A BRIEF EARLY HISTORY OF BRILLEY PAROCHIAL SCHOOL
It has been suggested, I believe, that Brilley Parochial School, for which the earliest known date is 1808, was the oldest school in Herefordshire but records show that there was schooling in Eardisley as early as 1554. Nevertheless, our school would have celebrated its 200th birthday in 2008.
The first recorded “schoolroom” was in the pre-Victorian house now owned by Pam and Alan Mytton (and now known as Old Hall because when the new school was built in 1968 the old school became the Village Hall). Part of the original tiled floor is still there and over the lintel which would originally have been the entrance there is a commemorative stone carved by R. Davis, Brilley, which reads: This building was erected for a Schoolroom at the Expense of JOHN HARRIS Esq In the year of our Lord 1808. The house has been extended, of course, since then.
John Harris lived at the Comma (cf relevant document). He died in 1819 and left a house by the churchyard, which he had built as a school, "for the use of the Parish to be used for that purpose". He gave too an annual sum of £5 to pay a schoolmaster (provided that the Parish of Brilley contributed an equal sum) payable out of the Kintley Estate. He gave the management of the school-house to the churchwardens and overseers of the Parish. The school-house consisted of a substantial brick schoolroom over which another schoolroom was added in 1884 after John Harris's death. This cost £170 and was paid for partly by the Parish and partly with a grant of £15 from an unknown Society in London. After John Harris died the Parish paid the schoolmaster's salary and the schoolmaster taught "all the poor of the Parish in reading and writing, free of expense". There were 60 children at the school at that time and two teachers although the average attendance was 40. This was probably due to the bad state of roads and children being kept at home to work. The first known schoolmaster in Brilley was John Jones, who received £15 a year between 1816-1821.
In a codicil to his Will dated 28 December 1831 John Morris of Kington gave £100 for a house to be built adjoining the churchyard as a residence for the schoolmaster. John Morris charged the Court of Brilley Estate with an annual payment of £50 to be paid quarterly to the schoolmaster, provided that schoolmasters be appointed "by the parishioners of Brilley, assembled at a Parish Meeting convened by due notice for that purpose". A substantial stone dwelling house, containing four rooms, was built by John Morris's executors. (It probably cost less than £100 but there are no records of what might have happened to the surplus in any of the documents I have seen.) The schoolmaster living in the schoolmaster's house until 1851 was John Brown.
In the 1871 Census Records, Jenny Harrison (Lower Bridge Court) found a snippet that might have fuelled a little passing speculation: "Thomas Morgan aged 43, Vicar of Brilley and Rector of Michaelchurch, Widower. Esther 9, Edith 5, Ralph 4 and Mary 2, two maids, and on the night of the Census a Visitor, Sarah Brookes, aged 32 unmarried, schoolmistress of Brilley School."
During the 1880's at least, the Vicar of Brilley was the Reverend I.W. Lee. He was closely associated with the school and his name appears on various invoices for school affairs. He was probably the school's Trea