Before the nineteenth century, there was no national system for education. Opportunities for formal education were generally only available to those who could afford to pay. The schools that did exist relied on the generosity of local benefactors or people trying to make a living. Very few children received any schooling.
The Great Ellingham British School was erected in 1855. The Committee of the Day School, formed to provide the school, unsuccessfully tried to secure appropriate land for the school. However the Trustees for the Baptist Church agreed to part of their orchard land in Long Street being used for a school. The school was built in 1855 at the cost of £182.17.0d.
The Norfolk News of the 14th May, 1870 reported that in Great Ellingham, “The Master of the British School returns kind friends his best thanks” for their donations for the support of the village school. He also indicated that further donations would be sought.
Donations were acknowledged from Zedekiah Long of Attleborough (who gave 2s 6d.), ‘A Friend in Norwich’ with a donation of 2s 6d., Samuel Colby Esq of Wilby gave 5s. Further amounts from anonymous benefactors were also acknowledged.
In closing the article and in an attempt to secure further contributions, the Master of the School asked “Who will help?”
White’s 1854 Directory lists Martha Buck and Mary Lebbell as Schoolmistresses and Edward Houchen a Schoolmaster in Great Ellingham, although it is not clear whether any of them were at the British School.
Following the Education Act of 1870, the school became a Board School. In 1896, the new Board School was erected in the village.
Norfolk News May 14th, 1870
Bugden, D. ‘The Story of 300 Years of the Baptist Church at Great Ellingham‘. Great Ellingham Reformed Baptist Church.
Watts. J. ‘Great Ellingham County Primary School Centenary‘. (1996). Great Ellingham Primary School.
https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/livinglearning/school/overview/before19thcentury/ Accessed 11.01.2020
1854 Francis White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Norfolk 1854. http://apling.freeservers.com/Villages/EllinghamGreat54.htm Accessed 14.01.2019