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Hovingham CE Primary School


St Hilda’s CE Primary School

Hovingham 150

School celebrates 150 years at the heart of its village

Hovingham CEVC Primary School celebrated 150 years of education at the heart of its beautiful village in 2014.

Opened on 3rd October 1864, with 42 children on roll and Mr Robert Hickes as headteacher, the school has remained in the same attractive Victorian building throughout, even though there have been many changes in education in that time. The original building was extended about 20 years later when the current Reception/ Key Stage1 classroom was added. Hovingham school has constantly developed and adapted so that its children have the best possible chance to succeed. In 2002 a mezzanine floor was added so that the school could accommodate new technologies and have a computer area. More recently the Reception/ Key Stage 1 class has been refurbished and the outdoor area developed to meet the needs of the younger children. They love learning outside!

The school has always served the immediate village and hamlets such as Stonegrave and Fryton. Nowadays children come from Scackleton, Coulton, Nunnington and Cawton too as their local schools have closed. Some parents choose to bring their children to Hovingham from as far away as Malton, because they value the small school education, where every child is really well known, nurtured and challenged, that is on offer.

The Worsley family at Hovingham Hall were responsible for building the school and have always had a very close association with it. Early log books regularly record, “Visit from Mrs Worsley,” or, “Visit from Captain Worsley.” This involvement continued into the 1980s, when Lady Bridget Worsley was Chairman of the Governors, and to this day, with Sir William and Lady Worsley playing a very active role in the school’s Hovingham150 celebrations.

In those early days the numbers soon rose and there were up to 112 children enrolled; although attendance was often badly affected by illnesses, such as scarlet fever and whooping cough, and by activities such as potato picking, hay harvest and Hovingham Feast! Over the years the numbers have varied but a fascinating rise occurred in September 1940 when 44 extra children, evacuees from Hull and Middlesbrough, arrived in the space of just 5 days. Many of them only stayed briefly, but then in July 1940 a further 45 evacuees arrived from West Hartlepool. We can only imagine the rapid changes that would have had to have been made to accommodate all of them.

Photographs in the school archive and records in the log books show just how important the school has always been to village life and vice versa; May Day celebrations with maypole dancing in front of Hovingham Hall feature regularly, sports days were, and still are, held on the cricket outfield. The school was delighted to help celebrate the wedding of the Duke of Kent to Katharine Worsley in 1961 and created a lovely celebratory scrap book which is still in school. The links with All Saints Church have always been strong and it would seem that the need to “discipline….  boys for unruly behaviour in church” was quite a regular event back in Victorian times.

Quite amazingly, there have only been five substantive headteachers at Hovingham since 1908. Quite an achievement for any school, especially as each one had to lead the school through many changes whilst keeping it right there at the heart of the village. So, no wonder the school is celebrating! There were months of preparation by staff, pupils, the Friends of Hovingham School and local organisations and it all came together in an amazing weekend in mid July.

On a beautiful sunny Friday, the school opened its doors to past pupils, staff and local people all wanting to reminisce, share stories and help current staff and pupils celebrate such an amazing milestone.

The current pupils and their families mingled with visitors who remembered the school thirty, forty, fifty and in one case, ninety years ago! The school’s original log books, registers and photographs were looked at with great interest. Many past pupils found their names and admission dates which brought back memories and invoked stories of schooldays long gone but fondly remembered. 

The children had created a timeline of school and historic events over the last 150 years. Many visitors added their own personal events and memories to it. Around the school the children’s work was displayed for parents and visitors and reflected the pupils’ hard work and achievement this term. A performance by each class wrapped up the afternoon in school, although many visitors stayed until much later. At the same time there was an exhibition of photographs and other archive material in All Saints Church which visitors could look at, spot themselves and chat about days gone by. Indeed there were several, quite emotional, reunions during the afternoon!

The Garden Party on Sunday proved to be another amazing celebration with many current families mixing with past pupils and their families. The Friends of Hovingham School provided refreshments, entertainment and ensured the afternoon ran smoothly. A fantastic replica school cake was the star of the show. This was cut by the oldest ex-school pupil at the party – George Hickes and the youngest current pupils Molly Tuke and Ella Pupius. Sir William and Lady Worsley  hosted the event in the fantastic setting of Hovingham Hall and as the sun shone down, the occasion and setting were very well matched.  

The finale of the school’s celebrations was on Sunday 5th October (the Sunday after the actual anniversary) when there was a celebratory church service in All Saints Church, led by the children, and a sermon by the Bishop of Selby.

Everyone in the school is looking forward to the future, right at the heart of the village.