Sandwich Infant School

Where everyone is valued and learning is fun

April 1877 - Foundation

There were a number of private schools in Sandwich in the nineteenth century. The School for Young Ladies kept by Miss Fells and Miss Cotton in Stour House, a school for Young Ladies in St.Peter's Street, a private Grammar School for boys in King Street (Sandwich School), and one or two Dame Schools.

There was a National (C.of.E) School for 82 boys in Harnet Street, where it was reported, 'there is no classroom, the school room is gloomy, the floor and roof are in serious disrepair and there is no playground'. The Girl's and Mixed Infants National School for 172 pupils was held in the premises of the Free Grammar School. It was originally housed in Manwood Court, Strand Street and the National School took over the premises but 'on sufferance only and may be required at any time to give up possession.'

In 1871, a subcommittee of 'the Managing Committee of Sandwich National Schools' on behalf of the Corporation, met to consider improvements rendered necessary by the Elementary Education Act of 1870. There was not sufficient public elementary education for the 430 children estimated to require it. A School Board was formed in 1875 and a Board School with Master's House adjoining was opened for about 460 children in 1877.

This is now the Sandwich Infant School building. It then housed three schools; Infant (in the centre, girls (beside the School House and boys (facing Church Street St. Mary's).

The School Board members were often Town Councillors led by the Mayor, who visited the school on a regular basis. The most active were Mr Jacobs and Mr Rose.

1877 - 1939 The school only had two headteachers during this time:

Miss Elizabeth Harrod 1877 - 1914    

Miss O'Reilly 1914 - 1939  

May Queen

This tradition was started by Miss O'Reilly. The following is the account of the celebrations on May 13th 1916 in St Clement's Parish Hall as published in the East Kent Mercury.

Performance by Sandwich Infant School

In the afternoon the boards were occupied by the children attending the Infants School who gave an excellent entertainment in aid of 'The Wounded Soldiers Fund'. The opening item, 'the Procession of the May Queen' gave a good idea of the careful training the children receive. The procession was headed by boys with garlands and the reigning queen and her train bearers who took their places on the right side of the platform. Following came the little performers who filed silently to the anteroom to the accompaniment of the piano. These were succeeded by the new queen escorted in the same manner to the left side of the platform.

'Come lasses and lads' was given as a chorus by some twenty little boys and girls, and Little Miss Muffet which followed was one of the most interesting items. A little maid of tender years took the part faultlessly, throwing down her basin and standing with bent head throughout the song. 'Children of the Street' was given as a chorus by six small children in character and 'Our Golliwogs' was equally well rendered.

There were two capital exhibitions of the Maypole Dance, a country dance, a Milkmaids Dance, a ball drill and a Swedish Dance.

Other items were Nursery Rhymes, Lullaby and the songs Little Red Riding Hood, The Almond Tree, A Modern Bo-Peep, The Birdies Ball, and The Lost Doll, the latter given by a little girl whose search was successful!

The queens with their retinues and performers again decorously marched out to music. In the interval Alderman Jacobs, Chairman of the School Managers tendered the thanks of the School Managers to Miss O' Reilly the Headmistress and her Staff.

The performance throughout reflected the utmost credit upon the children and the teachers, and the little ones seemed to take infinite delight in their efforts.

Prize Giving

August 16th 1884

On Friday last the annual presentation of prizes took place at the schools in the presence of several members of the School Board and visitors. The prizes which consist of a number of instructive and handsomely bound books are purchased with funds subscribed by the inhabitants of the town.

The presentation began in the Infants School, where after some pieces had been sung under the direction of Miss Harrod, the books, cards, etc., were given by Dr. Hiller, the Chairman of the School Board. All the little people (and some were so little that they could only just toddle up to the desk) received something, if only a picture postcard.

August 28th 1897 (Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Year)

The Infants Department was first visited, where Miss Harrod has for so many years watched the development of knowledge in the children of Sandwich. It is hardly necessary to say that the school was in perfect order, and the children, the girls at any rate, looked like a garden of flowers so sweet and rosy did they appear. Nearly all of them seemed to have prizes so that contentment reigned supreme.

Queen Victoria's - Golden Jubilee

(from the East Kent Mercury June 25th 1887)

After a service in St Clement's Church at which The School Manager Dr. Hilliard died suddenly, the Mayor retired to the Council Chamber.........

