Gorey Village schools

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Gorey Village schools


Pulips at Hilgrove School in 1903

This article was first published in the parish magazine Grouville Gazette

Five schools

With the expansion of Gorey Village in the mid-19th century there was a need to educate the children and there is evidence of at least five schools in the village at various times.

There were two public schools; the Gorey National School, a boys’ school, and the Hilgrove Girls and Infants School. The others were small private institutions.

In the 1871 census Rachel Le Vesconte is recorded as a schoolmistress running a school for ladies, with her cousin, Laura Aubin, at 2 Royal Bay Terrace. In the 1901 and 1911 censuses Royal Bay House is listed as a private school in Union Road with a Miss Rachel Le Feuvre and her two sisters as the schoolmistresses.

Gorey Commercial School, run by William Elias Le Breton, is also recorded in the 1911 census at Victoria Place.

The Gorey National School educated boys from the age of 7 – 12 and appears to have opened as early as 1849. It was located in a building, long since demolished, at the back of the Bass and Lobster.

Jersey Archive holds annual returns for each National school, detailing their costs, the progress of the pupils and other useful information. The returns for the Gorey National School begin in 1874. Log books for the school dating from 1894 to 1916 are also held at the Archive and these give an insight into the running of the school and some of the problems it faced.

Absenteeism was a major issue, particularly in the potato season, when boys had to help their family with the planting and digging. The school often closed during the height of the season as there would have been virtually no pupils to teach. Other boys were recorded as being absent as they were caddying or ‘carrying sticks’ for golfers in events held at the Royal Jersey Golf Club.

An entry from Easter 1894 expresses the headmaster’s frustration:

“There being a special meeting of the Royal Jersey Golf Club on the common, many boys are absent carrying clubs, which greatly interferes with the work of the school”.

Husband and wife

In 1903 Robert Ashworth Kershaw was appointed as headmaster at the National School. His wife, Lily, was headmistress at the Hilgrove Infants and Girls school from 1903 and they lived at Hilgrove House.

An entry in the school logbook, dated 1907, records that the school was closed on 12 September because the Master had to attend the Police Court to give evidence concerning a robbery. Robert and his wife had been on holiday in France and were driven home by horse and trap from the boat at Gorey Pier by Herbert Noel, who was employed by George Dobin. When the couple arrived they found that the house had been ransacked with many valuable items stolen.

The incident was investigated by Constable Edwin Springate and evidence revealed that George Roger Dobin, aged 20, and Herbert Francis Noel, aged 18, were responsible for the crime, which they had committed the previous evening. Herbert was apprehended and eventually confessed to the crime, showing the Constable where he had hidden his share of the booty, in a field not far from Hilgrove House. He claimed that it had been Dobin’s idea and that he had just been his accomplice. Dobin, when apprehended, denied the charge initially, but upon seeing Noel, he decided the ‘game was up’ and also confessed. More of the stolen goods were later found hidden near the railway track near Gorey Station.

The National School became known as Gorey Station School from 1912, and closed in 1916 when the headmaster, Mr Taylor, left to join the Forces in the Great War

The village school for girls and infants was originally called the Jersey Gouray Hilgrove Endowed School and later known as Hilgrove Infants and Girls School.

The school is marked on the 1935 Ordnance Survey map but it was opened many decades earlier than this, in 1859, following the donation of the land and the buildings by Magdalen Esther Turner. Magdalen was the daughter of Sir Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner, Lieut-Governor of Jersey from 1814 – 1816, who is famous for having returned the Rosetta Stone to England from Egypt in 1802.

Magdalen’s grandmother was Magdeleine Hilgrove, the daughter of Charles Hilgrove, Constable of St Helier, and it is this family after which the school, the road and the terraced houses on the main road were named. Magdalen lived at Gouray Lodge following her father’s purchase of this property in 1815. Members of the family lived at Gouray Lodge for nearly 100 years up until the death of Sir Adolphus Hilgrove Turner, grandson of Sir Tomkyns Turner, who is buried in the private chapel at La Croix Cemetery.

Need for education

During her residence at Gouray Lodge, Magdalen would have been very aware of the great need for education for the expanding population of children due to the large influx of workers to the village in the early 1800s. There are no log books for the school in existence and it is only in the annual returns for schools, which date from 1874, that details of this school can be found.

These returns, which are held at the Jersey Archive, show that in 1874 the principal teacher was Matthew Hole, an untrained teacher who had been in charge of the school since its opening on 20 December 1859. Dimensions are given for two school rooms, one for the infants and one for the girls, and there is also mention of Hilgrove House, which was used to accommodate the head teacher. The School Inspector’s report for the year states that ‘the children attending this school seem naturally intelligent, but their instruction is defective and discipline somewhat lax’.

In 1879 the school received its first trained teacher with Isabella Simpson (22) recorded as the principal teacher, assisted by Annie Frost (16), the pupil teacher. Most of the children were infant boys and girls aged between three and eight, with a small number of girls aged nine to 13.

The report includes a list of pupils taking examinations that year, including Rosa Amy (11), Delia Perchard (6), Charles Le Marinel (7), and Annie Le Vesconte (11). The School Inspector’s report for that year was not particularly favourable:

‘The children are in very fair order. Those examined in Standard work read well, spell fairly, but sum badly. Needlework is very elementary. Grammar fairly good. Geography is a failure. The infants are still backward: they require better graduated reading books. Failure.’

The school closed on 22 October 1939, when all of the pupils were transferred to Grouville School. In later returns, when the National School for boys had closed, it was simply called Gorey Village School.

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