Over £50K heritage grant will give group means to buy Sevington Victorian school

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Dann, as Miss Squires, with children Sue Dann, as Miss Squires, with children

Sevington Victorian School charitable trust is celebrating a funding boost of more than £50,000 which will allow it to buy the historic school.

Each year 3,000 primary schoolchildren from Chipp-enham and beyond visit the schoolroom at Grittleton, which has survived virtually untouched since it closed 100 years ago. But the new funding means from April the attraction will be opened to the general public.

The charity has secured a total of £54,800. This includes £40,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £10,000 from Wiltshire Council’s Chippen-ham Area Board and £4,500 from The Hills Group Limited, made available through the Landfill Communities Fund administered for Hills by Community First.

Dinah Starkey, one of the trustees, said the grants were not a foregone conclusion. “We’re very happy to have just heard we’ve made it to over £50,000, it’s wonderful news,” she said. “We needed a little over £50,000 to buy the school so now we’ll buy it as soon as we can get the owner to sell it to us.”

The building was built by Joseph Neeld and opened as a school in 1849. It remains in the Neeld family, from whom the charity has rented it for the past 25 years.

Mrs Starkey said the funding would help them to begin to open it up to the wider public.

School groups go to learn about what school life was like in the days when writing involved a slate or a dip pen. She said at the moment adults have only a couple of opportunities a year to see the time capsule, which includes the desk, pointer and blackboard used by Miss Squire up until 1913.

But soon it will open its doors to the public each Sunday afternoon between April and September.

Mrs Starkey said: “Sevington School is a very special place and we want to open it to the whole community. It is a completely different audience so it’s going to be fun.”

Sevington Victorian School needs volunteers. Anyone who would like to help can email vols4sevington@aol.com

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