Uplowman Primary School

Uplowman schoolThe very first entries for the School Log Books date from 1863 when classes were held in a School Room behind The Rectory (now Uplowman House). However it is reported in White’s Devonshire Directory of 1850 that “a school for poor children is supported by subscription” which implies that the school was in existence much earlier.

From the records dated 7 October 1863 it quotes “found by examinations that all the first class girls are able to do long division quite perfectly”.  Whether the boys attended from this is unclear.

The new school building was officially opened on 16 July 1874, and a service was held at the church followed by a procession to the school.

From the census records of 1881 it shows that a Clara Flood was resident at School Cottage and described as “schoolmistress” so was probably the earliest teacher.  By 1891 Emma Searchfield (aged 31) was the head teacher living at School House and was joined by 1901 by her sister Bertha as the assistant teacher. They were still there in the 1911 census.  As was normal in those days both were single. In 1920 it is recorded that Emma Searchfield retired as headteacher after over 50 years.

Ernie Pinsent recalls: “I started at Uplowman CofE School in 1920 and left in late 1934.  Our day started at 8:45 and finished at 4pm. Not only children from Uplowman but also surrounding villages would attend. As I lived close to the school (now Primroses) I would go home for lunch.  Infants’ teacher was Miss Florrie Cleeve (who also attended the school as a child) and the headmistress was Mrs Rolfe.  She was very strict and would soon use the cane if provoked.  The main school room was used for teaching standards 2 to 6 with just one teacher for all the pupils which number averaged 40.  The heating was terrible and in the cold weather we wore overcoats to keep warm.  The ink in our inkwells would freeze. Some children were very poor and did not have coats or laces for their boots and would have to walk several miles across the fields from staple cross.  Outside the main gates were two small trees used as tethering places for the horses for the boys who rode to school from outlying villages.  Unlike today, our playground was stones and mud with the boys and girls having separate areas.”

To show that times change (but some of the names are still familiar) it was recorded in January 1930 that “Frances Redwood received a prize for Excellence of Essay on Health.  Lily Thomas received a certificate for Food Essay on How do Cleanliness and Fresh Air make the Home Healthy”.

In 1974 there was a Centenary booklet published which recalls the history of the School plus many old photographs. Click this link to access the booklet in PDF format.  Be patient though as the file size is nearly 2mb but it is worthwhile. A copy of the file can be obtained from the web master.


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