History of Ebley School

Ebley British School opened in 1840 as a result of a community effort lead by the minister of Ebley Chapel, Rev Benjamin Parsons. 

Subscribers to the building fund included Sir Samuel Stephens Marling (chief woollen cloth manufacturer in the area), Mr G Scrope (MP for Stroud), local people and friends of the minister.

Rev Benjamin Parsons (1826 - 1855) was the second resident minister to preach at Ebley Chapel. He was a fearless, outspoken minister who was often criticised as being a political preacher. He was a leading voice against slavery, the enclosure of land, the Corn Laws and Church Rates (which nonconformists had to pay to support the Anglican clergy). He supported women's rights, strict observance of the Sabbath, the Peace and Temperance Movements, a vote for every man and an education for all.

In 1839 a meeting was held to devise plans for raising the money needed to build a school. Stephen Clissold Esq presented the church with the necessary land and the Sunday School promised to raise 50. It was decided to build a school that could accommodate 600 children and cost 1,400. 

The corner stone of the new school was laid on 22 October 1839 and the school was opened on 7 July 1840. Henry Webb who had attended Ebley Sunday School was the first headmaster. He lived at Devonia Cottage opposite the chapel gates and taught at the school for 43 years until his retirement.

The school was also used as a library, mechanics' institute, lecture hall and meeting room. The thirst for knowledge was so great that mill workers would rise at 5 am and study in the schoolroom until the factory bell summoned them to work. At night the school lights often stayed on until midnight.

At first there was an upper storey to the building but in 1896 this was removed when the premises were undated to meet the standards required by the school authorities. In 1914 the running of the school was handed over to the Education Authorities but the building remained in the ownership of the church. This was fortunate because in 1967 Ebley Chapel was closed due to dry rot in the roof and demolished in 1973. Because the church still owned the building the congregation were able to move into the school building for Sunday worship. This arrangement worked well until a new school (Foxmoor School) was built in Foxmoor Fields in 1976 and then the old school building was converted to full time use as a place of worship.

Ebley, Gloucestershire - Historical Notes and Memories of Old Ebley. 

By Crystal Harrison 

Available from Ebley Post Office, Westward Road, Ebley, Stroud, Glos or R & R Books, Nelson Street, Stroud. Glos. priced 8 plus 2 postage in UK

Or from the author, contact 

The book contains notes on the various woollen mills and waterways in the Ebley area. Illustrating how the need for a cheaper form of transport lead to the cutting of the Stroudwater Canal in 1779 and two railway routes in 1845 (Great Western Line)and 1867 (Midland Line). Later, the coming of the motor car led to the demise of the railways but gradually the volume of traffic built up to such an extent that in 1994 a bypass through Ebley Meadows was needed.

There are also notes on Ebley Chapel, Ebley School, Cashes Green Hospital (an isolation hospital serving the community) and many of the older buildings in the village. These buildings include those built by the wealthy woollen cloth manufacturers, Ebley House, Ebley Court, Bridge House and Holly Tree House




In 1840 a British school connected with Ebley chapel was opened in a stone building in the classical style behind the chapel. It was used for a day school and Sunday school, and an adult nightschool at which lectures on a wide range of subjects were given by the minister, Benjamin Parsons. (fn. 18) In 1871 about half the income of the school came from contributions, and half from payments by the children which varied between 2d. and 10d. depending on the subjects taken. (fn. 19) The building was extended in 1896. (fn. 20) In 1885 the school had an attendance of 220, (fn. 21) which had fallen by 1903 to 132. (fn. 22) The school later became the Ebley County Primary school, the older children going to schools in Stroud and Stonehouse; attendance in 1967 was c. 108. (fn. 23) A day-school, opened at the Stonehouse Congregational chapel in 1851, (fn. 24) was closed through lack of funds in 1856. (fn. 25)

In 1818 there were four small day schools in the parish in addition to the two charity schools; (fn. 26) others were started in 1826 and 1829, and in 1833 there were six small schools where a total of 164 children were taught at their parents' expense. (fn. 27) The Stonehouse County Secondary School for over 600 children was built in 1955. (fn. 28) Cashe's Green County Primary school was opened in 1957 to serve the new housing estates in that area; it had an attendance of 284 in 1967. (fn. 29)