The Old Endowed School, Rodborough

The Old Endowed School, Rodborough header image 3


‘The Rodborough Old School’ is a registered charity. The day to day running is overseen by a management committee, governed by the Parochial Church Council. The building serves a wide range of community uses and raises enough income to manage to its upkeep.

Going forward, funding needs to be raised for structural repairs and adaptations that render it suitable for today’s needs.


The building we now call The Old Endowed School has a rich and colourful history.

A lithograph of Rodborough Church from 1838 shows the Endowed School

This Grade II Listed building, one of the oldest in Rodborough and of considerable architectural interest, is believed to have been originally used as a Chantry House attached to the Parish of Minchinhampton, and to date from the 14th Century. It latterly seems to have been used as a wool store.

Before its use as a school it was known as the Church House, and from 1767-82 operated as Rodborough’s workhouse until this purpose was transferred to the building that is now 1 & 2 Church Place.

In 1786 the Church House  (TOES) was designated as 2 tenements, one for “the lazy idle people who will not work” and the other for whores – to be supported at half the usual parish allowance or no pay if they would not come in at night! It was locked up every night by the governor of the workhouse. Signs above the doors were intended as a deterrent!

At the same time the other side of the building was named School House and a master was appointed to reside there and teach 3 “charity boys” to read and write. The number of charity school children gradually rose.

In 1820 the building was partly rebuilt and extended by the addition of a new schoolroom and a master’s house. In 1821 a Sunday School was also held and by 1873 there were about 55 boys and 58 girls in the school, which became known as the Rodborough Endowed School.

William George Browne was the last head master at the Endowed School and the first at the new Rodborough School. He lived at 1 Church Place. When he was appointed headmaster at the Endowed School in 1884, the school had an assistant teacher, later to become his wife, two pupil teachers and 50-60 children. Conditions in the latter days of the Endowed School were poor and it was stated that children played in the public highway and obtained drinking water from a well (located where the wall curves in Church Place and now decorated with shells). The school closed in 1901 when Rodborough Primary School was opened.

This postcard dates from the early 20th century

Since the closure of the building as a school, it has been used for a multitude of community purposes, as a communal hall. The Rev. Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, was closely connected with the building from 1970 to 2000 as the chairman of the management committee.

The fireplace in the snug, recorded as 17th Century, had been blocked in with paneling last century. It was uncovered in the 1970s. Picture is Rev. Wilbert Awdry with Mary Townley. Copyright Gloucestershire Gazette
The window in the snug, believed to be 17th century, pictured after its discovery in the 1970s. Copyright Gloucestershire Gazette