I suspect there are many readers of this website who will remember when their son or daughter attended the local village school on the corner of Starts Hill Road, or may even had attended it themselves. A few may even recall their teacher Ms Gladys Moat or even her husband Leslie Moat , the Head Teacher from the 2nd World War, but when did the school appear?

    Village map 1880, showing original National School (copyright, Ordnance Survey)

We have to go back to 1870 when the Education Act was passed by Parliament. This promoted the creation of School Boards and the building of schools to provide elementary education for all children. Prior to this date schools existed but were either fee paying establishments or run by volunteers financially supported by a local benefactor.

The 1862 Bromley Directory notes that the local Infant School was supported by Sir John Lubbock. By 1869 the Bromley Directory states that there is a National School in the village with Mr Yarnton as master. It appears on old maps of the village in Church Road near the site of the present school.  Nevertheless, it is not a surprise that Sir John Lubbock became one of the original members of the School Board with John Fox, of the brewery family, and Mr Stow farmer of the village with Mr Laslett, local builder and undertaker as clerk to the board.

As the School Board, they approved in 1872 the building of the village school on its site at the end of the village, and a year later it opened to the children. Apparently 140 children were registered in that first year, though that did not necessarily mean that they always attended as other family requirements took preference. As the school only comprised three rooms and a house for the school master, it was probably a relief that some children were absent. It is not clear who the Board appointed initially as school master, but the Bromley Directory for 1875 states that the school master was Mr Thomas Casselden and his wife the School Mistress. They had previously taught at a Free School in Southwark. The 1881 census for Farnborough village confirms their role and that they were living in the School House. In the book Tugmutton Common by William Pateman it states that there were 2 school masters, 3 school mistresses and 2 pupil; teachers at the school. They were: Mr & Mrs Casselten, their two daughters Ellen and Ada as Pupil teachers, Rose A Johnson as a School Mistress and  Edwin Wills and their eldest daughter Julia Wills as School Masters and Mistress.

However, by 1884 Thomas Casselden had died in Southwark and within two years his wife Mary Ann had resigned from Farnborough School and moved to Bromley.  1886 also saw the appointment of a new school board, whose members were: Isaac Ballard, the Baptist minister, Messrs Thomas and Walter Fox from the Brewery, Joseph Stow farmer  and James Weatherly.

             Village Map showing Primary Schools 1940s (copyright Ordnance Survey)

A most notable appointment that they made that year was Miss Georgina Fanny Stocks as teacher of the Infants. Her appointment with the school lasted 35 years and upon her death in 1935 she was buried in St Giles churchyard. By 1887 the son-in-law Edwin Wills of Thomas and Mary Ann Casselden had assumed the role of head school master and his wife Julia as school mistress. However, owing to poor inspection reports of the school Mr and Mrs Wills were dismissed from the school in 1888. They went on to teach in Herefordshire, and Edwin Wills finished his teaching days in his home county of Devon. In response to the critical report the School Board appointed in 1888 Mr and Mrs Ashworth. They had been teachers in an elementary school on the Isle of Wight before arriving in Farnborough and they were assisted by  Edmund D’eath, an assistant teacher from Bromley Common who was married to Ethel Casselden, another daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann.

By 1889 it was recognised the school needed to be enlarged and by 1890 a new block was constructed for the girls and the infants, with Georgina Stocks in charge of the infant section. The Ashworths ran the school until 1909 when they moved to Argansk Road, Catford, where they continued to teach as indicated by the 1911 census.  

From 1909 and beyond the 1st World War to 1924 the School Master and School Mistress were Mr and Mrs George Arthur Ledgard. They had been teaching at an elementary school in Cradley, Herefordshire. Georgina Fanny Stocks continued as teacher of the Infants.
The 1870s buildings still exist and are now private dwellings, see photo above.

Mr Ledgard died in 1938, three years after Georgina Fanny Stocks. He is buried in St Giles Farnborough churchyard,  His wife Margaret moved to Surrey where she died in 1941.

A new school was built toward the end of the twentieth century in the centre of Farnborough Village, close to the site of the very first school, see photos below.

Bob Donovan


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