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The Oral History Group is organising a reunion for anyone who attended Eardisland School which closed in 1979.
Eardisland School Reunion: to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the first school in the village

It is exactly 350 years since the first school was established in Eardisland. The grammar school was built in 1652 following a bequest by William Whittington, who provided funds in his will. The manacles used on disruptive and naughty children can still be seen on the famous whipping post. This school closed in about 1825 when the new building was erected, and this was expanded further in 1874. There were then two classrooms in operation, known as the big room and the little room. Until this time, it is thought that the girls were educated separately from boys and there are records to show that the lower part of the Dovecote, recently restored, was used for the education of girls by the wife of the master who was teaching the boys. It is believed that there was also a dame school in the village in the Victorian period.

Members of Eardisland Oral History Group who attended the local school before it closed in 1979, are keen to hold a reunion for anyone who was a pupil there at any time, to celebrate the anniversary. Gill Richards and her daughter Cathy, John Gittoes and Brian Powell, have happy memories of their school days there and are organising a reunion to be held on Saturday 21st September. In 1901 when the stern, but well respected Headmaster, Tom Wood was in charge, the numbers exceed 100; sadly, when it was forced to close its doors to local children, there were less than 20 on the roll. He is one of the two teachers whose names are most frequently recalled, especially by an older generation educated before the war. The other is the kindly Mrs Davies, his assistant, whose husband was the village postmaster. Tom Wood spent the whole of his career in the school, from 1901 until his death in 1941 and Mrs Davies, was there for 34 years, from 1914 until 1948. After the war there were 7 Head teachers, the longest serving being Mrs Marie Powell and the last was Mrs Chappell.

It was the lack of certainty as to its future in the 1970s which caused parents to send their children to other local schools, forcing its closure in July 1979, despite strong attempts to save it. However, the old school has subsequently become the village hall and remains a vibrant place, although generally less noisy than when young children attended each day. Part of the nearby recreation ground is about to be renovated as a play area, and not far away is the bowling green well used by the older generation, many of whom were once pupils in the school.

Anyone who was ever a pupil in the school, or who may know of anyone who was, is encouraged to spread the word and will be most welcome to come along to meet old friends or reminisce about memories of the school. The Oral History Group will be keen to record your recollections. For more details about the event to be held from 7.00pm on Saturday 21st September, please contact Gill Richards 01544 388323

The School in 1902
in 1920
and 1979
Left: The last pupils in 1979

Work is in hand transcribing details of records made and it is hoped that these will be published in due course and placed on this website.

We have received very interesting and helpful details regarding the early ownership of Burton Court from Paul Davis, a correspondent in California. He is a descendent of the St Owen family who held the manor in the 14th century. He has given details of other genealogist who are also interested in the de Braose family. It is apparent that the libraries to which he has access in USA appear to have better records than those we can access! However, we are hoping to provide some help (especially via the work of Paul Remfry) to his investigations.


The filming work on this video production has now been completed. It is in the process of being edited and should be available by the end of November. The video shows the hidden heritage of Eardisland and has been made by Squirrel Productions of Chester.

The film will last 30 minutes and show a group of children exploring the unusual aspects of Eardisland's history. It will also demonstrate the methods that can be used to uncover it. The production has been organised by the Eardisland Oral History Group and has been funded by the Countryside Agency.

Details of how the video can be obtained will be provided later.

Filming by the AA box
The film crew by the restored Dovecote

The photos of the Burton Court archive taken by Graham Simpson are now available for inspection, also others of the DMV and moated farmstead field (by Diane Wolland). Many thanks to both. We will make use of them when the foot and mouth crisis is resolved. The aim is to recreate the photographs so that we can see the kinds of changes which have occurred in the landscape over the last 100 years. Also to assess why photographs were taken from particular points and the light they may throw on the attitudes and values of those who took them in about 1902.

We have been provided with the opportunity to have a specially built display case in the Dovecote in which items can be shown to the public. We are grateful to the Dovecote Trust for this assistance. Work on this will begin soon.

Liz, Ed and Paul were interviewed on a live breakfast programme on Tuesday 29th May at 8.3Oam. They de-scribed the work being undertaken at Burton Court. Dr Ray dis-cussed the possibility of a nearby ancient site becoming the sub-ject of a professional excavation in the fu-ture in the interview.


