THE Sarum Hill Centre hides an interesting history.

Situated halfway down Sarum Hill, (Sarum being the original name for Salisbury), on the west side of Basingstoke, the present building was built in 1994, but the previous building dated back to 1841.

Standing isolated and surrounded by fields, the original building on this site was built as a public school of the Glasgow System of education, and, as opposed to the standard in England at that time, was unique in that it was designed to the specifications of the school master.

It sported a covered playground, one large classroom measuring 50ft x 27ft and tiered seating for the pupils.

These innovations were unheard of in the English System and were considered to be quite revolutionary.

But within a short period of time the school was incorporated into the English System and had an attendance of over 120 children.

Within 15 years the school was at its capacity with 170 pupils, and a new classroom was added to accommodate these. In 1857 a charge was introduced for each pupil of between 3d and 9d a week.

Later in 1862 the government introduced a 'pay by results' scheme which allowed schools to receive funding in return for success and In 1869 extensive alterations were made to the building including connection to the main water and sewerage system.

On the southern end of Basingstoke was an area where pig and sheep fairs were held and it was here that was chosen for a new school to be built to house 1,300 pupils.

The area and the school were called Fair Fields and, although built in 1888, it still stands and is in use today. The site was chosen because, being at a high point in the town, it was believed to be a healthy option for the children.

The building of the new school meant the closure of the Sarum Hill building which lay empty for some time after which Mr Wadmore (a local grocer of the Boro’ Tea Mart  situated at Gifford's Corner, now occupied by Up & Running) used the building as a tea and wine store, hence the photo of the building showing the Mazawattee Tea title which was a very popular brand of tea from that period.

At the turn of the 20th century, in 1908, the building was purchased by a Baptist group and converted into a chapel, and remained that way for the next sixty years up to the early 1970s when the Basingstoke Community Church took over residency. 

The rebuilding of the premises in July 1994 was to allow accommodation for pupils of the Kings School, an enterprise created by the Basingstoke Community Churches group in 1982.

The school was operating for 35 years but closed it's doors in 2017, reverting the use back to church premises.

In most of its history the building has served the community in providing education and religious instruction to the people, and continues to do so.