[WAPLE], Cambridge House School, Baldock, Mid 19th Century

March, 2010


Colin Smith (smithcolin @t tinyworld.co.uk) of Hampshire writes: In the 1861 census two of my ancestors, John Waple and his brother Illedge Waple (age 10 and 12) were attending the Cambridge House School, Hitchin Road, Baldock. I would very much like some information about this school. The boys family lived in Clerkenwell, I want to try to understand why they were sent to this school, i.e. were there relatives nearby or was it a particular type of school ?

First some general points

The Waple boys seem to have been a typical small school - which is listed in the 1866 Post Office directory as a Boy's school, run by James William Leslie Jinks, in Hitchn Street, Baldock,

The 1861 census, which you have seen, shows the school as Cambridge House, Hitchin Street, with 15 scholars (boarders) between 7 and 13 years, all boys, most coming from what we would now call London. Next door was another school, run by Ann Balfour with 22 boarding girls between 7 and 17 from all over the country.

It helps to put the school in context within Baldock. In the 1828/9 Pigot's Directory for Hertfordshire lists four boarding academies in Baldock: Miss Pryor and Miss Hopkins ran ladies' boarding schools, and Rev John Simpson and William Stocken ran gentlemen's boarding schools. Only Sarah Pryor was running a boarding school in 1839, while Mr Frost ran a day school in Hitchin Street and Miss Troop ran a day school in White Horse Street. In addition the movement to educate the poor was well underway by this date with both a British and a National school had opened. See Pond Lane (Council) School.

At the time of the 1851 census there were only two pupils boarding in Hitchin - both girls boarding at Mrs Maria Simms Academy in Norton Street. This would suggest that both the Cambridge House School, and the girl's boarding school next door opened sometime in the 1850s. I am not certain what happened to the school. The 1871 census shows a boarding school under a William C Wallace somewhere in Hitchin Street (no sign of the girls school) while the 1878 directory has a "College School" run by Thomas Watts M.R.C.P., in Hitchin Street.

There was nothing unusual about the Waple boys going to a school such as the one in Cambridge House, Baldock. However it may be that they went there (rather than another boarding school) on personal recommendation from the parents of other boys that went to the school. (Such recommendations were probably very common then as now. In 1952 I went to a small boarding school on the recommendation of my mother's cousin -  and while I was there three other pupils joined the school whose parents were known to my parents.) If you are interested it might be worth checking out the other pupils in the school to see if they came from the same part of London and/or their parents worked in trades related to Mr Waple,

It is also possible that someone in the Baldock Museum and Local History Society can help with some more details - but information on this kind of small and often short lived schools is hard to find. It is possible that Cambridge House is still standing - or at least someone has a picture of it.

March 2010   Page created