The Old School House was built in 1840 to provide schooling for Tincleton and the surrounding villages. Over the next 100 or so years it was extended various times to accommodate more children, and was an active school up until the 1970s, after which time it was used mainly as an activity centre, before being converted about 20 years ago for private use.
1840: The Old School House was built
The Old School House was designed by the Victorian architect Benjamin Ferrey (b. 1810) and built in 1840 to provide schooling for Tincleton and the surrounding villages. Ferrey also designed the original hospital in Dorchester (now Benjamin Ferrey House) and many churches and other buildings, including Clyffe House which is visible from the grounds. Local lore is that it was thought to be the third local Ferrey building to be built but official records suggest it may have been the first in the sequence of Clyffe House (1842), Tincleton Church (1849) , and The Old School House (1840). It is understood to have been paid for by Charles Porter as part of his project of building himself the new Clyffe House to replace the old manor house which was near what is now Clyffe Farm. Over the next 100 or so years it was extended various times to accommodate more children, and was an active school up until the 1970s, after which time it was used mainly as an activity centre, before being converted about 20 years ago for private use.
When the school was originally built there was a main schoolroom with a high ceiling rather like a small chapel, and the schoolmistress lived in the other arm of the L-shaped building.
A Mrs Eady was the schoolmistress in the inter-war years and when she retired she continued to live in the schoolhouse along with her husband Mr Eady. The new schoolmistress was a Mrs Saloway from Bridport. She lodged in the village during the week and each weekend made the journey back to Bridport where her husband was an invalid following WW I.
1920 – 1930: first pupil to university
In 1928 the van de Weyer family who then owned Clyffe House renovated an old cottage in the village and Mr & Mrs Eady moved out of the schoolhouse to the cottage. It was at this time that Phillip Hewett was a pupil at the school and he recounts that a Mrs Nobes took over as schoolmistress at this point. At that time the main schoolroom had two classes in it, and the most junior class was in what is now the foyer. The location of the children was no accident – the older you were the further away from the various fires and stoves you had to sit.
Phillip has been our oldest old-boy to visit us. He is a retired minister who is now 90-years old and travelled from Canada to holiday with his sister who still lives in Dorset, in old Poundbury in Dorchester. He was born in 1925 and first went to school here in 1928 as a pre-4th pupil. He was the first pupil from the school to go to university, studying at Oxford both during and after WWII punctuated by a time as a aviator in the war effort. In the 30s he said that the open fields between the church and the village were grazing, and that there were three gates on the roads to stop the livestock straying. Out of school hours the children used to close the gates and then charge road traffic a penny to open them. At that time the school took pupils from both Woodsford and Tincleton as the Woodsford school was built later. After taking his 11+ exam in 1936 he went to Dorchester Grammar and then joined the RAF flying training programme in Manitoba (Canada). He was about to go operational when the war in the Pacific ended and in 1947 returned to Oxford to study divinity. After practicing in Montreal (Canada) and Ipswich (UK) he ultimately emigrated to Canada in 1956 where he settled in Vancouver through until his retirement. He also recalls when the old corrugated iron village reading room was pulled down and replaced by the village hall in 1934, including all the rats that swarmed out from under it. He recounts that the van de Weyers sponsored the Sunday School (in the school) and all the children who attended consistently during the year as evidenced by attendance stamps were invited to a Christmas party at Clyffe House, and to a seaside outing to Weymouth in the Summer. His younger sister Brenda did not go to school in Tincleton as by then the family had moved to Puddletown and later still to Dorchester where she went to school. His elder sister Rona was briefly at school in Tincleton. We know from speaking with Phillip that the front door was added after he left the school, and the matching window, both of which are in concrete as distinct from the limestone surrounds of the other doors & windows.
1934 view of Old School House with Phillip Hewett playing in the rear garden of the house near the Forge with his sister
Phillip Hewett (highlighted) in a class photo from 1934 at The Old School House in Tincleton
The first of the Van De Weyer family in UK was the Belgian ambassador, Sylvain, born in Leuven, who came to England in about 1840. His grandson, Adrian’s father bought Clyffe House in the 1920s. Their younger son was killed in the Second World War and if you walk along the public footpath between Tincleton hang and Cowpound Wood you will find a memorial stone with the inscription: Adrian Van De Weyer, Rifle Brigade, Calais, May 26 1940. Apparently he was killed as a Second Lieutenant in the siege of Calais that preceded the evacuation from Dunkirk. His grave is one of the 880 in the Calais Southern Cemetery. Later on in the 1940s the van de Weyers sold Clyffe House and the surviving mother moved to Dorchester via a spell at Tenantrees in West Stafford. The elder brother Sylvain survived the war.
The 1970s: big collars, flared trousers, and hot summers
A young teacher called Wendy Hill had one of her first and best teaching jobs at Tincleton in the early 1970s and was able to show us some photos when she visited. Her classroom was the 1950s construction room on the north side of the building, and she could remember where her desk and the bookcase were, and the view out of the window across the fields. The head master/mistress had just retired and so for the first few terms she worked alongside a temporary headmaster who she recalls as being incredibly supportive and encouraging. He moved on and was replaced by a Mr Rowlands.
The black and white photo is of the school games day and Wendy Hill is the young teacher standing up. The house in the background to the south is Clyffe Cottage and you can see the yew trees of the churchyard to the side. The photo is taken on the field of Ewelease Farm that is crossed by the public footpath.
She left in 1975 shortly before expecting her first daughter. The colour photo is of the whole school and is taken a year after she left, showing the head, Mr Leslie Rowlands, and the teacher who took over from me, Mrs Aish. It was taken outside the school, against one of the walls.
2014: Tincleton Gallery opens
We opened Tincleton Gallery at The Old School House in the original Victorian classroom of this Grade 2 listed building, to display the work of a small group of artists for Dorset Art Weeks in 2014. There was a range of artwork – oils, watercolors and some glass mosaics too. Because of the success of the venue we held some more shows and evolved organically to hold an almost continuous series of exhibitions of particular artists in the main room, and we show pieces from our range of gallery artists in the foyer and in the sculpture garden.