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Trowse Primary School, Trowse with Newton

Description: Trowse Primary School

Grade: II
Date Listed: 23 February 2015
Building ID: 1423347

OS Grid Reference: TG2473706731
OS Grid Coordinates: 624737, 306735
Latitude/Longitude: 52.6119, 1.3180

Locality: Trowse with Newton
Local Authority: South Norfolk
County: Norfolk
Postcode: NR14 8TH

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Listing Text


A late C19 school, initially based in the meeting rooms of a Congregational chapel, but later adapted and extended to the designs of the Norwich architect Edward Boardman. The school remains in educational use.

Reason for Listing

Trowse Primary School, built in 1874 and extended in 1882, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:* Historic interest: the school represents and reflects the development of different successive strands of educational provision in the mid-late C19.* Architectural interest: the school buildings reinforce the historic quality of the site. The purpose-built 1882 extension, designed by a notable local architect with its innovative arrangement of a series of small tuition rooms flanking the main central hall, and its decorative embellishments, contrasts with the modest form and plain detailing of the former chapel school and meeting rooms. * Survival: although both parts of the school have undergone internal alteration to meet modern educational requirements, each retains distinctive characteristics and features reflecting their original form and function.


The architecture of rural schools in Norfolk is a physical representation of the history of education for poor and working class children from the early to mid-C19 up to the Butler Education Act of 1944. Nationally, until the late C17 education was provided predominantly by grammar and endowed schools, but was generally restricted to those who could pay. In 1698 the newly founded Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) established charity schools, primarily to educate urban working class children, but until the early C19 the education of rural children depended on local initiatives, generally informal classes held in a variety of existing spaces, and often referred to as 'Dame Schools'. The provision of more organised and formal education for working class children appeared with the founding of the Church of England's National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor (National Schools) in 1811, which was preceded, in 1808, by the Non-Conformist's British and Foreign Schools Society (British Schools); the former were dominant in the countryside, while the latter were mainly urban based. These two organisations were the main providers of voluntary schools, although other bodies also set up schools, and particularly in rural areas these could be established by landowners and estates, sometimes in conjunction with the National Society. In 1833 the first government grants became available for those voluntary societies willing to submit to inspection, with an increase in the budget in 1843 to cover the cost of teacher's houses (particularly essential in remote areas of rural Norfolk) leading to an increase in the number of schools in the county built in the 1840s and 1850s. From the mid-C19 the religious societies were the main providers of education for the poor, but schooling was not universally available and the presence of schools in communities was patchy. The Education Act of 1870 recognised the need to widen access to education in response to social and political change, reflected particularly in the extension of the franchise by the Representation of the Peoples Act of 1867. The Education Act allowed for the setting up of secular school boards, empowered to establish local schools where there was a need, and between 1870 and 1902 160 new schools were built (including church schools); however, attendance was not made compulsory (for children aged between five and ten) until the Elementary Education Act of 1880. The next major change in educational provision did not come about until 1902, when the Balfour Act transferred responsibility to newly established Local Education Authorities. New Building Regulations issued by the Board of Education revealed some schools to be substandard; new schools were built, but there were also some closures in Norfolk. In the inter-war years the building of elementary schools slowed, and further closures followed. Under the Education Act of 1944 the newly established Ministry of Education required all LEAs to submit development plans with provision for secondary education, and also laid down a minimum standard of accommodation for primary schools. A programme of new school building was proposed to replace inadequate schools, and although ambitions for the building of new schools and the closure of those that were deemed sub-standard or too small were not realised, by 1990 190 schools in Norfolk had been closed.Historical changes in educational provision and funding, as well as the evolution of ideas about education, tend to be reflected in architectural styles, and in the plan and function of school buildings. The earliest rural schools are often very plain, single storey one room structures; porches are generally present, at least one, and sometimes two, where money and space allow for separate entrances for boys and girls, and these remained a consistent and sometimes prominent feature. Within the classroom, benches were arranged longitudinally on one side of the room, grouped to allow for the teaching of smaller numbers of children by monitors, a system known as the Madras method. A development of this plan was the addition of a smaller infants' classroom at one end, which may have had raked seating; evidence of this is rarely found, and no original benches survive. A variant on this plan is where the second classroom forms a cross-wing, while a tripartite plan might be formed with an integrated teachers' house as a cross-wing at the other end of a central classroom, forming an H or U plan. From the 1840s teachers' houses might include a parlour, kitchen, scullery and three first floor bedrooms. After the 1870 Act, progressive layouts are scarce in rural Norfolk, including the widely adopted plan, devised by the London Board architect, E R Robson, of classrooms off a central hall. In the countryside the tripartite plan remained in use, added to and modified as necessary.Architecturally, the favoured style of early schools was the Classical, but by the 1830s and '40s Gothic had become dominant, combined with elements of Tudor architecture. Schools funded by local landowners or estates could be a particularly elaborate in their design as an expression of philanthropic wealth. After 1860, a style merging elements of the Tudor and Jacobean styles, the Jacobethan, emerges, and although the establishment of school boards after 1870 saw the introduction nationally of a more secular Queen Anne style, this was slow to be adopted in Norfolk, and Gothic or Jacobethan remained in favour, as well as the earlier legacy of building styles. After the creation of Local Education Authorities in 1902 the Queen Anne style was introduced, often fused with elements drawn from the Arts and Crafts movement, with the latter occasionally featuring as the predominant style. The new Building Regulations reflected a growing interest in health and hygiene, with a particular concern for light and fresh air. This is physically represented by classrooms lit by large windows on two sides and by hopper opening windows in lower panes, allowing cross ventilation with reduced draughts. A programme of enlarging windows in existing schools was also introduced, sometimes by inserting dormers to rise above eaves level. In new schools, marching corridors also provided opportunities for exercise. The Derbyshire County Architect George Widdows was a pioneer in the development of school plans capturing the new thinking, and although these are more usually seen, nationally, in larger urban schools, there are examples to be found in rural Norfolk. In the inter-war years school building slowed, and the design of new schools adopted a functional Queen Anne style. The school at Trowse has its origins in 1874, when a school room attached to a Congregational chapel built in 1870 was let to the Trowse School Board. In 1882, a purpose-built extension was completed to the designs of Edward Boardman, and funded by the industrialist J.J.Colman. The chapel was later demolished, but the school room and adjacent service areas were retained for educational use. In 1895 a teacher's house (not included in the listing)was erected to the north of the school buildings, adjacent to the lower playground. The school site includes two open shelters (neither included in the listing), one in each of the two playgrounds on the west side of the school site. The Norfolk County Council Education Committee's 1947 Development Plan records a school roll of 59 children, and an envisaged closure date of 1961-2. The building remains in educational use as a primary school, with additional facilities in a new building erected to the north-west of the main complex, and a new staff room created by converting the easternmost playground shelter.


