Brockham School

A school was built in Brockham in 1830, and rebuilt in 1840. After the passing of the Education Act of 1870 a School Board was formed for Betchworth, and the present school at Brockham was built in 1879 and enlarged in 1901.

Another version reported in the County Poston January 5 1962 gives the original school in Old School Lane moving in 1868 or 1869 to an infant's room on the present site where other classrooms were added later. In 1962 there were five classrooms and a dining hall that had been added in 1957. The canteen provided meals not just for Brockham but for Betchworth, Buckland and Leigh schools as well. The numbers had been reduced to 180 and all were in classes on the site. A few years prior to 1962 before Mowbray School for girls was opened in Dorking the accommodation had included the use of the village hall and church room as at that time the roll was almost 300.

The Brockham School Young Farmer's Club founded in 1945 was still flourishing in 1962 doing well in county trophies. In 1960 the school won a public speaking contest and was second in 1962. The school has a recorder group to assist the singing at morning assembly and a boxing club active in local competitions. Each year the school competes in the Dorking Football and Netball Leagues. During the winter the school is used for evening classes including, art, dressmaking, German with about 100 students enrolling every winter.


Schools in Victorian Brockham

Understanding of the schools comes primarily from the Rev Alan Benjamin Cheales who kept a comprehensive school log. Rev Cheales was read in on 8th May 1859 at Christ Church and soon became an active member of the Village. He became secretary to the Infant School in Old School Lane (now the Old School House) and the Parochial School in Wheelers Lane. Both schools were supported by local benefactors and the children brought small weekly donations.

An extract of the school rules of 1859 shows just how much Rev Cheales was involved. The Infant School had 50 children between the ages of two and seven.

Rule (1) Those of labouring class to pay 1d per week; all above this class at least 2d

Rule (2) No child to be admitted or re-admitted without a ticket of admission from the Clergyman

Rule (3) Any child continuing to be found guilty of disorderly or wrong conduct to be reported to the Clergyman and expelled if found necessary

There were fourteen rules at the Parochial School of which the following indicates what sort of strict regime was operated:

Rule (4) No talking aloud during school hours

Rule (5) All children are required to come cleanly in their person and neat in their dress. No curl papers, flowers or necklaces allowed.

Rule (6) All children are expected to attend Sunday School and Church unless their parents object

There was a small cottage infant school at Root Hill with twenty five children under the care of Mrs Jutton who received a salary of £4 10s for the 36 weeks the school was open in a year. One of the subscribers at Root Hill was the Vicar of Holmwood, which suggests that some children walked two or perhaps two and a half miles to school. During 1860 the sum of 16s 7d (83p) was spent on school materials. The Rev Cheales was also secretary to the Night Schools held in the Parochial School and at Root Hill, where prizes for good attendance were the books 'Self Help' and 'Men who have Risen'.

In 1859, Mrs Way of Wonham Manor started the Brockham Home and Industrial School for poor orphan girls of eleven to sixteen. They were trained in all kinds of household work to prepare them for domestic service and were provided with a home when out of a situation. There was a resident matron and a school mistress.

The girls did not attend the village school until 1871. Later in1872 Miss Way established a home for fourteen infants with a resident matron. The two homes eventually amalgamated with one matron and from that time, management was a committee of eleven ladies. The Rev Cheales was chaplain to the homes.

The Reading Room Club and Library were inaugurated by Rev Cheales in 1859. There were eighty three members by 1860 who paid subscriptions of 1s (5p) and who drank between them 296 cups of coffee at 1/2d a cup. The salary of the Librarian was £2 pa and £1 4s 11d (£1.25) was paid out for coals, candles and coffee.

Sometimes Mr Henry Thomas Hope allowed Betchworth Park to be used for special occasions. In August 1860 there was a Fancy Sale to raise money for the enlargement of the Parochial School and for repairs to the Church. Contributions of fancy work were handed to Mrs Cheales. A military band was in attendance and the villagers, in festive clothes, walked along theOld Coach Roadto the park, now the golf course.

In 1872 owing to rising costs, the Brockham Schools Committee was in difficulties. Under the Education Act of 1870 it was made compulsory that in every parish, ample school accommodation is provided for every child between the ages of five and thirteen and also sufficient qualified teachers.

The Master who was on £50 per annum was now on £70; the Infant Mistress's pay rose from £25 to £38. With income for the Parochial School at around £44 and the Infant School about £16, there was a considerable shortfall. Unless ratepayers were prepared to do more, the Committees would be under the "painful necessity of notifying to the Education Department their inability to maintain the schools."

If a School Board were ordered to be formed, the heavy expense of a school rate would be incurred. The schools struggled on for five more years until the Betchworth and Brockham School Board was elected in 1877. Rev Cheales was still involved as a member of the Board but the Chairman was now Col. Edward Goulburn.

From that time, Government grants were paid according to examination results. In the School Log Book the Master recorded that after one examination he was called before the Board who felt dissatisfaction with the result of the 'discipline grant'. He was not aware that a breach of discipline had occurred but he was told that a boy had his finger in his mouth when spoken to by one of the inspectors.

In 1872 the Infant School had been improved by the addition of a wash house and coal hole. The Parochial School was enlarged in 1879. The Night Schools had also increased. At the one held in Brockham Coffee Room two of the teachers were Carnegie (John) and Edith Cheales, son and younger daughter of Rev Alan Cheales. The Misses Brodie taught in the Night School on Brockham Hill and Mrs Wratton of Gadbrook House promised prizes of clothing for pupils at Gadbrook Night School.

Both daughters of the Revd Cheales, Sophie and Edith, were very active in the Village and particularly at the schools.

In 1881, Edith Bellingham Cheales, the second daughter of Rev Cheales died at the age of 22, after a short illness. Her father said "It is a high honour to be attained by one so young, but one I venture to say, not wholly unmerited. Her love for her natural place was unbounded and her short happy life here, from an early age, was entirely devoted to the Schools and her District."

The School Log Book records that "the school was closed on Tuesday afternoon to allow the children to attend the funeral of Miss Edith Cheales, who had laboured so long with the girls at their needle work."

The funeral procession was through Brockham Court fields along by the river to "that sweet spot in Betchworth churchyard to which we were so promptly and graciously invited by its Vicar."

The schools were closed and the whole Village en fête on 11th October, 1884 for the wedding of the Vicar's eldest daughter, Sophia to Lieut. Percy Wood. Flags and bunting were conspicuous in the neighbourhood of the Church. The wedding breakfast was held in the much decorated schoolroom.

However, only four months later Sophia became ill. She returned to Brockham Vicarage and died there on March 6th. The coffin was borne through the fields to Betchworth by men from her former District. Besides a large gathering of villagers, the children from the school and Brockham Home attended and sang a hymn at the graveside.

Catherine wife of John Poyntz Owen of Brockham School House died 1883 and buried in Betchworth churchyard