Little Hadham School was built in 1861 as a church school. In 1952 the school began a County Primary School. New buildings were added in 1971 and the school house was demolished in the late nineties and a new classroom built in 1966. In 1999, a new staff room and a cloakroom/group room was built and an extension for Key Stage 2. In 2012, an additional learning space was added to the Early Years Unit.
The National School in Little Hadham moved to its present site in 1861, although a school had been operating as early as 1816, from premises in Albury Road, believed to be Providence House.
The School House was built in 1861 by F. Randolph, the rector of Much Hadham and Little Hadham, on glebe land. It was built for one teacher with 1 large school room attached. The original buildings are still in evidence today although hardly recognisable from the outside of the school due to all the additions with the growth of the school over the past century.
The school was at that time run by the Church according to the rules of the ‘National Society for promoting the education of the poor in the principles of the Established Church’ – hence being known as the National School. By 1861 there was also a Congregationalist School in the village, next to the Chapel in Chapel Lane, which was established in 1837.
In 1861 the school was run on a shoestring. The monies raised through subscriptions – children paid a penny a week to attend – and charitable donations just about covered the £35 a year teacher’s salary and £1 4s 6d spent on books and equipment. The average attendance at that time was 55 children, there being no obligation for children to attend school. The teacher at that time was 20 year old Elizabeth Pullinger.
We know from school records that water was drawn from a well on the premises and history tells us that there was of course no electric light, no gas heating and no flush toilets. Indeed, the flushing toilet was only invented in 1861!
In 1862, the rector applied for and was awarded an annual government grant for the school and ten years later, in 1873, with a further grant and the collections of subscriptions, £600 was raised to build two new classrooms, which enabled the Infants and older children (Standards) to be taught separately. It is recorded that there was room for 170 children – hard to imagine when less than 50 are accommodated in those same two rooms today.
150 years has seen the number of children in attendance fluctuate: in 1905 a surprising 103 children are on the school roll rising to 123 by 1909. Today there are 122 children between the ages of 3 and 11 – although in the intervening years the roll has fallen at times below 50 and concerns of closure loomed large.
Sadly, we do not have very much information about the early years, except to say that the incumbent of the school mistress position appears to have changed frequently – Jane Newham, aged 20, is shown as the school mistress in 1871, by 1881 the position is filled by Hattie Hall, 23, and by 1891 by Elizabeth Thompson – and there may have been many more changes in between. We also know that in addition to a Head Mistress, a second teacher was employed as well as Pupil Teachers – older children at the school who helped with the teaching of the younger ones – formally appointed.
By 1903 the head teacher is Miss Richmond, followed in 1904 by Phoebe Bury, daughter of the Rector, James Bury. In 1905, certificated mistress Isabel Jenkins became headmistress and was to stay until 1928, leaving only to get married at the aged of 47.
From the School Log, kept meticulously by each incumbent from 1903 (any previous log books haven’t been found) we can read about the difficulties faced – from school closures due to floods, epidemics of mumps, chicken pox and influenza to fluctuating numbers due to harvest, when all hands were required on the land to garner crops while the weather allowed.
There are many interesting illustrations of social history within the pages of the School Log, a few of which are reproduced here:
- 21st June 1911 – the school breaks up today for the Coronation Holiday (the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary on 23rd June 1911).
- 17th November 1914 – the children were allowed to stand at the playground gates this morning from 11.30 to 12 to watch the soldiers pass. They also went out for a few minutes in the afternoon to watch the artillery pass.
- 11th November 1918 (after a 3 week period of closure due to the ‘flu epidemic which affected staff and 50% of children) – School re-opened. 62 children present. Mrs Minet (the Minet family, owners of Hadham Hall were great benefactors & involved in the running of the school as Managers – now called governors) called at the school this morning with the news that hostilities had ceased, at twelve the event was celebrated by saluting the flag & singing appropriate hymns and songs. Several of the parents were present and Mrs Minet gave the children a half day holiday.
No doubt many if not all of the sons of Little Hadham lost in the Great War had attended the school.
- 3rd May 1926 – owing to the strike the P.Ts (Pupil Teachers) are unable to attend Hertford PT Centre this week (reference to the General Strike of 1926).
- 11th May 1937 – school closed until May 19th Coronation (Coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth), Whitsuntide.
- 11th September 1939 – Little Hadham School reopened under War Conditions. For this week, the local school has met every morning 9am – 1pm. Evacuated school 1.30pm – 5pm.
- 24th July 1940 – 46 evacuee children LCC re-evacuated from Worthing were merged into school.
- 23rd September 1940 – 16 more evacuees arrived today & merged into School.
- 8th May 1945 – School closed for two days. VE Days.
Due to the grants received by Little Hadham, the school had to submit to government inspection, although remained a ‘voluntary’ Church School until 1952, when it was handed over to Hertfordshire County Council.
Accounts of the inspections are also reproduced in the school log and always make very positive comment about the teaching and wellbeing of the children.
Following Miss Jenkins’ 23 year service, Miss Gladys Grassam was appointed Head Mistress in 1936, where she remained for 20 years until retirement in 1956. Many local residents who attended the school will remember her time in charge.
A third long-serving Headteacher followed Miss Grassam’s retirement when, in 1967, John Haynes was appointed. Mr Haynes retired in 1984, due to ill health, after giving Little Hadham 17 years of service.
In 1861, Little Hadham School served a largely agricultural, rural community and was affected in its teaching by illness, weather and agricultural activities.
Today, the majority of its children travel from Bishops Stortford to benefit from the rural surroundings and village atmosphere.