We have records of lots of schools from the late 18th Century to the early 20th Century although we don’t know how many were operating at any one time. Many of these were short-lived, many were run by and for ladies and most of them we know very little about except for a brief mention in the newspaper or trade directory.
Most of the schools were run in the teacher’s own house. We know of a few exceptions which were run in buildings behind the main property:
26 High Street – we know from an abstract of title that part of this building was used as a school from the 1790s to about 1850. It is thought that the school occupied the Long Room, a large building behind the shop accessed down a little alleyway. The following teachers appear to have run schools in this building.
- Mrs Underwood – mentioned in the abstract of title for the property as being a governess of a boarding school and listed as running a boarding school there in 1791 directory. We don’t know any more about her.
- James Moxham – mentioned in 1840 Tithe Survey as occupying the property (then described as being a’playground etc’) and listed in an 1830 trade directory as running a Gents Boarding School. We can’t identify this James Moxham in any of the census or other records. He may be the same person who is noted in the records of the Guardians of Thornbury Union. In 1855 there is a record of James Moxham received seven loaves as outdoor relief for himself, his wife and five children.
- John Frank – mentioned in the abstract of title and listed as running a Boarding School for Gentlemen in 1839 and 1842 directories. John was a Quaker and it is thought that the school provided education for children of Quaker families. At the time of the 1841 census there were 17 scholars boarding at the school. Click here to read more about John
- Mrs Leaker – Mary Ann Leaker ran a school at Morton with her husband, George Leaker. In 1834 he took several pupils to bathe in Severn and he tragically drowned. Mary Ann carried on with the school until she was declared bankrupt in 1843. Adverts of her school indicate she resumed business a few months later and it is possible this school was located at 26 High Street as she was mentioned as being there in the abstract of title. Click here to read more
Mr Champion’s school – John Champion ran a private school in a small building at the rear of his home which later became known as 5 Pullins Green. It was operating there in 1840 and continued until the mid 1870’s. On a separate page we have written more about the school and included a possible photograph. We have also included some reminiscences of Edmund Cullimore of his time at the school. Click here to read more
William Jarman Cross’s school – there was another school building mentioned in the 1840 Tithe Survey (Plot 254 a yard adjoining with schoolroom occupied by Abraham Cole and William Cross). We believe that Abraham Cole was occupying the Royal George building and William Cross was using the school room. William was a baptist minister from 1832 to 1844 and may have run a school here.
The following schools appear to have been run in the house where the master or mistress lived and this has helped us identify where the school was located:
Miss Trayhurn’s school – Miss Mabel Ellen Trayhurn ran a preparatory school in the property known as 49 High Street. We think the school ran from about 1927 to the mid 1950’s. We have one photo of the school showing about 35 children dressed in costumes in the back garden. Click here to read more
Boarding School and Day School for Girls and Young Ladies – this school was located at 57 High Street and in 1813 it was run by Mary Ann Moore. In 1840 Mrs Maria Wegener ran the school. Click here to read more
Ladies Seminary and Day School – run by Ann and Catherine Hodson, the daughters of Mrs Elizabeth Hodson at their home at 8 Castle Street. It operated from about 1841 until 1847 or later. At the time of the 1841 census there were eight girls boarding at the school. Click here to read more
Mrs Dove – an advertisement published in January 1840 shows Mrs Dove (the wife of the Pastor William Dove of the Congregational Chapel) was taking in young ladies to board and be educated with her children. The Doves were living at 13 The Plain at that time. The 1841 census doesn’t list any children boarding with the family at that time. Click here to read more
Miss Milgrove – an advert published in 1799 shows Miss Milgrove was moving from Bath and opening a school for ladies in Thornbury. We know she was mentioned in the will of John Crowther as the tenant of Porch House in Castle Street in 1808.
We believe that she was born in Bath in May 1764 and that she was the daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Milgrove. She appears to have moved to Bristol by 1814 as she was a founder of the Bristol Refuge Society in 1814. This was an establishment for 40 females in Lower Castle Street and appears to have been created for ‘fallen women’.
She died on 9th March 1856. The obituary in the Bristol Mercury described as ‘ a lady of superior intellectual endowments and deep piety’ and explained that from the formation of the society to her death ‘she lived in that house and acted as the unwearied and unpaid friend of that useful institution‘.
