A Catholic School in Princethorpe

A wartime childhood, part five

St Anne's Catholic Church at Wappenbury
Anne Langley

Continuing Julie Barnett’s account of her childhood from Warwickshire County Record Office ref. CR 3913/1.

‘My next school was at Princethorpe, about two miles from Eathorpe. In my childhood, Princethorpe was a typical English village. It had a sense of community, a school, a pub, an identifiable gentry and a cricket team, for which I became the recognized scorer for many years. Village cricket matches were always enjoyable social occasions with the local women supporting the teams by arranging afternoon teas in the village hall with sandwiches, cakes and jellies awaiting the players after the match.’

Decoy buildings during the war

‘Princethorpe is situated on the Fosse way, one of the great roads built in England 2000 years ago by the Romans when they occupied the country. During World War II, bombs intended for Coventry often fell in nearby fields, the bomb aimers having been deceived by mocked up buildings that were specially built and camouflaged to make them appear as part of industrial Coventry. The RAF officers who created these mock ups were billeted in the Priory Farm, and one of them later married a daughter of the house.’

A Catholic School

‘Princethorpe and Wappenbury differed in one important way from the other local villages. Most of its people were Catholics and attended the Roman Catholic services at St Anne’s Church Wappenbury or at the Priory Church in Princethorpe. Even more unusual, the village school at Princethorpe was a Catholic school, established and managed by the Catholic community, which possibly made it unique among the villages of rural England. Living within a Catholic community and attending a Catholic school had a great effect on me, though I never became a Catholic…The school I attended at Princethorpe was established by Benedictine Nuns and Catholic benefactors in the late 19th century…When I joined the school it had about 50 pupils aged 3 to 15 with two teachers, both nuns…The Catholic priests were based at St Anne’s Church in Wappenbury, and visited the school three times a week.’

Was there a C of E primary school as well as the Catholic one (there are two schools to be seen on maps from the 1900s)?

Part six can be found here.

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