

6th September.  Mrs Sherborne commenced as headteacher, Mrs Carr as infant teacher and Mrs Bishop as clerical assistant.

9th September.  Mr Cox Martin, Mr Sparkes, the vicar and managers discussed the plans for the new school.

During half term and the Christmas holiday, the school was completely redecorated inside.


10th April.  Mrs Rothwell commenced as infant teacher.  Mrs Carr to do one fifth teaching.

18th April.  Phasing of new school building discussed.

1st May. Dunnings of Weyhill, Andover commenced digging foundations.  Snow showers during the day.

12th May.  Mr Titcombe has agreed to train the cyclists for their cycling proficiency.  (Note:  Mr Titcombe was still training cyclists in 1993!)

17th July.  Part of the school equipment moved to Mr Mather’s barn.

21st July.  Remainder of the school furniture and books stored in manager’s and teachers’ homes.

5th September. Number on roll 38.  Whole school, less new admissions, met in the partly rebuilt infant room.  Two indoor toilets and a drinking fountain were available for use.  Schoolhouse and the headteacher’s house were used where necessary.  Equipment brought back to school in the evenings when fine.

25th September.  Mobile classroom installed in schoolhouse garden.  This was used for the infants.  Number on roll 42.


January.  Mobile removed.  All new premises in use.  Many small jobs still to be completed.

Cost of new school building £26,383.13s of which managers had to find £1906.15s.

First ever daily dinners cooked on the premises.

13th June.  Official opening of new school building by the Lord Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Reverend Joseph Fison.






7th November.  Gift of a beech tree by parents for east hedge.

The 1970s

Mrs Rothwell writes of these years:

‘One of the things I remember, with great pleasure, about Baydon School, is the number of very happy outings and trips.  The children always seemed to really enjoy them and gain so much from them.  The work which followed these outings and holidays gave us good reason to believe that they were an essential and worthwhile ingredient of village school life.’


April 2nd.  Mrs Rothwell and Mrs Carr took 12 children to Belgium.

May 18th.  School officially taken over by Local Education Authority.

July.  Poor attendance due to mumps; continuous cause of absenteeism this term.


Mrs Exton commenced as teacher.  Number on roll 63.

September 26th.  New sewing machine; the first time Baydon School has had a sewing machine in over 100 years.

7th November.  First portable radio in school.


January 15th.  Last 11+ papers taken.


March 21st.   This is the first year a record was kept of energy used each fortnight.

October.  All teaching staff and 40 pupils sick Friday night.  Most recovered and returned Monday.  The Health Inspector felt the cause to be a virus spread by droplet infection.


July 12th.  Trip to Devon with the Headmaster of Bishopstone and children.

October.  Cattle wandered into the paddock and smashed a goalpost.


Number on roll 47.  Top year visit to Pompeii Exhibition in London.  A mild damp day.  Queued for nearly 2 hours but all thought it was worthwhile.  Travel was by train from Newbury.  Child’s ticket party rate £1.30.


Red flu epidemic.  Twelve children absent.

20th December.  2 inches of snow fell whilst the children were in church, adding to their excitement.

25th January.  Snowing hard – still no sign of thaw.

23rd February.  Oil deliveries still poor.  Very cold, dry, sunny weather.  Snow slowly thawing in daytime.

2nd March.  First milder day of the winter.  Very little snow left.

10th December.  During morning school, a large lump of cement fell from the bell tower onto the grass.

 The 1980s


March 6th.  Number on roll 59.  Long and high jump area was completed, and the spare turf was used for the goal areas.

18th July.  During the school holidays the belfry has been renewed and the bell re-hung.  Mr Mather has worked for many years for this and the school is grateful.

1st December.  Mr Richardson commenced as patrol.


2nd June.  Mrs Exton left, having spent over 10 years at the school.

September.  Mrs Cosh commenced as teacher of class 2.


15th July.  Mrs Sherborne retires.  Farewell party and presentation after school.  Mrs P. King appointed.


July 17th A fun evening was organised by a group of parents as a goodbye gesture to the 4th years.  The evening included maypole dancing and Morris dancing with a midsummer queen and attendants.


7th January.  Mrs Furber commenced as teacher.  Number on roll 52.

5th July. The whole school took part in a medieval banquet seated at tables on the front lawns.  Parents helped make hats and food.

16th July. Mrs Rothwell left and children presented their leaving gifts.  Parents were invited to watch the medieval entertainment that the children had performed at their banquet.


January 6th.  Mrs Lewis commenced as infant teacher.

January 31st.  Alterations to schoolhouse and infant classroom commenced.

March 21st.  Mrs Bishop resigns.

May 23rd.  Mrs Lafford commenced as school secretary.


Mrs Smailes commenced as infant teacher.


21st June.  Children fill the pond in the newly created conservation area.

24th June. Tudor Day at Littlecote House for 12 schools in the area.  All children and staff dressed in Tudor costume.  A very effective day.  All enjoyed the Midsummer Fair.

