Wing Village Mysteries: Part 3
At the start of this series of articles for the Wing Village website, I referred to the mysteries concerning Wing Village that I encountered during the reading and research I undertook for the book ‘A History of Wing Village and Its Setting 1066-2018’ (if you haven’t bought a copy as yet they are still available at £15 per copy either by contacting me as below or you can buy one from Walker’s Bookshop in the High Street, Oakham – all proceeds to Wing Church fabric fund and the Wing Village Hall community fund).
These mysteries concerned; people, places and situations, things that puzzled me, the biggest mystery of course being the precise origin and meaning of Wing’s enigmatic maze – a puzzle I promise to return to in a later article.
So far, I have covered the disappearance of the Sheild family from Wing and the first of two significant mysteries connected to Wing’s Church, St. Peter and St. Paul. See these articles also on the Wing Village website.
This month I’m covering the second mystery related to Wing Church, or more particularly to the Church School.
You may have vital information in your family histories, paperwork, photographs, knowledge, or attics, to unlock any of the puzzles posed in these articles and if you do, I’d like to hear from you!
The first schoolmaster listed for Wing was Mr Guninge, May 1600, but the Diocesan Visitation Books (records of the visits carried out by Bishops around the parishes within their jurisdictions, going back to the Middle Ages) record in 1560 that “…… Schools sending boys on to university from Wing and Tinwell”, which suggests that there was a school in Wing from an early date.
All schools at this date were church schools and they frequently involved the local priest or rector.
The first occupant of the original rectory in Wing is ascribed by records to the Rev. Professor Francis Meres, vicar of Wing 1602 to 1647. His son Francis is recorded as being a third year Bachelor at Trinity College Cambridge in 1631, later becoming Headmaster of Uppingham School and Archdeacon Leicester Cathedral, the latter being a post historically held by Robert Grosseteste before he became Bishop of Lincoln in 1235. Robert Grosseteste also enjoyed a Summer Palace at Lyddington and was Chancellor of Cambridge University, an appointment brought about by the Pope’s Great Interdict against King John in 1208 and which also conveyed court powers over all its scholars.
So where did the schooling take place in Wing from the middle of the 16th century until the middle of the 19th century (1853) which we know from the records is when the school that is now the Village Hall was built?
We also know that the government instructed that there be a survey of schools throughout England at the beginning of the 19th Century. The first results relating to 1818 revealed that Wing had one fee-paying school and 12 pupils. The second survey in 1831 revealed that Wing still had one fee-paying school and 20 pupils, but also had a Sunday School of 70 children, part paid for by the church and part by parental contributions.
Given that the original Rectory, its reconfigured successor now in private ownership and called Churchfield, was built in the middle of the 17th Century and was considerably larger than the present building and given the track record of the Meres’ family in connection with boarding-schools, it seems plausible that the Rectory originally housed the school and its initial pupils who may have been boarders.
It also seems likely that the expansion in the numbers of pupils from 12 to 20 between 1818 and 1831, with a rapidly growing Sunday School, would have been predicated by growth prior to 1818, necessitating a school-room. Further growth after 1831 was clearly demonstrated by the building of the large school-room in 1853 which served the population until its closure as a school in the early 1970’s.
The 1984 Listed Building citation for ‘Churchfield’, Listed as ‘The Rectory’ in 1955, I believe greatly underplays the importance of this building. The Historic England Listed Buildings Citation also contains some errors and omissions of what I consider to be critical information (see ‘Wing Village: A Directory of Listed Buildings’ David Seviour 2019, pages 12 to 17, on the Wing Village website).
There is a detached building at the rear eastern boundary of Churchfield on the western side of the cemetery with what looks like an old closed off access to the churchyard, conveniently sited adjacent to the lines of old footpaths running along the back of the church cemetery, and linking the old Rectory complex, the church, Top Street, and Glaston Road. This building is certainly of school-room size for up to around fifteen pupils and has an unrecorded date stone of 1718 together with the initials J.B. Was this the first Wing school-room outside the confines of the main Rectory building and the forerunner of the church school built to the east of the churchyard in 1853?
Substantial demolition and alteration of the Rectory occurred after 1875 and old architectural plans plotting the proposed demolition were kindly made available by the present owner of Churchfield, David Morris, at the time of my compilation of the Directory of Listed Buildings. These plans refer to this detached building as a ‘Brew House’ but such usage might have succeeded school-room usage after the 1853 relocation of the school.
Is this building the old school-room 1718 to 1853?
Your information, thoughts and any evidence for or against will be most welcome.
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David Seviour 1/4/2019