HISTORY OF THE PARISH HALL
SPLATT'S SCHOOL IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Notes from the Trustee surviving papers.
R.R. Sellman 19/6/1971
George Littlejohn pre-1798 - 3/1810 (dis.)
Joseph (or John) Newman 3/1810 - 11/1821 (dis.)
Ambrose Westlake 1/1822 - 9/1836
John Stocker 9/1836 - 9/1857
Charles Nosworthy Cheeseworth 9/1857 - 5/1887 (from Dunsford)
William Barker 5/1887 - 3/1893 (from Brentor)
Owen N. Sleigh 3/1893 - 1916 (died)
The Church House of Whitestone had been conveyed to feofees in 1714 (and probably earlier) 'for pious and charitable uses', but by the middle of the century was in a ruinous condition. Elsewhere it would probably have been taken over by the parish as a workhouse but, in 1752, John Splatt offered to rebuild and endow it as a school and almshouse. A year later, when the rebuilding was nearly finished, he conveyed it to trustees together with two fields of nearly seven acres on the Pinhoe Road in Heavitree known as ‘Drake's Ground’, reserving access to the parishioners for public business, and providing rooms for five ‘old, decayed, aged, or infirm people, men or women, married or unmarried, who should have no relief of the parish, or anything whereby to maintain themselves but their labour’. A sixth room was for the teacher, and a schoolroom for ‘an English School for poor boys and girls, children of such people of the parish as should have nothing whereby to maintain themselves but their labour, or orphans of such labouring people, to be taught to read, and for the children of none others’. The master or mistress, the children, and the alms people, were to be nominated and removable by the trustees, and the endowment rents to be applied firstly for repairing the building, secondly for providing 5s to each occupant of the almshouse at Christmas, and the residue for ‘paying the master or mistress and in benefiting the said school’. The trustees were to fill up their number to 18 by co-option whenever it fell to 7 (or 5 — the deed is vague on this point) and the Rector was never to be one of them.
Nothing survives in the record to show how the school fared up to the turn of the century although, in 1869, the master handed over, amongst other documents, a Counsel’s opinion of 1753 in the ‘case about Whitestone School’ which implies some initial difficulty. When accounts become available from the beginning of the 19th century, George Littlejohn is schoolmaster (and he, or a namesake, appears as a trustee in 1798). Up to 1805, his salary was 12 guineas and, from 1806, 18 guineas but he seems to have been dismissed in 1810 as the result of a violent fracas with a landowner-trustee over the admission to the almshouse of a woman who, Littlejohn claimed, was neither qualified nor duly nominated.
The schoolmasters up to and including Cheeseworth also acted as Clerk to the trustees and were responsible for collecting rents, paying the 5s allowances, and seeing to the maintenance and minor repair of the premises.
No expenditure on school books or materials appears in Littlejohn's time but, under Newman, 1810-21, the bills show clearly that the curriculum did not go beyond the reading and religious instruction envisaged by Splatt —
1815: 12 psalters 12s 0d
6 school texts 10s 0d
6 reading easies (primers) 2s 6d
1817: 6 psalters 7s 6d
12 reading easies 6s 0d
1819: 12 Testaments 22s 0d
12 psalters 12 0d
Even spelling seems to have had little direct attention, and Newman himself was shaky, as witness his bill of 1821 for ‘a half quarters sallory and cleaning the chlmleys’. He had been paid £20 pa till 1817, and then £24 but the Charity Commissioners in 1823 recorded that he was ‘dismissed for misconduct’ (unfortunately unspecified) and his successor was appointed at £20.
Ambrose Westlake (1822-36) was more literate, as his handwriting witnesses, and spelling was introduced —
1822: 10 Bibles @ 4s 2d 41s 8d
12 spelling books @ 5d 5s 0d
1826: 24 Testaments @ ll½ d 23s 0d
12 spelling books @ 5d 5s 0d
12 Trimmers spelling books Pt I 1s 0d
A list, undated but in Westlake's hand, and probably c.1830, shows 27 scholars ‘on the Charity’ and 13 'paid for’ — i.e. paying fees to the master in addition to his salary. The Free List included -
John and William Hooper, Jane and William Blanchford,
Edward and Frederick Carpenter, Richard and George Newton,
Thomas and William Parsons, Jane and Samuel Grant,
William Yelland, John Elson, Elizabeth Pinnimore,
William Joslin, Maria Eardles, Jane Henson, Caroline Marks,
Samuel Shipcott, John Raddon, John Moxey, Ann Snell,
John Caseley, John Potterman, Edmond ?, and Mary Ann ?,
in all 19 boys and 9 girls. Fee Payers were -
John and Christopher Cheriton, Robert, Henry, and Edwin Cook, William, Anne, and Christiana Baker, Thomas Coram,
Alfred Phillips, Elizabeth Lake, John Harris, and John Raddon — who, if the same boy, appears on both lists: in all, 11 boys and 3 girls. The grand total was therefore 30 boys but only 12 girls.
