St Albans Schools



St Albans

In the 18th century most English children did not go to school, or if they did they only went for a short time. Most towns of any size had grammar schools which had originally been founded for able children of every class, but were by this time catering mainly for the sons of the wealthier merchants, and their teaching, which was based on the classics, was inappropriate for the new industrial age. In St Albans this was the King Edward VI's Grammar School, which was held in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey, until it moved to the medieval Abbey Gateway (formerly the town gaol) and it is still situated next to the gateway. In 1839 the head master was the Rev William Mogg BOWEN. In 1898 the head master was the Rev Frank WILLCOX, the second master was Rev George J YATES, and the assistant masters were C H ASHDOWN, Herr F X KELLER, and Lionel A FANSHAWE.

By the beginning of the 19th century sons of the middle classes went to the many private schools which were growing up, in addition to the "Dame Schools" which may have been no more than an elderly lady teaching a few children in a single room as a way of earning a few pennies. In 1839 there were several schools in St Peters Street. Jane CROWTHER ran a boarding school, the Rev Andrew DONALD had a day school, while Mrs M LOMAX had both day and boarding pupils. There were several other schools in the town. Mary BROWNE had a preparatory school in College Street. In Holywell Hill Thomas TYLER had a day school while Thomas CLARE had a boarding school. John GOODLAND had a day school in Dagnall Lane, John STEBBINGS had a day school in Spencer Street, while Susan MILLS had a boarding and day school in Verulam Street. Schools of this type continued and the most notable change apparent in the 1898 trades directory was the appearance of schools for girls:

Mrs Harry Macauley BAIRD & Miss Dorothy BAIRD, private day & boarding school for young ladies, 22 Worley Road.

E C & M BAMFORTH, private school, 24 London Road.

Miss Sarah Anne FRESHWATER, private day school, 18 Marlborough Road.

Jackson HARRISON, F.R.G.S., principal & head master of Claremont House School, Alma Road

Miss HORNSBY, boarding school for young ladies, Rowlatts, Hillside Road

Miss Grace LEE, head mistress, St Albans High School for Girls and Kindergarten for Boys & Girls, 31 Holywell Hill

Miss Fanny PALMER, ladies' boarding school, Upper Lattimore Road

James THORNHILL, principal & head master of Oxford House Boarding School for boys & girls, Bricket Road.

By the 1830s National School (run by the Anglican Church) and others church schools run by the non-conformists were beginning to appear. In 1839 the St Albans National School was in Cock Lane, with M A TAYLOR as master, while the Rev P V COLEMAN was at the Unitarian School in Dagnall Lane. There was also an infants school in Cross street under Harriet HENSHAW, and a school in the newly built Union Workhouse, with C J & S FOX as masters. By 1898 the number of National schools had increased. They were situated Bernard Street under Miss Ellen HIBBERT; Verulam Road under Mr & Mrs Fred GARNER; the Abbey School in Spicer Street under Herbert Robert Wilton HALL (master), Mrs Mary Jane DEED (mistress) and Miss Annie SKEIF (infant's mistress); St Michael's mixed under William SAIT (master) and Mrs Ruth SAIT (mistress); St Michael's infants under Miss Frances STOTT; and St Stephen's in Watford Road under Miss Annie PRIESTLEY. The mistress at the Cross Street infants school was Miss Charlotte STACEY. There was also St Peter's Church girls and infants school with Miss Fanny DEED as mistress and Mrs Janet MOLLOY as infants' mistress. Sir J. Blundell MAPLE had erected a mixed school on his estate at Childwick Green, with Miss Louisa HODGES as mistress.

In the 1870s the demand to extend education led to the creation of the Board Schools, which were run by locally elected school board. In 1880 education was made compulsory to the age of 10, and in 1891 this elementary education was made free. The Hatfield Road Board School for boys was build in 1881 & enlarged in 1885, and in 1898 the master being John ROE. The Alma Road girls and infants school was built in 1882 and enlarged 1890, the 1898 mistresses being Mrs Mary Jane DEED and Miss Mary MCKIE. In addition a girls and infants school was built at Garden Fields under Mrs Olivia LAMB, while the school on Bernards Heath, under Frank GLADWELL and Miss Alice MITCHELL, was run by the Sandridge School Board.

The increased interest in education lead to the St Albans Public Library and Reading Room (Charles PLOWMAN, librarian; Alfred Herbert DEBENHAM, sec.), in Victoria Street (now converted to a pub), being erected in 1880 by public subscription. The Classes of the School of Science and Art were held there (George GAFFE F.C.O., principal; Miss Rose WHITE hon. sec.), and a Technical School (James Thomas BAILEY, master) was erected at the rear in 1894.


Day School Education in St Albans
(History of Grammar School, Dr. Clarke's Charity School, Cross Street Infant School, British School, Spencer Street)

Historical Records of St Albans
(History of the Grammar School)

 A Short History of St Albans School
(History of the Grammar School to 1970)

St Albans High School for Girls
(founded 1889)


School Cricket in 1862

School Music in 1889

School Advertisements in 1889

Old Boys' Dinner at St Albans in 1891

  The early 19th century
 from trade directories

See also New Birklands and Boro'gate

April 2014

  Page updated
December 2015   Link to Borogate added