Dispute over infants' school, 1871

The original infants' school in Church Walk was set up under the will of Bridget Yeates. Under the Education Act 1870 parishes had to provide room for all children to attend school. It was found that the Yeates School wasn't big enough, so subscriptions were raised to build an extension. The dispute was over whether this should be run by the original (Anglican) trustees or have a new board of trustees including Nonconformists. The possibility of having a school board, mentioned below, was a big issue again in 1885.

Buckingham Advertiser, 18 Nov


  The following statement has been circulated in Winslow for consideration of the subscribers to the fund for enlarging the accommodation of the Infant School:

  “At a vestry meeting held last year, to which the Rev. Canon Fremantle was invited, as one of the trustees of the Free School and Infant School, the Vicar in the chair, the question was discussed as to the best means of meeting the requirements of the Committee of Council of Education under the provisions of the new Act of Parliament.

  “It was stated by the Vicar that with a very small addition of school space there would be sufficient accommodation for the children of Winslow parish, and if this could be accomplished they would probably avoid that which those present at the vestry seemed earnestly to deprecate - the establishment of a School Board, with its necessary local rates.  After some discussion it was agreed that a subscription should be opened to raise a sum sufficient to meet the expense of enlarging the Infant School, and a committee was appointed to carry out that object.  The committee entered on their work without delay, subscriptions were received from the inhabitants of Winslow and the neighbourhood, and a grant of £50 was obtained from the Diocesan Board of Education, and it was agreed to purchase a house and bit of land adjoining the Old Infant School; the wall separating the two houses was taken down, and a new room thus provided of twice the original dimensions.

  “Meanwhile the question arose in Committee to whom the new premises were to be conveyed, and a draft deed was prepared conveying the new portion of the room to the Vicar and Churchwardens as trustees, with a Committee of Management consisting of nine beside the Vicar and Curate.  But the deed was not submitted for the approval of the trustees of the original Infant School.  When the new draft deed was compared with the original deed it was found that it could not legally be acted upon, for by the original deed the property (i.e. the old school room) was vested in four trustees, the Rector of Middle Claydon, and the Vicars of Thornborough, Gawcott, and Winslow, and their successors constituting them the managers of the school, with the power of appointing the mistress; and the school has been under their management up to the present time.

  “Under the circumstances, the question arises to whom the property should be conveyed.  If it be conveyed to any other parties than the trustees under the provisions of the old deed they (the trustees) will be under the necessity of resuming the position in which they were before the alterations were made and will be compelled to have the room separated by a partition wall, and the old room restored to its original condition.  Thus there will be two sets of children, two mistresses, and two boards of managers.

  “If this was the object to which the subscribers give their money it is hoped they will at once relieve the trustees from the mistake under which they have laboured in allowing the building to be altered, and also return the £50 to the Diocesan Board of Education.  If this was not the object the subscribers had in view, but on the contrary simply to increase the size of the Infant School, without interfering with or superseding the action of the trustees, then it seems only reasonable and right that the property should be vested in the original trustees, and that the subscribers should use all means which their influence, their counsel, and their zeal in the good cause can suggest to secure the efficient working of the school, and the promotion and continuance of a sound religious education for the little ones of the flock which has been for so many years provided for them by the liberality of Miss Yeats, their townswoman.

  “P.S.- The meeting of subscribers for the purpose of settling the conveyance of the property will be held (D.V.) at the Infant School on Tuesday, Nov. 14th, at 3p.m.”

  The above statement being circulated in the town, a number of subscribers met in the Infant School Room, at 3 o’clock to discuss the matter, and to come to, if possible, an amicable arrangement.  The following gentlemen were present:- Rev. Canon Fremantle in the chair, Rev. A. M. Preston, Messrs. Chaplin, Neal, Grant King, G. Wigley, H. Ingram, R. W. Jones, Allen, Monk, J. L. French, J. L. French, Jun., Matthews, Parrott, James King, J. Winter, D. J. Willis, T. P. Willis, Hathaway, J. Grace, G. Hawley, Woodward, A. [S.?] Jones, Geo. King, Clare, Dr. Newham, Johnson, Thorpe, J. Jennings, Barton, &c.

