Gallery: Bedfield Primary School marks 150th anniversary
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
In 1864, Britain was under the reign of Queen Victoria, Lord Palmerston was in his second term as Prime Minister, and the Ipswich Journal enthusiastically reported the opening a new school at the heart of a Suffolk village.
Yesterday, 150 years on from the foundation of Bedfield Primary School, near Framlingham, children marked its anniversary with a celebratory reenactment of the occasion.
The school was built with an initial budget of just £433 - about £40,000 in today’s money - raised by philanthropic local clergyman Reverend John Day, who also helped fund a post office and a ‘clothing club’ in the village.
Money was donated by landed gentry and the Diocese of Norwich, as well as from the proceeds of a bazaar held in the grounds of Framlingham Castle by the Countess of Stradbroke and friends.
The official opening ceremony was attended by 16 clergymen including the Bishop of Norwich on May 3, 1864, when a procession of children singing All Glory, Laud, and Honor walked with banners from the school to the church for a service which was “crowded to excess”, according to the newspaper report.
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Fast forward 150 years, and the children of Bedfield Primary were heading back to the Church of St Nicholas to relive the procession and ceremony in the company of former pupils, parents and staff.
Back at the school, everyone enjoyed a fun afternoon and barbecue organised and funded by the Friends At Bedfield School (FABS).
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The original building plans for the school - designed by a Mr Barnes of Ipswich and built by Mr Smith of Dickleburgh - were lent for the celebration by the local Nesling family, several generations of which have attended Bedfield Primary.
Jill Overbury has overseen two extensions to the school since arriving as headteacher in 2005. She said: “It has been a fantastic effort. The younger children turned the summer house into a Victorian classroom and have been comparing Victorian school with modern school, while the older children have looking at history over the last 150 years, including the major wars.
“They have been able to track children named on the old school register since 1907. Some went to war, others left school with labour certificates at 14 to go on work on the farms.”
The school decided to postpone the anniversary service until the end of term because of SATs exams, the results of which Mrs Overbury said were also worth celebrating. “We’re really pleased. A lot of children achieved level five in English and maths. From a progress point of view, all the children have succeeded,” she added.