Malhamdale Local History Group
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High Barn Cottage, supposed site of the Malham Girls School.
The History of Education in Malhamdale
Malham Girls School
There is some scant evidence for the existence of a school for girls in the Parish of Kirkby in Malhamdale as early as 1815. The Borthwick Institute has a series of Day School Returns made to the Archdeacon of York in the latter half of 1815 and the beginning of 1816. The return for Kirkby Malham parish is itself undated and unsigned but is identical in format to those that are, and states that there is a school for girls in addition to two principally for boys.
A full transcript of the document (Ref: Y/DSR.44) is as follows
Day school Returns - Parish of Kirkby Malham
By 1818 the parochial return made to the parliamentary committee appointed to inquire into the education of the poor lists only the grammar schools at Kirkby and at Malham, with a total of seventy pupils attending, and makes no mention of a school for girls.
A Girls’ School certainly did operate in Malham in the years prior to the opening of the United School. This school was endowed with one thousand pounds by Thomas Clapham of Stackhouse in the Parish of Giggleswick. His will, dated 2nd January 1846 and proved at York on March 23rd 1846, bequeathed the sum of one thousand pounds to Thomas Preston of Scosthrop. The Charity Commissioners’ inquiry into the charities of the parish of Kirkby in Malhamdale held on June 21st 1893 long after the school had closed gives us detailed information about the endowment, describing it as Thomas Clapham’s Gift, although in later years it is often referred to as “The Malham Charity”. The inquiry report states,
The general belief in Malham is that it was in High Barn Cottage and this is supported by the fact that Mr Ted Holmes, a former occupant, found a number of slate pencils behind the window seats.
The bequest was not actually transferred to Thomas Preston until April 28th 1852 by which time it had grown to £1037. 12s. 4d. and was invested in Consols.
We have not been able to ascertain precisely when the school was founded but when the Malham Free Grammar School was inspected in the 1860s the inspector, Mr J G Fitch, in his report, published in 1869, refers to a Girls’ School “recently established in the village under the care of a certificated mistress”. He also records that in 1864 nine girls had attended the Free Grammar School who had since entered the Girls’ School.
It has not proved possible to discover the name of the schoolmistress or the number of girls attending but the standard of education must have been better than the two grammar schools because Walter Morrison, in a letter to the Endowed Schools Commission of October 1869, describes it as “a fairly good school” whilst the grammar schools were described as inefficient and unsatisfactory. He even went so far as to suggest that the mistress of the Girls’ School might be considered as the interim teacher of the combined schools.
When the scheme was drawn up for the establishment of the United school it was obviously hoped to include the Girls’ School but certain conditions were imposed by Thomas Preston which the Endowed Schools Commissioners could not accept.
However these problems must have been addressed because shortly after the new school opened the Girls’ School did merge with it and the accounts for the United School for 1874/75 include an item of £146. 15s. 11d. received from Mr Preston being the accumulated balances on Malham Girls’ School account.
Although the income from the Malham Charity was applied to the new school and Thomas Preston became one of its first Co-opted Governors, the capital sum was not immediately transferred. Mr Preston died in the early 1880s and Mr James Hammond became the trustee. Eventually, in June 1892 the sum of £1037. 12s. 4d. became part of the general endowment of the United School.
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