The Old School House - Langdon Hills

By Ken Porter

During the 1800’s it was the responsibility of the church to provide education to the parish children. The Reverend John Moore, rector of Langdon Hills, sent a report to the County Authorities in 1807, “There are no schools in my parish for the educationof the poor” but it was not until 1834 before a school was built on the north side of the church in the crook of the ‘L’ made by the nave and north transept. The north window was bricked up but when the school building fell into disuse and destroyed the window was un-bricked.

Photo:Pre 1950s

Pre 1950s

A new school (The Old Schoolhouse) was built in 1860 on a piece of waste land by the road side, at a cost of £200. The land was donated by Mr J Dimsdale of Goldsmiths Manor. The building was substantially built of red brickwork, thirteen and half inches thick up to the eaves reducing to nine inches to the gables, the roof was thatched. There was one main room where the teaching took place, a kitchen which had stairs that led to a bedroom the same size as the kitchen. The kitchen and school room had a back to back fireplace with another in the bedroom.

At the back of the building was a toilet block which included a urinal and two water closets. In the ground to the south of the building was built an impressive cess pit, it would therefore appear that they had mains water from the outset.

In 1880 it was considered too small by the Council of Education and a 10ft extension was built at the northern end at an additional cost of £50 and soon afterwards another outside toilet was built at this end of the building.

The average attendance at this time was about 35 but with the increasing population overcrowding occasionally occurred, when this happened the Crown Hotel was used. By 1900 however, the average attendance had dropped to 25.

Sir Joseph Dimsdale, son of Mr J Dimsdale in 1899 provided at extra piece of land for a playground. When he became Lord Mayor of London in 1901/2 he invited the school children to the Mansion House to witness the Coronation Procession of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra and at a later date for lunch at the Mansion House. Each child was given a silver medal in a red morocco case.

The school came under the auspices of the National Society. The society was formed on the 16th October 1811 and at its first meeting its aims were outline in the following statement. “That the National Religion should be made the foundation of National Education and should be the first and chief thing taught to the poor, according to the excellent Liturgy and catechism provided by our Church.”  The society was the Church of England’s principle agent for the establishment of Anglican schools in England and Wales and continues today to have an important role supporting the Church of England and Wales schools and their teachers.

Photo:Miss Fothergill

Miss Fothergill

The first schoolteacher was believed to be Mrs Eliza Seaton and the last Mrs Fothergill, who subsequently became the first head teacher of the new Langdon Hills Board School that was built in 1911. Board schools came into being following the 1870 Education Act.

After the closure of the school in 1911, the building stayed in the hands of the church, being rented out first as a home, then used by a potter in the 1970’s and finally by the church as tea rooms until it was sold in 2001. The thatched roof unfortunately disappeared in the 1960’s.

Photo:November 2006

November 2006

Ken Porter

The building has been renovated and is now a very desirable property. 

This page was added by Ken Porter on 20/06/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Ellen, thank you for explaining all the dates and yes it seems that you, me and Lynda would have been at LHR at least for the 1958 photo. My guess is that Lynda and Pat were in the same class but there are other people who I can't see on there who I know were there in my year (where are they hiding?).

I couldn't make the Memory Day this weekend because I am getting busy packing for holiday 5th to 18th May, flying next Sunday. I will try to get to the 24th May one anyway.

One other thing, you talked about not having phones in the 1960s - that's so true, even when I was at work in my first job we only had one phone for the whole drawing office, how times have changed!

By Richard Haines
On 28/04/2013

Hi Richard, It's strange how communicating on this site you really feel you know someone and yet we have never met. I think it is because we all have so much in common from growing up in Langdon Hills and Laindon in the 40s and 50s. Lynda’s birthday was June 24th and of course the same year as yourself 1947. I was born 1944 and like you it was a boom time for babies, and at Laindon High Rd we also had exactly the same five classes with 40+ in each. I have scoured the 1958 photo but to no avail, as I mentioned before there are a few students that are obscured or perhaps she wasn't there that day. On the photo as I recall there is someone near or next to Pat Roper and I have wondered if it is Lynda but you can't see the face. I have very few photos of Lynda as she moved to Cumbria when she was 17 and back then in the mid 60s we didn’t have phones and letter writing was not her forte plus we both had small children. We caught up with each other like so many, at family funerals about 20 years ago.

I will be at the Memory Day this Sat at about 11.00 and at the next one on 24th May and will bring a couple of photos to see if it jogs your memory.

