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   Verwood Churches & Schools.  


   Note that this article was originally written in 1968 by Mrs. P. Reeks.   

Land was given by the Squire William Fryer for the erection of an Anglican chapel and chapel yard at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The cost of the building was met by public subscription and endowed by the Vicar of Cranborne whose stipend depended on the generosity of the neighbouring gentry.   The Chapel was consecrated in 1829, its title being "Saint Michael and All Angels".

A small chancel was erected in 1870 and in 1880 an organ was purchased at the cost of four hundred pounds.   This cost was also met by public subscription. In 1886 the galleries were removed and the chancel rewalled with buttresses added. The villages named this Lady Salisbury's Restoration as she was responsible for meeting meet of the cost.

The picture shows St Michael and all Angels
"a structure of brick and Bath stone in the Gothic Style".

A new chancel and vestry were built in 1892, the cost being met by the Reverend Claude Brown M.A. ( Wadham College , Oxford), and the churchyard was enlarged during the same year.   In 1894 the nave and western baptistry were dedicated together with the west porch and bell turret. In that year a memorial marble font with a curved oak cover was added together with a wrought iron screen round the font and one at the chancel.

In 1927 the church was described as " a structure of brick and bath stone in the Gothic style..... there are 210 sittings".   The church register dates from the year 1840.

The Church of England Infant School was established as a National School in 1837 when school was held in the church, but in 1847 a school room to accommodate one hundred and twenty children and a school house were built at a cost of two hundred and sixty pound.   This cost was by grants from the government, the National Society and by subscriptions from the local gentry and landowners. The children were taught by a certificated mistress who the government, the National Society and by subscriptions from the local gentry and landowners. The children were taught by a certificated mistress

The Wesleyan Chapel was erected in 1910 and has" 210 sittings" it was built on the site of the old Wesleyan Chapel. It is situated to the south of the United Reformed Church (previously the Congregational Church) and is currently the village library.

The Congregational Church was first established in 1802 but there appears no information of the site of this building.   However, the second church was built in 1877 as the previous one had "fallen into decay and was deemed unsafe". This second building had a school room at the rear in which a Miss Carter started a British Mixed School . The school was later managed by a United Committee and at one time had one hundred and twelve children on its books.   The building was used as a Church on Sundays, and with the pews pushed back as a school on weekdays. It was said  that when a funeral was held on a weekday, all the children had to go into the small schoolroom. It must have been for reasons such as this that the present Congregational Church was built in 1906 having "225 sittings" which left the. previous building to be used as a school.

In 1907 the school was re-opened in the evenings as the Verwood Undenominational School. During the first session twenty pupils were registered and during the following evenings others registered in twos and threes. It was privileged to look at the first school log book and find several interesting pieces of information. It was interesting to find that a potter's wheel was ordered for the school in 1909, but no record could be found concerning its delivery or use.   The school children helped the Second World War effort in several ways. During one afternoon in 1942 they gathered one and a quarter hundredweights of nettles for the Ministry of Health on other occasions during the autumn of that year they gathered two hundred and eight pounds of blackberries for the Jam Making Centre, one hundred and sixty five pounds of rose hips, three and a half pounds of fox gloves seeds and three hundredweights of horse chestnuts.

August of 1943 must have been a hot month as it is recorded that "this afternoon, the children were paraded for bathing at Doe's Hatches".  This is a fairly deep part of the River Crane, approximately one. mile from the school building.  Does Hatches can still be seen at the end of Doe's Lane. It is part of the river Crane and was owned by West Farm in Romford but is currently owned, and is part of, the Crane Valley Golf Course. 

It it also recorded that "the children gave a cheer" when the electric lights were first switched on in the school in 1946.'

In 1953 this school became the Verwood County Junior Mixed School for children between the ages of eight and eleven years, this being the age group of children it now educates.  These premises were used as a school until September 1967, although as far back as 1924 an H.M.I's report stated that:-

 "there are now only two classes in the main room and low screen s have been provided to lessen the distraction, these premises were only adapted for school purposes and can never be made entirely suitable".

Again in 1936 an H.M.T. recorded:-

"Work is still carried on in premises which have long been regarded as defective and unsuitable.  It is a matter for relief that the erection of a new building has been definitely decided on by the L.E.A. and it is hoped that this will be pressed forward with all possible speed".

However, work carried on in those premises until 1967 when the new Verwood County Junior School was officially opened on November 9th by an Old Boy of the previous school, R.D. Price esq. B.A. Deputy Education Officer for Dorset. This is now known as Hillside Community School in Hillside Road.

 "Hillside Community School was in 1967."

Copyright P Reeks.     


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