Then.........The school children who were assembled in the open space in front of the Guildhall under the direction of Mr Denigan, the Headmaster of the Board School sang the anthem 'Awake! O Happy Nation' Further celebrations followed:-

At a quarter past one practically all the children of the town under the age of fifteen assembled at the Board School and marched from thence to the Guildhall. Very happy they looked and very smart and soldier like was the appearance of the boys as they marched up in line under the direction of Mr. Denigan.

The procession being formed and a judicious distribution of flags being made along the ranks, the march was continued through some of the main streets of the town to Stonar Meadows where the afternoon was spent happily in merry sports and amusements. The Committee had neglected nothing that would contribute to giving the children a treat, the memory of which would remain with them for the rest of their lives. A conjuror, races for prizes of various kinds, swings, roundabouts, the ever popular Punch and Judy show,...listened to with as much delight by older children as by the young; these and a score of other pastimes made the time pass all too rapidly until half past four when the whole company marched to the Drill Hall in which and in an adjoining tent a plentiful repast was spread. Upon the return to the meadows the time passed in a somewhat similar manner to the afternoon, with the addition and attraction of a number of balloons, many in the shape of animals, whose effigies resented the attempt to make them inhabitants of the air in opposition to their nature by careering through that element in all sorts of queer positions, to the delight of the spectators.

Of course the band played sweet music at intervals and at about eight the proceedings on the ground were brought to a close by presentation to every child of a bun and a medal by the gracious hands of the Mayoress, assisted of course, by her popular and public spirited husband.

Celebrations at our 125th birthday

On May 17th 2002 the school stepped back in time, with pupils and staff dressed in Victorian clothes to celebrate its 125th birthday.

The Time Capsule

In the same week as the celebrations, some of the children took part in the burying of a time capsule for the new road development sponsored by Pfizer. Kent County Council along with the companies involved in the construction of the road: May Gurney, Jacobs and Pfizer gave speeches to the visiting dignitaries and all the Sandwich schools.  

Special guest "Raven" from the CBBC then choose four children, one from each school to help bury their capsule.                

We are 130years old!!

Sandwich Board School opened on 23rd April 1877 which means that  we celebrated our 130th birthday in 2007. We planned some exciting events with the junior school to mark this special occasion which took place during July. If you or your relatives went to this school,  you may recognise a photo on the "Old School Photographs" page of this website where you will find photographs of former students from 1877 - 2007. During the celebrations we held an exhibition of the photographs and memorabilia, which was open to the public since so many people in Sandwich have ties to the school.

The school held a Victorian Day and all the children and staff dressed up in Victorian costume for the day. The children tried writing on slates as well as sitting in rows in the classroom.                                                            

The Mosaic - 130yrs old

When Libby Wood took over the headship of Sandwich Infant School she realised that there was no record of the age of the school in the fabric of the building. With the 130th birthday of Sandwich Board School on April 23rd 2007 it was decided to record the event by creating a mosaic which would then be a permanent record of the school's foundation in 1877.

The official unveiling of the mosaic started a week of birthday celebrations. The mosaic was unveiled by "Raven" from CBBC.  The children from SandwichJuniorSchool came to join in the special occasion. There were also former pupils from Sandwich Technology School and Sir Roger Manwood's School. Raven was shown around the school by Mrs Wood and went into all the classrooms to talk to the children. In each class he was asked whether he could really do magic and whether he can change into a bird and fly, Raven confirmed that he could but only in the Land of Raven. All the children participated in creating the mosaic which took two days to complete and were rewarded with a piece of birthday cake made by parent Emily McGrath.

Celebrating-140yrs old

The school opened to the public on Saturday 15th July 2017 for the morning.  Photographs were displayed around the hall walls of pupils and staff from past years. The registers and diaries kept by the headteachers were on display for everyone to read. The headteacher Mrs Wood along with the secretary Mrs Cowling and Cleaner In Charge Mrs Garrett chatted to members of the public who had attended as pupils or staff.

Families who were working on their family history found the registers of great interest. Some found their parents and grandparents who had attended the school.  The morning was a great success and hopefully another day will be held in the coming years for others to read our wonderful diaries dating back to 1877 when the school opened.

(Some paragraphs from the diaries can be read on this page.)

The children and staff dressed up in costume from past years for a 140th tea party.  The weather was dry and sunny so we were able to set up tables in the garden with food and drink for everyone. They played games and had photos taken of the day.