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Abthorpe School in Days Gone By

Author: Jill Tolson Published: 23rd February 2021 10:22

Abthorpe School in 1900Abthorpe School in 1900

Built in 1642 to give a free education to village children, Abthorpe School continues to this day to be a hub of village life, now as a community centre. A new book ‘The Free School in Abthorpe’ shines a spotlight on all aspects of this delightful building and the life it has seen over four centuries. 

Read about:

  • the history of the school
  • tall the Masters and teachers since 1642
  • tpersonal recollections of children who attended between 1924 and 1959
  • the attractive building itself


The history of the school from its inception, and research by the authors, reveals the names – and glimpses of the characters - of all the Masters and teachers responsible for the education of the village children over 317 years.  It is difficult to imagine, but in one July week in 1895 there was an average of 102 pupils in attendance.

Written by Alison Symmers and Jill Tolson, ‘The Free School in Abthorpe’ it is available from oldschool@abthorpe.net at the cost of the annual salary of the first Master: £8.Written by Alison Symmers and Jill Tolson, ‘The
Free School in Abthorpe’ it is available from
oldschool@abthorpe.net at the cost of the annual
salary of the first Master: £8.

Reminiscences of children who attended the school between 1924 to when it closed in 1959 capture in a very personal way life in a rural village school. Logbooks kept by the teachers show day-to-day experiences of school at the time, augmented by contemporary photographs, history and events in the wider world.

A walk round the building with the aid of a photographic tour illustrates architectural and social details that often go unnoticed. It describes the original 1642 schoolroom with Master’s accommodation above through to the extension of the school in 1865 with the addition of another larger schoolroom.

Written by Alison Symmers and Jill Tolson, ‘The Free School in Abthorpe’ it is available from oldschool@abthorpe.net at the cost of the annual salary of the first Master: £8. All profits from the sale of the book go towards helping to maintain this fascinating building.

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