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The History of Stratford School - 1840 - 1963 

The ‘History of Wiltshire’ [1] tells us that a school was erected in 1840 with a government grant. As a Church of England establishment the running costs were paid by the local church. The Title Deeds show that the cost of the land was £3.15s.0d.


By 1858  ’20-30 children of both sexes were being taught in a fair room with boarded floor and wall desks, by an uncertified mistress with one leg’. A ‘singing man’ from the Cathedral conducted the evening school, held 3 times a week.

1905 image by kind permission of  Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

The site was enlarged in 1906 and the premises re-constructed about 1913. The map dating from 1900, shows the small size of the original site.


Part of the earlier history of the school is documented in the two Minute Books of the School Managers, dating from 1896 until 1963, with the minutes from 1929 to 1938 unfortunately being lost. Some of the more interesting entries are:

October 1896. There was a question as to whether the accommodation for infants was sufficient.

December 1897. ‘more pegs for hats and bonnets should be supplied in the lobby’

November 1899 ‘a night school to be opened – Monday & Thursday 6.30 – 8.30. The sum of £4.4s.0d to be paid to Miss Betteridge for her trouble’.

November 1904. The managers have applied for a further plot to build new ‘offices’ (the name given to Earth Closets). The Ecclesiastical Commission offered a plot, together with an additional playground. In July a tender for the new ‘offices’ and an enlarged window for the Infants classroom was accepted from Mr Beauchamp for £104.15s.0d. By July 1907 the earth closets were built. A reference is made to a requirement to form a Canteen Committee.

Map FOSL Newsletter no. 10.jpg

In December 1907 this Committee had met and the supply of hot cocoa to the children had begun. At this time the value for which the school was to be insured was raised to £780.

In 1909 the County Surveyor stated that the floor in the main room would last 5 years and that in the classroom, 10 years. Later that year ‘sundry repairs to the roof have been effected’.

On 22nd May 1911 the committee offered to erect a flagstaff in the school yard and to present a flag “as a permanent reminder of the Coronation of King George V”. In the same year “warning boards to motorists to drive past the school cautiously were required”. Application was made to the AA and in December the Committee for Roads and Bridges met to consider erecting them.


An order from County was received at this time, to remove the gallery in the Infants Room. Estimates were to be obtained to include costs of repair to the floor and match the boarding.

In December 1912, tenders were received for the proposed enlargement of the school, but declared too heavy an expense. ‘Mr Devenish to be contacted as the children from his estate are the cause of the current excess of children.’ The lowest tender was accepted but there is no detail of when the work was completed, but in September 1913 an account for £374.19s.4d was received together with the Architect’s account for £29.

During July 1914 the insured value of the school was increased to £1000. There follows little mention of the buildings in the minutes until 1926, when an estimate for ‘hot water heating apparatus’ was requested. The last entry in the first minute book notes an important change to the school – the Director of Education proposed that the school be converted to a Junior School for children up to eleven. This was ‘reluctantly’ accepted by the Managers.

May 1939. Mr Coggan to be approached for permission to put an air raid shelter on his land. Later the same year saw plans for the erection of a washroom, submitted by the County Council, criticised as it would interfere with the lighting of the Infants Classroom. From April to October 1944, electric lighting to the school was being worked. An estimate was received for £10.17s.6d for one switch and one 5 amp point in classroom one. 1945 saw minutes that the veranda roof be replaced and tenders requested for the interior decoration of the school.

March 28th 1946 there is a possibility to enhance the school to bring it up to the requirements of the Education Act, or alternatively of building a new school Two years later, April 1948 the minutes state that the Director of Education suggested that if the school is to be retained “we should apply for ‘Aided Status’ to retain as a Church School”. It was thought that the present school could not be improved satisfactorily and as a larger proportion of the present school attending (75% - 78%) are from Waters Road, it might be best to build a new school nearer to Salisbury.

In 1950 it was minuted that the LEA should be contacted regarding repairs to the heating system. In August the Voluntary Schools Association gave the managers a clear explanation of ‘Aided’ and ‘Controlled’ status. The managers could make no decision until the costs of a new school were known. The LEA were to be asked to provide approximate costs of what the managers would be responsible for if they adopted ‘Aided’ status. Later in November it was agreed that ‘Aided’ status could not be applied for. ‘Controlled’ status was applied for and this was accepted in 1951 by the Ministry of Education.

In 1963 the proposed site for the new school in the Glebe Field south of St Lawrence Church was discussed by the managers and it was agreed to send letters of protest. In June a letter was received from the Director of Education, asking for comments on the proposal to withdraw the plan for the new school and to adapt the present one. The managers concurred.

Discussions concerning the upgrade of the sanitation continued. In 1961 Town Planning informed the managers of new houses expected in the future which could result in an extra 20 children from the village and 50-60 from the Stratford Road area. A further letter from the Education Department in November stated that because of ‘financial restrictions, long term plans cannot be made’.


Eventually in August 1963 the minutes state that “Waterborne Sanitation and electric points in cloakrooms and classrooms were installed and working well”. The last entry in the minute book, August 1963, states ‘”the new boiler is satisfactory”!


[1] Stratford-sub-Castle', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6, (London, 1962) pp. 199-213. British History Online 

The Article above was first published in The Friends of St Lawrence Newsletter no. 10. Autumn 2008 and appears here with the kind permission of the Trustees.

The Friends of St Lawrence is a Registered Charity no. 1063271 which was set up to involve the community in fundraising to assist with the maintenance costs for the Grade 1 Listed St Lawrence Church.

This gravestone in St Lawrence Churchyard records that Ann Maria Bodman was Headmistress of Stratford Sub Castle School for 38 years.

The School Minute Books show that Mrs Bodman was indeed the headmistress for a very long time. Unfortunately the first entry I have is from 1896 and she was already in post. I was confused however because she was Miss Betteridge then. It wasn't until she asked the School Managers, in late 1903, whether she could stay in post if she got married, that I realised that she became Mrs Bodman. The Managers had agreed to this at a special meeting on Nov 24th.


There is an entry in 1904 reporting on a letter sent to 'Mr Bodman of the School Cottage' asking him to replace the boiler in the kitchen that he had removed.before he and his wife vacated the Cottage.

Mrs Bodman announced her retirement on 24th Feb 1925 and Miss Lenton was appointed on 28th Feb 1925. So Miss Betteridge would have been appointed headmistress in 1887.

A scan of the relevant page records the fulsome praise accorded to Mrs Bodman and the reference to 38 years service. She did indeed have a long retirement (33 years) although we can't necessarily say that it was happy because her husband died only 10 years after her retirement.


Ida Uphill (nee Lenton) was headmistress for a further 21 years, retiring in Dec 1947.

David Balston

9 June 2023

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