Hurstpierpoint History: 150 years of St Lawrence School

What is now Players Theatre, used to be the village school in Hurst.

What is now Players Theatre, used to be the village school in Hurst.

By Christopher Maidment

The act of commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Hurstpierpoint School with the planting of a replacement tree on the corner of Trinity Road and Cuckfield Road (Hurst Life, April 2019) warrants a brief reminder of the background of the school’s inception. It is worth noting that its original funding perhaps encapsulates the values of not only the Saint after whom the school is now named but also what is regarded by many as the village motto of ‘kind and charitable’.

The titanic work of documenting a more complete record of three centuries of education can be found in Ian Nelson’s book - Hurstpierpoint school ‘to be larned, not washed’. Snippets of this work are unashamedly plagiarised here, with Ian’s kind permission.

At the outset, it should also be a matter of recognition that it is in fact the 200th anniversary of the school’s original foundation at its previous location in 1819, at what is now the Players Theatre, and shown here. Following its life as a school, it became an off licence.

The surgeon Richard Weekes, who lived at Matts (now Norfolk House) in the High Street, recorded the event in his diary notes of 1818: ‘In the autumn of this year we bought by public subscriptions to the Methodist Chapel [Player’s Theatre] at Hurst for the sum of £460 and it has cost £600 to fit it up for a school for boys and girls’. This was very much in line with the national movement to expand elementary education to provide education for all children.

[see full article in September 2019’s issue of Hurst Life magazine]