On this Page
Extract from a book written and compiled by Joan West
( View and download a complete version of the book.)
My idea was to write about the school, but found the teachers' log and the Inspectors' reports told the story by themselves. I have resisted the temptation to add my own thoughts. "Step back with me and be caught up in the struggle to climb the educational ladder".
- ooOoo -
But this is a success story. It is social history. You will have to imagine the curriculum, heavy on religion. Just a taste on the first page for some swashbuckling stories. Although this is about Lacey Green it could be any little village.
These teachers and children have me enthralled so that sometimes 1900 A.D. seems more real than the year 2000.
This booklet is dedicated to all who laid the foundations, against such odds, of the modern school that we know today as St. John's Combined Church of England School, Lacey Green.
Joan West (2000)
The Charity Commission state with regard to Lacey Green Church of England Primary, later St John's Church of England Combined School...
The freehold property of the school is comprised in four conveyances, all under the school sites acts. The said documents are dated:
December 16th 1870
Deed of Gift, from Charles Brown to the Vicar and Churchwardens of Lacey Green Chapel. (Church of England)
December 3rd 1875
Conveyance from Charles Brown to the Vicar and Churchwardens of Lacey Green Chapel. (Church of England)
March 15th 1926
Conveyance from William Saunders to the Vicar and Churchwardens of Lacey Green Chapel, ¼ acre land
November 1st 1926
Conveyance from William Saunders to the Vicar and Churchwardens of Lacey Green Chapel, additional land
Subsequently there have been considerable extensions to the school and playground areas.
A copy of the 1875 conveyance is below. In it the land is conveyed under the School Sites Act. It is evident that schooling had been taking place prior to that date but no precise date or place is given. Charles Brown was a gentleman farmer of some standing. He was also a churchwarden in Lacey Green. In the eighteen seventies schooling was being put on a more formal footing and also Charles Brown was getting near to retiring and tidying up his affairs. It is possible that he had been encouraging schooling for some time and was now simply making it legalised.
There were dame/lace schools from early days. Harry Floyd's grandmother, Ann Horwood, had come to the village at the age of fourteen, in 1847. She and her father were in service to the vicar. Not at the old vicarage, now known as Lacey House, as that was built nearly thirty years later. When he realised that the young Ann could read and write he asked her, a few years later, to start a school, This she did, calling herself their "governess", teaching the children to read and write and do some summing. The girls did sewing, bringing their clothes ready tacked to make them. Ann married Peter Floyd in 1854, having the first of four children in 1855. She and her husband lived in the cottage that came to be known as Floyd's Farm, right behind the Old Chapel. Harry Floyd never said where his granny did her teaching. Teresa Foster and Dennis Claydon write about the Old Chapel in the next section.
Bernard Houghton, vicar here in the 1960's said the school had been started in 1866, but he was referring to the site of the present school, his source of information is not known, and he, sadly, is no longer with us to ask.
One last mystery yet to be unravelled. In the census of 1851, in Lacey Green, teaching 22 scholars was Mrs Mary Ann Floyd. She was born in 1815 at Thorncombe, Devon, now Dorset. She married John Floyd, son of Joseph Floyd and a cousin of Peter, later to marry Ann Horwood, and he was also a brother of William Floyd, who was a cordwainer and had property right near the old Chapel. Mary Ann Floyd died in 1852,aged 37, She had a son Albert Joseph who married Julia Plumridge and a daughter Mary Ann who married George Harding. But what was Mary Ann's maiden name? Will all be revealed in book two?.
I am always proud to tell people that my grand parents, mother, myself and my children have all attended St Johns at one time or another throughout the schools history and hope my grandchildren (if I have any that is!) will carry on the tradition.
Some childhood memories are for some reason more easily remembered and no more so than anything which has a slightly spooky feel to it. This for me was a flight of old stairs and rail in the family room - Clovelly. This was formally my grandparents, Horace and Ivy Rixon's house. These stairs and rail (painted bright green and full of woodworm I recall) came from, so my grandfather told, an old Chapel that once stood on our grounds and that the aforementioned stairs were used in the house when this Chapel was demolished.
I was caused many nights of fright and panic as I ran up these stairs to bed imagining all the devils in hell chasing me (not to mention the ones with grabbing hands under the bed).
It seems very likely that the Chapel was used as a schoolroom before St Johns was built and that a teacher by the name of Ann or Mary Ann lived nearby. No excuse to be late for work, come rain or shine. Evidence that the Chapel did exist is backed up further by paperwork relating to a will written by a Mr John Carter Dell leaving it to his wife. Now we have to find out if it was passed on to their children. More information found could well uncover whether it was indeed used as a schoolroom.
The stair unfortunately no longer exists but I do have, luckily, photographs of them. They were certainly part of the Chapel, could they have been part of the first teaching place in Lacey Green?.
The conveyancing document, although typically verbose, leaves in no doubt the intended purpose and restrictions of the land now occupied by St Johns School.
