Education in the Ilsleys

Oct 2008 was the centenary of the Ilsleys school in its present location, but there have been schools in the village since the early 19th century. Initially these were private schools catering for those who could afford to pay. Later, schools were opened to provide elementary education for the village children. A booklet describing the development of education in East & West Ilsley is available. The exhibition, held in Oct 2008 to celebrate the centenary, has also been recorded on a CD which includes all of the photos displayed at the exhibition.

Mr J Legge opened his academy at Ilsley Hall for the tuition of young gentlemen in Jan 1806.

Contemporary documents show that Mr Legge’s fees, as well as for board and lodging, included sundry expenses for pencils, copy books, shoe cleaning and ‘a seat in the church’. They were payable twice a year. Principal vacations of one month each were at Christmas and Midsummer, with the Half Term being in April and October. Each youth, on coming to the School, was expected to provide himself with a knife and fork, and six towels.

In May 1812 Mr. Legge gave notice that he was taking over Greenham School near Newbury at Midsummer. The Hall then ceased to be an educational establishment.

Other private education establishments existed at Kennett House (ladies seminary), in Abingdon Lane (classical academy) and in Broad Street.

The ‘Old’ school was built in 1832 by the Rev. Thomas Loveday to cater for the village children. It was a National Day and Sunday School, with places for 100 children. The building was of brick and stood on the Compton Road (Cow Lane).

In 1872, it was converted to a Board school, under the control of a locally elected board, rather than the rector. There was considerable concern over the loss of religious instruction within the school.

The ‘New’ school was built in 1908 on high ground behind the church. This did reduce the problems of damp that plagued the old school, but raised new problems because of its exposed position. On several occasions, windows were blown in. In 1966, children from West Ilsley joined the school, on the closure of their own school.