Early Schools & St. Mary’s C. of E. School

During the 15th Century John Waterall, gave a house to the clerk of the parish, rent free, as a reading school, possibly Edwinstowe’s first school.

In 1719, a school started by John Bellamy was in place for the education of eight boys, ‘of poor, honest and religious parents, such as shall be born in the town.’ His Will stated, ‘I give and bequeath the school house in Edwinstowe – 1724.’ It was situated on the site of the War Memorial. Mr. John Hanson was Schoolmaster and parish clerk from 1770 until 1805 when he died. He earned £5 a year which was less than most men of the village earned.

By 1824 the school had closed, as it had become dilapidated. Following a village meeting it was decided to build a new school and appoint a new Schoolmaster. The Earl of Manvers paid for the rebuild of a school house and schoolroom. It opened its doors to children over five years old in 1826.

A new small Infants’ School was built in 1845. (This is now part of the old school.) Later, the Infants’ School took both older girls and infants. The Earl paid the mistress’s salary of £30 a year and when the Boys’ School was deemed unfit he had a room for the boys built onto the girls’ and Infants’ School. He also paid part of the master’s salary.

Side entrance built in 1845

By 1846 the numbers of each school were as below:

Endowed School (Schoolmaster Mr. Henry Russell)       18 boys

Infant’s School                                                                       46 children

Lady H. Bentinck                                                                    50 girls

Countess Manvers Girls’ School                                          10 girls

Also, 30 children attended Dame’s Schools (like ‘Child Minders’) usually for younger children and 58 children went to Ollerton, 2 miles away, with most children walking there. This was very hard on the children in the Winter as they would arrive home at 6 o’clock in the dark.

Also, in the mid 1800s Ashgrove House on West Lane, which later became the vicarage, was a Young Ladies school. Newspaper report, 

“ASHGROVE HOUSE, EDWINSTOWE. MRS. and Miss DRACOTT beg to return their sincere thanks for the share of patronage they have received in their Establishment for young Ladies, and also to inform their friends and the public that they will resume their scholastic duties on Tuesday, July 27th.—References are kindly permitted to the Rev. John Gordon, Vicar of Edwinstowe, the Rev R. Pocklington, Vicar of Walesby, the Rev. J. Peatfield, West Bridgeford, and to R. C. Ward, Esq., Ollerton. Edwinstowe, July 10th”

Stamford Mercury 1841

In 1864, the school closed once again, as the Schoolmaster, Mr. Russell was ill. He died in 1866. A local cabinet maker then used the building for his work.

A new school opened in 1867 following a meeting and appeal, where 30 people donated £330. 4s. 4d and additional finances received from the Earl of Manvers. A new Headmaster, Mr. Leslie Manning was appointed. The new school was named Edwinstowe Endowed Parochial School.

In 1872, the schoolroom built in 1826 was no longer in use. A new school room for boys was added to the Infant School of 1845, which was used as a Girls’ and Infants’ School. The newer building was now used for the boys. Now, there were two separate schools, one for 40 boys taught by Mr. Manning (aged six to sixteen) and another for 60 girls and infants across the road. The Headmistress in 1869 was Miss Annie Moverley, who was a ‘properly’ trained teacher. Within a few years, 120 children attended the schools which now came under Government inspection. The Vicar regularly helped. His wife and daughter taught needlework and knitting.

Entrance to the 1872 room on the left. The 1893 Infant Room on the right.


Exterior view showing the unusual roof of the infant room – originally a bell hung in the skylight roof. Interior view – although this is a dark photo it shows the metal joists and supports for this almost unique feature.


1872 Extracts from the school Log Book: 

  • Attendance numbers sometimes dropped due to: Working Scaring birds; Turnip singling; Hop-picking; Harvest; Weeding wheat; Potato crop; Picking fruit and wild raspberries; Pinders Firework Factory.
  • Vicar helped with Scripture; Vicar’s wife helped with Reading; Head’s wife helped with Reading and Sewing.
  • Two maps swing slate and reading books purchased for use in school.
  •  2 girls whose homes are above a distance of 2 miles away from village work for half an hour at needlework at dinner time so they may leave at 3.30 during the dark days.
  • Re-opened school after being closed for five weeks because of alterations. Girls unable to write on paper there being no desks in the schoolroom. Introduced Exercise Books for new lessons.

