Viscount Beaumont's School

The School was founded in 1702 following the establishment of a trust set up in the will of the third Viscount Beaumont (also known as Viscount Beaumont of Swords). The Free School was to teach children to read and write and the original building was capable of teaching 60 boys and 60 girls.

This was pretty forward-thinking as there was no obligation to provide schooling until the 1880 Act made education of all children between the ages of 5 and 10 compulsory.

The Old Hospital & Free School was built to accommodate six widows of the parish on the site near the junction of Remstone Road and Ashby Road where the current Almshouse building is located.

Coleorton School & Almshouse

This is an engraving by S Shaw which shows the School and almshouse building in 1794 - quite an imposing building.

The original building in 1702 had eight rooms on the ground floor, six for the widows, two for the schoolmaster, and two large rooms above, one for the boys school and one for the girls.

In 1806 Dorothy Wordsworth was staying at Hall Farm with her brother William Wordsworth and his wife Mary Hutchinson and their children. In a letter to Lady Margaret Beaumont (Sir George and Lady Margaret were staying in London at the time) Dorothy writes about her nephew John's first days at school. This was the original Viscount Beaumont School and "Hospital" just by Coleorton Hall.

From Dorothy Wordsworth to Lady Margaret Beaumont 14 November 1806

"... In consequence of your hint my sister and I walked to the Hospital the next day, and the day after we sent John to school and a proud scholar he is. He goes with his dinner in a bag slung over his shoulder, and a little bottle of milk in his greatcoat pocket, and never man was fuller of pride and self importance.

The poor old schoolmistress has been very ill, and is not yet able to attend to the children herself; but her daughter said she now wanted nothing but good nursing. We saw her in bed, and were pleased to observe how clean and comfortable all things were about her. She had had an apothecary to attend her. She appeared to be very feeble but she told us that she expected to be able to go into the school again in a day or two. We shall call to see her this afternoon. Peggy goes with John in the mornings, and Tom brings him home in the afternoon."

John was born on 18 June 1803 so would have been 3 and a half years old. Not aware of the name of the schoolmistress - needs research - or who Peggy and Tom were.

Lucy BeckwithIn 1820 John Beckwith and his wife Lucy were appointed as school master & mistress with responsibility for the Almshouse. John & Lucy came from Essex near to the family seat of the Beaumonts in Dunmow. As master he received an annual salary of £65, an allowance of 12½ tons of coal and occupied the rooms rent free. He was expected to instruct as many children from the parish as the rooms would accommodate. The children had to be over 6 years, and not many stayed beyond the age of 12. They would have been needed in the fields or to help with home-based occupations. In 1839 there were 50 boys and 40 girls registered. The girls were taught by Lucy Beckwith, John’s wife, whose services were paid from within her husband’s salary. The charity funded all books and stationery. Lucy had a reputation for being a strict disciplinarian.

John & Lucy taught at the school until around 1857 - nearly 40 years. More about the Beckwiths >>

In 1860 John Beck was headmaster. (Commercial Directory Leicestershire 1860)

The new School built in 1867

In 1867 Canon W. B. Beaumont built the current school in Ashby Road next to St John's Chapel. A pupil of the early 20th century remembers children marching around the playground chanting tables, using chalk and slates, blazing open fires in the class rooms, pupils stoking the boilers.

In 1926 free school meals were started at the school despite the fact that the school had no kitchen facilities. This meant that 69 children had to march from the school at 12.15p.m. to the Methodist Chapel in Lower Moor Road which could provide the meals.

Since that time the School has been updated and extended and is now a modern and bright space for the young people of Coleorton to begin their education. But it still retains some of the original features – and more importantly – the ethos of providing an opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and understanding and preparing youngsters for life in a diverse and changing world.

Extension built in 2005

View of extension and playing fields from the footpath.

The School was significantly extended in 2005 with new classrooms and facilities.

80 years ago at Viscount Beaumont School >>

Find out about the Viscount Beaumont's School today at the School website >>