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Local writer delves into past of Bromley's oldest school

PUBLISHED: 09:32 10 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:32 10 January 2014

Parish C of E Primary School in Bromley

Parish C of E Primary School in Bromley

Archant

The roots of Parish C of E Primary School, set in beautiful parkland off London Lane in Bromley, can be traced back to the early 18th century.

It is the oldest educational establishment in the borough, and the main building, known as the Mansion, was built in 1770.

Recently converted to three-form entry, the school now takes in 90 new pupils every year and is always oversubscribed.

But Parish can trace its roots back to much humbler beginnings.

Back in 1717, when its predecessor Bromley Charity School was founded in a disused gravel pit at the foot of Masons Hill – now part of Bromley South station – the school could only accommodate 10 boys and 10 girls.

At the time, it was very unusual for ordinary children to receive any formal education.

Education for children aged between five and 10 was not compulsory until the Elementary Education Act of 1880 came into force.

Such schools as did exist in the early 18th century were founded by the church or wealthy and generous individuals.

Bromley Charity School was funded by the bishop of Rochester and other local people to provide free education and clothing for up to 10 boys and girls from impoverished families – provided that they attended church services on Sundays.

By the early 19th century, the school had outgrown its original home and moved to new premises in Bromley North. It later moved again, this time to the London Lane site, and eventually became known as Parish C of E Primary School.

By the time the railway came to Bromley South in 1858, no trace remained of the original Bromley Charity School building.

Headteacher Hilary Richardson said: “Many people consider the Mansion building at Parish as a ‘hidden jewel’ of Georgian architecture and we have a big responsibility for maintaining it and making a wider audience aware of its history.”

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