(Mike Parcell would like to know if anyone has come across his folder on ‘Schools’ which he spent several years putting together only for it to disappear at one of the HHG exhibitions. It included ‘lengthy & rewarding’ correspondence with the daughter of one of the headmasters, himself the nephew of the very first Head. Can anyone throw any light on this important file?)

SUCCESS! Mike tells me that he has (September 2015) recovered a large collection of papers from a resident who moved away. Whilst the collection includes his items there are many ‘new’ items so some mystery remains but Mike is very happy and relieved!

The following notes come from an article in the’Hartfield Times’ with the addition of the wonderful picture of the school from the postcard collection of Sheilah Fenton with a close-up of the pupils. Sheilah tells me that this is her favourite postcard because it reminds her of her own schooldays there!

Hartfield school Hartfield school children cut



St Mary the Virgin Primary School, Hartfield.

Opened in 1842 the first schoolmaster was George Bocking, a Londoner, who arrived with his wife Hannah to live in the Schoolhouse. Hannah is described during her life as schoolmistress but it is a wonder how she had the time and strength for her teaching duties while giving birth to 13 children over 23 years. She died in 1898 age 76.

They taught at Hartfield for about 42 years after which they retired to Groombridge. George died in 1902 aged 76.

In 1900 George Arthur Bocking, a nephew of our George, was appointed as schoolmaster. He had a troubled time with the education authorities and in 1905 was dismissed. At this time attendance was between 150 and 200.

Prior to the 1842 school there was for very many years a wooden-built school in the garden of the present day Appletree Cottage in the High Street. This was founded in 1640 by the Rev Richard Randes the Hartfield Rector.

There were three sisters, Sarah Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emma, granddaughters of Josiah Wedgwood the celebrated potter. Elizabeth did not marry, Charlotte married the Rev Charles Langton and Emma married Charles Darwin.

Around 1847 Elizabeth built the house at Colemans Hatch called ‘The Ridge’ and at the same time Charlotte and her husband bought the adjacent property now called ‘South Hartfield’.

Some time before 1861 Elizabeth built ‘The Ridge School’ close by which could accommodate 50 children. In 1862 The Ridge and the school were sold to Lady Darling and her brother Rev Frederick Darling. She died in 1868. The school continued till at least 1896. There is no record of it after this date. Rev Darling died in 1909 aged 88.

Earlier in 1875 there was a threat of the closure of the school whereupon Mr Thompson offered to take the children in at his school at Ashdown Park. Perhaps when the Ridge School closed the children went there. The school had been funded entirely by Miss Wedgwood and later by the Darlings.

In 1867 Thomas Charles Thompson bought Ashdown Park and built the present building which is now a hotel.

In 1875 he built a school for estate children and others in the locality. He employed a school mistress and provided her accommodation in a specially built teachers house.

The school became known as the Memorial School in memory of his two sons who had died. It closed in about 1945.

In the 1880’s about 70 children attended.

The following link will take you to the history section of the website for the current St.Mary the Virgin CE Primary School 


I have received a picture of ‘Home School’ at Brackenhill, Hartfield which is now all flats. Carolyn Proud who provided this picture hopes to provide more details in due course. She tells me that there was also ‘Tenacre’ School at Upper Hartfield. More to follow! Any information from other readers would be welcome.

Emma Fulham has contacted the website with more information about ‘Tenacre’ School. She says in her comment below but repeated here for clarity:-

“There was a school at Ten Acre it started as a private dwelling owned at one point by Arthur Clough but then became a school sub divided and our part Ten Acre Court continued as a school until the 1970’s I have some title documents I can copy for Mike. It is now again in family ownership and until 2013 we had the kindergarden and gym hall next door in our garden I think Sheilah Fenton was a dinner lady or worked here at some point and her husband did some work on the building too”.

CP-Home-School-Brackenhill,-Hartfield reduced

18 Comments on “Schools

  1. Hi, I am currently researching my family tree and know that my family lived in Parrock Lane. In fact my grandfather Thomas James Potter died there in 1917. My grandmother Minnie Potter and her brothers went to Hartfield School somewhen during the time of 1911 – 1917. Is there anything I could check to see if I can verify this and where the school was at this time. Trying also to see where my great grandfather was buried, but struggling to find out how to proceed on this one. Any help would be really appreciated. Kind regards Sheila Byrne

    • Hello Sheila, sorry for the delay in responding – the comments are not yet coming through on my email so I have only just found yours! In order to answer the enquiries that will inevitably reach the website I will be asking various members to help. At this moment in time I can tell you that the church does have a register of all those buried in the churchyard. For more information you could email
      The school, St Mary the Virgin, is still in the same location so it should be possible to find answers on your ancestors. You could try an email to
      I will pass your enquiry on to one or two colleagues. Would you like to be added to the History Group email circulation that provides information on the monthly talks and other history occasions?

