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Education in Castle Cary area

Former school at West Lydford

Schooling in Castle Cary and neighbouring parishes dates back at least until the 17th century although it was only in the early 19th century that education was made available to most children especially the poorest. Alford had a small school in the late 17th century and Barton St David in the early 18th. At Lovington and West Lydford charity schools were founded in the 18th century and Castle Cary had provision for poor children in the late 18th century. Church and private schools sprang up in Castle Cary and elsewhere in the 19th century. Even a small parish like Kingweston supported a school and Babcary had a private school.

In addition to evening classes at the Castle Cary Board school there was a women’s adult school and a men’s school at the Boyd Institute, Castle Cary,  in the late 19th and early 20th century, based on bible studies. Many private schools took boarders, clergy sometimes took boys to prepare them for public school and some farmers took agricultural pupils. By 1900 when elementary education was compulsory only tiny parishes like Wheathill had no school. In the 20th century secondary schooling for all was increasingly provided and a school was built at Ansford.

However by the late 20th century rural schools have also been lost with declining populations and the move towards larger schools. Two large primary schools in Castle Cary and Keinton Mandeville and a small one in Lovington serve the needs of young children many of whom move on to Ansford School, although there are also secondary schools at Bruton and Street on the periphery of the area and many children are educated at private schools.

Content generated during research for Victoria County History Somerset Volume X.  More information is available on the VCH Somerset website

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