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School History

 
 

A Boarding School

It was not long after John Wesley's visit to Midsomer Norton in 1767 that our records began. We cannot be sure when Methodist schools were started in Midsomer Norton, but around 1801 a boy's boarding school was opened in a large house which stands next to the Methodist Church in the High Street. Hundreds of boys from Bristol, Bath, Frome and Wells were educated here.

 
 

The Wesleyan School

As the demand for elementary education grew, the building was sold to become, in later years, the Commercial Inn and more recently, The Jack O'Lent public house. It is possible that elementary education continued on the old chapel premises; in 1859 the new Methodist Church in the High Street was opened. The Wesleyan School, as it became known, was referred to as the British (boys) School, a term often used to describe non-conformist foundations. In 1883, the school is again referred to as a Wesleyan School, although now as a mixed school designed for 360 children. In 1896, there were 127 children in the Infant part of the school. They taught reading, writing, arithmetic and mental arithmetic, recitation, conversation, object lessons, form and colour, knitting, needlework, embroidery and various patterns of plaiting, drawing, singing and drill! Over the next six years, the number of infant and junior pupils in the school rose to 290.

 

 
 

The Opening Ceremony


The local population had tripled from 1522, in 1801, to 4,442 in 1881. Because of overcrowding, it was decided to build a new school and an architect named William F. Bird of Midsomer Norton won the tender to design a new school building, at an estimated cost of 3,629.
The opening ceremony took place at 3.00 pm with the door being opened with a silver key. After this, the company assembled in the Infants' marching hall and an inspection of the premises was made. At 3.30 pm a service was held in the Wesleyan Chapel.
One of the most outstanding events took place on 18th July, 1923 when all the girls gathered on the grass to watch the Prince of Wales pass along the High Street.
In 1940, the school was closed, allowing staff to assist in receiving and billeting part of the 1,500 children allocated to this area. No records were kept of events in 1941.
The school was later used as a Secondary school for older pupils, until a new school (known as Somervale) was built in the town. In 1966, we became a primary school for pupils aged from 4-11 years and more recently, added a Nursery class to cater for 60 three-year olds.

 

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