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From the note books of J E Smith, transcribed by John Collins, 2008
Early Schools

Extract from a note book of J E Smith NRO Ref: 285P/300 - taken from a locally held photocopy

Old Workhouse & School
1861 March 10th. King Edward’s Wedding day. Mrs Sharp of Queen St who keeps our Curates, or rather where they live, told me on Saturday, June 23rd, 1928 that she remembered the Church people having a holiday on March 10th, 1861 (King’s Wedding day) in the old School which was the ‘Workhouse’ & Rev. G. E. Downe, the Rector, was there. Mrs Sharp was 4 years old but had not forgotten it, she is 70 now (1928). The National School was not built till 1870.


Extract from an obituary 1913:

Long before the National Schools were built, however, Mr. and Mrs. Sartoris showed their keen interest in education by establishing a day school in the old Parish Room, which stood in the churchyard and which has now been demolished many years. Mr. and Mrs. Sartoris and Mr. Michael Mason were the mainstays of this school. The first teacher was Mr. Phillips, who died a short time after he came to Rushden, and he is buried in the churchyard. He was succeeded by Mr. Cherry, who remained several years, and the position was afterwards occupied by Mr. Richard Wagstaff. Mrs. Sartoris often visited this school, and some of the residents of Rushden remember to this day how she would, when coming to the school bring sweets for the scholars. Up to the time of Mr. and Mrs. Sartoris starting this school, there had been no day-school in the parish. Eventually this school had to be given up, but, later on, another was started. Mr. and Mrs. Sartoris also started a reading-room in the old school-room and took a great interest in it. Mr. Alfred Sartoris (brother of Mr. F. U. Sartoris) was a frequent visitor to Rushden, and rendered much assistance to the reading-room.


From a photocopy kindly lent, of one of JES's note books - 'begun 21st Nov 1913' p.5

I am told that a Day School used to be held in the Old Vestry Hall or rather the Room on the site of the present, so called Vestry Hall, near the Churchyard. The 1st Master I am told was Mr Phillips, buried in the Churchyard, he was succeeded by Mr Cherry who remained several years, then by Richard Wagstaff.


Extract from diary notes of Ebenezer Knight:

Old Schoolroom & Packwood’s House
1869 October 26th. Commissioners came to enquire about the Old School & Packwood’s House. (This School was the old Workhouse and Packwood’s (Joseph) House was in front of Poor House close to the street. I still have a photograph of it which I bought soon after I came to Rushden in 1875. J. E. Smith). (This present 1927, Vestry Hall built on site of Old School, nr Poor House).
Note: If anyone has a copy of such a photograph, we'd be thrilled to take a copy please.

Extract from a note book of J E Smith Mr Walker who kept a private Boys School in Mr John Claridge’s house, Skinners Hill. This was in 1873-4-5 as I went thro’ to Souldrop. I saw a black boy amongst the others and Mr John Pendred, Auctioneer, of Wellingborough told me he attended Mr Walker’s School & he was there when Lady Robinson was married, eldest daughter of the late F. U. Sartoris Esq. of Rushden Hall, because Mr Pendred told me that he, with the boys, helped to decorate the Church for the wedding, that was when the hand of Goddard Pemberton (tomb on North wall of Pemberton Chapel) got broken off by a person who was trying to see the wedding, the Church was very full, he took hold of hand, it broke.

Joseph Enos Smith. Written here Sat. March 26, 1927.


Schoolmasters of Rushden

National School, High St South: John Warren, Mr Bowen, Mr Vann, Mr Brown, Mr Fox, Mr Jones.

At Old Vestry, near School in Old Almshouse on present site: Mr Knight, Mr Cherry, Mr Phillips.

Newton Road School: Mr Perkins, Mr Sadler.

Hayway School: Mr Sadler, Mr Perkins (now Intermediate).

General School (British Women’s Room, near Council buildings): Mr Hustwaite, Mr Oliver, Mr Wood.

Misses Smith “Farm House School”: Private.

Mrs Wagstaff, Infant School.

Mrs Wagstaff (Private School): opposite Crabb St at old Farm House belonging to Mr Sartoris (where Jeremiah Knight lived).

Mr Walker who kept a private Boys School in Mr John Claridge’s house, Skinners Hill. This was in 1873-4-5 as I went thro’ to Souldrop. I saw a black boy amongst the others and Mr John Pendred, Auctioneer, of Wellingborough told me he attended Mr Walker’s School & he was there when Lady Robinson was married, eldest daughter of the late F. U. Sartoris Esq. of Rushden Hall, because Mr Pendred told me that he, with the boys, helped to decorate the Church for the wedding, that was when the hand of Goddard Pemberton (tomb on North wall of Pemberton Chapel) got broken off by a person who was trying to see the wedding, the Church was very full, he took hold of hand, it broke.

College School: Mr Wood, Mr Ryal.

Private Girls’ School: Wellingborough Road. Started where Mr Carrington now lives. I had the room built for Mrs J. Enos Smith, my wife. Then she rented the school in Moor Road, where Miss Payne (I think it was) had a school. Mrs Smith had a school for over 20 years, before I married her. She was a pupil of Mrs Brook Samson at Kettering School. Then when Mr Brook Samson was appointed Organist of All Saints Church, Northampton, Mrs Smith went with them to the School House top of Market Square, but it is not a school now, I think, 1929.

One of our early Rectors used to teach as I found out by the Peterborough Book. J.E.S.

There has been a School for young Girls in the small room of the present Vestry Hall, now given up, 1927, by the lady who has a school in the Market Square at Higham Ferrers near Wood St.