It also indicates that 'for many years', on what was a smaller plot than is apparent today, other buildings were already in existence for schooling. The enabling Act would have been passed in 1842 (5th year of reign) to give some idea of how long we might have had a school.
I, Charles Brown ,of Lacey Green in the Parish of Princes Risborough in the County of Buckingham:
under the authority of an Act passed in the fifth year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria entitled
An Act To Afford Further Facilities For The Conveyance And Endowment Of Sites For Schools
and of the Act of the eighth year of the reign of her present Majesty explaining the same, do hereby freely and voluntarily and without valuable consideration, grant and convey unto the Minister and churchwardens of the Ecclesiastical District of St. John the Evangelist at Lacey Green in the parish of Princes Risborough aforesaid and their successors:
all that piece or parcel of ground situate and being at Lacey Green in the Parish of Princes Risborough aforesaid, containing eleven poles or thereabouts be the same more or less and measuring in length adjoining the High Road there twenty-one and a half yards or thereabouts and in depth sixteen yards or thereabouts as the same is now fenced out and divided from other land of the said Charles Brown and which piece of land intended to be hereby conveyed was many years ago given by the said Charles Brown for the purposes hereinafter mentioned and on which piece of land schools and other buildings have for some years been created and built together with all easements, appurts. and heredities corporal and incorporal belonging thereto or therewith and all my estate right title and interest in or to the same premises to hold the same unto and to the use of the said minister and churchwardens and their successors for the purposes of the said act and upon trust, subject nevertheless to the proviso hereinafter contained, to permit the said premises and all buildings thereon erected or to be erected to be for ever hereafter appropriated and used as and for a school for the education of children and adults or children only of the labouring, manufacturing and other poorer class in the district aforesaid and as a residence for the teacher or teachers of the said school and for no others purpose.
And it is hereby declared that the said school shall always be in union with and conducted according to the principles and in furtherance of the acts and assigns of the Incorporated National Society for promoting the Education of the poor in the principles of the established church throughout England and Wales - Provided always and it is hereby declared that the said Minister and churchwardens and their successors shall and may from time to time and at any time hereafter with the consent and at the request of the National Society for promoting the education of the poor in the principles of established church throughout England and Wales, otherwise grant or convey for educational purposes but not otherwise, to the body corporate or person the whole of the estate or interest hereby vested in their, or any smaller, interest in the said school in such manner and upon such terms as the said society shall as aforesaid direct and subject to the declaration aforesaid, the said school and the funds and endowments thereof and the selection appointment and dismissal of the school teachers and their assistants shall be in all respects under the management and control of a committee to consist of the Minister for the time being of the said Ecclesiastical District,the chosen Curate or Curates if the said Minister shall appoint him or them to be a Member or Members of the said committee, the churchwardens of the said District.
If members of the Established church and subscribers of not less than ten shillings annually to funds of the said school and of three other persons being members of the established church and subscribers of not less than ten shillings annually to the funds of the said school and any vacancy which may occur in the said committee by death ,resignation or otherwise of any of the aforesaid other persons, shall be filled up by the nomination on the part of the continuing or surviving member of another person or persons being bone-fide in member or members of the Established Church and qualified as aforesaid.
Provided always that the religions instruction to be given in the said school and the entire central and management of any Sunday school held in the school premises shall be vested in the said Minister for the time being or in his absence in the officiating Minister.
And in case any dispute or difference shall arise on any matter respecting the religious instruction given in the said school an appeal may be made to the Bishop of the Diocese whose decision in writing upon the matter in dispute shall be final and conclusive and binding upon all parties.
In witness whereof, I the said Charles Brown have hereunto set my hand and seal this third day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy five.
Signed Sealed and Delivered by the above named Charles Brown in the presence of Thos: Parrott, Aylesbury, Bucks, Solicitor.
Trade Directories indicate the opening of a day school in Lacey Green in 1851, however, it is uncertain if the building occupied the present site. Reputedly Ann Horwood was the first teacher or governess. Born in 1833 at Aston Clinton she came to Lacey Green as a domestic servant at the age of fourteen. Ann was extremely privileged for her generation, she could read and write. So impressed was the Vicar of the day by her ability, that after three or four years, he invited her to start a village school. Parents paid a penny a week towards their childrens' education. Ann, in her own words, taught the children "their letters and a little summing"(writing and arithmetic). Mothers sent their childrens' clothes to school already "tacked", so that the pupils might be usefully employed by adding to their wardrobes. For all these tasks Ann received the sum of half a crown a week (twelve and a half new pence) from the Parish.
In 1854 Ann married Peter Floyd. They honeymooned in the old cottage, which came to be known as Floyd's Farm, to the rear of the "Black Horse" During the following seventy years they never moved from the farm again. Neither Ann nor Peter ever saw the sea, nor did they wish to do so.
