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Wyke Primary School
Wyke School with the original Victorian buildings
Wyke School with the original Victorian buildings

For the impoverished, family life in Normandy during the early 1800s was hard. It was a life-style to which families were accustomed. Church service for the family on Sunday and afternoon Sunday school for the children was a welcome break from the labours of the week. However, a chain of events had started within the Church and central Government, that was to improve the quality of the life of children. For in 1870 the Government finally took the responsibility for the education of the country by introducing compulsory education into England.

In the beginning
The present building complex, forming the school, has been built mainly on land acquired in 1862 by Deed of Gift (for a consideration of five shillings), from H M Chester and F J Chester of Poyle Park. A Trust Deed was executed in January 1862 with the Vicar and Churchwardens of Wyke and their successors as trustees for the building of a school and schoolhouse. No provision was made by the deed for the management of the school. In 1878, The Reverend Henry Drayton Wyatt made an application to the National Society "for a building grant towards the erection of a new school, which was to replace the present school held in a room that was now too small to accommodate the numbers who wished to attend". The supporting statement indicated that the room then used was sanctioned for 53 children with a register of 70 wishing to attend. The room was in private property and the agreement, under which it was held, expired 30 September 1879 and would not be renewed.

The application was approved and a grant of £45 made towards the new school, designed by Henry Peak (Architect) and built by W Swayne (Builder) at a cost of £555.9s.9d. Subscriptions raised from landed proprietors and others fell short of the final cost by three shillings and three pence, which The Reverend Wyatt was himself obliged to donate in order to make the books balance. The school was up and running in October 1879.

The original L shaped school building consisted of two rooms. The smaller one was for 60 infants, the other for 70 boys and girls of mixed academic standards. Both rooms had poor natural ventilation and lighting. In winter, the two rooms were terribly cold, the larger being heated from a single combustion stove, quite inadequate for the size of the room. The infants' room, the smaller one, had a fireplace and seating in fixed gallery formation. In later years, about 1900, the workbenches of the manual evening classes were stacked in the room during the day. The gallery was removed in July 1905 and replaced by desks. There were separate stepped entrances for the boys, girls and infants. Each lobby was used as a cloakroom. In one, there were three steps and two to each of the others. The infants often fell on the steps and hurt themselves. Mr P F Story, an early surveyor of the school, recommended in 1904 a sloped approach to the entrance lobbies. However, users and visitors to the school over the decades, will be aware that no such recommendation was ever adopted.

The play areas were separated, but a piece of ground to one side, covered with gorse and in a very rough state, was used as a common playground. The school site was enclosed partly by a post and wire fence, partly by a close-boarded fence and partly by a hedge. It had practically no drainage at all, so consequently the ground was often flooded in periods of heavy rain. Fresh drinking water remained a problem until 1905, when the school acquired two four-gallon jars, which the caretaker had to take each day to fill at Mr J Deedman's well. The caretaker in 1905 received 30/- per week for all his duties.

Copying off the blackboard, working of sums, taking dictation and reproducing the drawing from the object lesson was on slates using slate pencils. The latter were often worn to short stubs, a practice hardly conducive to good writing. Their use was less expensive than paper. Corrections were easily made and so the practice continued for many years, but eventually was phased out with the infants being the last to use slate and slate pencil.

Miss Cecilia White commenced her duties as Headteacher (Certificated) of Wyke Church of England School on Monday 14 October 1882. Her predecessor, Miss Sarah Elizabeth White (Uncertificated) was to remain as Assistant Teacher until December 1883, when she married and sailed with her husband to India. Miss Davies replaced her in April 1894. Miss Cecilia White was assisted from time to time by a number of monitresses, older pupils able to teach the infants, such as Ivy Goddard, Kate Grover and Elizabeth Bellinger, all of whom were paid two shillings a week. Miss Davies departed for Puttenham in the August and Miss Billson took her place.

