Where it all began: 1852

The New Shoreham Protestant Grammar School, later called Shoreham Grammar School, and subsequently re-named Shoreham College, was founded one hundred and fifty years ago. Here is a brief account of this event:

Newspapers in the nineteenth century were often filled with numerous small notices and advertisements. A reader in 1852 could quite easily have missed the following item:

 


Brighton Herald, 6th November 1852

 

This piece is highly significant. It tells us about the hopes of those people in Shoreham who wished a proprietary Grammar School to be established on Protestant lines. The "leading gentlemen", not named individually, were no doubt heartened by the support shown by the Brighton Herald. Why found the school? There were certainly other schools in Shoreham at that time. A basic education could be had at the Sunday Schools, and children, whose parents could not afford a public school education, might have gone to a parish or national school. Reverend Nathaniel Woodard, for instance, after becoming curate of St. Mary de Haura in 1846, saw an educational need in the area and, during the next two years, founded St. Mary’s and St. Nicolas’ Grammar Schools. These eventually combined and moved up the hill, between 1857-8, to become Lancing College. However, the "leading gentlemen" in 1852, cited above, felt strongly that something else was lacking in their harbour town. They believed that education should follow a completely different direction.

In the Brighton Herald of 13th November, two notices were printed about the proposed school. The first explained that local people had, since the first notice of 6th November, applied to purchase shares in the new educational project. An initial capital sum of £300 had since doubled, "thus showing the strong and generous feeling which prevails the subject". The second, shown below, advertised a public meeting, which would be held at the Buckingham Arms Inn, on Wednesday 17th November, at seven o’clock in the evening. Dr Carter, a Shoreham physician, would take the chair.

 


Brighton Herald, 13th November 1852

 

This great meeting is recorded, pretty much word for word, in the Brighton Herald (the opening paragraph is shown below). It started slightly later, at 7.30 pm, with words of welcome from the Chair. He was pleased with the support shown by local residents, and noted that between £600 and £700 of shares had now been purchased by twenty-seven shareholders. Carter, who originated the idea, and the "leading gentlemen", still unnamed, wished to found a school to counter those educational establishments currently under the shadow of "Puseyism", or "High Church" beliefs. These people were acting against the revival of the Catholic tradition in the Church of England. The gathering demonstrated the intense feeling against this tradition, partly because of an erroneous belief that other schools in the neighbourhood, particularly those founded by Woodard, insisted that boys had to give auricular confession to a chaplain. Hoping to educate children within an atmosphere free from such activities, Carter asked the meeting, "Shall we, then, not plant our Protestant acorns?"

 


Brighton Herald, 20th November 1852

 

Following Carter’s address, Reverend J.E. Good, Minister of the Protestant Free Church in Shoreham, took to the floor. He explained that a sub-committee would be formed, subject to the agreement of those at the present meeting, who would be responsible to fit out a schoolroom and appoint a suitable teacher. Good said that the proposed school would check the morals of boys, and instruct them in history, classics, and "other branches of a liberal education". Respect to the prayer book would be shown, but this would not take the place of the Bible. More importantly, this education was not restricted to youths in the immediate neighbourhood, but would be open to all, especially to those currently subject to "Puseyism". The school was intended for the middle-classes, rather than the super rich.

Following a question from Mr Morley of Southwick, the Reverend Good emphasised that no baptisms would take place at the school, for such things were a matter for parents. Good added, "if children were sent from the Wesleyan body or the Baptists, or whatsoever persuasion, they might go to their respective place of worship".

A sub-committee of eleven persons, including Reverend Good and Dr Carter, was then selected. Those present agreed to the choice. Carter concluded the meeting by saying that Mr G.H. Hooper, a local landowner, offered a house at the rental fee of £60 per annum. There was a large meadow, and playground, which Carter felt was suitable; he hoped the school might be opened at "Christmas next". He knew of many boys who wished to attend, and it was likely the school would start with twelve boarders and thirty day scholars. Hooper’s house, though, needed a little repair before occupation. This meeting truly witnessed the birth of the New Shoreham Protestant Grammar School. It was a watershed in the history of Shoreham education.

The premises referred to at the meeting was Pond House, owned by George Hooper, located on Pond Road to the North-West of St. Mary’s Church. This was the site of our school right up until 1965, although the buildings were not demolished until 1970; the Shoreham Community Centre stands on this spot. William P. Gorringe, farmer and merchant, occupied this building in the early 1840’s with his wife Rebecca and three children. Reverend Charles Moberly and Reverend John Branthwaite, headmasters of Woodard’s Shoreham schools, later lived in it. Records also show that some of their pupils boarded in this house. The playground, referred to by Carter at the meeting, was probably a relic from this time. Woodard’s boys, and masters, left Pond House by May 1852, thus leaving it unoccupied and available for Carter’s new school. Hooper was no doubt glad that it was going to be used again.

The first public advertisement for the school, calling for pupils, appeared in the Brighton Herald on 27 November. This is shown below.

 


Brighton Herald, 27th November 1852

 

This advertisement clearly re-states the original aim to counteract "High Church" practises. A good education could be had, though Latin, French and navigation, would only be available at an extra charge. Clearly, no headmaster had yet been selected, but this problem would soon be solved.

 


Brighton Herald, 25th December 1852

 

This advertisement shows that James Fuller, formerly Senior Assistant at the school of the Reverend S. Lord at Tooting, had been found to lead this new educational enterprise. His wife, and daughter, were available to tend to the domestic needs of the pupils.

This school, our school, the brainchild of Dr Carter, was brought in to being through local support and subscriptions. Fears about alleged "Roman" practices in nearby educational establishments, such as Woodard’s schools, were so strong, that locals came together to do something about it. Was this new venture an immediate success? By the end of 1852, James Fuller, now residing in Pond House, had everything ready for his first pupils, who were to arrive on 24th January 1853. There were testing times ahead. Details of which will be presented in next year’s Shorehamer magazine.

Nick Baker
Simon Barnett