Plan of crossroads where the school was situated 1861

After another money crisis in 1883, the schools united with a new Head Master, William Curtis, a newly qualified teacher. He was a fine schoolmaster and a man of humanity – he rarely inflicted corporal punishment. He was church choirmaster for 17 years, superintendent of the Sunday School, founder of the Boys’ Brigade, secretary of the newly formed Cooperative Society and several village charities.

In 1885, a brick partition that divided the two rooms was removed and the whole school was cleaned and painted.


Mr Curtis Head Master C1900

His wife, Elizabeth and children 1910.  Later she became a headteacher at Eaton. 

In 1887, the infant room was enlarged, new rooms, playground and washbasins were added. Mr. Curtis introduced cookery lessons for girls, geometry/drawing and mapping for boys. All children had basic Science lessons, nature observation walks with land surveying. The children put on operettas in 1886, 1887, 1888 and 1893.

Operetta – ‘Rip Van Winkle 

Hayman, Ida and Ivy Fletcher -Twins, Miss Holmes and Mrs. Moore

With the building of the railway to Edwinstowe in 1893, many new children of navies joined the school and a new infants’ room was added.

In 1902, Mr. Curtis died and the parishioners paid for a stained-glass window and plaque to be dedicated to him.

Mr. George Greaves was appointed the new Headmaster. He started a library, modelling with clay and gardening. The school was modernised in 1925, with lighting, heating and ventilation. The colliery provided the electricity.

Stephen Morley shares in this letter about his childhood days in Edwinstowe and life at St. Mary’s 

Dear Miss Widdon,

The poem by Mr. George Greaves in the March issue of “The Forest Christian” reminded me that, in the grounds of Lidgett House on Rufford Road at Edwinstowe, there is an oak tree grown from an acorn taken from the Major Oak. It is situated to the left of his main gateway and was planted by one of the Pinder boys to whom there was three.

The Pinders lived there for some time and owned the firework factory higher up the hill. The youngest, Sidney, who probably planted it was a similar age to my father and they were much in one another’s company as boys and youths. The younger sons were killed during the first world war.

Mr. Greaves I remember well. I was in his class for my last 4 years at school. I also took the Collect class on Sunday morning in the morning in the Church Room which I attended as a boy. After the class we usually went to Church. Miss Alice Freeman and Miss Florence Wardale took the infant class in one of the other rooms, after which they also went to Church, but the infants left during the hymn before the sermon. The catechism class on Sunday afternoon was taken by the current curate.

Mr. Greaves retired at the end of September 1933. I remember that because I left school on the same day, together with Elsie Wood. Unfortunately, she died soon afterwards, most probably of tuberculosis which was a scourge of those times.

I am one of the Morley’s of Edwinstowe, being related to both Vera Morley and Sidney Morley distantly. My sister is Mrs. Ruby Anthony, whom you know.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Morley

In 1928, there was 212 children attending. As a new Council School had been built 34 ‘new children’ from St. Mary’s were escorted to this new school.

Council School now King Edwin Primary School c.1930s

Mrs. Greaves was Headteacher of the infant school at St. Mary’s

In 1933, Mr. Greaves retired and was replaced by Mr. John Firth who taught until 1952.

New St. Mary’s School Opening 1970


The next development was the building of the Dukeries Comprehensive School at Ollerton in 1964 and the senior children transferred there. More information about this school in the Rufford School section.



The Church School was out-of-date so parents and church decided to raise money and build a new school. In 1969, a new modern school near the forest opened with Mr. Michael Jackson, as Headteacher. An official opening took place in 1970. In 2000, a new classroom/Early Learning Unit and disabled access toilet was added. Further information see the St. Mary’s link – currently under construction

 The old building, which was condemned was restored as the Village Hall and the playground now contains bungalows and a car park.