Sibford Gower Primary School
In about 1560 the Sibford Gower Town Estates Charity was founded by a group of people whose names are lost to posterity; it still functions 450 years later. It began with a bequest of land, the income from which must be divided one-third to the relief of the poor, one-third to “pious and charitable purposes,” and one-third to the school and schoolmaster. The first village schoolroom of which we have definite evidence was built in 1625 but the fact that, at the foundation of the Town Estates Charity one-third of its revenue was allotted to schooling, indicates that there must have been an earlier village school. In those days a free school for children of the “working class” was unusual in England. At Sibford Gower, boys were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic; girls also had knitting and sewing. So it continued through the centuries. A report by the Charity Commissioners in 1825 tells us that “the children are taught free, but they provide their own books and writing materials. There were at the time of our enquiry 59 free children in the school.” These were children from Sibford Gower and Burdrop, the area to which the Town Estates Charity was limited. Sibford Ferris children had to pay. By 1879, the subjects taught were reading, writing, arithmetic, religious knowledge and singing, and the girls and infants were given instruction in needlework. By 1893, grammar was taught throughout the school and geography had been introduced for the boys. The school now takes some 100 children from the villages and surrounding area.
The village school was taken over by the County Council in 1951 but the grants from the Town Estate continue. One third of the income from the Town Estates Charity is allocated to spending on the school building, and additional funds are granted to help individual students with payments for outings and trips. The Trust still owns the School House, the rental from which forms a substantial part of the total yearly income. However, the Trust ensures that it is available for any Sibford Gower School teacher requiring accommodation.