was the school built? How has it changed over the years? What is it like
now? All questions I would like to know the answer to and I'm sure some of
you would be interested to find out too. But as ever, it is you that has
the information. Please contact me with any information on e-mail
or the Feedback
The History has been
broken into separate sections
Real History, when was the school built and how did it fair in
its early days
Recent History, memories of people still alive today of the
time they spent at the school.
Current History, what is the school Like since it closed and
was converted into residential property.
Top School - A Brief History
Churchill, it would appear, has
had several schools, and in the documentation I can find, there is
confusion about which did what, for who and when. But hopefully, that will
all help to make the schools history more interesting.
Today, there are two buildings
that are recognisable as previously being schoolhouses. One is on the
Sarsden Road, which, perhaps predictably, leads out of the village toward
Sarsden. The other, and the one that I am particularly interested in, is
only 50 yards away, up the hill, opposite The Church. I am particularly
interested in it because I own it and live in it in its latest form. It is
on the corner of Church Road and Junction Road. In fact, the two schools
are so close together that as I type I can look to my right, through the
Velux window that has been installed in the converted attic of the
converted schoolhouse and see a light on in the old Sarsden Road
schoolhouse and spot people walking past it now and then.
The schools are known as Top
School, opposite The Church, which was originally the Girls School, and
Lower School, down the hill toward Sarsden, which was the Boys School.
Simple enough one would think, however, the Leaflet from The Church (All
Saints Church that is. There is more than one church in the village but
believe me, if you came to Churchill and saw All Saints Church you would
happily refer to it as, The Church, too) has completely the opposite
opinion of this, stating with confidence that the Girls went to the Lower
School and the Boys went to the Top School. I am pretty confident that it
is The Church that has this wrong, as there are several pictures of the
Top School with all Girl classes.
The dates that the schools were
built seem confusing too. Again, The Church records what it calls the
Girls School, The Lower School, as having been built in 1716 at a cost of
£126. The Church makes no mention of the date the Top School was built.
Alan Watkins, the village historian, documents the Top School as having
been built in 1874, but makes no mention of when the Lower School was
built. It seems to me unlikely that the Lower School can be that old and
the Deeds that I have for the Top School record the build date as
Closure dates seem more
realistic. The Church reports that The Lower School was closed in 1947 and
the Top School in 1982. Alan Watkins reports that the Top School closed at
Christmas 1981 but makes no mention of the Lower School. We should really
get these two people talking to each other. If I ever get around to
tracking Alan down I’m sure I’ll get to the bottom of it all. I again
agree with his Alan. I have copies of the newspaper article reporting the
closure of the school in December 1981.
The Top School also had an
infants school, originally located behind the main Girls School. I suspect
it is this building that was built in 1874 as an addition to the existing
Girls School. In August 1907, the infants moved to the Boys School and the
Boys and Girls School were merged to form a Mixed School. They must have
been heady times. According to Alan Watkins, The Infant School was
returned to the Top School in April 1923 but this leaves a 24 year gap if,
as The Church reports the Lower School did not close until 1947.
You will remember that I did
say this was confusing when I started.
I also said that Churchill has
had several schools. This conclusion is drawn from our knowledge of two
famous village residents, Warren Hastings, born in 1723, who became the
first Governor General of India in 1773, and William Smith, born in 1769,
who published the first geological map of England and Wales in 1815. Both
are reported to have gone to school in Churchill. Either they both,
according to The Church, went to a Girls School that was built in 1716, or
they went to a different school altogether.
I suspect that I don’t have
all of the facts, but I am confident that I now have most of the
questions, and you can rely on me to find out what the answers to those
questions are. If I ever get around to introducing myself to Alan Watkins,
who apparently lives about 50 yards away. In fact he probably lives so
close that as I type I can look to my left, through the Velux
25th July 2001
Top School - Recent History
of information has started coming in from various different people that
were either pupils at the school or had some link with the school. The
girls are keen to remember the names of the people they were at school
with and the boys are currently listing the places where they could have
an undisturbed moment with one of the girls. The
Top School - Current History
Top School is now 5 residential properties. As far I know at the moment,
the school sat empty and neglected for about 5 years after it closed at
the end of 1981, before someone spotted the potential of converting a
school instead of another barn.
The Headmasters house
remains as one complete property, its present occupiers, have lived in it
since it was originally converted.
The main school house has
been converted into two properties. A wall has been built through the
centre of the main classroom area to divide the properties. The property
at the front, facing The Church has the old school kitchens as its kitchen
and an extra porch built onto it to act as a main entrance. This is the
property that we live in. We moved in over the Christmas of 2000, exactly
19 years after the school closed. The previous residents had lived in the
property since it was converted.
The property at the back
has had its kitchen made from a conversion of the old school toilets. I
love this. It is one of the best bits of information I have found as the
neighbours hate being reminded of this. The current owners moved in in
approximately October of 2000. I don't know how long the previous owners
had lived there.
The final two properties
are made from the Infants block at the back of the school. The teachers
staff room, infants cloak room and toilets have now become The Old School
Cottage. Current occupants resident only from early 2001.
The main infants class
room makes the final property for the conversion.
10th August 2001.