Thorpe’s red-brick state school was built in 1864 on former glebe land. The land was conveyed in July 1864 by the incumbent, Rev’d Robert Pargeter Humfrey, with the consent of the Lord Bishop of Peterborough and the Overseers of the Poor of the parish.
The first meeting of Thorpe’s ‘School Board’ was held in 1871, comprising the rector, two churchwardens and three other parishioners. The meeting decided that ‘all children up to their twelfth birthday be compelled to attend school’. This was higher than the national requirement as it was not until 1880 that all children were compelled to attend school between the ages of five and ten. Thorpe’s School Board set a local parish rate to provide funds for school expenses. Nationally, fees for poor children were paid by the boards from 1876 until 1891 when all fees were abolished. The minutes of Thorpe’s School Board in August 1891 refer to the acceptance of the free grant offered by the Education Department and that from 1 September the school would become a free one.
In 1896 the School Inspector commented that ‘the small classroom is so crowded with heavy furniture that free movements are impossible’. The rector pointed out that the furniture had been ordered at the instigation of the inspectors in recent years. The school building was enlarged in 1898 at a cost of almost £74. Even then, it only had two classrooms, separated by folding screen doors, for infants and juniors; the latter being known as the ‘mixed’ class. Thorpe’s average school attendance at the turn of the century was 25 pupils.
Inevitably the little school closed; in 1967 all children were transferred to Culworth School. The head teacher’s closing remarks poignantly remind us of earlier times: “I shut the door of this little school with much sadness. I do not think it is often realised how much a small school gives in experience of human relationships. The younger ones striving to keep up with the older; and the older ones taking thought and responsibility for the younger. It is teaching in its ideal form. G. L. Haynes, 13 July 1967”.
Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance sold the land and buildings in 1970 for £500 to a newly formed charitable trust known as Thorpe Mandeville Village Hall. The hall has subsequently been the venue for many social activities.
(Foreground in the main photograph: The Village Hall (former state school), 1996)