By Maurice C. Andrews, 1979
Although there have been, and are, private schools in the village, the village school has been the main centre of education since the mid 19th century. In 1855 when Sarah Ann Hedgcock was the school mistress, there were 15 boys and 25 girls in the school. This was The National School located in The Old Schools which most of my Pulley ancestors attended, including my mother who left at the age of 11 years. My eldest sister, Nancy, was also there during her early years.
In 1880, Horatio Ellwood was the Headmaster with Miss Edith Prince in charge of the infants. By 1896, the well-known and much feared William Timms was in charge of the school with Miss Clements in the Infants Department. My mother has related many tales about Mr Timms and he himself, retired and very old, once told me that “the Pulley girls were never much trouble but Mary was so clever she needed much watching.”
In June 1901, many villagers complained to the school authorities about the children playing in the road outside The Old Schools. A subsequent report in the Evesham Journal records:
“Cyclists need experience no annoyance now as a boy will be stationed outside the School with a whistle or bell to stop the games when any trap or cycle is seen approaching.”
By 1919, the new school building in the Willersey Road was in operation and the new master, the 32 year old Archibald Bridgman from Bromsgrove had arrived. ‘Bridgie’ was to stay until he retired in 1947. Nearly 30 years of devoted service and in my book one of the best village headmasters in the country. For all but the last two years of that long period he had had an Andrews child at his school. He was ably assisted over those years by Miss Woodward, Miss Simister, George Knott, Miss Tilley, and many others, and in the Infants Department were Miss Kilburn, Miss Paynter and Miss Burrows.
Among the many private schools in the early days were those at Pear Tree House and Pond Close. Picton House too, as well as being an old inn, was also a private school. Today, not far from Pear Tree House, is a very fine private school established by Mrs and Miss Smart.
There was an Endowed Free School founded in 1686 by the Will of Thomas Hodges, regulated by the Board of Education, for the education of 20 poor boys. In 1855, the Headmaster was William Davis who was also the village sub-postmaster.
St Mary’s School, the Roman Catholic School adjacent to the Catholic Church in Willersey Road, was erected in 1851. The foundation stone was laid in May 1851 by Mr W. Barley. The contractor was the Broadway builder, William Hensley, and the Ceremony of Blessing was conducted by the Very Reverend Father Vincent, the then Rector. The building opened in September 1851 and in 1855 on adjoining land was built St Joseph’s school house as a residence for the head teacher.
Maurice C. Andrews MBE