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History

When was the school built? How has it changed over the years? What is it like now? All questions I would like to know the answer to and I'm sure some of you would be interested to find out too. But as ever, it is you that has the information. Please contact me with any information on e-mail or the Feedback Form.

Some references:

The History has been broken into separate sections

  • The Real History, when was the school built and how did it fair in its early days

  • The Recent History, memories of people still alive today of the time they spent at the school.

  • The Current History, what is the school Like since it closed and was converted into residential property.

 

Churchill Top School - A Brief History

Churchill, it would appear, has had several schools, and in the documentation I can find, there is confusion about which did what, for who and when. But hopefully, that will all help to make the schools history more interesting.

Today, there are two buildings that are recognisable as previously being schoolhouses. One is on the Sarsden Road, which, perhaps predictably, leads out of the village toward Sarsden. The other, and the one that I am particularly interested in, is only 50 yards away, up the hill, opposite The Church. I am particularly interested in it because I own it and live in it in its latest form. It is on the corner of Church Road and Junction Road. In fact, the two schools are so close together that as I type I can look to my right, through the Velux window that has been installed in the converted attic of the converted schoolhouse and see a light on in the old Sarsden Road schoolhouse and spot people walking past it now and then.

The schools are known as Top School, opposite The Church, which was originally the Girls School, and Lower School, down the hill toward Sarsden, which was the Boys School. Simple enough one would think, however, the Leaflet from The Church (All Saints Church that is. There is more than one church in the village but believe me, if you came to Churchill and saw All Saints Church you would happily refer to it as, The Church, too) has completely the opposite opinion of this, stating with confidence that the Girls went to the Lower School and the Boys went to the Top School. I am pretty confident that it is The Church that has this wrong, as there are several pictures of the Top School with all Girl classes.

The dates that the schools were built seem confusing too. Again, The Church records what it calls the Girls School, The Lower School, as having been built in 1716 at a cost of 126. The Church makes no mention of the date the Top School was built. Alan Watkins, the village historian, documents the Top School as having been built in 1874, but makes no mention of when the Lower School was built. It seems to me unlikely that the Lower School can be that old and the Deeds that I have for the Top School record the build date as approximately 1850.

Closure dates seem more realistic. The Church reports that The Lower School was closed in 1947 and the Top School in 1982. Alan Watkins reports that the Top School closed at Christmas 1981 but makes no mention of the Lower School. We should really get these two people talking to each other. If I ever get around to tracking Alan down I’m sure I’ll get to the bottom of it all. I again agree with his Alan. I have copies of the newspaper article reporting the closure of the school in December 1981.

The Top School also had an infants school, originally located behind the main Girls School. I suspect it is this building that was built in 1874 as an addition to the existing Girls School. In August 1907, the infants moved to the Boys School and the Boys and Girls School were merged to form a Mixed School. They must have been heady times. According to Alan Watkins, The Infant School was returned to the Top School in April 1923 but this leaves a 24 year gap if, as The Church reports the Lower School did not close until 1947.

You will remember that I did say this was confusing when I started.

I also said that Churchill has had several schools. This conclusion is drawn from our knowledge of two famous village residents, Warren Hastings, born in 1723, who became the first Governor General of India in 1773, and William Smith, born in 1769, who published the first geological map of England and Wales in 1815. Both are reported to have gone to school in Churchill. Either they both, according to The Church, went to a Girls School that was built in 1716, or they went to a different school altogether.

I suspect that I don’t have all of the facts, but I am confident that I now have most of the questions, and you can rely on me to find out what the answers to those questions are. If I ever get around to introducing myself to Alan Watkins, who apparently lives about 50 yards away. In fact he probably lives so close that as I type I can look to my left, through the Velux window……….

Stephen Graham
25th July 2001

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Churchill Top School - Recent History

Lots of information has started coming in from various different people that were either pupils at the school or had some link with the school. The girls are keen to remember the names of the people they were at school with and the boys are currently listing the places where they could have an undisturbed moment with one of the girls. The 

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Churchill Top School - Current History

Churchill Top School is now 5 residential properties. As far I know at the moment, the school sat empty and neglected for about 5 years after it closed at the end of 1981, before someone spotted the potential of converting a school instead of another barn.

The Headmasters house remains as one complete property, its present occupiers, have lived in it since it was originally converted.

The main school house has been converted into two properties. A wall has been built through the centre of the main classroom area to divide the properties. The property at the front, facing The Church has the old school kitchens as its kitchen and an extra porch built onto it to act as a main entrance. This is the property that we live in. We moved in over the Christmas of 2000, exactly 19 years after the school closed. The previous residents had lived in the property since it was converted.

The property at the back has had its kitchen made from a conversion of the old school toilets. I love this. It is one of the best bits of information I have found as the neighbours hate being reminded of this. The current owners moved in in approximately October of 2000. I don't know how long the previous owners had lived there.

The final two properties are made from the Infants block at the back of the school. The teachers staff room, infants cloak room and toilets have now become The Old School Cottage. Current occupants resident only from early 2001.

The main infants class room makes the final property for the conversion.

Stephen Graham
10th August 2001.

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