The Village School

The village school has a long and varied history, beginning with the first reference to a school in 1602. Between then and when the Revd C B Leigh built the present building in 1875 the school was located in several buildings within the village. It ceased to be a state school in 1977 and became a “study centre” for St Edwards school, Romford, and then re-opened as "Wheatlands" day nursery in 1996.

These are some of the earliest views of the school...

A 1904 postcard of the school


as seen from the Church tower in the 1920s

a hitching post and a maypole can just be seen in the playing ground





Earliest reference to a school in the village Essex court sessions held on 15th April 1602..

In Chelmsford on Thursday after the close of Easter before Thomas Myldmaye & Sir John Petre — Knights. Licence granted by the court to John Knight, Parson of Goldhanger, to convert certain building, which he hath lately builded at his own charges and upon his free land in Goldhanger, a school house and to some other habitation, at his humble request.


A parliamentary committee report refers to 60 boys & girls in the school



Parliament survey shows 4 males & 11 females attending a fee paying school, probably in the cottages opposite



Church vestry and bell tower room were used as the school




The Pit Cottages on Maldon Rd triangle were still being used as a school




The Old Rectory was being used as the "Dame School"






The Revd Leigh’s family funded building a new school.

It may have been designed by architect Ewan Christian who designed the new rectory





A framed school certificates for Alice Wenden   

is available from this year...



Average attendance was recorded as 106 



Headmaster was Mr Harry Branch 



The Parish magazine pleaded for funds for the school



Lily Clark started as assistant teacher and stayed for 43 years




School extended to add an infants wing. Then 90 students & 30 infants.



Revd. Gardner presented Teacher Lily with a Goldhanger Woods book



earliest known photograph of pupils with the caption:

“Young Goldhanger”

showing the headmaster Mr Branch



   school outings using farm wagon



The school Manger's minute book is available for this period in ERO



From the School Manger's minute book...

The estimated cost of "warming, lighting and cleaning" the school was estimated at being £15 per annum. It was also decided to do away with the septic tank and provide "sanitary pails which shall be emptied 3 times a week"


From the School Manger's minute book...

School cleaning was undertaken by Mrs Chaplin, 3/- a week and Mrs Jordan 2/6 a week. It was decided that wheels should be purchased to carry away contents of the closet pails." May Cottis an assistant teacher gained a pay increase from 1/6 to 3/-


From the School Manger's minute book...

Holidays - The school was to be closed on Bank Holidays as well as Ash Wednesday and Ascension Day. In addition Mr. Dobson and Mr. Bunting proposed that the school be closed forthwith for pea picking. Over the years Mr. Dobson set the time for the summer pea picking holiday which became set as 4 weeks at the end of June and the beginning of July. In September there was also the annual Blackberry picking holiday. A number of attempts were made by the local authority to standardise the times of holidays in the area. These attempt were resisted strongly by the governors who felt local conditions of the crops should be taken into account.


“The Old School” building on the Maldon Road triangle, also known as the  Pit Cottages, was put for sale...


From the School Manger's minute book...

There were 4 teachers at the school. The Headmaster, Mr. Langford, was a long-standing teacher at Goldhanger as was his wife who looked after the infants. In addition there were two assistant teachers Miss Lily Clark and Miss May Cottis. Mr Langfords Salary in 1906 was £124 per annum.





The Headmaster was Mr Langford,  

who appears on the right of this photo   

with Miss Clark...


From the School Manger's minute book...

The school managers were the Rev. Gardner, the Rev. Durrant Field, Mr. Evitt, Mr. Dobson, Mr. Payne and Mr. Bunting. As recommended by H.M. Inspectors a gallery was removed from the Infant room. The cost of this,7/6, was paid for by the county council. Tenders for the redecoration were asked for. Mr. Mann won the contact.


From the School Manger's minute book...

Miss Clark was asked to resign after 22 years at the school as it was over staffed. This was to everyone's regret.



Parish magazine records of the school’s involvement in WW-1 [find the word “school” – 19 occurrences]



13 year old school children permitted to do farm work during WW-1



From the School Manger's minute book...

Ernest Johnson, a scholar of 13 years of age was granted leave of absence from school from June until October to work at the rectory, owing to a shortage of labour occasioned by the war. Mrs Langford after 16 years at Goldhanger died. Miss Clark was re hired to take her place.



End of WW-1 celebrations held in the school


From the School Manger's minute book...

Mr. Langford retired and became one of the school managers. Miss Fielding was appointed to replace him.



The headmistress was Miss Ethel Barnett 




The Rector, Revd Gardner is in the centre of this school photo (with his dog)...




A school photo taken in

the school field



The headmistress was Miss Ault




From Cyril Southgate’s Early Goldhanger Memories...