The 1823 Charity Report says that all poor children of the parish, if sent, were taught reading and spelling, and a few writing; and the girls were also ‘taught to work by the schoolmaster's wife, who is permitted to make a charge, but the parents are in general so poor that little is received’. But no trace of expenditure on writing materials appears in Westlake's time.
Splatt's original Church House schoolroom was of the awkward dimensions of 25’ x 12’, and the six other rooms are each described as about 12’ square. (How the master's family managed in one of them passes understanding — presumably they overflowed into the schoolroom when the pupils were not present.) By the 1830's, with some 40 pupils, the old room, which was low as well as awkwardly-shaped, was too patently inconvenient: and when the trustees decided to build 6 'woodhouses’ (fuel stores) for the Church House occupants, Westlake got them to agree to a new schoolroom being built above them, on a plot some 25 yards down the lane. The ‘woodhouses’ cost the trustees £19, and Westlake himself advanced £30 for the schoolroom (mercifully being repaid later by subscriptions and the trustees). The New Schoolroom was provided with 3 new desks, 4 forms, and 2 stools, at a cost of £3 10s 6d, and a 3-step gallery for £1 2s 6d, and insured for £50 with the Sun Fire Office (the Church House being simultaneously insured for £200). Both buildings were then thatched, though the new room was given a slate roof in 1861. A well was also sunk 14½ ft adjoining the new room, at a cost of £2 (2s 9d per foot), and provided with a pump.
Westlake did not long enjoy the new premises after they were occupied in 1835. In the following year John Stocker was appointed schoolmaster, and also Parish Clerk (an office probably held by his predecessors to eke out their income). The following letter to him from the Rector, Charles Brown, dated 26/7/1836, survives in the papers:
"As your character is good, and your conduct steady, I inform you that, if the trustees of Splatt's Charity elect you to the schoolmastership, I shall ascertain by trial in the Church whether you can perform the duty of Parish Clerk satisfactorily.
The new Sunday School master, who will be paid Is 6d for every Sunday that he attends, will not be permitted to go into the Gallery, but must remain near the boys to keep them in order. He will have to lead them into and out of Church. As the new room is commodious, and the boys numerous, I propose to introduce some of the plans of the National Schools.”
Though still on the £20 pa salary, Stocker was able to earn another £4 or so from taking the Boys Sunday School, as well as a similar fee as Parish Clerk. He for the first time introduced arithmetic —
1837: 12 arithmetic Table books 1s 6d
24 children's first books (primers) 4s 0d
25 spelling books 3s 0d
1842: 200 slate pencils @ l0d (per 100) 1s 8d
12 children's 1d books 1s 0d
1843: 25 children's books 2s 0d
12 Table books 1s 0d
1845: 200 slate pencils @ 9d 1s 6d
12 arithmetic Tables 1s 0d
4 sheets cartridge paper for school lists 6d
Writing also appears for the first time in the expense sheets in 1846 and 1847, 4s each year being spent on pens and ink for the children. After 1847 there is a gap in the accounts; but those for 1861 (in Cheeseworth's early years) still show the annual 4s for pens and ink, and include (for the first time) 15s for schoolroom coal — though both old and new schoolrooms had fireplaces and must have been heated. Possibly up to then local wood was still plentiful enough (hence the earlier ‘woodhouses’).
Two privies were built across the lane from the Church House in 1842, for the use of both alms people and schoolchildren, at a cost of £5 17s 6d: one wonders what happened before this.
Charles Nosworthy Cheeseworth, born in 1825, was one of the first batch to be trained in the Exeter Diocesan Training School (later St Luke's), from which he went direct to the mastership of Dunsford National School in 1845. In 1857 he became Splatt's schoolmaster in succession to Stocker (who was still in the village in 1859, and present at a treat given by the Rector to 69 children, with, 501b of currant bread and 190 penny buns). Cheeseworth's starting salary was still only £20, but in 1865 it was raised to £25 (+ £1 for acting as Clerk to the trustees) on the understanding that he was bound to teach free ‘all such children of poor labourers in the parish as the trustees may nominate’, though he could take fees from others. The trustees then held business meetings twice yearly, at Whitestone in July and at Exeter in January, at which applications for free admission must be presented.