Miss White's headship was short-lived for tragedy struck on Saturday 17 January 1885 "when she (Miss Cecilia White) met with a fatal accident on the SE Rail near Ash Junction Station" as entered in the logbook by The Reverend Henry Wyatt, Chairman of Managers.

The use of logbooks, to note daily happenings, was introduced into schools in about 1862. It is possible that there was an earlier one than that started by Miss Cecilia White in 1882. So, for the time being, earlier headteachers of the school (other than Miss Sarah White) remain unknown, as do their chronicles. Interestingly, the 1881 census for the Parish of Ash, Village of Wyke, indicates that the schoolhouse was occupied by George Marshall (Gardener) and the occupation of his wife was "schoolmistress".

It is reasonable to presume from Cecilia White's early recordings that only families living in the immediate area of the school sent their children to the school. Equally, it may be safe to assume that the school premises were used for night school pupils as well as day pupils, since frequent mention is made of "parties for the day pupils only". Often the school was closed in the afternoon in order to prepare the larger of the two rooms for an evening concert.

It was not uncommon for the school to close for long periods on account of diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever and ringworm. In March 1885, whooping cough and measles was prevalent, forcing the managers of the school to close it for two weeks. Early in 1891, scarlet fever raged in the Willey Green area. Families in Bailes Lane were forbidden to send their children to the school. Sadly, in August, Edith Northover died of diphtheria and the Medical Officer of Health for the Farnham District, Dr John A Lorrimer, recommended the closing of the school. In 1893 and again on his instruction the school was closed for three weeks in May due to another outbreak of diphtheria, in July for a further four weeks and again in November for six weeks. By 22 January 1894 there had been 23 cases notified.

Wyke School in the early 1900s
Wyke School in the early 1900s
The class is Standard IV as indicated by the boy with the slate. The children and mistress are unidentified but the master is James Blaber, the Headteacher.

Since the greater part of the income of the school was dependent on government grants based on average attendance figures, the marking of the daily registers were of paramount importance. A favourite excuse for being absent a week at a time was for seasonal fruit picking. In July 1883, children picking currants at Mr Parrott's Nursery, reduced the daily attendance average for the week from about 90 to 50. No excuse was needed, however, to close the school for the annual church choir outing in July of each year. These started in about 1896 and continued until 1914, possibly then being discontinued because of the outbreak of World War I.

.......... Click here to see Plan of the School in 1933

The generosity over the years of local dignitaries to children of Wyke school has always been appreciated such as that by the Coussmaker family, Colonel and Mrs Wavell and Lady Bright. Mrs Stevens, a manager's wife in those early years, presented at Christmas to each girl a pair of scissors, a knife to every boy in the upper school and two handkerchiefs to each infant. The Halsey family and Lady Roberts invited the school to tea parties at Henley Park. Also, Lady Roberts gave a bun and an orange to each child at Christmas, between 1918 and 1923.

Wyke School photo c.1923
Wyke School photo c.1923
Norah Goodchild is the third from the left on the second row from the front.
She was born 1st January 1912 so would be about 11 or 12 at the time. Her twin brother, Harry Goodchild, is not in the photo so it's assumed that he'd moved on to another school following his scholarship gained in July 1923.
Of interest is Norah's school report from Christmas 1925. Click Here to see report.
But who are the other children?
If you know any of the others in this photo please let us know

In August 1934, the school was closed and work started on a new school building. Designed by Jarvis and Richards, Architects of London, was sited to the east and behind the schoolhouse. It comprised two classrooms, separate cloakrooms for boys and girls and a room for the teachers. The building has been known as the Infants School and more latterly as the Reception Classroom.