A late-C19 Board School, initially housed in a Congregational Chapel school room, enlarged in 1882 by the addition of a purpose-built extension designed by the Norwich-based architect Edward Boardman. The extension was funded by the industrialist J.J.Colman.MATERIALS: the buildings are constructed of red brick with moulded brick and terra-cotta dressings. A small section of split flint walling survives at the north end of the former chapel school room building, now housing toilets. The buildings have slate roof coverings. PLAN: the layout of the school is accretional, with the earlier chapel school room and service rooms forming the northern section, with the extension to the south. The overall plan is linear, but the extension appears to be an example of a central hall plan with flanking small rooms to the east and west. EXTERIOR: west elevation: the former chapel school room is aligned east-west, and is plainly detailed, with tall, wide gables incorporating paired tall window openings, with C20 multi-pane frames below segmental-arched heads. Each gable apex has a circular window, with a C21 multifoil frame. To the north end is an attached single-storey lean-to section, the north wall of which retains two lancet windows with linked hood moulds, set within an area of flint walling. The 1882 extension is more ornately detailed, comprising a five bay, single storey, multi-gabled entrance front, to the rear of which rises a taller central hall, with 3-light mullion and mullion and transom windows forming a clerestory band, set beneath dentilled eaves. The transomed windows light the entrance lobbies and what were boys and girls cloakroom areas. At the south end is a lower single storey service building which extends to the school boundary wall. The frontage area is formed of five gabled bays, that to the north end incorporating the entrance doorway. This has a four-centred arched head, a moulded brick surround and a moulded string course forming hood moulds above the door and its flanking single light windows. The remaining gables each have a single two-light mullion and transom window set beneath a hood mould. The apex to each gablet incorporates a small, blind terracotta panel, and between each bay is a cast-iron downpipe each with butterfly brackets and a decorative hopper head. The rear elevation is similarly detailed, but incorporates an access doorway to a cellar, formerly the school's boiler room.INTERIOR: the interior of the former chapel school room and associated service areas is much altered, but retains exposed roof trusses of a composite design with timber principal rafters and metal tension rods with ornamental struts completing the truss triangulations. The principal areas retain vertically-boarded wainscotting. The interior of the 1882 extension has also undergone alteration, most notably by the insertion of a mezzanine floor and access stairs at the south end of the central hall. Many original features remain, including the surround to the main hearth, panelled doors, vertically- boarded wainscotting, and what appear to be small heating or ventilator columns in each of the small classrooms flanking the central hall. The interior of the hipped roof structure is underboarded, with curved arched braces with open spandrels brackets, rising from corbels in both end and side walls, to support the principal rafters.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.