Chambers’ School – John Taylor Chambers and his wife ran a school at their home at Rosemount at the top of the High Street. The 1877 directory lists Mrs Chambers as running a ladies boarding school. The 1881 census lists no children as boarding at the school and the 1897 and 1902 directories just describe the school as a preparatory school. Lucy’s husband, John Taylor Chambers was described as a teacher of music throughout this period so it is assumed he taught at his wife’s school although in adverts he is offering private lessons in the organ, piano and violin. We have photographs of the schoolchildren in the gallery of the Chambers family photographs. These photographs show between 17 and 20 children. Click here to read about the Chambers family
John Croome – we know from the 1800 Land Tax record that John Croome owned and occupied one of the three houses located on the site of the present 3 & 4 The Plain. John married a widow, Lydia Gastrell, in Thornbury on 21st June 1791. The report of their marriage in the Bath Chronicle of 30th June 1791 says that John was a schoolmaster and Mrs Gastrell was governess of a school for young ladies.
We have seen receipts from John Croome dated 1809 for the education of three of the sons of Thomas and Frances Rolph, namely John, George and Romaine. The following year’s receipts show that John Croome continued to teach them writing and arithmetic. We know no more about the school. Click here to read about John and his family
We know that John and Lydia’s daughter, Eliza, became a schoolteacher like her parents and she married John Lane.
Mrs Eliza Lane – Eliza, the wife of a plumber, John Lane, ran a school at their home 4 High Street from 1841. By 1851 census she had moved to 4 Castle Street but by 1859 Rate Book and the 1861 census she was back at 4 High Street and she stayed there until she died in the late 1860’s. Her daughter Mary Elizabeth was helping her running the school in 1861 census when they had two pupils living with them and in 1866 she was advertising the school then described as a seminary which she appears to have been running on her own.
Eliza’s married daughter, Lydia Whitfield, was also running a ladies school in the High Street according to an 1856 directory. We suspect that this was the same school associated with her mother and sister. Click here to read about the Lanes
Mrs Lydia Whitfield – a 1856 directory lists Lydia as running a ladies school in the High Street. Lydia was the daughter of Eliza Lane and we suspect she was involved in the running of the same school at 4 High Street (see above).
Miss Maria Laver – the trade directory says Maria Louisa Laver ran a ladies boarding school in 1877 at Thornbury Cottage on the corner of Kington Lane. We understand from the Society of Thornbury Folk that she kept a school there for many years.
Agnes Ann – the 1901 census shows Agnes was running a private school form her property at 1 Silver Street. She was still running a preparatory school there in the 1914 trade directory. She later moved to live in 81 High Street and she ran the school there from 1916 (or earlier) to 1931. Click here to read more
Emily Marsh – the 1851 census shows that Emily Marsh, the wife of Aaron Marsh was a schoolmistress. At that time her school was located at their home at 15 High Street. By 1861 they had moved to 20 High Street. We have a copy of a notice published in December 1862 showing that Mrs Marsh was running the school in the High Street. We don’t know any more about the school. Click here to read about the family
Miss Wagstaffe – a notice published in 1786 shows that Miss Wagstaffe was closing her school in Thornbury and moving to Bath. A note dated 1780 in the documents relating to the property owned by John Rudge refers to an Elizabeth Wagstaffe who was occupying a property thought to be 5 High Street. We don’t know any more about this lady.
Miss Selina Ann King – according to the trade directories she ran a preparatory school in the High Street. The 1871 census shows Selina had already become a teacher and the 1881 and 1891 censuses shows Selina and her sister Clara were schoolmistresses, both living at home at 23 High Street. Selina was still running the school in the 1891 census and she was still listed as running the school in the 1914 trade directory, although her school is not included in the list of schools in the 1916 Prewett’s Almanac. We are fortunate to have a copy of the memories of Peggy Palmer who attended Selina ‘s school. Click here to read these memories of the school and about the King family
Emma Ellis – the 1861 census shows that Emma Kingdon was a schoolmistress living at The Priory in Castle Street. In early 1862 she married Walter Ellis, a chemist.
