One of the first schools in Cornwall, Fowey Free School, was founded in 1692 by John Rashleigh and Shadrack Vincent, when the latter identified £500 which was available for a ‘charitable and pious use’ which was then put to use for ‘educating 30 poor children of Fowey and adjacent places.’ It was built on land provided by John Treffry, ‘situated at the head of the town and comprising a house, garden and meadow’. A further bequest from John Johns in 1773 was to be used for the education of another 25 poor children, who were to be nominated by the Vicar.
The boys’ syllabus included Christian religion, mathematics, navigation, sacred and profane history, and also Greek and Latin for more ‘Advanced Boys’, whilst the girls were also to be taught sewing, needlework and singing, and were to make and mend their own clothes.
A policeman visited the school in 1878 with a summons for pupils who were accused of misbehaving in church. Discipline was firmer in former times and corporal punishment was used; one boy received one stripe in 1887 for laziness, another received three stripes in 1889 for truanting to Charlestown Regatta; and four boys were given one stripe each for going into Sir Charles Hanson’s drive for chestnuts when told not to do so. Despite this, only 40 pupils out of 100 attended school on 13th June, 1901 when there was a circus in town.
Holidays were given for various reasons including Sunday School treats and local regattas. A holiday was given for the relief of Ladysmith and another for the relief of Mafeking in 1900, and to mark the end of the Boer War in 1902. Further holidays were given at the end of the First World War, and for the Silver Jubilee of King George and Queen Mary in 1935. The school catered for evacuees from both London and Plymouth during the Second World War.
In 1879-80 a new school was built close to an old quarry near Daglands and navigation was again added to the curriculum. The school developed into Fowey Grammar School after the Second World War and remained at its premises on Daglands Road until it moved to Windmill in 1957, and then merged with Fowey County Secondary School in 1968 to become Fowey Comprehensive School.
Research Al Trenary
Sources: Fowey Schools – the end of an era – 1693 to 1989, (Fowey CP School, 1989); John Keast, The Story of Fowey, (Dyllansow Truran, 1950).