  The Chairman opened the business of the meeting by the statement of its object - that it was to settle the conveyance of the new school-room.  The cost of which was paid within a few pounds, including the £50 grant from the Diocesan Board of education, and the question they had to consider was whether they could not unite with the trustees of the old school, by a conveyance of the property to them, the vicar, and churchwardens with a committee of management.  A reference was made to the old deed and a minute of vestry was read, when it was resolved that the cottage be conveyed to the vicar and churchwardens for the time being, and the school to be under the management of the following: T. P. Willis, Esq., Mr. Monk, Mr. French, Mr. Neal, Mr. G. King, Mr. W. [=G.?] Wigley, Mr. G. Hawley, Mr. Grace and Mr. S. Jones.

  The difficulty entertained by some present, was that of the trustees of the Old Infant School, and the Committee of the New working unanimously together, which was desired by all.  This occasioned a long conversation as to the working of the new deed to meet this difficulty.

  It was suggested that the four trustees of the Old Infant School should resign, this the Chairman and The Rev. A. M. Preston, who were two of them, said they could not do legally, several attempts were made to frame a resolution to remove the difficulty, so that the whole may be comprehended in one resolution, that might be approved by all, and accepted, and after a long discussion

  Dr. Newham rose to propose the following, which all present were willing to adopt:- “That the property be conveyed to the four Trustees of the Infant School under the condition that they take legal steps, for the appointment of a committee to be chosen by the subscribers to co-operate with the trustees in the management of the school."  The meeting was unanimous in their approval of this motion, being of the opinion that by the adoption of it, a School Board would be avoided.

Buckingham Advertiser, 9 Dec

EDUCATION QUESTION.- A meeting of the subscribers to the new Infant School, called to consider the proposition of the trustees under Miss Yeates’s charity, was held in the Boy’s School, December 1st, 1871, present - Mr. William Neal (chairman), Messrs. Wynter, Barton, Matthews, S. Jones, Kennings, R. W. Jones, J. Grace, D. T. Willis, T. P. Willis, Parrett, Grant King, W. H. French, Clare, H. Shape [=Sharp], Hathaway, Dr. Newham, James King, Jennings, J. L. French, jun., Ridgway.  The following resolutions were carried:- Proposed by Mr. Silvanus Jones, seconded by Mr. Robert Williat Jones: “That unless the trustees of the late Miss Yeates’s charity consent to have the Committee of Management, to be chosen by the subscribers named in the deed, and provision made therein, for supplying vacancies as they may occur, this meeting does not think fit to accede to the resolution of the trustees.”  Proposed by Mr. Wynter, seconded by Mr. Parrett: “That the Committee to be chosen by the subscribers consist of not fewer than eight gentlemen subscribers in addition to the four trustees, and that that committee have power to appoint annually a committee of not more than five ladies to assist them in the management and visitation of the school, as in the case of the Girls’ School.”  Proposed by Mr. W. H. French, seconded by Mr. James King: “That the above resolutions be forwarded to the trustees requesting as early a reply as convenient.”

Leighton Buzzard Observer, 2 Jan 1872

  THE EDUCATION QUESTION AT WINSLOW.- The following circular has been issued to the subscribers of the new Infant School in answer to a resolution posted November 14th 1871.

