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The earliest reference that can be found to schooling in Witheridge is a petition dated 6 March 1728 sent to the Bishop of Exeter by the vicar, John Shebbear, and supported by his church wardens and eight of the principal residents for a license for a John Pulsford to teach in the town and parish of Witheridge. John Pulsford, having already been teaching for four trial months, and the petitioner believing him to be competent, peaceable, and sober, the bishop granted the license.

The next reference to schooling came in 1799 when Richard Melhuish founded and endowed a school to provide a daily school for teaching 40 of the poorest children resident in the parish to read, spell, and recite their catechism.

In 1845 the original British School, (also known as Chapel School) was built, and the premises can still be seen in use to this day as the Church Rooms. The church was quick to respond and in 1846 opened the National School, and these premises today are part of Mole Valley Farmers Engineering division. Consequently within a twelve month period both church and chapel families were provided with schools, and had the capacity to teach all the children in the village and surrounding area.

Schools: Before 1914 there was a horse van that served as a school bus to bring in kids from the Creacombe/Bradford area. It was driven by Ned Partridge's father of Lower Park. Children are said to have walked from Rackleigh, although why they did not attend Worlington School was not explained. Kids used to buy "three ha'penny busters" (large buns baked by Churchill's and Whitefields) for their dinner. When members of the Benson family taught in the "bottom" school ("church" as opposed to "top" school (Chapel)) they brought in a great ash stick from Bradford. There was much rivalry between the two schools and battles were said to have taken place - "the schools were always up against each other." The Church school kids used to refer to the others as the "upenny ha'penny methodies." At parliamentary election time, all the kids wore party colours to school - mostly liberal yellow at top school and conservative blue at bottom school. Feelings ran high at election time, for example, up at Ebrington's Row, (EW) remembers that her mother refused to allow the kids with yellow favours in the gate to the front of the houses and so prevented their procession from passing along the front. (The backs of Ebrington's Row houses were cob outbuildings at the road edge.)

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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