This week we look at the school’s origin in providing education to the community of Lower Peover.

Near the banks of the Peover Eye (a small river/brook), the school has supported the village folk for more than 300 years.

Beside the graveyard of St Oswald’s church is the building that was once the old school house, and also in the vicinity is the local hostelry, the Bells of Peover.

The school was founded by Richard Comberbach, who was once the church’s curate. Richard was born in Latchford to a wealthy family, and later he attended Cambridge in 1665, where he excelled as a student. In 1687 he became curate of the church supporting the Royalists during the Civil War and remained faithful to James II.

In 1688 he was suspended for refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Government and resigned in 1691, becoming a farmer. His ambition had always been to build a school for the village, and with financial help from his wife in 1709, he purchased a strip of land just outside the graveyard from Sir James Leycester and had the school built, opening its doors for the first time in 1710.

Richard and his wife, Margaret, became teachers and subsequently appointed the first master of the school, John Mear.

The school continued to serve the local pupils for many years, and in 1722 Richard Comberbach endowed £300 in trust to the school.

In 1769 Reverend William Steel acquired premises to offer a boarding school and invited pupils to board for £10 and 10 shillings per annum.

In 1794 the following advertisement appeared in a county newspaper: “Wanted as An Assistant, a steady young man who writes a good hand, understands accounts, mensuration, and book-keeping, who can be well-recommended for his diligence and sobriety.

Such anyone may meet with encouragement by applying to the Rev William Steel, master of the Lower Peover School.”

Until 1870, the church incumbent doubled as the head of the school with an assistant.

In 1870, Parliament introduced a new Elementary Education Act to establish specific educational requirements.

As a result, in 1874, the Endowed School Commission instructed the school that it should be known as the Lower Peover Endowed School. It was advised to build new premises to provide education for some 150 children separate from, but affiliated with, the local church.

Following this, a new school was built nearby, and the agreement whereby the curate supported the church plus the educational process was removed.

The new school was opened, and since then, several extensions have been added, the latest one in 1999. It has been the hub of local community events for many years.

During the early 1900s, there were many changes in the management and control of education introduced by the Government, including the 1902 Education Act and the formation of Local Education Authorities (LEA).

Educational standards were raised. Lower Peover School was not one of the schools that opted into the local authority control and became a church-aided school because of the Butler Act of 1944.

This emphasised the closeness of the church with the school.

The old school building underwent several reincarnations, from an apprentice training school to a private dwelling.

It eventually returned to a form of education establishment by becoming a private Montessori nursery school named The Little House, which, although not a nursery now, still provides educational classes.