Photograph of the official opening of the Village Hall in 1960 by Miss Mary Pope with members of the Parish Council and Village Hall Committee Left to Right: Miss Mary Pope, Mrs. F. Lowndes, Mr. A.C. Thorne, Mrs. L. Olding, Mr. E. J. Mock, Mr. E. H. Pennington, Mr. F. W. Hockridge, Mr. D. N. Burrow, Mr. W. Hockridge, Mrs. J. Pope, Mrs. N. Drew, Master P. F. Burrow.
Colebrooke Parish Hall began life as the village school on August 9th 1875. For the greater part of the 19th century, Colebrooke had a “Parochial School” supported by subscription. This was in the building known as the “Old School” at the top of the hill leading into Colebrooke, recently restored.
There was also a small “Dame School” at Coleford, which was sponsored by the Madge sisters of Copplestone House.
Under the education act of 1870, the state provided for the election of “School Boards” by parishes with the power to build and manage schools.
Colebrooke School Board was formed on November 13th 1873 under the chairmanship of the vicar Rev Thomas Drosier. Samuel Norrish Esq of Horwell was made treasurer. James Kerswell the former schoolmaster, acted as clerk and three farmers, John Willcocks of Bolts, William Lee of Penstone Barton and William Brown of Whelmstone were the other members of the board. An offer of a site for the school by Mr Samuel Norrish was gladly accepted, with the proviso that it would revert to his estate if at any time in the future the school should close. And so it was that Colebrooke Board School with a teachers house attached (now known as Chenery House) was erected on this site for the sum of £1679 during 1874/1875. It was known as Colebrooke Board School until the education act of 1902 when it came under the auspices of the Local Education Authority and became known as Colebrooke Council School.
It continued as an all-age mixed school until 1948, when with the senior pupils having been transferred to Crediton, it became Colebrooke Primary School, finally closing in 1959. Miss Mary Pope of Bow, whose late mother was the niece and sole heiress of Samuel Norrish’s estates, presented the building to the parish to be used as a village hall. The teacher’s house was sold and the proceeds invested in national savings to provide an annual income towards the upkeep of the hall.
By Neville P. Enderson
© Neville P. Enderson