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Education

This is taken from an article published in ‘The Local Historian’, August 2011, Volume 41, No. 3.

Rev Elkington and school children outside Elsfield school
Rev Elkington and school children outside Elsfield school

There is some confusion about the date when a school in Elsfield was established. The Victoria County History of Oxfordshire states that there was no school in 1818 and that children were sent to the neighbouring parish of Stowood, paid for by Mrs Oglander, a prosperous member of the community who lived at the Manor, but that a school had been established by 1833. The school master at Stowood was Henry Else Chapman, who died at the age of 68 in 1820 and is buried in the churchyard in Elsfield. This may have triggered the founding of a school in Elsfield itself, since there are comments about the parish school in the 1825 document from the North estate. The document says ‘There are twelve children put to school by Mrs Oglander and there are eight more which want education.’ Three pence a week was paid for children who were taught to read and four pence by those who were taught to work, which meant spending part of the day learning from servants how to do their job. It was thought to improve their job prospects. ‘There is a great want of books at the Parish school,’ noted the clerk, which indicates that Elsfield children obtained their schooling in the village in 1825 rather than in Stowood, which is outside the parish boundary and that the founding of the school is at least eight years earlier than the Victoria County History suggests. There was a Sunday school which Mrs Oglander also supported, paying £2 while the clergyman also contributed so all the children of the parish could attend.

We do not know the name of the teacher in 1825 but by 1851 it was Ann, wife of John Humphrey, a mason. She was already past the modern retirement age in 1851, being 67 years old, so it is no surprise to find that the teacher in 1861 was Sarah Jane James, an unmarried girl of eighteen. Correspondence between the Reverend Gordon and Colonel North indicate that there was also a Miss Knowle, who succeeded Mrs Humphreys and preceded Miss James...

The Reverend Gordon’s correspondence with Colonel North in March 1860 reveals that Miss James had been in post for a quarter of a year and appeared suitable. It was time, he thought, to come to a definite arrangement about pay. The previous incumbent, Miss Knowle, was being paid £35. This was made up of £2 each from the three farmers in the village, Mr Treadwell, Mr Greaves and Mr William Parsons, Mr Herbert Parsons at the Manor gave £6 and Colonel North contributed £23 and a ton of coal. ‘Books and other materials are supplied by us’, wrote the Reverend Gordon. He suggested reducing the £35 salary to £26 for Miss James and proposed that the £9 saved from the salary be deducted from Colonel North’s contribution so he would contribute £14. The farmers would readily give £1 each and Reverend Gordon would give £3. Mr Herbert Parsons, ‘of whose increasing kindness and liberality to Elsfield it is impossible to speak too highly’ would make up the difference of £6. There is no mention of the National Society (the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church, which was a source of funding for church, as opposed to chapel, schools) paying anything towards the upkeep of the school, as they were doing in the nearby village of Marston but there is evidence of contact between the two schools since in 1870 Sarah Jane James married Sutcliffe Gibson Greenwood, the school master at Marston, and left the village.


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