Education in Pooley Bridge

By Joyce Robinson

Banner Image © Joyce Robinson

'Non Mihi Sed Successoribus'

'Not to me but to my successors'

First school founded in 1649

Reverand Lancelot Dawes built the old vicarage at Barton in 1637. The date stone and inscription on the old vicarage behind St Michaels Church – the humble building tucked behind the grand Victorian vicarage - could be an indication that despite having no successors, Lancelot Dawes was keen to leave a legacy for future generations. To this end he, along with the Reverend Gerald Langbaine, was instrumental in founding the first school in the Parish of Barton on the outskirts of Pooley Bridge, in 1649. There was obviously much interest and a need for this Free School as many endowments and promises of yearly payments to fund the school were made. There were also offers of labour to cart wood, stone and other materials to build the school.

Date Stone © Joyce Robinson

A small one storeyed building situated on the edge of the moor, probably common ground at that time, was erected. It was not actually in Pooley Bridge but between Pooley Bridge and Barton. A schoolmaster, William Airey, was provided by the founders and a board of governors formed, containing many recognisable persons of the area and other parishioners of Barton.

Detail from original school oak door, still in situ © Joyce Robinson

Second story added in 1662

The school flourished and in 1662 the building was extended by adding a second storey. Again this was funded by local landowners and farmers. However, it must be noted that the principal landowner, Lord Dacre, provided wood for joists, doors and tables rather than cash because his extravagant life at court had left him destitute. It was yeoman farmers and tenant farmers who gave monies ranging from 6d to £5 to pay for the work. An unexpected gesture by the Schoolmaster paid for the roof to be removed and replaced – which was probably made of thatch. This gesture was so unusual it was mentioned in the school records. These records also mention the funding for 2 apprentices plus the many sources of income for the school. The records were kept in a chest in Barton Church and were only removed in 1980, firstly to Carlisle Castle and then to the Archive Department in Kendal.

Original school house now a private home © Joyce Robinson

Compulsory education meant a larger school was needed

The first Education Act, in 1870, made education compulsory, and this meant that the existing school building was inadequate. Once again money was raised and a new schoolroom was built, close by at Cracoe, to accommodate 91 children. The old school was bought by J H Cumpston, who also owned the nearby Barton Hall. His initials appear above the door along with the date 1910 when it became a private house.

The new school house, now a holiday home © Joyce Robinson
Date stone on the school master's house at Cracoe, rented in 1701 but later purchased by Rev Lancaster and given to the school © Joyce Robinson

In 1946 Barton school was closed, with the remaining pupils moving to Yanwath School. The buildings were sold to the Pastoral Aid Society to become a camp for Children from urban areas, and the schoolhouse became a private home. Monies from the sale were invested and used to set up The Barton Education Foundation Trust which, to this day, awards grants to students living in The Ancient Parish of Barton who are moving on to Further Education. The legacy of Rev L Dawes still continues.

By Joyce Robinson

Browse the Heritage Knowledge Bank