Early schools in Harpenden

Photo:Bennetts in Leyton Road, c.1920

Bennetts in Leyton Road, c.1920

LHS archives

Scope for more research

By Rosemary Ross

There are fleeting glimpses of early schools, schoolmasters and mistresses during the eighteenth century, and indications that literacy was gradually spreading. 

Curates such as the Reverend George Barnard, who leased Bennetts in Leyton Road between 1715 and 1745, supplemented his income by instructing “the sons of neighbours in his house” – and indeed his own son went on to become headmaster and then provost of Eton. 

In the early nineteenth century Mrs Mercier was listed as having a girls’ boarding school, possibly first in the 'mansion' (later known as Welcombe, then Harpenden House Hotel, 19 Southdown Road) and later on Church Green. 

In 1818 a Dissenting Grammar School for Boys was opened at Blakesleys (Harpenden Hall) by the Reverend Maurice Phillips, Harpenden’s first congregational minister.  A small chapel was attached to the house, attended by the school and some villagers. 

A report in 1833 from the House of Commons Select Committee on Education listed the private schools in Harpenden as: “One Daily School (for children of the poor) containing 37 males and 5 females; and three Boarding Schools: at two of which are 40 males; and at the other 20 females; in all the above schools the instruction is at the expense of the parents”. [H.C. 572 (1834) IX p.360]

In Newsletter 43 (May 1987), it was reported that a member of the Society had discovered an engraving in a catalogue of ephemera at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. This advertised Mr I S Smith's Preparatory Academy in Harpenden, which was also listed in Piggot's Directory for 1839. 

This page was added by Rosemary Ross on 27/08/2014.
Comments about this page

A Miss Barnard is mentioned in the will of Elizabeth Ashby

By John Wassell
On 02/09/2014

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