Bromley Common and its Schools

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Middle Class School
Bromley National School

The Middle Class School

Click to see a larger photo of Rhodes Villas.

Rhodes Villas

Bromley Common National School was mainly for the children of the poor but more prosperous parents were welcome if they paid a higher level of school pence. However, some would have sent their offspring to one of the many private schools in Bromley. In the 1870s, one option was much nearer; the Middle Class School in Rhodes Villas on Hastings Road, opposite what is now Jackson Road. Below is an advert taken from a street directory of 1874 .

 

 

It is not known exactly when the school opened but the first advert appeared in the Bromley Street Directory of 1874. The principal, William Gayfer, was born near Ipswich in late 1850 so was probably only 23 when he came to Bromley Common. His wife, Lydia, was a couple of years younger. A later advert claims that he had a Master of Arts degree but this seems unlikely given that, in 1871, he was an assistant master at a Commercial School in Sevenoaks. (He added a couple of years to his age in the census return of that year.)

The fee for day pupils of half a guinea (52p) per quarter was comparable to the 6d per week that the National School charged the "children from the better classes of the population"; very reasonable given the apparent advantages on offer. However, within four years, the fee had nigh on doubled. And then there are the extras; none mentioned in the first advert but take a look at the later adverts. The links are below.

The last advert appeared in the 1878 directory after which the school probably closed or moved. In the 1881 census, William, Lydia, their four children and Mrs Gayfer Snr were living in Pratts Bottom. William still described himself as a "School Principal And Headmaster" but, in the 1901 census, he was a "commercial traveller".

Click here for a photograph of Middle Class School pupils in a carriage.The above advert finishes with "Each Young Gentleman is expected to wear College Cap with distinctive tassel." This, I believe, refers to a mortarboard such as can be seen in the photo (see the link on the right).

 

Pupils Advert 1876 Advert 1878