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 (52½p) 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".
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).