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The Turvey Website The history and families of Turvey in Bedfordshire, England

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Thanks to the Higgins family, Turvey was at the forefront of Victorian education.  Here is some of the early history of the schools and the staff and pupils who attended them.

'Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom'

Engraved on a stone on Turvey Infant School.

The first proper school in Turvey was in the centre of what is now Abbey Square (see picture on left).  It was run by a Mr  John Gaskin (whose son was a very well known lace-buyer and encouraged the trade in Turvey). John married Kezia How on 11 July 1785 and was buried on 19 October, 1804.  The school was reported as 'old and ill adapted to modern education'.

A new school was founded by Charles Higgins with a donation of £400 plus the land, made in 1792.  This money was to go to anyone who would competently teach the Sunday school children and would include the schoolmaster's £20 a year salary. The schoolmaster was usually the parish clergyman.  Further monies came from Mr Thomas C Higgins of Turvey House.  Further funds were raised by subscriptions and grants.  Benefactors included the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church (phew!!!)

In 1816 there was around 30 pupils.

In 1818 the Houses of Parliament demanded a returns of the education system in Britain. It was noted that at this time Turvey had a population of 813 and a free Sunday school and day school.  About 80 each girls and boys attended and the schoolmasters salaries were now £45 a year.  There were also lace-making schools run by older ladies - theses were more like mini industries than schools though.   It was noted that 'the poor are desirous of the means of education'.

The Infant's School was built in 1841.  The playground was 59 x 41 ft and cost around £196 to build.  It was to house 133 children although only 52 pupils were being taught there by 1845. The boys who were present were noted as liking school but the lack of girls was possibly because all those over 7 were already employed in the lace trade.    There were two classes.  Lessons included reading the New Testament, writing from dictation, spelling, geography, grammar, arithmetic (which was apparently being neglected) and religious instruction (learning prayers and hymns).

The school was reported as being  a 'New and spacious building'.

In a report on the Bedfordshire's Church of England Schools from January 1845, it was noted that ' appears to be difficult, keep up a girl's school.'  The report goes on to say that is because the poor parents in the villages would rather their children were working (either at lace making or straw-plaiting, the two local home-trades) than at school.

The Parish Registers note the burial of earlier schoolmasters:

John Edmunds on 1 January 1783

John Tysoe on 25 March 1746

William Tysoe on 24 April 1724

Schools After 1845 School Photos

Turvey Schools - Before 1845

The Turvey Web Site - Copyright

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