Bubwith, being an agricultural parish, had little need for formal schooling for its children, most being required to start earning their way as soon as they were able. The 1841 census, presented in full on this website, shows that most children were working from the age of 12 years onwards, and in one case there is a girl of 10 employed as a female servant.

However, it would be wrong to say that there was no provision for education for children, for those whose parents wished it.

Education of the children of the Gentry

Following the Abolition of the Chantries Acts of 1545 and 1547, the vicar of Bubwith reported to the Chantry Commissioners that the chantry within the manor house of the Vavasours in Spaldington had been overlooked. Sir Peter Vavasour responded that his was a private chapel and not a chantry, and won his case.

However, the testimony of one witness is interesting in that it tells us something about education in a layman's household:-

Barthillmeu abbott of Bellassisse in the countye of Yorke, gent, of the age of xxxixti sworne and examynede deposithe. He saithe yt he being a childe aboute the age of tenne yeres was in Sr Peter Vavasor his housse at Spaldington in the countye of Yorke and ther wentt to the scolle emonges his children with one Sr Johne Bakloke then chaplayne to the said Sir Peter; and by causse this deponentt thought hym sellffe and his felowes sore handeled wished hym sellff and them to have a new master, whiche Mr. Vavasor permitted hering, sayd they shuld have a new Mr and so shortlye after the said Sir Peter dyd putt hym awaye and hyred an other priest called Sir John Dame which ther taught bothe Mr. Vavasores children and this deponentt , which Sir Johne Dame was shortly after putt awaye by the said Sir Petere & one other hyred by him & none of them called chauntre priestes, nor any chauntre founded within the chappell of Spaldington a ffor said to his knolege, nor yett to thys daye that ever he harde of any ther.

[Kitching, C. J. (1970) Studies in the redistribution of collegiate and chantry property in the diocese and county of York at the dissolution, Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online:]

Evidence from Visitation Returns

The Act Books and Visitations Returns of the Archbishops of York provide useful evidence of schooling in even the smallest parishes in the Diocese of York. From these we know that there was a schoolmaster in Spaldington in 1563. The location of the school where this schoolmaster taught is lacking (though it could have been within the chapel of the Vavasours, as above), however, in the Survey of Spaldington Fields in 1725, there are three fields of around 4 acres each, called 'School Lands', but whether these indicate the site of the school, or were simply lands given in charity to support a school or schoolmaster is unknown.

The Visitation Act Book of Archbishop Herring in 1743 contains the answers from each parish on a number of questions put to them, including the answer to the question: 'Is there any Publick or Charitie School, endow'd or otherwise maintain'd in your Parish?' to which the answer from Bubwith was, 'At Bubwith ye Parishers have or hire a School Master Monethly or Qterly to teach their Children to read, & to come duly to Church to be instructed in ye Church Catechism'.

The same question was posed in Archbishop Drummond's Visitation of 1764, to which the answer was, '1 petty school taught by an old woman'.

Rev. George Ion's School

The Reverend George Ion, vicar of Bubwith from 1775-1814, built a school on the north side of the chancel of the church before 1782.

A fomer pupil wrote about his experience there (in a deposition concerning tithes, see the Tithes section). He was George Blanshard, and was 65 years old when he wrote his deposition in 1843:

I George Blanshard formerly of Breighton in the Parish of Bubwith in the County of York Farmer, but now residing at No. 26 Piccadilly, co. Middlesex aged sixty five years do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare that my Father was a farmer at Breighton aforesaid when I was born and when I was about four years old I was sent to a School at Bubwith kept by the late Reverend George Ion the vicar of Bubwith with whom my Father was very intimate and between whose Sons and myself there existed a close friendship and I remained at School with him several years. That as far back as I can recollect my Uncle Robert Hepton occupied the Farm at Gunby and I used very frequently to call at his House on my way to and from School at Bubwith.

On the 4th June, 1808, a notice appeared in the York Herald:

The Rev. George Ion, Bubwith, Intends to re-open his school, on Monday, the 24th July, 1808.


Board and Lodging £22 p.a. for Boy under 12:

One guinea p.a. additional for each, and every year above 12

Four guineas p.a. for education

One guinea entrance

A pair of sheets and two pillowslips: Coals, candles &c. One pound

Washing, One pound twelve shillings p.a.

