Tyneham School

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Tyneham School

MUST SEE: Tyneham School closed in 1932 but the building has been faithfully restored and reburbished to recreate an authentic 1920’s classroom.

GETTING THERE: From Tyneham Car Park walk towards the Telephone Kiosk. Carry on up Post Office Row and then turn left. Tyneham School is on the left.

Please note the exhibitions in Tyneham Church, Tyneham Farm and Tyneham School open at 10am and close at 4pm.

Wat Three Words location for entrance door = Sobs Taller Enabling (switch to satellite view)

Things to look out for:

  • Children’s named school pegs in entrance lobby
  • Children’s work on desks

Please be aware the children’s work has been created to give an authentic feel. It is not the actual work of the children named. The same is true of the children’s pegs.

Brief history

  • The Tyneham National Elementary School was built in 1856, originally to house 60 children.
  • Numbers remained low throughout the 1920s.
  • Sadly attendance fell to just nine children and in 1932 the school was closed ‘for reason of economy’. The children were then taken by bus to Corfe Castle school.
  • The old school building was then used as a village hall. By December 1943, the property had been requisitioned by the NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes).

The children

The children walked in from the outlying farms and villages. So if the weather was bad, attendance was poor as the teacher’s log book shows. Similarly outbreaks of flu or other diseases kept many children off school. Also children were off when the farms were busy with harvesting and other work such as hedging and ditching.

Children from 4 to 14 were taught in the same room. The younger ones used the stage behind the drawn curtain, counting beads on strings or drawing with blunt crayons, usually under the eye of a ‘pupil teacher’. Children as young as three would often wander in to join their brothers and sisters.

The teachers

  • 1861 Mrs Louisa Knapp & Mrs Sarah Ann Hinde
  • 1871 Miss Hester Legg & Miss Elizabeth Crumpler
  • 1881 Miss Hester Legg & Miss Sarah Hood
  • 1895-1907 Mrs Ann Elizabeth Fry nee Newberry (1857-1910)

Mrs Fry … suffered from arthritis and was very lame but kept her charges in good order nevertheless.

Lilian Bond
  • 1907-1921 Miss Norah Sophia Woodman (1871-1944)
  • 1921-1928 Mrs Malvina Pritchard nee Harper (1874-1964)
  • 1928-1932 Miss Leonora Maria Hearne (1880-1977)

There was a very strict regime under Mrs. Pritchard, head teacher from 1921 to 1928. Even her son, Arthur, who attended the school was shown no favouritism. The late Kathy Barnes of East Stoke, (then Kathy Wrixon) recalled there was no talking and knuckles were rapped if the pen was held incorrectly for handwriting. Joined-up writing was practised from the start, with careful attention to spacing of letters. The Union Jack was saluted on entering school.

The late Winnie Applin (then Winnie Bright) was a pupil teacher trained by Mrs. Pritchard for four years. Winnie walked from Kimmeridge every day and knew all the best places to find orchids on the way. Apparently she caused a stir when she got a motorbike and rode it to school! Winnie was particularly valued by Mrs. Pritchard as she was the only one who could play the piano.


When the school put on an evening show, the unwieldy bench desks were taken outside and the villagers would bring their own chairs. Children sat on the floor or perched on the bookcases at the back watching the show by the light of paraffin lamps.

Page last updated: 23 June 2021

1906: Tyneham School

SCHOOL CHALLENGE SHIELD. – This school has won the challenge shield for the East Dorset Division this year. DR. BARNARDO’S HOMES. – A collection box has been made by the school children in aid of Dr. Barnardo’s Homes with the following results: – Irene Knight, 13s 7d; Lizzie Restreux, 11s… Continue reading

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