Cheeseworth had no Certificate (having trained before Teachers' Certificates were invented; and did not offer himself for examination, so that the school could not earn Government Grant. It is in any case doubtful if HMI would have accepted the premises as suitable. The 1870 Education Act, however, compelled the trustees to get the school qualified; and a series of letters shows the progress in this direction after a false start. The first plan was to raise £180 by parish rate to enlarge the existing school. Cheeseworth in 1870 reported to the Correspondent that ‘the only other school in the parish is what is commonly known as a Dame's School, and kept by the same person for about 30 or 40 years. She also attends the Girls Sunday School. This school is held in the Mistresses living room, and children pay from 1d to 3d per week. The farmer's children attend my school, and on the half-yearly list which I return to the trustees are called private pupils’. He also pointed out that the balance of Charity income, after meeting repairs and the 5s gratuities, should by the Trust Deed be paid to the teacher, but
'instead I am paid £26 per annum, and the balance is paid from time to time into the Savings Bank as a reserve or Building Fund. There are now 48 children on register. If the ratepayers have to provide school accommodation for one in six of population after the rate of 80 cu ft per child, Whitestone will have to provide for between 50 and 60 children more than at present. It will therefore be a matter of consideration whether the present school can be enlarged to meet the requirements.’
The Education Department was not satisfied with enlargement plans, and these had to be dropped. Instead, a meeting in September 1873 decided to build a new school ‘to meet the Government requirements’, and began to look for a site. It took time to get plans made and passed, and a school built but the new building was ready in 1876 at a total coat of £535 8s 4d, of which £443 15s was raised by rate from landowners and occupiers and by subscription.
Meanwhile, once the new building was definitely in prospect, the school was accepted for the Grant List, Cheeseworth being in 1874 awarded a Certificate without examination, on Hill's recommendation, under Article 59 of the Code. His fixed salary remained where it was, but he could now in addition collect the whole of the Grant. This made a massive difference to what had previously been virtually a labourer's income: in his application for pension in 1885 he states that he was by then receiving, with Grant, £86 11s 8d (including his wife's services as Sewing Mistress), but that his average since 1874 had been £48 9s 1d, and before that, including fees, only about £35. In addition he had the use of the Church House living accommodation, valued at £4 pa, and another £4 from running the Post Office (as his father had done in Dunsford): and on this he had raised a family of six children! (Up to 1877, the Grant had been cut to take account of endowment income but the Department at length realised the injustice of making Splatt's Charity subsidise the general taxpayer.)
In January 1877, Cheeseworth reported that HMI had demanded a monitor to help with the younger children, and asked if he could 'look out' for one at 1s or 1s 6d per week. He also complained of the noise and disturbance made by the Rector and a family party with children and governess at the Annual Inspection, his pupils having complained of being unable to hear the dictation. The request for help had to be repeated six months later, when, with 70 on roll, ‘I have children now working in each of the six Standards and cannot do without assistance. I have employed one of my own sons to assist, but cannot afford to give his time to this work as I want to push him forward. If Lord Devon can give me the usual donation and amount of Government Grant, I will provide necessary assistance.’
Strangely, in spite of Splatt's requirement that the number of trustees should never fall below 7 (or at least 5), at this point the Earl of Devon was the sole surviving trustee, and had done nothing to implement the clause requiring co-option — nor did he till 1887, when he withdrew and handed over to a new body.
A letter of 1879 shows that Cheeseworth was supplying prizes out of his own pocket for those passing the Annual Examination (a case of bread upon the waters if it succeeded in encouraging others to pass!; but by this time his income had more than doubled and was still growing. In 1886, having reached the age of 60 and served 41½ years as master here and at Dunsford, he asked the Managers to apply for pension on his behalf, on the ground that he was 'incapacitated through failing health, sight, and hearing - the last so bad that it will be impossible for me to continue to act as master long’. At the same time, 'I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not send in my resignation’(until and unless a pension is granted) ‘but as new trustees are about to be appointed, I consider this a favourable opportunity to apply ... as the new trustees may be desirous to make different arrangements and introduce new Rules which at my age and failing health I may not be able efficiently to perform’. His pension was granted, and in May 1887 he retired; but he continued to live in the village, and to act as Assistant Overseer, for years to come.
