Lower Peover School's 300th anniversary

A little school in Cheshire has big plans to celebrate its 300th birthday

Pulling hair, name-calling and talking too much were fairly run of the mill reasons why schoolchildren got the cane at Lower Peover School. But throwing a rat at a fellow female pupil, was probably a little rarer. There was one pupil who risked it and was quickly delivered penance with a few sharp strokes of the cane. Sharon Dean, headteacher, said: ‘We found an old Punishment Book that started back in 1920. It was brilliant looking through it. There were always the same names so they must have been the naughty ones. ‘It is things like this that we have to treasure and share with other people because it’s such an important part of the school’s history.’This is just one of several nuggets of information discovered by current pupils, staff and PTA members at the friendly village school near Knutsford when they delved into its history. The 172 pupils will be researching the school’s past in the run up to a weekend of events in June to mark its 300th anniversary. The weekend, which was the idea of former pupil and chairman of the PTA Ian McGrath, will run from June 11th – 13th. Lots of events, being organised by Ian and the school’s 300 Years Celebration Committee, are planned. Everything will start on the Friday with a church service at St Oswald’s Church, adjacent to the school in The Cobble and Gawsworth preacher, Bishop William Pwaisiho, will be a guest. There’ll be a street party for the children, an open night with displays of the school through the ages and a cheese and wine night. On Saturday they will hold their May Queen Fete, which this year has been moved to coincide with the celebration weekend. That evening a party will be held in a marquee at the school, featuring a performance by Tuner Salad, the band which headteacher, Sharon, is a member of. On Sunday, there will be a family fun day, organised by St Oswald’s Church. The committee have applied for a very special visit.He explained: ‘This is not the kind of thing that happens every day so it would be a real honour if a member of the Royal family could make it to our special weekend. We believe we’re one of only three village primary schools in the country to make it to 300 years which is an incredible achievement.‘Things like this only come around once and we want to make sure we do everything properly. Everyone seems to be excited about it.’Plans are also underway for a commemorative book. Ian, who runs a dairy farm in Tabley, has been collecting  memories and anecdotes from locals which will be included as part of the publication. Old photographs, excerpts from old exercise books dating back to 1896 will all feature.  They also hope to commission a medal for the children to keep. ‘It’s been fantastic,’ said Ian. ‘I have had lots of people sending me old photographs and their memories of the school. These are the types of things that spark other memories and it gets people talking. ‘I posted a picture on the internet which had five boys in it who used to be friends. They all contacted me independently of each other to say they had seen it. They hadn’t spoken to each other for 40 or 50 years but their memories of the school were still strong.‘We’ve found out interesting and funny stories and one lady, Margaret Minshull, was kind enough to give us some of her and her mum’s old exercise books. They date by to 1896. The writing is so neat and precise and it’s fascinating to be able to see things like that. Apparently the girls used to go to the outdoor toilets that were open and the boys would run nettles through the wall to tickle them.’Lower Peover School was founded in 1710 and first began in a smaller building just a few steps from the current building in The Cobbles, in the shadows of St Oswald’s Church. It was the former curate of the church, Richard Comberbach, who decided to set up a school 160 years previous to compulsory education. He taught there with his wife and the then curate until 1722 when the couple endowed �300 in trust. The Comberbach Trust, made up of local people, still exists today and contributes to school funding. Today, pupils travel in from up to 20 miles away and the school plays a large part in local community life. It has an excellent reputation and leads the way in specialities like music and its scheme regarding the link of a successful education and emotional confidence and strength. It is difficult to see where the school ends and the local community begins. They now hope to enlist more support for the celebration weekend.Ian said: ‘The school holds happy memories for many people. We want these celebrations to be something that everyone will remember.’ 

To be involved with Lower Peover School’s anniversary celebrations you can contact Ian on 07836 505042 or at peovereye@btinternet.com.

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