The Original School

Village Hall - 1983The first school in Oatlands came into being in 1862 and is still providing education in the form of the Oatlands Pre-School in the same building - now Oatlands Village Hall.

In 1861 Charles Edward Smith of Silvermere, near Cobham, purchased plots 17 and 18 in Ball's Road (now St Mary's Road) from Joseph Ball. There he had built an elementary school for boys and girls.

On the 27th of January 1865, Mr.Smith transferred the buildings and land for 10s (50p) to the Rev. Rolla Rouse, minister of St Mary Oatlands, and four other local gentry as trustees. The transfer deed entrusted them and their successors to permit the property to be used for a school for children and adults "of the labouring, manufacturing and other poorer classes", for religious and secular meetings and for other similar "benevolent and useful purposes". In 1868, 95 children attended the school and by 1879 the number had risen to 173.

In 1883 a new boys school was built further up St.Mary's Road on the opposite side (usually referred to on this site as 'the old school') and the original school continued as the elementary school for girls and infants of both sexes until 1922.

In 1923 Surrey County Council, which had taken over the running of the schools from the Local School Board, decided that it no longer needed the old building and it was handed back to the then trustees for the general use of the parish.

Unfortunately all the school Log Books for the village schools seemed to 'disappear' some years ago and have only just been 're-discovered' during the collections revue at Elmbridge Museum. We have not yet had an opportunity to investigate them directly, in any depth so, for the moment, we are limited to quoting from the long out of print "300 Years of Local Schools" by Margaret le Fevre* - an extract of which follows:


"1862. Oatlands Parochial School"

The Log Book is stamped Oatlands School and Reading Room and the first entry is dated December 30th 1862.

"The Reverend R.C.M.Rouse came and re-opened School after the Christmas Vacation - numbers small".

There are 3 ladies mentioned but it is not clear that they are teachers, for the Report of July 9th states:-

"The children seem to have known little or nothing when Miss Fulbrook came three months ago; one third of them can now read easy sentences and have some notion of writing from dictation. The needlework appears to have received careful attention - They were as orderly and attentive as if the school had been some years at work".

In 1864 Mr. and Mrs.Carlyon took charge of the school with 84 children on roll. The master was concerned with the absenteeism for "Mayday enjoyment", "Whitsun Monday and consequently plenty of merrymaking in the neighbourhood" or "a grand wedding in Weybridge where some of the girls strewed flowers".

It was a custom for the girls to do sewing for local ladies.

Aug.26th 1864: "Returned a quantity of needlework to Miss Woodroofe."

Sept.1st: "Returned more needlework to Mrs.Woodroofe".

Sept.12th: "Mrs. Woodroofe brought 3 doz. thimbles for the girls".

The buildings were enlarged in 1864 and received the Inspector's approval. Mr.Carlyon resigned the next year and the new headmaster was Mr.William Lockyer Banks.

There was consternation when the Annual Examination was notified for Whitsun week, as Mr.Banks felt that the children would not attend. He was right, for only 43 out of 80 turned up and this was during "payment by results".

He had trouble with parents too, regarding their children's attendance:

June 6th 1866: "Sent word to Mrs.P. to enquire the reason for her two boys absence from school the last ten days"

June 7th: "Received Mrs.P.'s reply - "Tell your master to mind his own business". I shall attend to her advice by striking off her boys' names forthwith"

Children tried various ways of missing school.

June 8th: "Henry G. invented and spread a report at about 1 o'clock, having first rung the School Bell to draw the children together, that the Master and Assistant Master had gone to the races so there would be no school this afternoon. Only 20 children were influenced to stay away in consequence."

Henry was suspended from the Choir for the rest of the quarter "Thus being deprived of the pleasure of the forthcoming Festival at Weybridge."

At this time it was usually only the younger children who could be spared from home to go to school, but an admission of a girl of 2 years would seem to be the limit.

In October 1868 there was another change of headmaster when Mr.Herbert Large took over from Mr.Banks. The school was enlarged in 1874 and there were now 201 children on roll.

The school Treat at Oatlands must certainly have been a highlight in the school year.

Sept 4th 1875: "The Annual Summer Treat was given to the children. Assembled at the School at 2 o'clock and marched in procession to Miss Mathew's field. A Band from the Surrey Industrial Schools, Byfleet, attended."

Organised games were introduced and in 1877 a school Cricket Club was formed. They played Walton School in July.

A new headmaster was appointed in September of the same year. His name was Jesse Colman and he was the first teacher to stay long enough to have an influence in the school.

Oatlands came under the Walton School Board although an effort was made to continue as a Church School. The boys moved into a new building in 1883, leaving the Girls and Infants in the old one" divider-generic

We would be very grateful to receive any more information relating to the schools of Oatlands - photographs (particularly showing the buildings or staff), ephemera (e.g. school play programme) and memories - everything is of interest in helping to construct a complete picture of our schools thriugh time. Please use the contact form to get in touch with us initially.

We believe that the first "headmistress" of the school is likely have been Mrs Elizabeth Lemon, but that is, as yet, unconfirmed.

Jesse Colman moved with the boys to the newly-built school and, until we can study the log books, it is unclear who took up the reins at the Girls & Infants School.

Mrs.Woodroofe lived at New Cross Cottage, on the northern corner of Oatlands Chase (or Station Road as it was then) and Oatlands Avenue (then America Road or Duchess Road, depending on where you look).

"Miss Mathew's Field" was at the rear of her home "The Castle" which stood on the western corner of the Oatlands Chase / Oathands Drive junction. Miss Mathews was Caroline Mathews (widow - from 1865 - of Richard Mathews) who later married William Stephens in 1882 and lived at Kensington Lodge in St Mary's Road - it is her statue that stands in the grounds of the present school, which was built on the site of Kensington Lodge.

* "300 Years of Local Schools" by Margaret le Fevre was originally published by Walton & Weybridge Local History Society. in 1970.