The next master was William Barker, from Brentor, of whom nothing appears in the papers beyond his salary -£35 + Grant and Fees, or after 1891 + 6/7ths Grant and Fee Grant, and the fact that his wife or daughter Florence served as assistant for £8 (later £120) a year. He left in 1895, after six years, to be followed by Owen Sleigh. Barker and his predecessors had continued to live in the Church House but, on Sleigh's arrival, a cottage adjoining the school was enlarged for the teacher, with the help of subscriptions totalling £156 13s.
Sleigh was Certificated, though untrained, as also was his wife Annie, and their joint salary was £66 + 5/7ths of all Grants, which in 1903 amounted in all to £128 10s 6d — a far cry from the £35 or less of thirty years previously. The return made to the County Council shortly before the administration of the school was taken over in October 1903 gives the average attendance as 76, and the annual value of endowment property as - Drake's Ground, £36; Church House (let except for one room) £4; teacher's house £10.
The balance sheet for the year ended April 1902 was -
Income £ s d
Earned Grant 83 14 0
Fee Grant 31 15 0
Aid Grant (including £5 15s rise for Sleigh) 11/-
Endowment 23 8 6
Contributions 24 15 10
174 13 4
Expenditure £ s d
Salaries (inc. Eva Lake, monitress, £9 1 4) £137 0 1
Books 10 3 2
Apparatus 3 11 6
Fuel/light/cleaning 7 19 5
Building repairs 13 2 7
Rates/taxes/insurance 1 4 6
Sundries 2 1 10
175 3 1
Later Charity Reports show that the last almshouse occupant died or left in 1908, and that there had been hardly any applicants for the almshouse for many years. The 1835 schoolroom was still, at least up to 1909, used as a Sunday School, because of its convenience for the church.
The above figures show that Splatt's endowment, which had been the sole support of the school up to 1874, by 1903 accounted for less than a seventh of the running costs; while the new premises, both school and schoolhouse, had been at least 4/5ths paid for by contributions or a general levy on the parish. These premises remained Trust property; but the parish, which had in fact largely paid for them, had an equitable if not a legal claim. In present circumstances this should (and no doubt will) be taken into account if proposals for their sale by the trustees go through.
R.R. Sellman 18/6/1971
CONTENTS OF SPLATT'S CHARITY BOX:
1831: Sketch-plan of Charity fields on Pinhoe Road,
3a Or 34p, 3a 1r 16p
ND(mid _l9th century) Surveyor's plan of Charity property in
Whitestone - shows Church. House, closets across lane, new
schoolroom with pump, right of way between Church House and
schoolroom: but Church House garden shown as not Charity property.
ND(mid 19th century) Sketch-plan of above - shows Church House
as schoolmaster's house and stable, with 4p garden, new schoolroom
and pump, and separate 2p plot with linhay across lane from front
of Church House.
1874? Plans (for new school)
1893: Plan& for enlargement of teacher's house
1910: Plans for enlargement of classroom and lobbies
1929: Accurate tracing of school fields in Pinhoe Road, connected with
(see also tracing attached to 1862 report below)
(Drake's Ground let for £19 pa until -)
1813: Lease to Thomas Wood, cornfactor, for 14 years, at £44 pa, £10 per
acre tillage penalty (rent reduced to £33 in 1316 - in 1821 Wood
goes bankrupt, surrenders lease 1822)
1822;: Lease of above to William White, 14 yrs, £30 pa
1829': Lease of above to -James Petherbridge, cheesedealer, 14 yrs, £30
pa 'lands late in possession of - Brown widow' standing timber and
right to remove it reserved to trustees: £20 per acre tillage
penalty: tenant to manure every second year with 8 hogsheads of
lime and 140 horseloads of dung per acre.
(1861 - lease, not extant, to William Pedrick, livery stable keeper, for
7 years at £40 pa)
1862: Surveyor's report on proposed sale of 30p road frontage strip to
Exeter Improvement Commissioners for road widening, price £70:
(sale goes through, money invested in Consols) Tracing attached
shows strip in question.
1878: Draft of lease to Francis Finch Bladon gent, for 10 years at £38
15s pa, £50 per acre tillage penalty.