Goldhanger School in the late 1930s -  The school looked after the education of the children up to the age of 14. Until I think 1937-1938, when pupils of 11years old were bussed to Maldon Secondary Schools (separate boys and girls). I was 11 years old in February 1939 and went to Maldon in September just as war was declared. During the period of the “phoney war” some pupils already at Maldon decided to stay in Goldhanger for school, but after a month or two things got back to normal schooling in Maldon.

School days in the 1930s were happy days and we always looked forward to holidays, especially pea picking holidays in June. We picked peas by the sackful for the Bunting Brothers of Highams and Joyces Farms.

The local school  children also enjoyed a summer tea party at Joyces Farm in the same era 1930-1940. Mrs George Bunting (Edith) and Mrs Mabel Speakrman were school governors for many years. We were transported in wagons along the lower fields to joyces farm, where we always enjoyed a lovely tea, usually on the tennis court This was followed by a treasure hunt and various activities. All these thing fell apart as war loomed in later years.

A lovely single lady, Miss Lily Clark lived next door in Fish Street. She acted as an auxiliary teacher at the local school. I remember she suffered badly from what I can only now presume to be arthritis, because at my early age of 3½ years I would remember her badly disabled fingers. About this time she took me to school, daily walking up Fish Street. I understand they took me in early at school to give my mother some relief as my brother was still under 6 months old. The head teacher at this time was Miss Ault who lived with a companion a Miss Allen, at the house we now know as “Tayspills”, Church Street, the home of the late Miss Moira Benham.



Records indicate that there were still joint lessons with Lt Totham using horse & wagon transport



Headmistress Miss Ault produced a Guide to Goldhanger - 1931  (ERO A9886 – restricted access, not seen)


Goldhanger reminiscences from a previous era (late1800s?) in The Essex Chronicle in 1935...

Mr. Howard first attended school held in a room in two cottages. The governess was Mrs. Dennington. Later he went to school at the Old Rectory where Miss Barlow was the teacher. Sunday school treats, at which roast beef and plum pudding were served came to mind as he recalled the past. Scholars took their own plates, knife, fork and jug, and Mr. Samuel Huxter, the rector's gardener, and Mr. Collins, the butler, assisted at the gathering.

Miss Wenden was a pupil at Miss Stowell's private school, which used to be held in a cottage nearly opposite the present school. Alice Bridge, Patty Scowen and Bob Bridge were pupils too. Miss Wenden attended the Wesleyan Sunday School when Mr. Henry Bevis was superintendent and Miss Alexander a teacher.






A special school magazine was produced for the King’s Jubilee...

It has 35 pages of descriptions of the village and poems

written by the children in their own handwriting.

This high resolution version may be slow to open.


  Miss Lily Clark retired after 43

  years teaching at the school and

  was presented with an easy chair

  and money.




A former resident and pupil at the school recalled that on Oak Apple Day, certain nasty village boys used to pick stinging nettles to lash the backs of girls’ bare legs on their way to school. It was an old tradition, though it could be done only if the girls were not carrying an oak apple themselves. The village’s head teacher Mrs Waring quickly put a stop to it.

[Oak Apple Day, or Restoration Day, was once an English public holiday on 29 May to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The holiday was abolished in 1859, but retains some significance in local customs. Celebrations entailed wearing oak apples or sprigs of oak leaves. Anyone who failed to wear a sprig of oak risked being pelted with bird's eggs or thrashed with nettles].


In World War 2  an air-raid shelter was built in the playground



Mrs Warin was headmistress for 30 years




Sports day parade...



The WW-2 air-raid shelter is still on the playground



The headmaster was Mr Bob Broadie 



The headmistress was Mrs Violet Owen 



Celebrations of the school’s 100 year anniversary   

including presenting commemorative mugs to the children....



Newspaper articles announced the closure of the school...





The Church of England sold the school building and lands to St Edwards school in  Romford. Local people who were unhappy about the school closure and the sale of the building and moved the school bell from its belfry to the church tower “for safe keeping”.





The school re-opened as a rural study centre

for St Edwards school, Romford


A booklet was produced with

information for teachers and students

with sketches and descriptions of

the houses down Fish St.






A dormitory extension was built to for overnight stays the children...



  and impressive pargetting was incorporated in the new entrance hall



A Planning application for houses on the school field was opposed by most villagers and rejected by the Council

A letter of objection from Mrs Hopwood, of the Old Rectory, was published in the Maldon & Burnham Standard.



St Edwards put the school and lands up for sale








The school re-opened as "Wheatlands" day nursery...   





The bell was returned and put back into the school belfry

and is still regularly rung at the beginning of the school day.



A re-union for past pupils was held at the school...



The school continues to operate as a nursery. See the nursery’s websites at...

Wheatlands Educational Nursery


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