      I will pass the rest of your enquiry on and see if we can find you some answers.

  2. Hi, thanks for all this fascinating information about St Mary’s. I have added a link to this page from our school website so people can enjoy these wonderful photographs – I hope that is ok?

    In 2017 we are looking forward to celebrating 175 years since the school was founded. It would be wonderful to hear from any of you who have memories or photographs of the school.

    • I think it would be a great idea to have a school reunion and try to get as many former students and teachers as possible to remember and talk about how much the school has changed over the years.

  3. There was a school at Ten Acre it started as a private dwelling owned at one point by Arthur Clough but then became a school sub divided and our part Ten Acre Court continued as a school until the 1970’s I have some title documents I can copy for Mike. It is now again in family ownership and until 2013 we had the kindergarden and gym hall next door in our garden I think Shelia Fenton was a dinner lady or worked here at some point and her husband did some work on the building too.

    • Emma, thank you for your note. I would of course like to add any school that is missing to the website. Do you have any photos and more details about the dates and people involved etc. Do I understand from your note that the family has bought the building back? I will talk to Mike to find out if he knows anything about the school. Was it called Ten Acre School? I believe Sheilah is back home but I am not sure if it is yet reasonable to ply her with questions whilst Adrian is still in difficulties. Chris

      • I will contact Mike so he can add some more information. It was just a little prep type school but still quite interesting. All the best Emma

  4. Hi. Your reference to Ten Acre School caught my eye since I attended that school from 1967-1969. It was my first and only English school experience since our family emigrated to Canada in September, 1969. My older brother went to Brambletie School (sp?). We lived at a house near Ten Acre called Pond Close. I hadn’t been able to see online reference to the house or either school until now. More information would be greatly appreciate. If ever get back that way I’d like to show the area to my own kids.

    Kind regards,

    Jon Midgley

    • Hi Jon, always good to hear from people who are a long way away and especially if Hartfield is still a good memory for you!
      If you left as long ago as 1969 you would certainly see some changes but on the other hand most of the High Street with its ancient houses would be immediately familiar although many shops have reverted to private houses and we only have one remaining shop – now simply known as Hartfield Village Stores. We have also just lost the famous Haywaggon pub to a developer who intends to turn it back into several houses whilst building another in the car park! Apparently countrywide we are losing 40 pubs every week so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised but, despite a substantial petition and efforts it was approved 5:4 which many of us don’t think was good enough!
      I will ask our historian Mike Parcell if he has any more information and let you know
      Regards, Chris

    • Hi Jonathon..I went there too with your brother Harry..he was a very nice boy and I was terrible to him.
      Do you remember the head mistress Miss Woodin. She was terrifying. I see Georgina Henderson who was also were my two sisters

      • Hi
        I can’t remember if we were friends sorry but I was friends with Georgina at Ten Acre when I was about six (1966).

        I also remember miss Woodin!

        Huw Cooper

    • Hello Jon
      My son is doing a project on a WW2 man who attended Brighton College and from this site we’ve found information on our man, Capt John Ramsay Paton who also lived in Pond Close. Where is it in Upper Hartfield as we can’t find anything on map searches.

      Thanks for your help.

      Lisa King

    • Hello I am interested in knowing where Pond Close is as my son is doing a WW2 project on Capt John Paton who lived in Pond Close in Upper Hartfield. Capt. Paton is mentioned on this site and his name is on the War Memorial. If anyone had any further information we’d be grateful. His parents were Lt. Col. Ramsay and Marianne Paton.
      Lisa King

    • Hi Jonathan
      I know your comment is four years old! But I just came across it.
      Your brother Harry was my best friend when we were both at Ten Acre school. I was there from around 1964 to 1970 and lived in the house next door.
      I have fond memories of playing with Harry

      Best wishes

      Huw Cooper

  5. I went to Ten Acre School in about 1957/59. I believe the Headmistress (? Miss Bird), suffered some severe burns and had to close the school. I will see if I can find out anything more if anybody is interested.

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