By Ellen English nee Burr
On 25/04/2013

Hello Ellen nice to see you on here with your comments about Langdon Hills and your family. So yes Lynda was born in the same month as me my birthday was June 21st 1947 the longest day in that hot summer according to my mum. I'm almost certain I knew Lynda as I never forget names. Certainly I remember Pat Roper along with Lesley Cousins and Cherry Walden (those two were in my class Pat was in a different class maybe with Lynda). It was a real baby boomer year and in the first year there were 5 different classes U1A U1B M1 L1A and L1B. With about 40 in each class there were 200 children in our year, fantastic. If you have a picture of Lynda I would love to see it and I would like to chat to you some time at some future event. In the meantime see if you can pick her out on the 1958 photo please!!

By Richard Haines
On 25/04/2013

Hi Alan, I think you queried whether Alan Burr was a relative of mine on an earlier posting. Yes Alan Burr was my cousin, so too was Pat Burr, Alan was the son of my fathers brother Frederick Burr and Pat was the son of my fathers youngest brother Harry but known as Nobby. I am one of 22 cousins all descended from my grandparents Edwin and Ura Amy Burr and almost all of us grew up in Langdon Hills quite near to each other. My grandparents lived at 2 Council Cottages before my grandfather passed away in 1938, then Alan's parents moved there. I have entered an item on my Burr/Partridge ancestors of Langdon Hills, some cousins have the surnames of Cave and Doubleday, these are the children of my fathers sisters. I think plethora is a very good description of my relatives.

By Ellen English nee Burr
On 24/04/2013

There certainly seems to have been a plethora of Burrs through several generations. Alan Burr was my good friend through Langdon Hills Primary School, Laindon High Road, and Chelmsford Tech. He lived at 2 Dry Street Cottages and had a younger brother Geoff. There was also a cousin Pat Burr who was our age. Sadly Alan, who lived in Thundersley at the time, died a few years ago. He spent his career with Shell at Shellhaven. Ellen are these Burrs relatives of yours?

By Alan Davies
On 24/04/2013

Hi Richard, you always post interesting comments and queries. My sister Lynda Burr was born in June 1947, does that make her the same educational school year as yourself, and also she was friends with Lesley Cousins and Pat Roper, if that jogs any memories, I have to say I have searched the school photo of 1958 and cannot see her, there are one or two pupils that seem to be obscured maybe she is one of those, as Lynda has now passed on I would love to know if anyone can identify her so I can pass it on to her children and grandchildren. Regards Ellen

By Ellen English nee Burr
On 24/04/2013

I have been re-reading this interesting little article and I have noticed that Ellen Burr says that Pat Roper was friends with her sister, Lynda Burr. I have been trying really hard to picture Lynda because she was born in 1947 and must have been in my year at LHR - I certainly remember Pat as she was in that year with me. The only thing could be that if Lynda was born after September she may have been in the year below. Maybe Ellen can solve this and if Lynda was in my year she would be on the 1958 photo where we are all pictured.

By Richard Haines
On 23/04/2013

In the early sixties my family were regular church goers at St Mary's Church. I remember going over to the old school house for Sunday school. Whilst the adults were in the carried on with Sunday service. Rev Telford was rector then, my mum used to clean the rectory and St Mary's church hall with me in tow. My brother Robin went on to become a CofE priest. Rev Telford was a lovely man.

By Angela Underdown (nee carter)
On 23/04/2013

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article Ken and think its wonderful that there are people like Patsy and Ellen still around to add their family memories.

By Andrea Ash (née Pinnell)
On 19/12/2011

Hi Ken and Pat, My grandfather and his three sisters and two brothers all went to school in the old school house, they were all born from 1881 to1897 in Langdon Hills down in Hall Farm cottages I believe. 

My great grandfather and great grandmother were married in St Mary's and All Saints in 1879 as were many of my ancestors and cousins as was I too married there in 1962 December.

Almost all of my ancestors are buried down in the Old Church, my own father who died in 1971 was also buried there, we had permission as we were one of the older families from the Hills.

I remember you too Pat, you were best friends with my sister Lynda Burr

By Ellen English née Burr
On 18/12/2011

I remember this little school well, my dad’s sisters Georgina and Daisy Roper were teachers at this school and they were all born on a farm in Dry Street, near by, sadly they all passed away many years ago.

It is such a shame that, when you are so young as I was, you just don't think to ask so many questions about their lives. But I do remember my dad telling me the Ropers are meant to be one of the oldest families from Langdon Hills. 

I would love to hear from anyone who has more information on my family.

By Patsy Spendlove née Roper
On 27/11/2011