The branches taught in the School are - Greek, Latin, English, Writing, common and decimal Arithmetic, Book-Keeping, Mensuration, Trigonometry, Navigation, and Land Surveying.

N.B. When a boy leaves off from school a quarter's notice, or pay for a quarter is expected. The old English mode of Lunching, at leaving School in the Afternoon, is regularly attended to.

From the above notice we learn that boarders were taken, and were, presumeably, lodged at the vicarage. It is unclear if the 're-opening' of the school implies a prolonged period of closure, or simply a return after the summer break.

However, the location of the school was controversial. Joshua Fawcett, in his Churches of Yorkshire, Vol 1, published in 1844, had this to say:

It is not possible to pass on without remarking upon the gross violation of architectural propriety in the brick building erected on the North side of the Chancel for a School. We hope ere long to hear of its entire removal, and the restoration of the two windows, which now, in consequence of that building are blocked up.

Education Returns

The Parliamentary Papers for 1833 contain an Abstract of Education Returns for the parish of Bubwith. The evidence from these is encouraging:

Breighton Township (Pop. 204): No school in the township.

Bubwith Township (Pop. 461): One infant school in which are 6 males and 17 females; and - Four Daily Schools, one of which contains 16, another (commenced 1819), 35; another (commenced 1830), 6; and the other (commenced 1832), 12 children; in all the above schools the instruction is at the expense of the parents. One Sunday School, wherein 88 children of both sexes are taught gratuitously.

Foggathorpe Township (Pop. 128): One Daily School, wherein are 40 males and 38 females, whose instruction is at the expense of the parents.

Gribthorpe and Willitoft Township (Pop. 108): No school in the township.

Harlethorpe Township (Pop. 105): No school in the township.

Spaldington Township (Pop. 352): One Sunday School, in which 16 males and 24 females are instructed gratuitously by the Methodists.


Further evidence can be found in the 19th century Trade Directories and Topographical Dictionaries. From the Baine's 1823 Directory we are told 'Here is a Methodist chapel, with a good Sunday school attached.' The directory also lists in the Bubwith section, 'Ross Thos. Schoolmaster'. Thomas Ross was also listed in the White's 1846 Directory. From the 1841 census we know that there were three schoolmasters in Bubwith: Thomas Abrams 20; Thomas Ross 45; and Benjamin Dudding 70. Benjamin Dudding was still teaching at the age of 75, when he was listed as a schoolmaster in the White's 1846 Directory.

By the time of The 1851 Parliamentary Gazetteer, the situation seems to improved yet again, when the entry for Bubwith says: 'There are 5 day and 2 Sunday schools in this parish' and further lists a Methodist Sunday School in Spaldington. The Post Office 1857 Directory gives the following for Bubwith: 'There are chapels for Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists; also a school for boys and girls, and a Sunday school'; and adds 'There is a school for boys and girls at Spaldington Outsides.' The Directory lists the schoolmasters as: 'Ross Thomas, schoolmaster & parish clerk (Bubwith); Plummer ---, schoolmaster, Outsides'.

The old school house in Bubwith, now the home of the Jug & Bottle shop, Copyright 2008, Judith D. Taylor, with permission

The old school house in Bubwith, now the home of the Jug & Bottle shop, © 2008, Judith D. Taylor, with permission

Bulmer's Directory of 1892 gives details about the School Boards. 'A School Board, consisting of seven members, was formed in 1875, for the united district of Bubwith, Breighton-cum-Gunby, and Harlthorpe; and in 1877, a commodious school, with master's house attached, was erected at a cost of £3,000. There are 140 children on the books.' The entry for Foggathorpe states:  'The Wesleyans have a chapel in the township, built in 1803, which is also used as a day school, under the management of the Holme-on-Spalding Moor United District School Board. There are 41 children on the books.', while that for Spaldington states: 'A School Board, consisting of six members, was formed about 12 years ago, for the united district of Spaldington, Gribthorpe, and Willitoft. The old Wesleyan chapel, built in 1820, was converted into a school, and opened in 1877. There are 68 children on the books.' The Directory then lists the following teachers: Flint Miss Evelyn, private school (Bubwith); Mitchell, Fred, master, Board school (Bubwith); Ellerton Miss Margaret, schoolmistress (Foggathorpe); Clark John, master, Board school (Spaldington).