'The ghostly boy of the bell tower'
This outstanding red brick school is in the country village of Staunton-on-Wye and as a chilling ghost story attached to it, the school is a very large Victoran building and as many buildings and rooms attached to it. The ghost story goes that a young boy hung himself in the bell tower part of the school and it is said that on the day of his death every year blood stains appear on the rope in the bell tower, unfortunately because the date of this tragic incident is unknown the death record of this boy cannot be traced and still remains a mystery.
The large school was built around the late 1850’s which makes it Victorian, at the time of this construction many buildings were built, the school, among many other buildings and houses was under the George Jarvis charity, the school offered boarding since the day of opening, this was aimed for the benefit of children who came from a poor family. The school’s first schoolmaster and schoolmistress to occupy the infant’s school was Mr and Mrs Sandwick, their daughter was a pupil teacher in the school and in 1879 Mr Andrew Andrews and his wife Henrietta who was the school’s sewing mistress. Vast and much needed improvements were made to the school in 1913, the interior of the school was improved and renewed, new furniture was also supplied to the school, at this time the boys were wearing a distinctive cap and a badge and the girls would wear a ribbon.
The first headmaster of the boarding school was Mr Frederick Ramsay; in 1862 he moved with his large family from Middlesex, he was a reputed excellent headmaster who was always seen wearing a top hat and frock coat. The school’s first library and reading room was granted in 1881 when a Mr Thomas Broome applied for permission to turn one of the school’s rooms into a much needed studying room, at the same time the infant classes were transferred to the main building. In the following year 41 boys and 43 girls were clothed in different uniforms, the boys would attend school wearing a jacket and waistcoat and a pair of boots, and girls would wear a frock, skirt and boots. A few years later in 1885 a training school for girls was first established in one of the school’s other buildings.
In 1894 more people began to call the school's main large building ‘The White Elephant’, this name was also used many years before by a small handful people. In 1913 the main building re-opened for boys and girls over the age of 11, at this time boys were taught mainly handiwork and general skills for life in the country and girls were taught basic domestic duties, other lessons included science, English and gardening. Disaster struck in 1919 when there was an outbreak of the disease Diphtheria which is caused by a germ that lives in the mouth, throat and nose of an infected person and is a highly contagious disease. Back in those days there was no vaccination for this type of disease so it spread quite badly, however the school nurse was called in and she stated it to be of an unusually mild form, soon after the outbreak cleared up.
In 1919 the hightop boarding school was closed down and this building was then used as a parish elementary day school, the boarding school was a complete failure and waste of time as out of the 60 years that it was open it was hardly used. In 1921 Mr George Markham and his wife Mabel who was the headmistress ran the school together, the husband and wife team finished at the school in 1948. The school still runs today as a popular country primary school that is set in a peaceful village full of old historic houses and sights.