The Dance Families of the Forest of Dean

 Scowles SCHOOL












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"The Scowles School is built with Lime Stone. It stands on a high hill. From here you may see Penalt Church and parish and other places. There is a large play-ground for the children. It has a high wall around it with big doors to protect it from harm. It belongs to the Newland Church. It is a pretty place. There is a good attendance of children here."      James Thompson 1870

In 1858 33 year old  Mary Fortescue Brickdale of Birchamp House, Newland, persuaded her father to buy a plot of land from our ancestor Edward Dance and build a school and School House at Scowles to serve the children in that hamlet as well as those in Newland, Whitecliff, and Crossways.
She was the daughter of Newland barrister, Brigadier General John Fortescue Brickdale and like her older sister Catharine, who married local land owner and magistrate Edward Owen Jones at Newland in 1840, was born at Calais, France when her father was serving there. When he died in 1867 the school and an annuity of £50 for its maintenance was left to Mary.

This memorandum was added in 1858 to the deeds held for five plots of land owned by Edward Dance at Scowles and records the conveyancing of plot no 49 and a small portion of plot no 51 to John Fortescue Brickdale Esq. The piece from plot 51 was to gain access to the road. Edward Dance signed with an X. In 1881 when widower Edward was living at the Newland Almshouses he sold the remainder of plot 51 to Mary Brickdale (Shooters Roost?) for additional school accommodation.      (deeds in the possession of Dave Jones who kindly supplied a copy)








The School in the early 1890s?   Mary Brickdale is believed to be one of the ladies seated in the carriage. This may be the school photograph mentioned in the school log as taken  in September 1882 when George Fitzgerald was the Master and his wife Emma was Mistress.





The earliest record  of a school teacher at Scowles is in Slater's Directory of 1868. It shows "Newland Mixed School" and the Mistress as Emma Ireland (later Mrs Fitzgerald). This is probably Scowles School as there are two other separate entries for the same village, Newland Grammar- Fred Gorty - Master, and the old Newland School - Chas Stockham -Master and Jane Stockham - Mistress. The old Newland School closed in the 1860s and Charles Stockham died in 1869.

Essex born Mary Morgan (born 1803), the wife of Edmund Morgan who had been at Scowles Farm in the 1830s and lived next door in later years, was listed on the 1861 census returns as a school teacher. She died in 1863. Was she Mistress at Scowles School when it opened in 1858? 

Emma Ireland would have been 20 years old when Mary Morgan died in 1863 but had given her occupation as dressmaker on the 1861 Newland census.

In 1877 there was an average attendance of 79 and by June 1879 Mary Brickdale had added a school house to accommodate the Master and Mistress George and Emma Fitzgerald, and an extra classroom. In 1881 neighbouring Coleford British School closed and an extra 40-50 pupils were added to the registers.


Mary remained single. Her life was dedicated  to her precious school and its pupils, supervising it from 1858 right through till a year before she died in 1895.


The charge for tuition was one penny a week for each pupil, except in the case of large families. The subjects taught were the 'three 'Rs', plus  Geography, History, Scripture, Needlework, and Singing.




George Dance born in 1878 to John & Margaret Dance of the Red House.

He was a pupil at Scowles School moving from the Infants Department in August 1887.

In the log for May 1890 - George Dance to remain in 3rd standard.




Mary Brickdale herself took the two last subjects, and insisted that the boys as well as the girls should know how to sew on a button and darn a stocking. She demanded  a high standard of discipline and manners: all the girls having to curtsy, and the boys removing their caps when they met her. On all the school logs and registers she was usually referred to as the Manager.


1st of April 1878.. "Elizabeth Ambrey and Louise Hewlett engaged as paid monitors."


25th of May 1878.. "The teachers will shortly receive their certificates (Articles 59 & 59a) George Fitzgerald, Master Boys Mixed School and Emma Fitzgerald, Mistress of Infants School.


14th of October 1878.. "Manager gave children a half holiday for the purpose of seeing a panorama of Dr Livingstone's travels in Africa."


September 26th 1879.. "New school-room opened for first time. One monitor, Elizabeth Ambrey, has left, her place being taken by Sarah Ann Humphries for instructing lower standards and infants in needlework."


July 11th 1881.. "Louisa James engaged as Assistant Mistress and entered on her duties this day."


January 2nd 1882.. "Very small attendance. Principally caused by so many families having measles in their house.


