Our earliest records about education come from reports of charitable foundations: bequests to provide teaching for poor children. Look at the report of the Charity Commissioners in 1907 which gives details of Hele’s Gift which in 1658 provided a schoolmaster for 10 pupils held in the Church House, the National School set up in 1840 in Pound Street, and its successor which became the Boys’ School. It also mentions Southmead’s Gift, which in his Will of 1648 gave 26s/8d annually towards buying Bibles for poor children in the parish. The same document gives details of the building of the Smethurst Schoolroom on Greenhill and of the Bowring Library in Fore Street.

The schoolmaster provided for by Hele’s Gift had to be approved by the church authorities, who were concerned towards the end of the 17th century to ensure that they did not get a dissenter as master, and the source for this period is the Diocesan records (now in the Devon Record Office). However, by 1800 the Nonconformists were able to run their own schools, and the autobiography of Sir John Bowring gives us a picture of the school run by Mr Bransby, the Unitarian minister, at this time.

 In the 19th century all the chapels ran Sunday schools (see the Census of Chapels in 1851), and there were a considerable number of private schools, evidence for which can be found by looking in Treleaven’s diary (for the early years of the century), in the Census and directories. In addition the Census sometimes shows the children living as boarders near the schools. The Directories sometimes mention the more important schools in their preambles.

You can gain some glimpses into the everyday life of one of the schools by reading extracts from Pound St School log-book for 1876-1891 and 1892-1917.

A database of some of the schools’ admissions registers for the period 1876-1940 can be searched in the Virtual Archives section.

Moretonhampstead Schools: key dates

  • 1658: Deed by Sir John Maynayd & Elize Stert as trustees for Elize Hele granted £10 for maintenance of a school & schoolmaster
  • 1823: Charity Commissioners’ report – a master teaching 10 children under this charity in a schoolroom in the Church House near the churchyard. Schoolroom on upper floor & in room below poor persons.
  • 1840: National School founded in converted storehouse provided by Earl of Devon (see 1850 Directory) in Pound Street.
  • 1845: Church House burnt down. School moved to private house until 1879.
  • 1846-8: Church House rebuilt & schoolroom adjoining but NOT used by Charity School.
  • 1874: Moretonhampstead School Board set up under the terms othe Elementary Education Act (1870)
  • 1876: School Board leased schoolroom newly built in 1846-8 adjoining new Church House. New school built on same site in 1876. This became Infants & Girls Board School (aka Greenhill School). School Board leased school in Pound Street for boys school – enlarged in 1898.
  • 1902: Devon County Council assumed responsibility for the Board schools under the terms of the Education Act (1902).
  • 1940: Secondary school age pupils transferred to Chagford School. Pound Street used for Infants classroom & school meals.
  • 1961: Old cottages demolished opposite Primary School & 2 classrooms & kitchen built there. Pound Street site became a private dwelling.
  • 2007: New primary school opened at Betton Way.