Infant's School
Wyke School, Infant's Class Rooms c.1960

Although and allegedly, Britain was ill prepared for war in 1939, a scheme of evacuation was tested at the school in September 1937 to see how long it took teachers and pupils to clear the school buildings. All children were off the premises in 30 seconds. In July 1939, everyone at the school was instructed to bring their issued gas mask to school for the first time. The air raid shelters in the school garden were occupied for the first time in September 1940 and three teams of senior boys were trained to use stirrup pumps to fight fires. As the years advanced to 1942, the sound of the air raid warning was generally dreaded whereas the long continuous wail of "the all clear" was a very welcome sound, although it could hardly be heard in the shelter. A problem emerged later in 1942 as to how some children could be protected in the daytime during the summer holiday when parents were away from home on essential war work. In consultation with the Education Authority and the school managers, Mr Smith arranged for the school to remain open with attendant teachers on a roster system. A telephone, Normandy 2197, was installed for the Local ARP (Air Raid Precautions) to give the teacher early warning of an air raid. Mr Smith complained "that not only was no warning given by phone, but neither was any message received by runner from the local ARP post". A shelter remains on the school site forming part of the south-western boundary.

Normandy had been generally unaffected by enemy air raids, despite its proximity to Aldershot, the Home of the British Army. However, on 16 June 1944, five windows of the school were damaged by blast from enemy action. Although there were other incidents around and about, life at the school continued undisturbed until cessation of hostilities in May 1945 when the school was closed for the VE Day (Victory in Europe) celebrations.

Mr Lewis (Headteacher 1954 - 1971) had a strenuous career at Wyke, not just as a headteacher but also as an educationalist. As a result Wyke became, during the 1960s, a visiting post for overseas visitors and teachers attending county conferences. The school was also subjected to numerous temporary staff changes and visits by student teachers from the Gypsy Hill Training College, an extension of the Guildford College, observing teaching methods. There was yet another change in staff when Margaret Clegg, Deputy Headteacher, retired in July 1967 after 21 years of dedicated service to the school. When school reopened after the summer holiday, Mr Lewis commented that "The same staff continues for the first time since 1959" but changes continued until 1970 when there was a degree of stability in the permanent teaching staff.
Mr Lewis (Headteacher 1954 - 1971)
Mr Lewis
Mr Lewis with two pupils in July
1967, out side the new assembly hall
Wyke School Football Team 1961
Wyke School Football Team 1961
The Teacher is Mr Williams
Back Row:- Steve Elderfield, Roy Hepburn, Freddy Wates, John Gains, Alan Chesseman,
Micheal Elloitt, Clifford Rayward
Front Row:- Nicolas Halton, Gordon Pragnal, Paul Dyson, Barry Woodford, Graham Plumb

A new classroom was added in February 1963 and the new assembly hall and kitchen were finally brought into use. It was 25 years previously that hot meals were first provided but now school meals were cooked on the premises.

In 1972 Wyke became a First School. The change to the Surrey Education Plan required that those children over 8 years of age move on to a Middle School. Some schools, such as Perry Hill, Worplesdon were closed and the pupils transferred to other schools. Fortunately Wyke was generally unaffected. By 1974, all schools in the county were feeling the effects of cutbacks in spending on education. Some school buildings, owing to long overdue maintenance were in a deplorable condition, but Miss Burrows (Headteacher 1971 - 1994) was determined not to let Wyke's buildings suffer a similar fate and persuaded her staff and the parents to carry out essential decoration and renovation.

More new buildings came in 1999. These pleasing modern buildings of 1999 have blended well with the original Victorian buildings, providing three new classrooms and an administration area.

New buildings at the School
New buildings at the School

Normandy is fortunate in having enjoyed a village school for over 120 years, a fact now endorsed by the Surrey County Council by providing new buildings and upgrading the old ones. The school now know as Wyke Primary School is a fitting reminder of its heritage and is adequately prepared for the foreseeable future.

.......... Its Teachers & Pupils
.......... List of Head Teachers
.......... Teachers at Wyke School
.......... Monitors & Monitresses
.......... Early Pupils of Wyke School
.......... Plan of the School in 1933
Also see
.......... Wanborough School (1867 to 1946)

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