In 1882 the log shows that the boys had drills as part of their curriculum. "June 1882 - Boys drilled on Wednesday by Sgt Harris from 2.00 -3.15pm."  This was repeated as a fairly regular twice weekly event.


In 1883 the Infants and Standard 1 became separate departments.


On the last day of term, before Christmas, each Scowles child was given a gift parcel from Mary Brickdale containing material to make either a shirt, pinafore, suit, or petticoat, and was also handed the proceeds of their money from the Sunday School Club. 

Christmas 1887. "Manager with her usual liberality gave to each child in school materials for a suit of clothes, flannel for a petticoat, or some suitable present for the winter."


After the school-house was built Mary always employed married couples as Master and Mistress. 

In 1874 George Fitzgerald was Master of the Boys and Mixed school and his wife Emma, Mistress of the Infants school. They were later assisted by two monitors Elizabeth Ambrey and Emma's cousin Louisa Hewlett.

One of their children Maurice Fitzgerald, (born 1872) who went on to Grammar School in 1885, was the first Scowles boy entered on the new 1883 school register. George Fitzgerald's mother Elizabeth (1808) was the toll collector at nearby Crossways turnpike and was resident there in 1881. She had previously on the 1861 census collected the tolls at Whitecliff turnpike and Ruardean in 1871.

George Fitzgerald was born at Bristol in 1839 and was not a formerly trained teacher. His occupation when he married 25 year old Coleford born school teacher Emma Ireland (1843) at Newland in 1869 was a gardener and  still was in that occupation until at least 1874. Emma was already Mistress of Scowles School at the time of their marriage and had been since before 1868. In 1877 he was now  Master of a mixed school teaching juniors and infants that had an average attendance of 72. In 1883 there were 109 children (not including infants) on the register. 29 were from the hamlet of Scowles.

44 year old George unfortunately died in June 1883 and to replace him Mary employed  Mr and Mrs Delamont as Master and Mistress, a decision she was soon to regret. 


The first indication of problems shown in the school log was a sharp rise in punishments listed to unruly pupils. "punished Frank & George Morgan and Walter Jones for not adhering to the rules of school", "punished Tom Frowen for cutting the seat", "punished Tom Frowen for insubordination", punished T. Bevan for insolence and inattention to work", etc. 

On the 3rd of October, after only 4 months she was forced to dismiss the couple giving them 3 months notice. She had received complaints from parents of excessive violence to the girls as well as the boys.


Her letter on October 8th 1883 reads " I forbid either Mrs Delamont or yourself to lay your hand on for punishment or to cane any girl in the school. In any case of stealing, lying, or willful disobedience you will report to me at any of my visits. Among the boys I will allow of no corporal punishment except one or two strokes of the cane on the hand without violence."

It seems his brutal regime did not however completely end with that letter. On November 30th she wrote in the log, " During this week a parent has complained to me about the Master striking his son severely across the back with an umbrella."

The Delamonts left on December 29th 1883 and on January 7th Mary handed the badly kept registers to the new Master, Mr George Butt and his wife Elizabeth.


Having inherited a fairly disrupted school, George Butt obviously had to maintain discipline. His log entries show several "slight punishments", no doubt working within Miss Brickdale's guidelines. In  March 1884 he records.. "Punished R.Tippins and Alf Frowen for fighting". The school on that occasion sent Alf Frowen home for a "weeks leave". The boy was soon in trouble again however. On March 14th Mr Butt writes.. "Tom Frowen returned after 7 days leave. Several complaints of his conduct with the other boys. Punished him for fighting with George Cole. Afterwards found that George Cole had been throwing stones at Tom Frowen and punished him as well". (12 year old Tom Frowen was the son of carpenter John Frowen from Staunton Lane.)


In 1885 he wrote - "Last 3 pence paid by Alf Frowen towards the broken pane this week."  Alf (born 1873) was the son of Scowles collier Alfred Frowen.

On May 8th 1885 George Butt again wrote - Punished C. Rose (after repeated cautions, 3 stripes on hands), Tom Edwards (3 stripes on hands, not so hard as C. Rose) for fighting in the playground during the dinner hour, also J. Smith (1 stripe) for aiding and abetting, and cautioned Maurice Fitzgerald for inciting to fight. C. Rose received a black eye in the fight. Tom Edwards seemed poorly in class just as we were closing school.


The log also records the removal of pupils from the school as their parents sought employment elsewhere. May 23rd 1884 .."William and Lucy Thomas leave school today as their parents are going into Berkshire". .. February 3rd 1890.. "William Jones, Standard 3 left today. Family going into Wales. The exodus has been very strong this year". 

