THE first known Worting school was in the North West grounds of St Thomas of Canterbury Church, but nothing is left of it today.

The first recorded schoolmistress was in the 1851 census; Harriet Reynold aged 20 years and at this time she was in lodgings at the post office, then in Worting Road.

Rev Lovelace Bigg-Wither of Manydown, a prominent landowner living in Tangier Park, provided funds to build a new school, which still stands today, on the south side of the Andover-Basingstoke road opposite the church.

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Basingstoke Gazette: Worting School in 1909

The building, constructed in 1855, cost £300 and was built of brick and flint. There were two large rooms with living quarters at the rear. Over the next 50 years, further extensions were added to increase its size.

The population of Worting at that time was 335 and an average of 70 pupils would attend the school aged from four to 14 years. The school day would start at 9am, and at 12 o’clock the children would go home for their lunch, returning from 2-4pm.

If there was a funeral planned the school hours would be adjusted. Many of the children lived in the area but if the weather was bad or they were needed at home they wouldn’t return after lunch.

The school logbook records the reality of rural schools in the 19th century, noting when children failed in arithmetic, a measles outbreak was reported, and pupils were off school to help with the harvest.

Stoves were used to heat the classrooms, with the fireguards draped with the wet clothes of the children if the weather was wet. The school continued in these buildings until the 20th century.

Miss Anne Drinkwater held the position of headmistress at this school for 37 years from 1861 until 1898. Her living quarters were at the back of the classrooms. Her mother Jemima also came to live with her.

Anne was a well-liked teacher and when she retired in 1898 the Hants and Berks Gazette carried a piece thanking her for her long and faithful service.

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Basingstoke Gazette: Senior class of Worting 1930

Plans were passed in 1929 for a new school to be built on land adjoining Old Kempshott Lane due to the increase in the number of children attending. There were to be three classrooms, each taking 40 pupils, with a note that a future extension could be added taking 40 more children.

A folding partition would be used to divide the space. The school would be heated by coke stoves, one in each of the classrooms. There were outside toilets and no kitchen, so the children would either return home or bring sandwiches at lunchtime.

Mr Stanley H Smith was the headmaster from 1930-1932, when the new school first opened. Worting School had both good cricket and football teams with many boys going on to play for their village.

In 1939 Miss Jarvis became headmistress at the age of 32, she was highly regarded by staff and pupils and took the school through the Second World War, including some evacuees from Portsmouth.

The schoolchildren were asked to Dig for Victory and plant vegetables to help with the food shortage with the front of the school made into a vegetable plot. During 1947 there was bad weather and due to the trains being unable to collect the coal from the mines the school had to shut for a month, with further time off due to frozen outside toilets.

Miss Jarvis retired in 1967. The 1960s saw around 209 children at this school and there were now six classes.

In 1968, Chilton School, a new junior school opened and Worting School became an infants school. In 1972 Kempshott School also opened as an infants and primary school.

It was decided that the old Worting Infants School building would close in 2004 and a new infants section be added to Chiltern Primary. Worting School was sold to David Wilson Homes who would build houses on the site.

This article was written by Kathleen Frewin from Kempshott History Group.