Wareside Primary School

Late 19th Century to the early 20th Century

By Lucy Ingamells

Modern photo of students at Wareside dressed like their Victorian predecessors of the school 1999
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Wareside Primary School, previously a Boys boarding school founded in the 1700s, was founded as a mixed school in 1872 in the small village of Wareside. It was a small school with just over 80 pupils. The Church of England school is still open and running today.

It is clear that the school was similar to the Modern day Wareside, in a number of aspects. For example the holidays given to students and staff are very similar, as back in the nineteenth century there were still Christmas and Easter holidays. There was also the usual 6 week summer holiday, however these were not usually to let the children relax, rather to allow them to work for the harvest season.

And yet, the past and present schools also differ in a variety of ways. They claim, in their log books to be open 8 to 10 times a week most weeks, presumably counting morning and afternoons as different opening times. Even more different is the fact that the school was specifically catered for the needs of staff, rather than the students. Holidays were regularly permitted at the staff’s convenience so that they could attend events such as the festival of Standon.

The reasons for absence given are often the obvious sort, which we may still expect to see today; children develop illnesses such as measles, influenza or a simple cold. However, other stranger reasons for absence are ones far from what you would expect to see. For example children would be unable to attend school due to their being required to help out at home due the absence of an older sibling, or often to work in the fields to feed their hungry families. At times, students were unable to attend school (and sometimes the school was even closed) due to the bad weather. And this was not necessarily down to heavy snowfall, but often as a result of storms or even just showers of rain. Poorer children may have only been able to afford one set of clothing and were unable to get it wet, or else they would have nothing to wear the following day, so they had to stay at home when it rained. Needless to say there were very poor levels of attendance throughout the late 19th Century and even into the early 20th Century.

As well as being taught seemingly ordinary lessons in school (geography, reading and needlework for the girls) younger students were often given ‘object lessons’ which had been formerly approved by the government. Records show that these included topic lessons on a variety of things from farmyard animals to cottage gardens and grass! Students were also taught to sing and recite poetry, and visitors to the school were often treated to a performance from the children.

This page was added on 15/06/2012.

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  • I followed Myra Belcher as headteacher at Wareside. When I took over the school had just been missed being closed. There were twelve children in the school.

    I taught the junior class which had eleven boys and for a short time the infant teacher had one little girl in her class.

    A lovely school and great community

    By Richard Maudsley (05/05/2023)
  • Such a shame then that Hertfordshire County Council plan to close the school permanently in August 2022. A school that has served its community for nearly 300 years!

    By Elaine (10/12/2021)
  • My father in law was born in Wareside in 1934 his name was Roland Way and John Wisby was his friend. He had a brother George and 2 sisters Wendy & Whin they lived at Red Lion Yard and Hillside Cottages

    By Angie Way (18/02/2017)
  • My father, Frank Laffineur, owned the Red Lion Stores too – I was born there in 1935. We moved to Bath a couple of years later. Love to see the old place again – don’t expect it’s changed much…… er…..

    By Margaret Eccles née Laffineur (09/08/2014)
  • My Father was John Wisbey. My Grandparents used to own the Red Lion Stores.

    By Martin Wisbey (02/02/2014)
  • I attended Wareside school during the world war 2 years, being evacuated from London. Mr.Robinson and his wife ran the school at the time, and there were just two classrooms. One for 6-10 years and one for 10-14 years.Philpot`s had a grocery and butcher shop, also Wisby`s had a grocery shop. John Wisby went to school at that time.

    By helen steindler (30/08/2012)