Brailes Girls and Infants National School in School Lane was built in 1858. It was not the first school for girls in Brailes as there was an earlier school in a small house near the parish church, into which as many as 70 infants were packed into one room and 30 girls into an upper room in the house. The Girls and Infants School was built in 1858 with funds raised by the Vicar, Rev Thomas Smith, and cost nearly £1,100. The principal subscribers were:
Mr H J Sheldon – £50, Mrs Sheldon – £30, Mr Baker – £20, Mr I Baker – £20, Mr T Wincott – £20, Mr T Davis – £20. Miss Gillett – £10, The Marquess of Northampton – £50, Canon Woodruffe – £6 and Rev T Smith – £5.
There were a number of smaller donations and a grant from “The Education Department” of £912.
The foundation stone was laid by Mrs Sheldon on a plot of land donated to the church by her husband, Mr H J Sheldon. The school and the adjoining teacher’s house were formally opened on 2nd February 1859. The mistress was Miss Elizabeth Hobbs assisted by Miss Elizabeth Rand Pickering.1
The 1861 census of Brailes, taken on April 7th, shows that Elizabeth Hobbs, aged 22, and born in London, Middlesex, was the teacher of the National School. Mrs Winifred R Pickering, a 68 year old widow born in Bristol, was the mistress of the Infants’ School and Emma Bloxham, 15, born in Brailes, was a pupil teacher at the National School.
First entry in the log book
The first entry in the school log book is for May 1st 1863 when the mistress was Mrs Rachel Rayfield. Mrs Rayfield was mistress until 1868, and was the wife of James Rayfield, joiner. During her time at Brailes she had four children – Minnie Maria baptised on January 18th 1862, Mary Charlotte baptised on March 1st 1863, Emma baptised on January 1st 1865 and Annie Elizabeth baptised on April 26th 1868. All four children were baptised at Brailes parish church.
The log book records Minnie being admitted on February 6th 1865, and Mary Charlotte and Emma being admitted on October 15th 1866. Mrs Rayfield does not appear to have had any time off school during her stewardship of Brailes School which came to an end on November 7th 1868 when she resigned shortly after that year’s annual inspection. By the 1871 census the Rayfield family were living in Maidstone in Kent, James Rayfield’s place of birth.
1 Kelly’s Directory of Warwickshire, 1860.
The Brailes school log book, with transcriptions, can be viewed at Warwickshire County Record Office under the reference CR 36/12.