28 April 2022
In search of some of
the lost schoolhouses
of Stony Stratford
As I continue to enjoy the architectural heritage of Stony Stratford, I have written in recent weeks about two former schools in this town on the edges of Milton Keynes: Saint Paul’s School, now Saint Paul’s Court, on High Street, and the school on the corner of Wolverton Road and London Road which was once associated with Wolverton Saint Mary’s – it was designed by the local architect Edward Swinfen Harris and now the Old School House public house.
But Stony Stratford has many other former school buildings that are of architectural and historical interest.
The former ‘British School’ on the corner of High Street and Wolverton Road is now a public hall. The school was founded in 1844 for girls and boys who were not allowed to enter Church of England schools.
It is built in yellow brick and has an interesting composition, with its double entrance doors – presumably for boys and girls – with their fanlights in stilted arches, its curved corner and return.
This two-storey, three-bay building has a centre with a pediment on wide piers, a tympanum that is flush with the piers, and a blind circular panel with the legend ‘British School 1844.’
The central window on the ground floor may have been inserted at a later date.
The curved corner once the ticket office for local steam trams.
The school closed in 1907, and this landmark building in the heart of Stony Statford is now a public hall and a dance studio.
At the other end of High Street, the former Dame School House is at No 103. This is now a private, family home. When it was on the market recently, the estate agents described it as ‘a Grade II listed Georgian house,’ although a plaque on the house dates the school to ca 1650.
The house retains many of its original features, including fireplaces and exposed wall and ceiling beams, a steep early tiled roof, and hipped dormers with sash windows. The six-panel front door is set in a Regency doorway with a reeded surround.
A much earlier school on High Street dated from In 1609, Michael Hipwell, an innkeeper, left a bequest in the income from his properties to ‘keep a Free Grammar School in the back’ of his inn, then the Rose and Crown and now Nos 26 and 28 High Street.
Inside, these houses are said to retain some good late 16th century features, including stone fireplaces, moulded jambs and Tudor mouldings on a doorway. in next room. This building is the reputed site of Edward V’s arrest in 1483.
Stony Stratford had three schools in the Market Square in the 1830s, including a ‘ladies’ seminary’ in a corner house that has since been demolished, and a second ‘ladies’ seminary’ run by the sisters Miss May Linnel and Miss Helen Linnel.
Later in the mid-19th century Elizabeth Baxter, Mary Linnel and a Miss Chibnall ran schools in the square, and Robert Bell ran a boys’ boarding school – all probably housed at different times in the 19th century in the building now known as Market House.
In the 1860s, another ‘ladies’ seminary’ seems to have been run by a Mrs Banks and her daughter at the home of ‘Mr Woollard the Tanner’ on Church Street.
York House, on the corner of York Street and High Street, was a private school from 1853 or earlier. When the school moved to London Road around 1902, it took its name with it, and was known as York House School.
York House School was run by a Mrs Slade and her two daughters until they retired in 1933.
The former school premises on London Road is now the York House Centre with community facilities, while the former school premises on High Street is now the Conservative Club.