The Laurels (school), Wheathampstead, circa 1881

March, 2006

Linda Gray (byronjoy @t of Greensborough, Victoria, Australia wrote: I am seeking any information regarding the school for girls, " The Laurels" in Wheathampstead. My ancestors Amy Constance Brooks/Sanderson and her sister Victoria Louise Brooks/Sanderson attended this school and were listed in the 1881 census. Any information most welcome. Amy & Victoria came to Australia in 1885 with a governess. .

In the 1851 census a widower, George Jacob Wynter, annuitant, was living the Wheathampstead High Street with two unmarried daughters Hephzibah & Jane, who were described as governesses. There were two borders, James E Byles (9) and Joseph  H Sams (7). The Post Office Directory listed Misses Wynter. Ladies Boarding School. In the 1866 Trade Directory the Misses Hephzibah and Jane Wynter are listed as running a ladies' school, with a similar entry in 1882, and only Hephzibah was listed in 1890. In 1899 Miss Jane Charlotte Wynter ran a ladies school.

The 1901 census shows Jane C Wynter as a private school teacher working at home, with 5 boarding pupils (2 boys and 3 girls) but there was no Wynter entry in the 1902 Kelly's Directory. All the census records suggest that the school was in the Village adjacent to the Town Farm.

I was personally very interested to see the 1881 census returns - reproduced below. Two of the pupils there at the same time as Amy and Victoria Sanderson were daughters of my great-great uncle, Dolphin Smith, of Mackrey End, Wheathampstead, who were not at home on census day. There may also be an indirect link between the Barker children from Kimpton, and my own family tree.

Hephzibah WYNTER Head M 56 Scholastic Eversholt, Beds
Janet WYNTER Sister F 47 Scholastic Eversholt, Beds
Jane C WYNTER Niece F 24 Scholastic Bennington, Herts
Emily J  WYNTER Niece F 23 Scholastic Brighton, Sussex
Eliza SMITH F 29 Housemaid Ayot St Peters
M A OAKLEY F 22 Cook Eversholt, Beds
Floe AMERY Scholar F 13 Scholar Edgware, Middlesex
J.D. BARKER Scholar M 8 Scholar Kimpton, Herts Almost certainly John, son of John Barker of Bury Farm, Kimpton
P.D. BARKER Scholar M 7 Scholar Kimpton, Herts Almost certainly Percy, son of John Barker of Bury Farm, Kimpton
E. BARKER Scholar F 10 Scholar Almost certainly Ethel, daughter of John Barker of Bury Farm, Kimpton
E.M. BOND Scholar F 14 Scholar Childwick (St Michaels)
F.E. CROCOMBE Scholar F 12 Scholar London
B.A. CROCOMBE Scholar F 10 Scholar London
G.P. DOVEY Scholar F 9 Scholar London
K.E. DOVEY Scholar F 7 Scholar London
C.  ELMES Scholar F 14 Scholar London
B. ELMES Scholar F 10 Scholar London
L.M.J. HOLMES Scholar F 11 Scholar London
W. HUMPHRYS Scholar F Scholar London
Ada E. IVORY Scholar F 12 Scholar Ayot St Lawrence, Herts
Mar. KINGSLEY Scholar F 15 Scholar Kimpton, Herts
G. LAST Scholar F 14 Scholar London
Clara LAST Scholar F 9 Scholar London
Lilian MATTHEWS Scholar F 17 Scholar Hull, Yorks
E.E. PIGOTT Scholar M 6 Scholar Newmill End
H.F. PIGOTT Scholar M 8 Scholar Newmill End
Amy SANDERSON Scholar F 10 Scholar London
Victoria SANDERSON Scholar F 8 Scholar London
M. TAYLOR Scholar F 8 Scholar London
E.A. SMITH Scholar F 11 Scholar Wheathamstead, Herts Ellen Frances Smith, daughter of Dolphin Smith (1838-1902) and granddaughter of Dolphin Smith (1805-1885)
F.M. SMITH Scholar F  9 Scholar Wheathamstead, Herts Fanny Mabel Smith, daughter of Dolphin Smith (1838-1902) and granddaughter of Dolphin Smith (1805-1885)

Cussans (published in 1879) records the following relevant tombstones in Wheathampstead churchyard.

Hephzibah, wife of George Jacob Wynter, died 12th May, 1850, aged 69
George Jacob Wynter, died September 26th, 1873, aged 92

Philip, sixth son of George Jacob and Hephzibah Wynter, died September 7th, 1846, aged 28
Henry, twin brother of the above, died February 13th, 1852, aged 33.


From the above it would seem that the school was started by George Wynter's spinster daughters by 1851, working from the family home. It undoubtedly involved day pupils as well as boarders and the pupils would have been the children of well-to-do tradesmen and farmers. It would appear to have increased to a peak (perhaps because there was more room for boarders when George died) and then closed a few years after the last of the founding daughters apparently died.

In general for small family businesses of this kind, the chance of any detailed records having survived for 100 years is very low, particularly if that branch of the family died out. 

There is a web page for Wheathampstead

If you can add to the information given above tell me.


Page created March 2006