In April 1886 - "I learn that the Roseblades leave Coleford for Australia early this month. They will be a great loss as they are the most forward children in the school and sure of passing."

Charles, Susan and Gertrude were the children of Coleford mason John Musto Roseblade (1845). His wife Mary Ann had died in 1883. He was remarried the same year to Lucy Partridge and the family migrated to Ipswich, Queensland in 1886. After 5 years they moved North as pioneers at Yungaburra in the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns.  see  Roseblade Family


Miss Brickdale was very firm with her rule of only appointing married couples to the position of Master and Mistress. This was illustrated clearly in June 1886 when George Butt's wife Elizabeth died and he had to resign. 

Less than two years later in April 1888, the wife of the new Master, Mr Coates, passed away. A letter from the Manager reminded him of that stipulation and he also was expected to resign and vacate the school-house.

Mrs Emma Fitzgerald, the widow of former Master, George Fitzgerald, who had died in 1883, was more fortunate. She was still Mistress of the Infants School in 1891, had three sons, Maurice (1873), Charles (1877), Stanley (1880) and was also living on the premises. 

With the closure of Coleford British school in 1880, attendance rose and from 1883 the junior and infant departments were run separately.

After his wife's death, Mr Coates was replaced  in May 1888 by Mr Alfred Cope.


Absenteeism  was also a large problem and truancy officers were regularly visiting the school and area. The log for 23rd of May 1878 reads.. "School Attendance Officer called and enquired as to the attendance of several children who had been ordered by the magistrates to attend school."   

October 4th 1893  .. "Charles Rhodes truanting". 14th December 1894.. "John Baker, William Short, Charles Rhodes, John & Tom Jenkins, and Robert Watkins" all listed for poor attendance. 

May 7th 1878.. "School Attendance Officer called to check on attendances of Reuben and Oliver Lloyd". January 15th 1894.. "Mrs Perkins arrived and tried to make excuses for Henry which were of the usual kind. Since 7th of May, school opened 290 times, Perkins present 148." 

October 6th 1895.. "The Attendance Officer called and took many names. Charles Rhodes has been present nine times out of 50" .  December 3rd 1895.. "Charles Rhodes came late to school followed by his mother - he had five visible bruises upon him. Three upon his head and face and one upon each hand".  


On June 5th 1896 Mr Cope wrote.. "Paid a visit to Mrs Nicholls whose boy Sydney has been absent every afternoon this week and was so most afternoons last year. I complained that he was always absent from drawing lessons. My answer was 'Drawing lessons - what good is drawing?"


A number of other factors accounted for low attendances. In those days for obvious reasons the three weeks summer holiday was known as the Harvest Vacation. On September 9th 1878 the log relates.. "Attendance rather scant this week owing to the weather and the harvest not quite finished". 

30th of September 1887.. "Weather very fine. Several children gone with parents to gather nuts and blackberries".

On 20th of June 1892 "Holiday for Coleford Fair". and next day "Very bad school being second day of Coleford Fair".

On September 8th 1882 " Rather small attendance many being in the fields gleaning."  and September 15th 1882, "School photographed. Many children still engaged in harvest work."

10th of September 1893.. "School still small. Blackberrying is keeping many away." Other logging  of poor attendance figures commonly  blame Monmouth Races or the arrival of a circus in the area.

'Coleford Fair held on June 20th and 21st, was a wonderful time for people who lived near Coleford, but not so much for the traders who had to put up with the noise, smells, and loss of custom for that week. I remember Rifle Nell who had a shooting gallery, and Sequah who dressed as a Red Indian and drove a kind of coach. He took out teeth at six pence a time, an operation supposed to be painless but he had two men with him who blew trumpets so loudly that the screams could not be heard. Mr Webb's faggots and peas from his stall at the side of the Market Hall for 2 pence a portion was something to remember.'


'Another big day for Coleford was when Sanger's Circus came to town, and if you were lucky you might see elephants walking leisurely along the street or lions and tigers in their strong cages passing by.'        Reg Cope


The water at the school came from built-in tanks filled by the normally plentiful supply of rain water and pupils did not suffer in the same way as a number of their own families who relied on more distant wells for their needs.

There were regular accounts of school closures and low attendance when epidemics and sickness swept through the school. In September 1892 Miss Brickdale wrote in the log.. "Mr Cope, will you make arrangements as you did once before, that the children of your school dept. drink boiled water only on the School premises".

