This was built in 1814 as Hungerford’s National School. The adjacent building (41 High Street) was refurbished for the headmaster and clad in Bath stone.
National Schools were built across the country by the Church of England to improve the education of children, using the Monitorial System. This was a clever method of providing cheap education to a large number of children. Each school only had to pay one master’s salary, and he was able to teach the large number of children in the school by use of monitors. The master taught these few senior boys who in turn passed knowledge on to large groups of more junior children. The three subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic were taught in this way.
The children had to pay a few pennies per week, depending on their parents’ jobs, but some parents could not afford the children’s pence, and this gave rise to a problem of absenteeism. Children were also often absent at the time of the harvest when the local farmer needed extra help and welcomed the cheap labour provided by the children.
In 1876 the school managers introduced a graduated scale of fees due to the good reputation and competition for places – Labourer’s 2d per week; Mechanics and Artisans 3d; Tradespeople 6d
In 1903 there were 320 children on the role.
The National School closed in 1910 when the new All-Age Council School (now Hungerford Primary School) opened in Fairview Road, but it continued to be used for educational purposes.
During the First World War the building was used as our Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) Hospital, where many servicemen were able to recover from their injuries.
More Heritage Trail Locations
A casual glance at this wonderful brick frontage suggests that the house is Georgian. However, look more carefully and you will see that it has four bays on the second floor, five bays on the first floor and six bays on the ground floor. The re-fronting was added to an ancient timber-frame house, probably in 1710.
The Croft Hall opened in 1900. The site was originally part of the land used for the Free Grammar School, founded in 1635, which closed in 1884. In 1898 the school building was sold to Sir William Pearce of Chilton Lodge and soon demolished.
The Parish Church of St. Lawrence was built in 1814-16 in Georgian Gothic style. It is adjacent to the Kennet and Avon canal, and the Bath stone for the church was the largest of the early contracts for the canal company after the canal had opened in 1810.
The Bear is one of the grand coaching inns of England, with a long and rich history. It is thought to have developed a lodging house for the adjacent medieval Priory of St John (see War Memorial) which was founded by 1232. There is documentary proof of its use as a Hospice in 1464.
The Croft is a quiet green, lying away from the hustle and bustle of the High Street. It probably originated as the village green of the original vill of Hungerford, before the "new" medieval town was laid out slightly to the east sometime between 1180 and 1250.
This is Hungerford’s main War Memorial. It was built on the island in Bridge Street which had, since 1232, been the site of the ancient Priory of St John the Baptist. The Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII.
The plaque above the church door states that this church opened as a Congregational Church in 1840. The Nonconformist congregation, founded in Hungerford in 1671, moved to this site in 1793.