Schools and education

Diane Lynch

Group outside the Junior School in 1869
Eric Ashwood Collection

Flamstead has a thriving primary school on Trowley Hill Road, but four predecessor buildings can still be seen.

What now serves as the Village Hall was formerly the Junior School, opened in 1867, built on land owned by University College, Oxford.  Pupil numbers started from a low base, possibly because the fees of a few pennies had to be met by families sending their children there. This is more understandable considering that the Junior School replaced the Straw Plait School.  Here, children as young as three were taught to plait straw for Luton’s hat industry, and thereby earned a small wage, paying for a basic education that was supposed to be included in their day’s activity.  That building was established by the Sebright family, and it still stands today as a private residence, School House Farm, on London Road (now within Markyate).

Duties around agricultural work would have taken priority over any schooling and three afternoons a week were made over to straw plaiting in the Junior School. By the summer of 1867 there were 61 pupils. Over the years, the average actual roll of attendees was probably around 90 pupils; this is a similar figure for the village school today.

Flamstead Infants School was built in what became Pie Garden in 1896, unbelievably for 80 children! Average attendance was considerably below this, fortunately, when considering the space available.  It closed in 1931, but the building remains as a private dwelling, the Old School House. The pupils then joined the Junior School on Pie Corner.

Education continued here until junior pupils moved to a new county-run school in 1958, with infants joining them four years later. Eric Ashwood was the school’s headmaster at that time and he chalked up almost 23 years’ service.

The Sebright School, or Cheverells Green School was established in 1866 by Sir John Saunders Sebright, taking pupils from Flamstead and Markyate. When the 1944 Education Act introduced free secondary education, the Sebright School acquired responsibility for providing this for the two communities. The school closed in 1961, since when Flamstead pupils travel to secondary schools in Hemel Hempstead, Harpenden and St Albans.

This page was added on 28/02/2021.

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