It seems unlikely that the Vicar would have sufficient funds available to erect a new school building, therefore there must have been a place where this first school was held. One possible theory, but it must be stressed it is only a theory, is the old Chapel once situated along the track leading to Floyd's Farm. People still living in Lacey Green have heard their parents and grandparents speak of this building. Methodism came to this area in 1835 with a mission by Reverend James Pole, centred on High Wycombe and the surrounding villages. John Carter Dell of Lacey Green may once have been strongly influenced by this Mission, for he erected a Meeting House for the use of the village Methodists. John's parents and grandparents owned Speen Farm, (now the Home of Rest for Horses) as well as other properties in Lacey Green. John, born in 1796, in turn a farmer, shopkeeper and grocer, also owned land and property in Lacey Green on his own account. He had eight children, five daughters and three sons, but died in 1840, at a comparatively early age.
An extract from John's will makes his wishes clear. "I also give and bequeath unto my said wife all that my Freehold Meeting House erected by me for a place of Divine Worship of the Primitive Methodists situate and being at Lacey Green in the Parish of Princes Risborough aforesaid - with nine feet of Freehold land adjoining each side of the Meeting House - for her absolute use-to have power to sell or lett or to keep in her own possession". After John's death, did Betsy, his wife, "lett" this building for use as a school? Perhaps it served a dual purpose, i.e. school on weekdays, Chapel on Sundays? Although records are sparse, they suggest the building probably continued in use for worship until the opening of the present Methodist Church in 1855.
Making provision in his will for his two eldest daughters, John Carter Dell decreed, "I Devise unto my Daughters Mary and Ann my field adjoining the said Meeting House aforesaid containing one acre of Freehold land be the same more or less with the cottage or building thereon standing. " Documents relating to property in the vicinity of the supposed site of the Chapel have recently been examined. This documentation refers to "two houses and schoolroom," adding support to the above theory. With the building of the present school and the opening of the Methodist Church the building probably fell into disuse. The stair banister of a nearby cottage is reputedly made from the woodwork of the former Chapel, whilst the cottage itself is said to have had "every inch of it's floor prayed upon. Two other cottages in Lacey Green, of traditional Chiltern brick and flint, likewise are said to be partly constructed from stones of the old Chapel. These latter cottages were certainly in the ownership of the Tomkins, a staunch Methodist family for many years.
The foregoing would suggest the former building was probably demolished and the materials reused. If only those stones could tell their story..
One person caught my attention in the 1851 census (the first complete census in Lacey Green) and this was Mary Ann Floyd, schoolmistress. After that there was no trace of her.
It is widely believed that Ann Floyd was the first teacher because she had lived into her nineties and her grandson, Harry Floyd, remembered her well. She spoke as if she was the first. So who was Mary Ann Floyd and what became of her?
Mary Ann Floyd
Mary Ann Floyd
Albert Joseph Floyd
At the time there were 24 "scholars" aged from 4 to 10 years.
John Floyd`s grandfather was a yeoman, farming Kiln Farm and working the associated brickworks. He also called himself a shopkeeper. When John was born in 1820 his father also was listed as farmer, so as an agricultural labourer John probably worked for his father or grandfather. It was usual for members of the family to work together.
John and the children were all born in Lacey Green but Mary Ann came from Thorncombe in Devon. She could well have come to Lacey Green in service to one of the wealthier families that moved here, but we have yet to find this out. Her maiden name was Cook.
Although she disappeared out of local records she was mentioned in the book "A Chiltern Village School". In the foreword I quoted this as "one last mystery to be unravelled" As a result I received a letter, sent to Roger Ward who had the book on his stand at the Eastleigh Leisure Centre (Hampshire), which he forwarded to me and I quote:
I am delighted to be the unraveller! Mary Ann Floyd, the schoolteacher was my great grandmother. Her son Albert Joseph, of course being my grandfather. My mother Annie Floyd, born 1890, died 1980, knew very little about the Floyds, as after Mary Ann`s early death, John Floyd made a second marriage.
The family history as far as my mother knew was thus. Mary Ann came from the Lyme Regis area, which we now know was Thorncombe. After my grandfather was born, she had another child, when this child was six weeks old, she of course wanted to introduce the infant to her family. It was winter time. Goodness knows how they travelled. Sadly they both developed pneumonia and died.
Her family name was Cook. I have never managed to trace them, because I have always concentrated on Lyme Regis, but Thorncombe offers a new lead. I take the liberty of sending the information to you (Roger Ward) as my only contact and ask if you would kindly pass it on to Joan West.
Roger Ward did just that. Thank you Roger.
N.B. The "unraveller" was Susan Little from Ohio,U.S.A. It`s a small world, full of surprises for the local historian!
Photographs of School Link Building taken 15 Jan 2010
First School = years 1 & 2, Middle School = years 3, 4, 5 & 6
Click on picture for larger version
To see how the building work progressed click on Building Progress 2009