In 1890 coffee was introduced for the pupils at a charge of one penny per week.


Teenage girls were employed as Monitors. Usually to supervise the Infants School and assist with needlework etc. The average wage listed was 5 shillings (40p). This was paid to Jessie Taylor, Florence Ambrey, and Hilda J Smith in the early 1900s and Alfred's daughter, Eleanor Cope, 2 pounds 12 shillings in 1904.

The head teacher was paid an annual salary of £96 in 1888 and £100 in 1906. His wife received £35 in 1890 while the Infant's teachers were getting £30, rising to £35 in 1904.

In 1902 Miss E Grindell was the Infant's teacher, and Miss A Hawkins in 1906.

Miss E Grindle in 1900

I came across your website by chance, and enjoyed reading about the school at the Scowles.I always understood that my grandmother had taught there at one time, but had no idea of the exact date, so I was delighted to read her name, Miss E Grindle, and to find out that she taught the infants in 1902.Thank you for the interesting and informative site.I do have a photograph of her with a class of schoolchildren, but I think it was taken about 1900 when she was teaching in Congesbury, Somerset. She appears in that location on the 1901 Census.   Gill Knowles



Alfred Cope was born at Berkeley, Gloucestershire in 1853 the son of a plasterer. A later teachers' register for the Diocese records his appointment at a salary of £96.00. His wife and family followed him from Uxbridge, Middlesex some time later, one account by son Reg describing their arrival by train at  Newland Station followed by a long steep uphill walk to Scowles School. The teachers' register records Sophia Cope's appointment as being from January 1890 at a salary of £35.00. Local records show she had only recently given  birth to  daughter Eleanor at Scowles in July 1889. 

The Copes brought with them to the school house  three children, Alfred (Reg) (born Uxbridge 1883) , Selwyn (Arthur) (born Uxbridge 1885), and daughter Beatrice (born Uxbridge 1887) and then added at Coleford, Eleanor in 1889, Charles 1892, Marion, 1895;  and Grace in 1900.

The Cope family at the Scowles  around 1902


Alfred Cope was born in Berkeley, South Gloucesershire on 27/3/1853, baptised on 1/5/1853 and  lived in Pump House Cottage. He is mentioned in  the Berkeley Parish Church Magazine several times;  from being rewarded for "continued good conduct,  punctual attendance and industry at Sunday school"  (in 1864); "Alfred has not been absent from school once during the year" (May 1873), also "Excellent in  drawing, passed in perspective”; to "Mr. Alfred  Cope has passed out of Training College at  Cheltenham and has taken an Assistant Mastership  in a Board School in Greenwich" (Jan 1876). One  thing not said in the Parish Magazine was that he  gained a scholarship to Rugby school.

In the 1881 Census he was aged 28 and his  occupation shown as Pupil Teacher. He married an  Uxbridge girl, Sophia Martha Bradfield, who  preferred to be called "Patti", on 10/08/1882. 

They  must have moved after the birth of their 1st child,  from St. Andrew, Hillingdon to "Alfred's Villa",  Uxbridge. A few years after living in London he  started suffering from mild epilepsy and as a result  decided in 1888 he should accept the Headmastership  of Scowles School, near Coleford in the Forest  of Dean. 

Their house was incorporated into the  school building.  His wife Patti, who I think may also have  been a teacher before marriage, loved the town life  and never really felt at home in the country. My  Mother always reckoned Alfred must have been a  very hard man because when his daughter Eleanor  was raped at a very young age (at about 10) and  witnessed by Charles who was 3 years younger,  Alfred never believed them when they got home and  told their story.  Eleanor never really recovered from the  trauma and depended on her siblings for care and  support throughout the rest of her life. 

Alfred died  on 28/11/1920 aged 67 and Martha Patti died just  over 18 years later on the 11/2/1939 - both being  buried together in Coleford Cemetery.


'There were two railway stations functioning in my younger days. The LMS and the GWR which ran quite a good service. The first to Lydney Junction, connecting with trains to Gloucester and Paddington and the other to Monmouth and south and north of the Welsh border.'    Reg Cope

An endowment from Mary Brickdale ensured that the above Ascension Day custom of buns and a drink after the church service continued throughout the life of the school but fortunately in later years the long walk to Newland Church was dispensed with and the log of 1967 records that teachers and pupils attended Scowles Chapel.

