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The Village Hall


Original Plans for Barton-on-the-Heath village school.

Original Plans for Barton-on-the-Heath village school.

In 1810, a Sunday School was founded in Barton, funded by donations from the Rector Jeremiah Scholefield, Henry Merttins Bird, from a number of the more affluent of the parishioners, from the Thomas Hayward fund, and from Trinity College, Oxford. In 1850, the Sunday School became a day school, primarily for the education of the children agricultural labourers of the parish, and for the children of the poor.

In 1854, Henrietta Maria Jane Bird, Captain Robert Wilberforce Bird, the Reverend Charles Robinson Bird and Frederick Merttins Bird conveyed by deed, land and monies for the building of a new school in the village centre. All these benefactors were members of the family that owned Barton House and land in the parish, but all of whom lived elsewhere. The architect appointed to design the school was George Edmund Street of Oxford, who is renown for his design of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, St Ebbe’s School in Oxford and the rebuilding of St Mary’s Church in nearby Salford. Amongst Street’s professional pupils were William Morris and Philip Webb. Barton’s humble school was in good company!

However, the 1854 deed was later found to be deficient as it had not been engrossed (legal term for legally validated with stamp duty paid) within six months, and neither had it been signed by Frederick Bird, then living in India. The deed was later replaced by a validated version, dated 1870. The date at which the school became a National School is obscure, but records of applications to the National Society dated 1855 and 1870 are lodged in the National Archives in Kew.

By 1911, the school was in some financial difficulties, applied to the National Society and received a grant of £5 towards renovations totalling £29 including the replacement of the original 1854 desks.

In 1922, the school was back in financial straits, and in 1924 it closed. The children were transferred to the school in Great Wolford, and the Barton school building was closed. In 1949 the descendants of the Bird family discovered that the building was no longer a school, and there were some discussions with legal overtones as to its disposal. However, that is a topic for another time, and we are glad that the old school building is now safe and preserved as the Village Hall for the use and enjoyment of the parishioners of Barton-on-the-Heath.

John Castle and Colin Maynell. May 2013

Acknowledgments are due to Warwick Record Office, the National Archives and to The Church of England Records Office, Bermondsey for use of their archives.

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