History (1854 - 2006)

Lingfield Primary School 1849-1954

The central core of the building was designed by John Edward Cox as the Church of England School “for poor persons in the Parish of Lingfield and the neighbourhood”.

The school did not take ‘pauper’ children who were taught in the separate Workhouse school.1

The school records show that half an acre of land, part of ‘Two Stile Mead’, was donated by Mrs Caroline Phillips in 1849. Caroline Phillips was the daughter and sole heiress of Benjamin Bond Hopkins; the Hopkins family held large areas of land in Lingfield parish throughout the 18th century. Two years later extra land was purchased for £45 from Mrs Phillip’s husband (Caroline Phillips having died shortly before).

It is likely that an Infants School was built on the site in 1849 with funds given by the Yatman family, as the site then became known as the ‘Yatman School’ but no trace of that building remains.  The Deed for the trust was enrolled in the High Court of Chancery, 3rd December 1849.

Funds for the new school building were raised from the sale of the old schoolhouse, which had been endowed by Lord Howard of Effingham in 1725.  The Church had held the lease of the schoolhouse since 1793.  (SHC 2399/7/3)  The ‘old’ school occupied Church Cottage, a part medieval and part Jacobean building at the corner of Church Road and Bakers Lane.  Church Cottage was sold for £200 in 1856 and the proceeds put towards the fund for the new school and teacher’s residence

The Minutes of the School Management Committee record their thanks to Caroline Phillips for providing the land; to John Edward Cox for the plans and supervising the erection; and to Herbert George Yatman “for the perseverance and liberality that at the sole expense of himself and his family brought [the project] to completion”. 2

The Yatman Endowment Fund was used to buy school equipment.

Herbert George Yatman, of Marylebone, London, also owned The Grange, Lingfield, for about 10 years from 1848.3  The architect, John Edward Cox was staying with Herbert Yatman at The Grange on the night of the Census, 30th March 1851.

J E Cox’s plans were finally approved by the Management Committee on 19th January 1858; although his design for the schoolmaster’s residence had to be altered and a more modest house was designed.  Cox’s building can be seen easily from the outside of the building to the east of the main doorway, note the decorative use of coloured brickwork which matches the adjacent old school house.  The 13 ft. high bell tower was removed early in the 20th century. Internally the original building has decorative timber trusses at roof level; visible in the Plaxton Room and the east end of the Llewellyn Palmer Hall. 

On 11th February the New School was qualified by Deed, the following day the building contract was awarded to Mr Wallis of Godstone, at the tendered amount of £999.12s. Construction must have begun soon afterwards as on 21st October 1858 Mr Wallis was warned about delays in construction and the possibility of a penalty forfeit.

In October 1859 Benjamin Groves returned to his position as schoolmaster of Lingfield School.  On 21st January 1860 the school, again referred to as ‘the Yatman School’, was insured at Westminster Fire office for a period of seven years, at a cost of £175 and the forms, desks and fittings at an additional cost of £25.  Although Mr Herbert Yatman moved away from the area the family maintained an interest in the school.

A scale of payments for Lingfield Church of England Boys School was agreed upon:

  • For the elder sons of Farmers and Tradesmen per week - 6d.

  • The younger sons of Ditto  - 3d

  • For labourer’s children  - 1d

The Mixed Infants department continued somewhere on the site and the services of Mrs Elizabeth Batchelor and her daughter Mary Ann Batchelor were retained as Schoolmistress and teacher respectively.  One hundred and six infants were recorded on the roll of 1862.

Lingfield being essentially a rural economy several of the children were employed on the farms during the year.  Many were absent from school for several days and sometimes weeks.  In January boys were employed as beaters, in March hop pole shaving and gardening or minding lambs, in August when the weather was fine harvesting, in September and October they helped on the many hop farms (the school extended the summer holiday as the majority of children were employed gathering hops), several children were also employed on acorn picking.  The headmaster noted ruefully, 29th May 1875, that “The Agricultural Children’s Act has been a dead letter in Lingfield”.

Benjamin Groves’ son, Walter William Groves, became headmaster in 1878.  The School became a Mixed School in 1880.  Separate entrances were provided for boys, for girls and for infants.  Walter William Groves remained headmaster until his early death, aged 32, in October 1889.

Serious overcrowding made teaching difficult and encouraged the spread of diseases.  The Log Books show that diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, scarlet fever, and smallpox spread quickly through the school, actually closing the school on several occasions.

In August 1887 the School Board agreed that it was imperative to increase the size of the accommodation, plans were made accordingly, “A commodious classroom is to be added to the existing accommodation here”. (Log Book 8th June 1887)







The “commodious classroom” added to the school in 1888 can be see, west of the bell tower. The New Mixed School on the left of the photograph was built in 1906 to ease overcrowding in the old school, which became the Infants School.
Images are reproduced by kind permission of Surrey History Centre
Photograph, taken June 11th 1896 shows some of the children with the Headmaster

As the population increased conditions in the school worsened.  In 1906 the Inspector noted that he hoped that the proposed building of a new Mixed School would not be delayed.  To ease the overcrowding the Mission Room (behind the School, now the site of the Lingfield Day Centre) and the Victoria Club were used for the upper standards.  When those buildings were required for other functions the school had to be closed.

Much of the playground was fenced off while building work progressed. 

On the 10th June 1907 the new school was nearly finished and partly in use.  The Inspector reported that “now that the children are located in excellent new premises the outlook for the future is bright.  It is hoped that the playgrounds will be finished and the infant’s quarters ready by the end of the summer holidays.”

The Infant School continued in the old building until September 1954 when a new Primary School with improved facilities opened in Vicarage Road.

The old school was then used as an Adult Education Centre until 1994 when a working party of members of the Lingfield Parish Council explored potential uses of the building.

The Lingfield and Dormansland Community Centre opened in August 1998.

© Janet H. Bateson, October 2006


SHC: Surrey History Centre (Surrey County Record Centre), Woking

1. For details of the Workhouse School see The Workhouse Susan Quelch 2004 (RH7 Fact-sheet)

2. Education in the local area 1800-1900 Tracey Knight 2004 (RH7 Fact-sheet)

3. The History of the Grange Barry & Liz Dighton




Lingfield Primary School. Headmaster Mr William Abell. Prize giving 1948