A Short History

The first mention of provision for teaching in Ullenhall is in 1733 in the Will of William Mortiboyes of Mappleborough Green. In this Will he left £2 a year rent charge out of land at Aspley called Barclays (or Bare Leys) to the Chapelwardens and overseers of Ullenhall to provide for the teaching of six poor children of Ullenhall every year forever to read.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century St Marks Charity decided that £1 out of the charity money would be used to teach three children.

In 1798 six boys and two girls had been put into this ‘Free School’ which is said to have stood at the north east corner of the Chapel.

By 1850 a room at Barrells Hall was being used as the Village School Room.

The building that we now know of as “The Old School” was built in 1876 mainly due to the generosity of Mr T.H.G. Newton of Barrells Hall.

When the vicar, Reverend J.George came to open the school on Monday 11th September 1876 many of the children were absent because they were helping with the harvest. For nearly a month it appears that they also had to put up with interruptions to the lessons as the workmen had not quite finished the building.

In 1959 it became necessary to extend the school building. A new classroom was built for the juniors, the old junior classroom became the infant classroom, and the infant classroom became the school kitchens. Two rooms of the School House also became part of the school – the infants’ toilets, cloakroom and stockroom – and so an extension was added to the other side of the house.

These extensions were officially opened on Thursday 25th February 1960 by Mr G. W. Siddall-Jones, a long serving school manager. The school was decorated with bowls of flowers, forsythia, catkins and twigs. A service of dedication was conducted by the vicar and the juniors and infants each sang a hymn. There was also a school uniform – brown and yellow.

The next big celebration was the centenary in 1976 when Mr Reg Barlow was headmaster. Like all the Heads before him he lived in the village, first at the School House and then moving to Braeside.

He retired in July 1981, the same month as the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. A temporary acting head, Miss Keen, was appointed and remained at the school until it closed six years later. Like other small village schools in Warwickshire the 1980s was a difficult time for Ullenhall School and it struggled to attract and retain pupils. In 1986 there were only 27 children whereas 100 years before there had been 92 (1881), and in 1973, 76 children on the roll.

In February 1986 Warwickshire County Council informed staff, parents and pupils of its proposal to close Ullenhall School. A campaign to ‘Save Ullenhall School’ began.

The campaign was to no avail and in July 1987 the Department of Education and Science agreed to the closure. Because the authorisation to close the school was not given until July 1987, the County Council’s Education Committee agreed that the school could stay open until July 1988.

However a school with a date for closure was in a difficult position and only nine children returned after the summer holidays. The last two pupils left on September 11th 1987 – exactly 111 years since the first pupils started their schooling in the school building.

After the school closed there were efforts to find a use for the building that would benefit the village, but this was not possible. Over the years the school had been used for many other village activities and being a Church of England school it had a close relationship with the village Church. For a few years after the closure the Church Fete was still held there but, through lack of use, the School had become dusty and flies and cobwebs hung around the windows.

It stood empty for a number of years until the building and playing field were sold by public auction on Thursday 22nd June 1995. They were purchased by local builder, Chris Judge. The 1959 extensions were knocked down and the original 1876 building was converted in to a house. Three new houses – Eostra, Cherry Trees and Field House – were built where the playground and junior classroom once stood.