[Quotes Dr Newham's resolution above]

At a meeting of the trustees of Miss Yeats’ Charity, held at Winslow, on Saturday November 25th, 1871, the following resolution was adopted in reply to the above resolution:- “The Trustees desire to express their sense of the courteous manner in which the subscribers have conveyed their opinion respecting the future management of the Infant School.  The trustees are more anxious to meet the wishes of the subscribers, and in every way to promote the welfare of the school, as far as their duty as trustees will permit; and having taken legal advice, they have come to the following decision:-

“The Trustees are willing to accept the conveyance of the premises, added to the Old Infant School, and to hold the same upon the terms of the Trust Deed.  They are also willing so far as is consistent with that deed, to appoint a committee consisting of not more than four gentlemen and four ladies, to be selected by the subscribers to co-operate with the Trustees in the management of the school, and that this resolution be entered upon the minutes of the first meeting of the Committee of Management.  Signed - W. R. Fremantle, rector of Claydon; Daniel Watkins, vicar of Thornborough; Alfred M. Preston, vicar of Winslow; Joseph Dunne, vicar of Gawcott.” 

As this resolution of the Trustees would render the choice of a committee simply a farce because it would have no legal standing whatever; it will again have to be taken into consideration.  Every effort, no doubt will be made to avoid a School Board, but having given their money, the subscribers feel inclined to have a voice in its disposal.

Bicester Herald, 29 Nov 1872

  WINSLOW INFANT SCHOOLS which, about six months ago, were repaired and enlarged, are not considered large enough by the authorities to admit of a sufficient number of cubic feet of air for the scholars.  To make the required alterations the room will have to be widened four feet, which will necessitate the removal of a wall and some chimnies.

Bucks Herald, 8 March 1873

  THE SCHOOL QUESTION AT WINSLOW.- A large and influential meeting of the ratepayers was held in the vestry last week, under the presidency of Mr. Church-warden Jones.  In consequence of the vicar neither agreeing with his co-trustees, nor with the parish, it was resolved that the property purchased by the parish and added to the original school be taken by the subscribers, added to by fresh buildings, and made large enough to meet the requirements of the Council on Education.  By these means, and the appointment of a certificated mistress, the subscribers intend to obviate the alternative of a School Board.  A large and respectable committee was formed, which will at once appeal to the public and carry out the details as quickly as possible.  Thanks were voted to Mr. Jones, as chairman, and the meeting broke up after displaying the greatest unanimity of feeling. [see further below]

Dispute between the Vicar and parishioners (1873)

The compromise proposed in 1871 wasn't put into practice. In 1873 this led to a dispute (one of many) between Rev Alfred Preston and his parishioners, both Anglican and Nonconformist.

Winslow Vicarage
18 January 1873

My dear Friends,

It is about two years since the completion of the enlargement of the Infant School.
In that enlargement I concurred and assisted without any idea of alteration in its management, in the hope that such enlargement would supply the lack of space required under the Elementary Education Act, and with this impression, that (according to Clause 8) such provision would be taken "into consideration" though not "public elementary" as giving "efficient elementary education suitable for the children of the district."

It is now declared by the Education Department that if this provision be taken into account, the present Schoolroom must be widened by four feet, and placed under a certificated Mistress. This last step necessarily requires that the School should be conducted according to clause 7, which (as now interpreted) excludes all religious instruction during four hours of the School attendance.

Entrusted as I am, as one of four Trustees, with the management of the School, 1 cannot conscientiously concur with such an alteration, persuaded as I am that it was the purpose of the four to provide a sound religious education for the Infants, and that such change would be injurious to the best interests of the Parish.

I much regret that the Parish should be thereby put to some additional expense, but I am willing to bear my share in a voluntary rate for the purpose if it should be decided on; and also if the Parish instead of building up the partition in the Infant School and enlarging the additional portion, should prefer a new site and a new room, and if the additional portion of the present Infant School be conveyed to the four Trustees under the old trust, I hereby engage to pay over to the new Building Committee any sums (being the amount of their subscriptions) which the subscribers desire to be so transferred,

Yours faithfully,

A.M. Preston
To the Inhabitants of Winslow

1 March 1873


A Vestry Meeting was held on Thursday, February 20th, 1873, and was numerously attended [see the minutes, which don't quite give the same story, and the report above].

It was resolved unanimously "That the portion of the existing Infant School purchased and added at the expense of the parish, should again be separated from the Old School."

