Victorian Education in Cavendish

Stone set above the front door of the school

Tablet outside the National School (Psalm 34 verse 11)
Come ye Children and hearken unto me
I will teach you the Fear of the Lord

During the nineteenth century, Cavendish had seven places of education. Today, the village only has two – a pre-school in an extension to the old British School and a primary school in the old National School.

The village school was built in 1863. It became known as the National School after the Education act of 1870, and was often referred to as the Top School to distinguish it from the British School. Religious education was based on Church of England teaching, which caused much dissent in parts of the village.

The British School was also known as the Bottom School, the Congregational School or the Blacklands School (its founder Joseph Stammers Garrett lived in Blackland Hall). Joseph was a staunch nonconformist who built the Congregational Chapel (now the United Reformed Church), and the Lecture Hall that housed the school (now the Memorial Hall).

The Grammar School was founded in 1696 by Reverend Thomas Grey, Rector of Cavendish. As well as teaching classical Latin and Greek, and preparing scholars for Cambridge University, it assisted those with promise into apprenticeships and taught the poor of the parish for free. It was re-established in 1863 as a classical school for 30 boarders, and continued until 1907 as a charitable foundation. Parts of the building still remain, and today are known as The Old Grammar School. The rest of the building was demolished to make way for a cinema (now Sue Ryder Care).

There were two Dame Schools or Academies in the village: Misses Sarah and Martha Clark’s Academy and the smaller Miss Henrietta Garrett’s Academy with only 10 places. These Academies were an early form of private elementary school, usually taught by women and often located in the home of the teacher.

Finally, there were two Sunday Schools – one each for the church and the chapel. The Sunday School movement began around 1780 with the aim of offering free education to all. Sunday Schools in 1831 were regularly attended by 25 percent of the school-age population, with relatively few places in other types of school; most children were not taught to read or write. Religious and moral education was always at the core of the Sunday School, and with the rapid creation of day schools during the Victorian period, it became their primary purpose.

Cavendish Pre-School Playgroup – Jubilee Room, Memorial Hall, Melford Road, Cavendish CO10 8AD

Jubilee Room

Jubilee Room, home to Cavendish Pre-school Playgroup

The playgroup aims to provide a secure, stimulating and friendly environment in which pre-school children can develop through play. They believe in nurturing the individual child and valuing them above all else. Parents and Carers are invited to be as involved with the pre-school as they would like, staying for lunch sessions and joining in for events and activities.

Daily activities include outdoor play, gardening, painting, drawing, glueing and other crafts. Educational activities also take place as children learn sounds and numbers. Social interaction is encouraged in all areas of play and all the children come together at the end of the session for stories and singing.

Cavendish Pre-School is a Registered Charity (no.1030918), OFSTED Registered, and Member of the Pre-School Learning Alliance. It has close links to Cavendish Primary School.

The playgroup is open from Monday to Friday 8.30 – 3.00, term time only.

To enroll your child please contact Gill Hawkins on 07766 630887 for a chat, a prospectus, or come along and see for yourself.

Can you help with the under 5s ?
Cavendish Pre School are looking for additional Volunteers to help out during the morning and new afternoon sessions. They take any age group – Grandmothers are welcome. Volunteering is very rewarding, helping with all activities indoors and out, in the garden and the play area.

If you would like to help please contact the Pre School Leader Gill Hawkins on 07766 630887

Cavendish Church of England Primary School – The Green, Cavendish CO10 8BA

School Banner

Cavendish Primary is a Church of England School with a Christian ethos. They aim to help children develop intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually with an ethos of well-being through good relationships between all. The school encourages an eager questioning outlook on life, with high expectations for their children. They place emphasis on individual and group approaches to learning and provide an artistic and musical appreciation in their pupils.

The school is situated on the edge of the village green, with open fields behind, and a large play area, built of natural wood in front. It is a Victorian building built in 1863 as an all age school; it is now a 4-11 primary school. A large extension, designed to blend sympathetically with the original building, was completed in December 1993. Further extensions followed in 2007 and 2010. There are now four classrooms, two outside courtyards, a children’s kitchen, and a large hall which includes the school library. The grounds have been developed for a range of activities and uses, and include a gazebo, pavillion, children’s vegetable beds, wildlife area, woodland habitat and a quiet area for spiritual reflection. The grounds have been further extended in 2014 to include a dedicated sports field.

The Head Teacher is Miss Cheryl Wass and the Bursar & Secretary is Ms Nadia Fenn. For further information, the school can be contacted on 01787 280279 or by email to Also see their website

Cavendish School PTFA
The Cavendish PTFA is run by a team of parents and organises fundraising events throughout the year. If you would like to be involved please speak to Rebecca Fitzpatrick.

Stour Valley Community School – Cavendish Road, Clare CO10 8PJ

Stour Valley School Logo
Just down the road in the neighbouring village/town of Clare, is the Stour Valley Community School. This was opened in 2011 as one of the first 24 free schools in England. It is a coeducational school catering for the needs of pupils aged 11 to 16.

For more information, see their website