jueves, abril 12, 2007
The Museum Building
"Our village was blessed amongst other things with a well-endowed school. The building stood by itself, apart from the master's house, on an angle of ground where three roads met; an old grey stone building with a steep roof and mullioned windows."The museum is housed in the old school to which Thomas Hughes refers in his well-known novel "Tom Brown's School Days". Although the book deals mainly with Tom's public-school education at Rugby, the paragraph above is one of a number of descriptions given of the little school attended by the village children. Tom himself had a private tutor, but although he was taught at home, if he completed his studies he was allowed to go with a note to the school master who would then "release ten or twelve of the best boys an hour before the time of breaking up, to go off and play in the close"."The moment Tom's lessons were over, he would now get him down to this corner by the stables, and watch till the boys came out of school...Moreover his presence about the school door began to incense the master, as the boys in that neighbourhood neglected their lessons in consequence; and more than once he issued into the porch, rod in hand, just as Tom beat a hasty retreat...Even now they might have escaped, but that in the porch, barring retreat, appeared the crafty wheelwright, who had been watching all their proceedings. So they were seized, the school dismissed, and Tom and Jacob led away to Squire Brown as lawful prize."This illustration by Thomas Hughes's brother, shows the incident described above.The building was commissioned in 1617 by Thomas Saunders, a merchant who lived in Woolstone, a couple of miles away. When he died in 1644, his will charged his son (also Thomas) to endow the school with land and a house to provide for a schoolmaster in perpetuity.For the next 200 years the endowment, administered by the vicar and Churchwardens, provided almost all the education for the young of Uffington and Woolstone. The legacy still exists and is dispensed by the vicar and four residents of the two villages.The building is constructed of chalkstone blocks, known locally as 'clunch', and sits on a deep plinth of sarsen stones. The roof is of natural stone or 'stonesfield' slates. Part, at least, of the roof structure is original.The interior consists of one large room with a mezzanine gallery. The windows were placed high so that outside views would not distract the pupils during their work.The schoolroom became the village reading room when a new village school was built in Uffington during the 1850s and was used for evening studies by those children who had to work (perhaps on a farm) during the day. The charge for this was one penny per week.Now, in addition to housing Tom Brown's School Museum, it is used for Parish Council and community meetings.
Tom Brown's School Museum
Broad StreetUffington Oxfordshire SN7 7RACopyright © 1997-2007
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