Rushden Argus, 23rd March 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

A letter re: Mr Charles Cherry, who died at Market Harborough, and was buried at Church Langton on Saturday March 3rd. His picture appeared in the Argus of March 9th 1917: The obituary says that he was Schoolmaster at Rushden before going to Church Langton, where he was 43 years, and retired in 1896.

He must have left Rushden in 1853 (64 years ago), his age then being 22, as he was 86 at his death. I have heard mentioned several times as being Schoolmaster here. In Rushden Churchyard there is a stone to the memory of George Samuel Phillips, who died June 24th 1850, aged 21. This Mr. Phillips preceded the late Mr. Cherry as Schoolmaster in Rushden.

Whilst I was thinking over this interesting link with the old town, a gentleman in the “Argus” called to see me, and told me that he was one of Mr. Cherry’s old scholars. He also gave me the following information for this account:—Mr. Phillips was the first qualified Schoolmaster we had in Rushden, but he only conducted a fortnight as he caught a chill at the opening ceremony, which caused his death. Then came Mr. Cherry. The school at that time was the “Old Parish Room” in the Churchyard, on the site of the present Vestry Hall.

The number of scholars was about 40 or 50. The annual cost, all told, was about £50. Mr. Cherry was followed by Mr. Richard Wagstaffe. After him, Ebenezer Knight. Then followed a General School, with Mr. Hustwaite as teacher, and about the same time the Rev. J. T. Barker established the National Schools. Soon after the Board Schools came into operation. The old scholars still living in Rushden who entered the school when first opened are: Messrs. Henry Skinner, William Clark, Samuel Skinner, John Sargent, Mrs. Kate Freeman, and Mrs. Charlotte Cave. My informant of the above was Mr. William Clark, of Moor-road, from whom I also received the following (kindly given him by Mr. Arthur Mantle): There are at present five blocks of schools, comprising nine departments (with a head teacher for each), about 65 teachers, and 2,250 scholars. The approximate annual expenditure of £6,000, and the approximate annual receipts from Government grants £5,000.

Mr. Clark says the population in Mr. Cherry’s time was about 1,500; now about 14,000. Mr. Cherry married the widow of Mr. Phillips, and the latter died on June 24th 1850, so, no doubt Mr. Cherry was appointed very soon after. Both Mr. Phillips and Mr. Cherry came from Northampton.

I could not let slip such an interesting connection with historic Rushden as this, which took place 64 years ago, 24 years before Canon Barker came. That was real Rushden in those days. I mean it was before the great change took place, and labour was largely imported.

Thanking my two friends Mr. Clark and Mr. Mantle for the valuable material, I’m afraid roughly arranged, sketch of the late and much respected old master of Rushden School.

Yours, etc., J Enos Smith
March 15th 1917.


Rushden School In Duck Street

Mr Mather of Wellingborough, Inventor of Instruments (a disciple of Newton, Sir Isaac). Mr Mather was born on October 17th, 1841, 7th son of Mr John Mather, farmer, Knuston, Irchester. He first went to John Barry’s School in Duck St, Rushden (so he says). All he remembers of the School was that on the occasion of Ditchford Mills being burnt down, he, with some other boys went to see the fire, and on returning to school they were rewarded by a taste of the stirrup iron and strap which Barry used for he was a shoemaker as well as a “teacher”. Next he went to Higham Ferrers Grammar School & Mr John Sanderson gave him a book to read which dealt with Newton’s discovery in astronomy. Talking of his early days at Knuston Lodge, Mr Mather said his father had a blacksmith’s shop for the purpose of shoeing the farm horses and repairing the implements & young Mather like Newton began to make water clocks, windmills & a machine that could thresh mustard & cress seed which was worked by a billy-goat going round & round. It was the result of an accident in falling into a thrashing machine & being spun round that he discovered the truth of the theory of Newton’s as to the rotation of the earth. This Knuston Farm must be quite noted because Mr Jonathan Austin, who lived at Knuston Farm after Mather, built an organ in the barn there on a new principal [this organ is now in Park Road Baptist Church], it was built on a loft & I think I was about the first to see it, Mr Austin being a great friend of mine & I taught his son John the organ (in Parish Church) who is now one of the great leaders of organ building in America if not the largest. He has been to see me twice, sent me some fine catalogues & illustrations of his fine great organs. His brother Basil Austin went out to Klondyke, now I think he is with John in the organ trade.

Joseph Enos Smith, Rushden. Written here Sat. March 26, 1927.

Note: Extracted from an obituary in 1928: Mr Lack’s grandfather, Mr John Barry, was a self-educated man. He gained a scholarship at Northampton, became a land surveyor, and was the first to teach a Rushden schoolmaster the slide-rule.


Wellingborough & Kettering News 17/01/1890, transcribed by Peter Brown

Higham Ferrers - Grammar School —We hear that the Grammar School is to be re-opened at an early date by Mr. Smith, who has an establishment at Rushden.


Extract from Memories of Joseph Willmott
He remembers that his mother, Mrs. Mary Willmott, who lived in High-street, took him, when he was two years old, to a school kept by a Mrs While on the premises now occupied by Mr Seckington. It was an infant school, with twelve scholars and the fee was a penny per week. At the age of four Mr Willmott sought the "higher" education supplied at Mrs. Wagstaff's school which stood near the Green. A year later he studied under Mr. Ebenezer Knight, who kept a school where Vestry Hall stands now.



see also Private Schools
NRO Ref: 285P/297
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