15th July.  Mrs Furber resigns.  Mrs Moon appointed as teacher of class 2.

2nd September.  Mr Vain appointed as acting headteacher to cover Mrs King’s maternity leave.


May 4th Class 1 involved in sponsored bird count in conjunction with the Wiltshire Trust for Nature Conservation.

June.  Playground resurfaced.

September 1st.  Mrs Warner appointed to replace Mrs Moon.  Mrs King returns to school.

October.  The school’s first fun run.  Adults and children took part, some in fancy dress, to the end of Finches Lane and back again.

24th November.  A visit by Gazette and Herald photographer to take photographs for the children’s articles for their own school page in the newspaper.

22nd December.  Mrs Warner resigns to take up post as headteacher at Brightwalton School.

The 1990s


Number on roll 64.

7th February. Visit to the Exploratory, Bristol ‘Hands-on’ Science Exhibition.

8th March. Attended Building Together Workshops at Salisbury Cathedral.

May. Technology evening for parents and children with Lee Towler.

Visit to Aldbourne to hear David Kossof talking and telling stories.

June. Neil Griffiths talked to parents about the National Curriculum and SATS.

July.  3rd and 4th This years’ visit to Braeside.


January. Peter Chambers appointed as acting headteacher.

23rd January.  The Friends of Baydon School were inaugurated; this replaced the PTA.  A new constitution was ratified.

13th March.  Reverend Peter Hyson, the new vicar of Aldbourne and Baydon came to introduce himself.

18th April.  The new classroom was dedicated.  The children had chosen the name ‘Finches’ and Chairman of the Governors, Mrs Barbara Day, performed the opening ceremony.  The children performed songs and poems.

15th – 17th May.  Visit to Braeside Residential Centre with Mrs Reed and Mr Chambers.

June 9th.  Mrs Boyce takes years 5 and 6 to Savington.  They are all dressed in Victorian clothes and experience a day in a Victorian classroom.

June 12th.  Mr Chambers takes years 3 and 4 to Savington.

June 30th.  Baydon takes part in a swimming gala with Preshute, Ogbourne and Kennet Valley schools.

19th September.  Waterway Museum visit with St Katherine’s School, Savernake.

October 24th.  Journey on the Kennet and Avon canal.

December.  Parents’ pantomime for children’s party ’Three Little Pigs.’

61 children on roll.


January 29th.  Interviews held for new headteacher.  Mr Peter Chambers appointed.

February 1st.  Mr and Mrs Peter Wright retire as caretakers.  Mrs Wright has been with the school for 23 years.  A retirement party is held in the school hall and many past members of staff attend, including Mrs Sherborne.

February 22nd.  Mrs Pauline Topp takes over as caretaker.

May.  A whole week of events to celebrate the 150 years of the school.

16th May.  Blessing of the school in church led by Reverend Peter Hyson.

18th May.  Opening ceremony of commemorative garden.  Finches’ garden designed and created by children of class 1.

19th May.  Re-enactment of the 1st day of the school with children and staff in Victorian costume.  Televised by Meridian TV.

20th May.  Afternoon of entertainment by children and parents.

22nd May. Baydon Family Fun Day run by Friends of Baydon School.

June 11th – 13th  Year 6 visits Braeside.

19th July. Sports Day.




New Classroom built due to increased numbers in school.





A New Millennium


The New school build was finished, adding two new classrooms, a reception and offices at the front of the building. Previously the headteacher and admin offices had been situated in the upstairs rooms of the old school house.



July Peter Chambers retires after 24 years of headship at the school. ” I have spent 24 happy years at the school and have worked with many wonderful staff, children, parents and a very supportive governing body. I have seen the school grow tremendously since first starting the headship, not only in pupil numbers but also in the cementing of relationships within the community and church. It has been an honour and privilege to lead this school for such a long time to see children develop and flourish and be happy in their learning”




September Mrs Caroline Knighton commences her headship at Baydon St Nicholas.    





March The school, along with the rest of the country enters unknown territory as the doors were closed for the first national lockdown. During this time most pupils learnt from home, with work set and presented online by teachers.Pupils whose parents were key workers still attended school, in a class named ‘Flamingos’ owing to it being unusual and different to what was normally the case.











Summer Some year groups allowed to return to school, under much different conditions including Year 6 being split into 2 groups: Hawks A and B. We still managed a Sports Day, Just without any spectators and just one year group!









September School returns, though with social distancing in place including desks in rows not in groups.


January A new national lockdown begins, this time with increased pupils requiring to be in school the children taught in school belonged to Penguins class or Dragons.

July Mrs Caroline Knighton leaves the school to take on a new headship position in Oxford.

September Mrs Emma Gilbert, previously Deputy Headteacher at the school takes the role of Headteacher.









We are gratefully indebted to Mrs Sherborne for the early part of this history.  Her sterling work in transcribing the first records of Baydon School have been invaluable and to Mr Peter Chambers, with whom the history up to 1993 was gathered for the 150th birthday of the school.