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SANDFORD VILLAGE SCHOOL

 

The village school in Sandford - front facade Sandford Village School

© Richard J. Brine

 

This is the front facade of the village school in Sandford and what an impression it must make on any child who passes through its doors. The school is still going strong and, as it has always done, provides the children of Sandford with an excellent start in life. Think how it must have seemed in the early 19th century to children of humble  farm labourers as they entered this temple of learning. What a message this striking architecture sends out - "Here is that most valuable of commodities - education. Here is a temple of Learning"!

 

The man who built this unique structure was Sir Humphrey Davie, lord of the manor in the 1820s, who lived at nearby Creedy Park. If he had merely wished to present the village with a school, he could have provided something far less ornate but instead, he went to endless trouble and expense to set up a lasting monument to the power of learning - even having a model made so that the builders (who had no idea what a Greek temple looked like) would understand his intentions exactly. And, as if that wasn't enough, the whole edifice is built of that ancient, traditional Devon building material called cob - a blend of mud, straw and water.

 

Model made for the builders in the 1820s

Model made for the builders in the 1820s

©Sandford School

 

In 1677, Sir Humphrey's ancestor, Sir John Davie, left an annuity of £16, £10 of which was to be paid to " some understanding and honest man, fit to keep an English School". Twenty poor children of Sandford were to be taught to read the Bible, say the Creed  the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Catechism. £5.10s was to be spent of blue cloth caps and coats for the ten poorest children and 10s to be spent on books. Each child was to be instructed for two years, and on leaving , was to be given a Bible. Other wealthy men and women followed Sir John's example and made gifts enabling small "Dame" schools to open at New Buildings in 1743 and East Village in 1774.

 

Upton Hellions has never had a school and in recent years, the children had to walk over the fields to Sandford to share the educational opportunities offered in that parish. Nonetheless, when all men over 18 were called on to sign the Protestation Oath in 1642, 2 in every 5 men in Upton Hellions could sign their own names whereas the national average was said to be no more than 1 in 6. Credit is given for this to the Rector of the time - James Hersate, who took it upon himself to educate the poor children of his tiny parish.

 

 

 
 
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