St Michael’s School
As with all our neighbouring small schools, St Michael’s has a long and fascinating history. The school is mentioned in the parish records as early as 1686 when the parish book tells us that the people of the parish raised money to convert the already existing school into an endowed school. This meant that the children of the parish could be educated for free. Apparently, the lord of the manor, Henry Salkeld, promised an annual payment of 50 shillings. I’m sure this was very generous at the time but wouldn’t go far now!
The school continued relatively unchanged for a long period until the exciting addition of a new classroom in 1896. I’m not sure how much a new classroom would cost now but I should think it would be considerably more than the 1896 sum £180! An examination of the census records will no doubt show a rise in the population around that time. The building work was paid for entirely by the people of the parish.
In 1989, everything changed! The authorities made the decision to close the schools at Fletchertown and Torpenhow and build a totally new school at Bothel. It’s absolutely fascinating to see the plans and photographs of the building work and first few days of the new school (now my second home). One of the most interesting events that happened at the time is the laying of a trail of pennies from the old school to the new; it must have required some patience and lots of care, particularly when crossing the main road! The old school building is now a private house.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the new school and we are already planning the celebrations. I hope that in November you’ll be able to come down to school and help us celebrate, look at the old photographs, and share any memories you have of days gone by.