In 1870 it became mandatory for all children aged between 5 – 10 to attend school and a national fund was established to construct schools in towns and villages across the country. Up until that time in Loxwood, some children attended a Sunday school at Alfold, a few went to privately run ‘Dame Schools’, but most children were uneducated.
Emma Trigge the wife of the vicar, started a Sunday School in the Chapel of Ease in 1871 which provided basic reading, writing and arithmetic as well as Religious Education. However there was a pressing need for a village school and on Monday 7th January 1878 the Schoolhouse opened for the first time having taken just over two years to build.
The classroom entrance was on left hand side and each morning children queued in the playground before walking into a lobby, with the girls’ cloakroom on the left and boys’ on the right. Three tiered rows of desks in four blocks, catered for 48 children, sitting on benches.
The first school Head Mistress was Lydia Smith and her style of teaching was through discipline and encouragement. Such was the demand for places that within 8 years the school was catering for 120 children, and the school’s reputation for excellence was being widely acclaimed.
The story of the Victorian Schoolhouse provides a fascinating insight into social change, and children’s education during Victorian England. It reveals the people who brought the vision of village schooling to Loxwood, and highlights the Schoolhouse as one of Loxwood’s most important historic assets having been at the centre of education in the village for 90 years.
The story of the Victorian Schoolhouse
During the Victorian era this part of the village was dominated by commercial enterprise with The Wey & Arun Junction Canal, Onslow Arms Inn, the turnpike road, Brewhurst Mill and farming, all centred around this busy area. However, despite all the industry, Loxwood didn’t have a school, or Sunday school, which was open to every child. The majority of children were uneducated and worked with their families on farms, with just a few lucky children attending privately run Dame Schools, such as the one run by the Dependent Brethren at Hall House or another which operated from the barn at the front of Garton House.
The nearest Sunday School was at Alfold Church which some children from Loxwood attended once a week to be taught religious education and elementary studies. The arrival of Reverend John Davies Trigge and his wife Emma in 1871 started a change that would eventually provide all the village children with daily education for the first time and ensure that future generations would always have the opportunity to attend a school.
John Davies Trigge & Emma Andrews
John Davies Trigge was born in Brompton, London, in 1828. At the age of thirteen he was studying at Foys Boarding School, West Brompton under the tuition of Headmaster William Foy. John Trigge excelled at Foys, and when he was only twenty-two, he was appointed Headmaster at the prestigious Central National School in Brighton. The school was administered by the Church of England and was located in a stunning bow fronted three story building in Church Street, described as a rare example of Regency Gothic architecture . This was one of the first schools in Brighton, however the educational standards had declined, and John set about changing the teaching staff and all the teaching practices.
A visit by the school’s inspectors, to review the changes John had implemented, was held over two days in 1850. The inspectors gave the pupils (boys & girls) exams in reading, writing, grammar, history, mathematics (both written and mental) and geography. The inspectors report stated “that they were entirely satisfied with the results and believed that with the new staff and Mr Trigge’s leadership, the standard of education would be greatly improved”.