'One regular feature of our Scowles School calendar was for the staff and children to attend a service at Newland Church on Ascension Day. This function was followed by by Miss Brickdale inviting us to have milk and buns on her lawn before we faced the uphill walk back to school, via the Burying Path, down Dog Kennel Pitch, and then uphill again through a field by the side of Bells Wood.'   Reg Cope

"Re Mary Brickdale who endowed the school, one of the quirks of that endowment was that each Ascension Day the school assembled, went to the village chapel for a service and then back to school for free cream buns and milk (bear in mind this started long before free school milk). The pupils then had the day off. Incidentally as a youngster I was the official bell ringer and organ blower for the chapel and was paid ten shillings, twice a year!  " David Dowle - a pupil from 1949.


Apparently the school was then a very happy one, thanks mainly to the Cope family. As well as looking after her own seven children, Sophia (Patti)  Cope  who played the harmonium of which there were two at Scowles, one for the infants and the other for the remainder of the pupils, settled there and for the remainder of her working life competently co-managed the school. The couple certainly must have have given the pupils a long awaited sense of stability after so many earlier changes in the regime. They would also have had a good deal of help from the long established Infant's Mistress, Emma Fitzgerald and her cousin Frances Hewlett. 

Alfred Cope and his son Reg were both members of the Coleford Church choir and attended twice every Sunday. In addition young Reg, who was to later marry Doris Blanch, played the harmonium at Scowles chapel's Sunday school in the afternoon. 

I remember one Sunday morning that I heard Mr J W Porter tell my father that Sir Charles Dilke was in the congregation, and he said "There will be a half sovereign in the plate" - and sure enough there was! "    Reg Cope

Unlike his predecessors, Alfred was to remain as Master for more than two decades. He retired on the 29th of July 1915 and died at Coleford in 1920 aged 67. His widow 81 year old Sophia, passed away in 1939.

Around 1899 - Alfred & Sophia Cope's family - left to right Charles, Eleanor, Sophia, Beatrice, Alfred, Arthur & Marion

Boys and girls were rigidly separated in the playground by a high wooden fence. On one side were the infants or "Little Infunce" as they were called and the girls who were known by the old fashioned name of "Wenchen". The girls joined in many singing games, dancing in a ring and singing;-

“The wind, the wind, the wind blows high,The rain comes pouring from the sky,

She is handsome, she is pretty,

She is the girl from the Royal City,

She goes courting, one, two, three,

Bring her across the water

Give her kisses, one, two, three,

Mrs. Cope's daughter.”

From Charles Cope's memoirs  with acknowledgements to family historian Michael Cope.

In class, I can still see Reg and Arthur sitting in the front row, and Bea in the third row among the girls. I could go on and on but I will content myself by saying that in spite of old fashioned methods, or because of them, Father produced pupils who could read, write and spell better than the present day children, some of whom, even at the end of their Secondary School life can do none of them, remaining almost illiterate. By a strange twist of Fate, Monnica Cope became their last Head Teacher - thus the first and the last were Copes.

I visited Monnica's School several times and how different it all was. As I opened the door I could hear a subdued hum of voices, everyone on the move, working happily and with a purpose on some project or other. The tedious class lesson was rarely heard. And then the School had to be closed. The population had changed, the school had ceased to serve a useful purpose and after 100 years Miss Brickdale's generosity had borne good fruit.     

Charles Egbert Cope

Around 1915, Left to right - Alfred, Beatrice, Arthur, Marion, Sophia (Patti), and Grace on the lawn.

CHARLES EGBERT COPE 1892-1979   Charles Cope was born on  29/10/1892 at The Scowles, Coleford. He was the son of headmaster Alfred Cope who was headmaster at Scowles School, Coleford between 1888 and 1915.

The 1911 census records Charles Cope's occupation as 'assistant teacher'. 

He enlisted in 1914 in the Oxford and Buckingham Light Infantry.  

Early in 1915 his colonel sent   him back from France for officer training.  Subsequently he served in the Royal Fusiliers with the   rank of captain.  He was awarded the Military Cross for leading a night patrol which breached enemy   defences using "Bangalore Torpedoes". The decoration was awarded in the field by KG5.

There was also a "Mentioned in Dispatches" for another operation.  After the end of hostilities he was with the British Army of Occupation on the Rhine.  Finally he was at the Imperial Training College until about 1923.

He was also an accomplished organist.