FFB gives notice to terminate 1881, draft altered to serve as model for -
1882: Lease to John E. Boon, butcher, for 14 yrs at £40 pa.
1887: Schedule of deeds and papers handed over by Earl of Devon to new
1929-30: Statement of sale of Drake's Ground - £4447 6s
realised, invested in £8303 8s 11d 2½% Consols, to bring in, with,
money already invested, £216 2s 4d pa.
(1938; site of Church House sold to P. Lock for £15)
Bundle, Charity Commission and Education Department Orders and Schemes.
Bundle, Accounts, bills, etc, mainly cl800-c1846
Bundle, School letters and papers, c1860-1886
Book - 'Rector's Voluntary Gift at Christmas', 1838-1866
(lists year by year recipients of the Rector's shillings, from
1858 also those of Squire Cole, and from 1859 of 'Julia B'
Book - Splatt's Charity Trustees' Accounts, 1880-1940
1901 - Memorandum on ownership and occupancy of Church House Garden, by
Rector, with 1904 insertion and sketch-map (typed separately)
1901: Rector's- Memorandum on ownership and occupancy of Church House
Garden (contains other details) -
1753: Conveyance, as cited in 1823 Charity Report, gives Church House
20' x 40', does not mention garden.
1886: Charity Commission Order appointing new trustees describes Church
House as,-:c.8p. plot, with bldg known as Church House, Schoolroom, and other bldgs thereon or part thereof.
1780: Devon Estate map shows garden as property of Lord Devon,
1840: Tithe Map 'made before Rev C. Brown made a new approach to the
rectory, cutting off a triangular plot 23p from Catherine Meadow, shows Ch Hse 4p, Garden 6p, Sunday Sch 2p, cottage 2p, garden 9p: Ch Hse and garden separated from Catherine Meadow by Church Path, small cottage with no garden. Accompanying schedule gives Ch Hse & Garden, 10p, owners/occupiers Whitestone Charity trustees: and cottage 3p owner Earl of Devon, occupier W. Dennis (Rector's bailiff).
1864: Ch Hse first rated - £1 10s for lOp, small cottage £1 15s for 3p.
"Mr Cheeseworth, who lived in Ch Hse from 1862, and was Asst Overseer until the other day, believes that the garden belonged to Ch Hse before Splatt's endowment, and that there was a definite tradition of this. The back door always opened into the little garden which was separated by a hedge from Catherine Meadow. When the lease was made (17??) Mr Lamacrate was successful in his claim to treat Ch Hse Garden as Devon property, in the absence of any deeds to the contrary effect, but Mr Cheeseworth feels sure that such deeds once existed" (reference to deeds of 1657 and 1697) "For a few years before 1841, when Mr Brown's new road was made, W. Dennis who lived in the small cottage rented the Ch Hse garden under Farm. But when the triangular plot was formed by the new road, Mr Cheriton, the tenant of Farm, being friendly with Mr Stocker the schoolmaster, let him have the Ch Hse garden, and made up a new garden for the other cottage. This arrangement has gone on ever since" (Note on above statement - Ch Hse has been at some time rebuilt, now 42' long on West wall, 45' on East, breadth externally 27': small back door made at same time.)
"The persistency of the claim to treat Ch Hse garden as the property of the Charity, viz in the Tithe Maps, Rate Books, and Valuation of 1854, must be taken, I think, as the protest of the Overseers and schoolmaster and perhaps of others against what they considered to be Mr Lamacrate's usurpation." (Too late now to dispute ownership - Ch Hse tenant has been also tenant of garden since 1841, and still pay rates on it.) (signed - C. Pearson)
"The house as built by Splatt consists internally of one long schoolroom 25' x 12'. with a large fireplace in the centre, and 6 other rooms all about 12' square with a fireplace at the inside corner. The house is divided by a passage 4' and a staircase at the end. Afterwards the Vestry Room and Parish Stable was added at the North end, 27' x 12', and the South end was rebuilt in stone, all the rest being cob walls with a foundation of stone. The North addition seems to be older than the rebuilding of the South wall, but the latter is also old. The windows have all been renewed, and the schoolroom was divided in the time of Mr Stocker (about 1840-57), a small room with a new fireplace being made at the South end. At the same time the fireplace in the room above was built up. The steps were taken from the Lych Gate."
(Insertion 1904, same hand: "Mr Meynell, grandson of Rev C. Brown, has a story of a fire at the Church House within the memory of members of his family".