"That by the addition of new buildings to the part owned by the parish, a School should be provided capable of accommodating the requisite number of infants, in accordance with the requirements of the Council on Education."

A Committee was appointed to carry out the necessary details, and, in anticipation of again appealing to their fellow-townsmen for funds to accomplish the work, it is thought advisable that the Ratepayers of Winslow should be put into possession of facts relating to the Infant School.

After the passing of the Education Act of 1870, the existing Schools of Winslow were measured, to ascertain how far they would contain the number of Children which the Act required should be educated in public elementary schools. It was found that the National School for Boys, and the Parochial School for Girls were sufficient, and that, with some addition, the Infant School would be large enough for the Infants. Accordingly, by the exertions of a Committee, the necessary money was raised in the town, and, with the full sanction of the Vicar, the alterations were completed.

An unexpected difficulty now arose as to the conveyance of the property to the original Trustees of the Infant School, who contended that the School, as now constituted, must be conveyed to them absolutely. On the other hand, it was urged by the Committee, representing the subscribers, that as the parish had raised the money, so, the representatives of the parish should have a voice in the governing body.

After considerable time had elapsed, it was resolved to convey the new part of the School to the Trustees, on condition that it was made an elementary school within the meaning of the Act, thus securing to the town a guarantee that the School so established would, with the other two, afford ample space, and obviate the necessity of erecting any other Buildings. It was always understood that these terms were accepted by the whole of the four Trustees, but, at a recent meeting held between the Trustees and the representatives of the Parish, the Vicar declared his intention not to accept the above terms. All the other Trustees were ready and willing to do so, and consequently, the Vicar not only opposed his co-trustees, but also a large majority of the Parish. The Vicar has recently given publicity to his reasons for thus acting - reasons which were neither considered by his brother clergymen to be sufficient, nor were they accepted for one moment by the parish deputation.

By this action of the Vicar, and from no other cause, the parish is driven to provide extra school accommodation where sufficient room already existed. If the plan proposed is not carried out by voluntary subscription or rate, there is only left the resource of a School Board. To give origin to such a body, and to build another Infant School on a new site, would cost from £800 to £1,000, and also the addition to the rates of a permanent yearly charge.
The Committee therefore hope that the smaller sum required (£200) may soon be forthcoming, and that the amicable feeling existing in the parish may not be disturbed.

Signed on behalf of the Committee

10 June 1873

The Infant School, Winslow

To the Ratepayers,
Since the issue of their last Circular detailing the circumstances which rendered the erection of another School necessary, the Committee have entered into a contract for building the new School, and the end of the present month will see its completion and readiness to receive Scholars.

They have also taken the necessary steps to secure the School for the use of the Parish to carry out the provisions of the Elementary Education Act of 1870.

The Committee have received promises of donations from W. Selby Lowndes, Esq. (£20), E. W. Selby Lowndes, Esq. (£5 5s.), and J. G. Hubbard, Esq. (£5); together with offers of assistance from resident Proprietors. To raise the remainder of the sum originally estimated (£300) the Committee have decided to appeal to the Ratepayers for a voluntary rate of sixpence in the pound on the poor-rate assessment. In doing so, the Committee wish to impress the following facts upon the Ratepayers:-

1st. - When the new School is completed there will be sufficient accommodation for the Infant Children of the Parish.
2nd. - A School Board will be rendered unnecessary by the voluntary efforts of the inhabitants, much to their ultimate benefit.

The expenses attending the formation of a School Board are very heavy, and must be paid by a compulsory Rate, which will afterwards be levied yearly. To avoid the imposition of such a Tax upon the Parish, the Committee trust that their efforts will be assisted by all occupiers, whether large or small; and so preserve the Parish from the introduction of a system of Education proved to be exceedingly costly, as well as a permanent charge upon the Ratepayers.

Signed on behalf of the Committee,

See also:

Copyright 1 May, 2021