ETON had several opportunities in the nineteenth century of showing its loyalty to the Royal Family.
One memorable occasion was after the marriage of Queen Victoria, when she and Prince Albert drove through from Slough on their way to the Castle. Eton street was adorned with triumphal arches, and the royal pair was enthusiastically welcomed.
So again in 1863, on the occasion of the Prince of Wales' marriage, the whole town was likewise decorated. Mr. Thomas Hughes gave a fat sheep, which was roasted whole in the Brocas, and zoo children were regaled with hot roast and boiled beef, pudding and beer. After-wards each child was presented with a cup of wine and retained the cup in memory of the event. This was before the days of the Temperance Movement!
A tree called the Alexandra Elm was also planted in Brocas meadow by Mr. Hughes, but has since dis-appeared. A nut tree planted the same day stands in the grounds of the Crown and Cushion Inn.
But the crowning festivities were on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887, when for a whole week both Eton and Windsor kept up continual festival in splendid weather. In spite of the excitement and the enormous crowds, the general behaviour was all that could be desired ; good humour, good temper, and good manners marked this genuine rejoicing.
But to return to matters which directly concerned the parish. In October 1858 a further step was taken to meet the wants of the increasing population. The Porny Schools, built in 1813, only afforded accommodation for thirty-three boys and thirty girls, and there was but a small Infant School which held twenty scholars. It was accordingly arranged to exchange the school premises for a site belonging to Mr. Penn, then Lord of the Manor, and on this to erect a complete set of suitable buildings. The plans were prepared by Mr. Street, and the building was carried out by Mr. Hollis of Windsor at a total cost of £3000.
Hitherto all measures for the education of the poor had been carried out, here as elsewhere, solely by the voluntary efforts of the Church-people. Now for the first time the State was open to an appeal. The Educational Committee of the Privy Council, which at this time had assumed the care of elementary education, made a grant of £554; the rest was raised by local subscriptions including £250 from Eton College and £100 from Baldwin's Bridge Trust and the National Society. The new schools were placed under the management of a Committee of thirty-two which was to include the existing Porny Trustees. These schools were opened in 1863, their trust deed being drawn in accordance with the regulations of the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the principles of the Church of England. It is on that ground that they are termed the Eton National Schools. The title implies that they are Church Schools under Church management.
In these new schools the seventy Porny Scholars continued to receive their education free: for the rest of the children weekly payments were made by their parents at varying rates from twopence per child.
It will be convenient here to recount briefly the nature of the changes introduced since.
In 1864, these schools were placed under Government Inspection, but no grant was made, on the grounds that the Porny Endowment of £156 a year was sufficient without Government aid.
In 1865 the Porch to the Girls' and Infants' departments was built, in memory of Mark Anthony Porny.
In 1866 the Infants' School, as not covered by the endowment, was allowed a small Government Grant—and in 1871 the grant was extended to all the departments.
In 1870 under Mr. Forster's¹ guidance the State made its first serious effort to extend the school system, and Board Schools were started, where required, at the ex-pense of the rates, and in these no catechism or distinctive religious truth was to be taught. This is known as the Cowper-Temple clause.² The Voluntary Schools were to be maintained, side by side with the Board Schools³, under state supervision receiving certain state aid, on the condition that any parent might withdraw a child from religious teaching under a conscience clause.
No grant was to be given for a child who had not made 250 attendances in the year.
In 1870 to 1875 while Board Schools were growing and drawing largely on the rates, increased demands were made on Voluntary Schools for improved buildings, better apparatus and smaller classes.
In 1876 school attendance was made compulsory, and arrangement was made for the payment of school fees for poor parents, without thereby depriving them of the franchise.
In the same year restrictions were placed on the employment of children, before they had reached a certain age.
In 1883, in the Eton schools, a new classroom to accommodate sixty pupils was added to the. Boys' department.
In 1889 a new code was introduced, by which individual examination was abolished, and increased expenditure in school buildings was enforced; in the following year our school buildings were repaired throughout, and a block floor laid in the Boys' school.
In 1891 admission to schools became free from October 1; and, in lieu of the children's pence, the Government gave a Fee Grant of 10s. a head. The introduction of free schooling proved of doubtful advantage to the Eton children. Many parents being relieved of payment were less careful to keep their children regular, and a still further loss to the finances of the schools was entailed by the withdrawal of part of the Porny Endowment from the ordinary income of the schools. It was to be devoted to the instruction of the children in cookery and such like subjects, and towards evening classes, prizes and exhibitions. A portion how-ever was reserved for Sunday school purposes, and for the repairs of school buildings.
In 1895, to carry out the scheme of the Charity Commissioners, three representatives of subscribers of 5s. and two representatives of parents, and two of the local authority, were elected and added to the old body of Trustees.
Cookery classes were established in 1897, and the first Porny Scholars under the new scheme were elected. In 1898 a considerable sum was raised by a voluntary rate and both the Boys' school and Infants' school were enlarged, and the playgrounds extended and re-fenced, and better offices arranged. The Lord of the Manor gave the additional ground.
In 1900, the attendance necessary to earn a grant was raised to 35o; and other stringent regulations were also made.
The Act of 1902 brought about greater changes still. Under that Act the terms Board' and Voluntary' were discontinued, and henceforth schools were distinguished as ' provided or Council schools,' and non-provided.' The former were those built and maintained entirely by rates and taxes. By the same Act the supreme control of the Eton non-provided schools was vested in the County Authority, whose business it became to settle the number and quality of the teaching staff and to provide for all other working expenses out of the rates.
In consequence of this, the large body of managers, which under the trust deed had carried on the schools, was superseded, and its place taken by the small body of six persons. This included four foundation managers, the Vicar being ex-officio, and three churchmen to be elected by the subscribers to the schools, and two others representing the ratepayers generally, one being chosen by the Urban District Council, and the other by the County Council.
The duty of this body was to carry out the instructions of the County Authority, to select teachers subject to its approval, and to see that the interests of both teachers and scholars were duly cared for, and the schools kept in good order.
By what was known as the Kenyon-Slaney clause,' this body was to assume control of the religious teaching, instead of the responsibility, as in the trust deed, resting on the Incumbent only. An amendment, made in the House of Lords, secured that the authority of the Bishop should decide whether the religious instruction given was in due accordance with the trust deed. While the expenses in all secular matters were to be met by the county rate, the Church was still to be responsible for keeping the fabric of the buildings in good repair, and for any structural alterations which the County Authority might deem necessary.
Several improvements were ordered by the Authority, one of the chief being better cloak rooms for the girls, and the schools started on their new career on October I, 1903. The new Foundation Managers were the Vicar, Messrs. Ainger, Devereux and Walls. The Manager elected by the County was Mr. R. I. Drake, and by the Urban District, Mr. Heygate.
A similar board of Managers was appointed for Eton Wick schools.