The School

This map is from a rectory legal document of the 1800s. It shows that Wreningham school was constructed on Glebe lands – so its establishment would have always been under the control of the rector.

The many old County Directories provide insights into the story of the Wreningham School. In particular, the Directory of 1883 tells us that the school (always described as a “National School”) was constructed in 1852 at a cost of £120 – with the money “chiefly contributed by the patron”. The term “Patron” has been used elsewhere to refer to the head of the Manor. In 1852, this was: Henry William Wilson, 11th Baron Berners.

The 1856 County Directory describes the schoolmistress as having been Harriett Bernard with 58 pupils. In 1856 this has changed to Miss Rebecca Cooper. Then, through to 1869, the schoolmistress was Miss Ellen Elmer, whilst Miss Temple is listed for 1877 and changed to Miss Naomi Eliza Sendall by 1879. The 1883 Directory names Miss Lucy March leading the school with 65 children.

The school was eligible to receive government grants to assist in the costs of education in agricultural / less wealthy parts of the country. The sums paid were related to pupil numbers; these were “different” times and the money paid for boy pupils was also slightly higher than for girls! Here is one of a series of surviving letters from between 1876 & 1882 (all addressed by “Whitehall” to John Bullimore). The 1876 grant to Wreningham school was £31 8s for the whole year.

The 1890 County Directory describes an average attendance of 100 children under the leadership of Miss Martha Woolicroft – and a similar number under Miss May Hindes (1892) and Miss Priscilla Gibbs (1896). Considering the (then) size of the building, it must have been bursting at the seams!

R D Day’s ledger lists a wide range of maintenance tasks he carried out during the late c1800s. These ranged from mending desks, widows and door catches to repainting blackboards. He charged his time – at about five old pence per hour, to the Rector, who remained responsible for this “church school”.

In 1901, the school was “enlarged and restored” complete with a new playground, at the total cost of about £600. The money was raised by public events and appeals. There was a celebratory concert at the school (reported in the Norfolk Chronicle on 9th November) which was organised by “the Misses Long” and supported by “a crowded and appreciative audience”. The celebration, itself, also raised seven pounds and six shillings which was given to the fund collecting for a new stove at the church.

It seems perverse, but following the large expansion of the building, pupil numbers actually fell! The County Directories report attendance numbers of only 80 under Walter Ernest Bacon (1904) and Miss Annis Field (1912).

At about this period, the Rev Fardell had become general secretary on one of the Norwich Diocese schools committees.

As a Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School, Wreningham School still maintains its strong links with the Diocese.

School Country Dancing!

Competitive Inter-School Sport

Irene Gray, a teacher at Wreningham School, retired in July 1973 after 24 years at the school.  Shortly before retiring she was credited with saving the life of a boy who had severed an artery.  Irene Gray’s first aid skills had come into their own.  Whilst we don’t know where this incident took place, we do know that the boy was in surgery “within 12 minutes”.

At the Wreningham School retirement ceremony, tributes to Irene Gray’s work both at the school and more widely within Wreningham were paid by village rector the Revd Henry Brierly, Ken Hanton a school governor and Elena Shaw senior assistant education officer.  There had been a large collection.

Many of the parents at the ceremony had been pupils of Irene Gray, themselves.

The school provided the above photograph as part of its wider submission to the BBC in connection with the “Domesday 900th anniversary” project. The project celebrated 900 years passing since the publication of the original Domesday Book. The school photograph was subsequently included in the BBC’s laser disc collection made available in 1986. For more information on the BBC Domesday project – and all the other Wreningham related content published on the same discs, go to this page.

The late 1900s and early years of the new millennium had seen many changes to the school. These initially resulted in its pupil numbers falling and then dramatically rising, again; these variations were associated with a couple of changes to the county’s education policies.

Indoor toilets were eventually provided and these were followed by building work on an infant classroom. The attainment levels of pupils have also improved. Today, the school has probably never been in better educational shape.

The facilities, including further expansions of the buildings, have (occasionally!) grown to support these changes.

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