The Hidden Heritage of the Parish

A year ago the Oral History Group obtained a grant from the Countryside Agency to assist in the work being undertaken to record and publicise aspects of Eardisland's heritage. This has included:-

  • the production of a parish map by an artist
  • assisting with the recording of the churchyard memorials
  • undertaking a photographic record of the majority of properties in the parish
  • setting up a website on which aspects of Eardisland`s history and significant features can be high-lighted (although not the properties!)
  • the provision of display facilities of significant heritage items
  • an archaeological and historical research project centred on Burton Court, with
  • opportunities for parishioners to take part and be kept informed of outcomes
  • the setting up of an introductory computer course for parishioners
  • the production of a video which provides details about sites of historical interest in the village and which would have educational value
  • relevant publications

Most of these are either well advanced or completed. It is hoped that the Parish map will be displayed in the church, with a copy in the Dovecote. Reproductions will be placed on sale. We are fortunate to have Pat Kay, a former art teacher to undertake this work.
The memorials in the churchyard were duly recorded, under the guidance of Graham Simpson. It is hoped that the results will eventually be made available to those requiring information.

The photographic record is underway, but is yet to be completed. Further assistance may be required to do so, and those who have expressed interest will be contacted shortly.

The website is well in hand and material is due to be submitted shortly based on the work of the oral history and archaeological projects group.
A new display case has been built to specifications by Homestead Furniture Co. of Kington and contains a display of medieval pottery found at Burton Court.

The archaeological project is well underway, as reported elsewhere in this magazine. The work of the group is rated as very important by Dr Ray of Herefordshire Archaeology and members have been invited to present material at the next Symposium to be held at the Courtyard Theatre in Hereford on 24th November. He wishes to encourage other groups in the county to follow our lead.

It is hoped that an introductory computer course will be started in October for those who have expressed interest. The hold up has been the result of difficulties in getting the providers to finalise arrangements.

The heritage history video was completed by Squirrel Productions at the end of August. We were extremely grateful to the large number of people who helped so willingly with their time and efforts; ten young children (aged 8-13) were involved and despite the slow and complicated process of filming scenes, managed to retain their concentration and interest throughout. The film makers were greatly impressed by our village and its history and also by the sense of community spirit which they encountered. Some time will elapse for editing but as soon as a finished product is available there will be a public showing and we hope that if successful, copies will be provided to all the schools in Herefordshire.

It is hoped that some of the material being produced by the archaeological group as well as that arising from other aspects of the history group will appear as publications when researches are completed.

The Oral History/Archaeological Projects Group has a number of items which may be of use to other parish organisations. They include
Photo cassette projector
Overhead projector

For details of any of the above please contact any member of the Oral History/Archaeological Projects Group

Oral History Group


Eardisland Oral History and Archaeological Projects Group Exhibition to celebrate the jubilee

A jubilee celebration exhibition is being held in St Mary's Church from February until November 2002. This will include a display to illustrate national events during the period of the Queen's fifty years on the throne, organised by the village Millennium Committee.

In addition, the Oral History and Archaeological Projects Group have also mounted an exhibition to commemorate some of the significant events that have occurred in the parish between 1952 and 2002. The work of this group has been made possible by a substantial grant from the Local Heritage Initiative. This is a national grant scheme administered by the Countryside Agency and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Nationwide Building Society. The LHI provides financial support for the protection and enhancement of local heritage for the benefit of the community for appropriate projects. This has enabled members of the groups to complete some unusual and important community based projects, which would have been impossible without this support.

In the course of their work, which began in 1993, the Oral History Group has acquired a large archive of photographs and a selection has been made from these to illustrate many interesting and memorable events. Among the themes covered are the floods in almost every decade, sporting, cultural and social celebrations, from the Coronation to the Queen's Silver jubilee. There are also photographs of a number of village celebrities, marking unusual achievements.

Also included are items of memorabilia as well as a large number of examples of books and poems written by parishioners, and a range of reports, pamphlets and other documents relating to village history. Some of these have been written by local historians others were uncovered in the course of research.

The work of the Archaeological Projects Group, which was established in 1999, is also displayed, together with examples of artefacts uncovered. Tim Hoverd of Herefordshire Archaeology supervises this work. The case study of Burton Court, which is still in progress has produced over 1500 examples of sherds of pottery which have been identified by experts as being no later than the 12th century. These were made in Worcester, Malvern and the Cotswolds suggesting important trade routes with these places were in use after the Conquest. A major find has been a Norman gaming counter, thought to be the first discovered in Herefordshire. Examples of these are also on display in the Dovecote together with photographic illustrations.

In addition to the exhibitions, for example, the two groups have undertaken and completed several other projects. Their professionally produced history video will soon be available, which aims to encourage an interest in local history in junior school children. A copy will be provided to each school in Herefordshire. They have also organised the production of a special artistic Parish Map, which will be presented to all children in the parish in June. All the churchyard memorials were recorded earlier in the year and further research is ongoing. Many experts in the field of local history and archaeology have contributed to the information being collected and a series of public talks and discussions in the village hall were well attended as was the computer course organised by the history group for members of the parish.

More information about the Local Heritage Initiative can be found at

The exhibition in the Church is open to the public from Wednesday 6th February and the Dovecote is also open daily.