An advert appeared in the Bristol Times and Mercury on 3rd January 1863 saying that the Thornbury School for Young Ladies was run by ‘Mrs Ellis and Miss Kingdon’. We assume that Miss Kingdon was Emma’s younger sister. This school may have been located at 9 The Plain which is where Walter and Emma lived at that time. They moved to live in Bristol for a few years but in 1869 she advertised for an ‘Establishment for Young Ladies, High Street, Thornbury conducted by Mrs W. Ellis’. Her terms were (all per annum) Board and instruction 16 guineas, Weekly boarders 13 guineas, Daily pupils three guineas, Daily pupils under 7 years of age two guineas, music and french each four guineas and Drawing, Singing and Dancing three guineas each.
The 1871 census shows they were then living at 4 High Street, Thornbury. The school was attended by nine other children boarding there, most of whom came from far flung places like London, Birmingham, Plymouth, Barnstaple and Nailsea. There were three children from Oldbury: Annis and Louisa Rugman and Maria Young. Walter and Emma had two sons of their own who were scholars, but we are not sure where they received their schooling. Emma died aged 38 and was buried on 16th July 1876. Click here to read more about the Ellis family
Miss Hester Milner – a 1877 trade directory lists Hester as running a ladies boarding school at ‘Laburnum Cottage, Gloucester Road’. The Special Drainage District Rate Book of 1876 shows that she was living in the house which became known as 8 Gloucester Road, which was in the row of cottages called Laburnum Terrace. She didn’t stay there long. Click here to read more
William Morgan – according to a 1839 trade directory William was running a day school for boys and girls in Church Street (an old name for what we now know as Castle Street). The 1841 census shows that William was a school master living at 13 Castle Street. Click here to read more
Miss Harriet Nelmes – a 1856 trade directory lists Harriet as running a ladies school in St John Street. Harriet was the daughter of Thomas Nelmes, the pork butcher and the 1851 census shows she was a school mistress running a school with her younger sister, Mary, at 3 Castle Street. Click here to read more
Charlotte Cossham – according to a 1839 directory Charlotte was running a day school for girls in Thornbury High Street in 1839. The 1841 census shows Charlotte’s school was located at 73 High Street and there were six children living there at that time. The 1851 census shows the school was still running although there were only three children living there at that time. Charlotte was the daughter of Jesse Cossham – click here to read more
We also know of a number of schools for which we have been unable to identify where they were located:
Miss Bletchley – according to a 1830 directory she was running a ladies boarding school in Thornbury. We don’t know any more about her nor where the school was located.
Ann D’Arville – according to a 1852 directory Ann was running a boarding school ‘in Thornbury’. We assume that Ann was the daughter of Revd George D’Arville who had been Curate at Thornbury St Marys Church and master of the Thornbury Grammar School. The D’Arvilles were living in Olveston in the 1851 census and it appears that Ann was running a little school there and there were three scholars visiting the house.
We have been contacted by Philippa Dye who has shed some light on the location of the school. She has told us that according to a family diary in 1843 her three times great grandmother was taught at Miss D’Arville’s school in ‘Down House, Thornbury’. We believe therefore that the school was at Down House, Old Down throughout this period.
By 1861 Ann D’Arville was living at Weston in Somerset where she was merely described as a ‘fundholder.’ She died in Weston in 1883.
Maria Dursey – Mrs Dursey appears to have had a boarding in Thornbury High Street for young ladies in the early 1840s. We know that she had an ‘Establishment’ in the High Street in Thornbury as early as 1842 because tickets were available for Miss Reid’s Ball for her pupils from Mrs Dursey at that address.
The history of Red Maids School in Bristol appears to indicate that Mrs Dursey was briefly headmistress there in 1839.
A notice published in 1846 shows Mrs Dursey was re-opening her ladies boarding school in Thornbury. It appears she must have been unwell and it mentions that ‘after a residence at a watering place she had now completely re-established her health’. A later notice printed in May 1847 shows she had now died and they were selling off her possessions at her home opposite the Market Place in Thornbury. We cannot identify where her school was located. Apart from her death in Thornbury we can found no record of Maria anywhere.
Louisa Jefferies – according to a 1830 directory she was running a ladies day school in Thornbury. We don’t know any more about her nor where the school was located.
Miss Reid – we have three images of newspaper notices in December 1842 and December 1843 indicating that Miss Reid ran a school. On both occasions she organised a ball at the White Hart on The Plain and she invited her pupils, friends and inhabitants to buy tickets to attend. We don’t know where the school was located nor any more about Miss Reid.