HINTON CHARTERHOUSE SCHOOLIn 1826 the Revd. Thomas Spencer accepted the ‘perpetual curacy’ of Hinton Charterhouse. A clever energetic man, a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, he had taught for a period at his father’s commercial school in their home town of Derby – a town at the forefront of manufacturing and invention. He himself came from a long line of Dissenters although the family were now Wesleyan Methodists.Hinton in 1826 was a poor rural parish with about 600 inhabitants, mainly agricultural labourers, their families, six or seven tenant farmers and a few small traders. Stage and mail coaches rattled through on rough and muddy roads, and the A36 had yet to be built. Mrs. Day at Hinton House was the main landowner, owning several farms and cottages in the village as well as her house and ground.Once installed and after overseeing the building of his vicarage, Spencer determined to build a school and in January 1827 preached a sermon to raise money towards his objective. He considered the £7 raised ‘a handsome sum’ for so poor a parish. However, the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor added a grant of £100 and Spencer himself gave much of the stone from his own small quarry by the vicarage. Mrs. Day gave the land which lay on the north side of Wellow Lane where a terrace of three cottages now stands. The school consisted of two rooms 20ft by 14ft and 20ft by 12ft. However, there had been a hiccup in the enterprise as sometime during the building Mrs. Day told Spencer she had assumed it was to be a Sunday school rather than a day school. In a rather odd letter Spencer wrote offering to return the land and build elsewhere referring to the benefits a school would bring to ‘the ignorant and degraded population of Hinton’! This incident reflects the general attitude of some of the more affluent classes who doubted the wisdom of educating the poor. However nothing came of this and the school was opened in May 1828 with 140 children - 110 children from Hinton and the rest from Freshford and surrounding villages. Mr. and Mrs. Gane had been appointed as Master and Mistress, and the children were to be taught on the recognised Monitorial System, whereby those more able pupils taught the rest. The main subjects were reading, writing, sewing, knitting.The Master and Mistress were paid by local subscriptions which amounted to £16.7.6d p.a. To this was added the 1d per week paid by Hinton children (with 1/2d more by those from other villages). Subscribers were entitled to sponsor a free place for a child for every 10/- subscribed. Some years later when the numbers had dropped to a more manageable 95, Spencer advertised that the children would knit stockings for those who provided the yarn, at a charge of 9d for men’s and 7d for women’s, half of this going to the Mistress and half to the child. This first National School continued in much the same way until Thomas Spencer left the village in 1847.In 1848 it became the boys’ school, with the girls moving to an adapted malt house near the church. In 1860 the girls’ school was demolished and a new school for both boys and girls was erected and remained in use until it was finally closed in 1982.