Charles married 29 year old Paulina Kear Hewlett in 1922 and the couple migrated to Australia in 1923. They had three children, Patti Beatrice (1923), John Oswald (1924), and Joan Paulina (1926)

He later became Headmaster of schools in the State of Victoria.

His wife Pauline died around 1964. 

75 year old Charles Cope returned for a holiday in the UK and a reunion with his brothers Reginald and Arthur during 1967 and stayed with his sister, Mrs Marion Holford, at 41 Staunton Road, Coleford. 

Whilst visiting his old home at Scowles School he met a friend of the family, 53 year old widowed teacher Monnica Thompson. She was born in the Old School House at St.Briavels in 1914, educated at Monmouth and going on to London University.

Their wedding took place in St. John's Church, Coleford on the 2nd of November 1968.

Monnica Cope was the last head teacher of Scowles School when it closed in November 1969.

Charles died on the 23/7/1979 at Tyltham's, Mork Lane, St. Briavels, and Monnica in 1993 at Gloucester Royal Infirmary.


Scowles School 1914

This is on a post card addressed to Mrs Marshall, The Scowles, Nr 
Coleford, Gloucestershire. The note says "Taken at Scowles School, 
Coleford". Does anyone know who any of the pupils or teachers are?


After Alfred Cope, the next head teacher was Miss Edith Isabel Lucas who was there for only one school year till August 1916. She was followed  by Mrs Florence Porter 1916-24; Miss Annie Worgan 1924-34, Miss Constance Moody 1934-44, Mrs Winifred Pudsey 1944-5, F.M. Thomas 1945-6, and Mrs A.B. Hamblin (nee Baldwin) who retired in 1967 after 20 years service,

Annie Beatrice Alice Baldwin (1896 - 1978) was the daughter of Jacob Baldwin, a colliery engineer from Joyford Hill, Coleford. She married collier Leslie Hamblin in 1919 and went on to be headmistress of Scowles School from 1947. She and her husband were buried at Christchurch, Berry Hill.

 The last headmistress was Mrs Monnica Cope, the second wife of Charles Cope, whose assistants included, Lilian Jones (nee Adams) who joined the Infants School and filled the vacancy left by Miss Brown in 1958, Mrs Hazel Hone, Mrs Childs and  Mrs Sally Saysell who was still at the school as a part time teacher when it closed in 1969. One Infants School teacher, Miss M.F Brown, retired in 1957 after 37 years service.

In 1896 more funds were available when the Reverend Sheppard offered £1000 to be invested, the income being used for the school.


I was very interested to read your very informative website on the Scowles area. My Grandfather, Grandmother and their 4 children lived in the Scowles School House from about 1924 until the early 1980’s. (Picture of my mother with both my grandparents outside the school house taken about 1948 above)My Grandfather, Alfred Jones was a Baker by trade in Gloucester Road Coleford during the early 1900’s until he retired in 1924.  He died in 1948, but in 1939 bought a parcel of land at the Scowles which he intended to turn into a Camping Ground. This was an area of about 4 acres which included a number of the ‘scowles’ where stone had been quarried and also a small derelict cottage.   David Jones

"The Head teacher during our Mum's time was a Mrs Porter whose husband was a bank manager in Coleford.  They lived at Buckstone House in Staunton and when Mum finished her schooling (aged 13 I believe) she went into service at the Porter's and lived in. I do remember her talking about the Copes, though."      David Dowle born at Red House, Scowles in 1944

In 1951 the Diocesan Inspector wrote.. "This is  a happy school with a very good tone."

Electricity did not arrive at the school until the 1950s and was used for the first time at the annual Christmas party in 1952. On May 19th 1955 the Electrolux refrigerator in the canteen was converted from oil to electricity. In September 1956.. "The pipes have now been fitted and an adequate supply of hot water is now available."

Items recorded in the log for 1953, the Coronation year. It became a State aided school on the 9th of March. On the 4th of June Mrs Dowles was promoted to canteen cook when Mrs Sayce resigned. On the 29th of June the children all visited the Dean Cinema at Coleford to see the Coronation film "A Queen is Crowned" and on the 1st of July an 'occasional holiday' was granted to enable the children to go on an educational tour of London.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s educational tours were an annual summer event. In 1955 to Whipsnade Zoo, 1956 the Isle of Wight, 1957 Bournemouth, 1958 Windsor and London Airport, 1959 Oxford and  Blenheim Palace, and Chester Zoo in 1960. The last outing was to Bristol and Weston in 1967.

Pupils and staff of Scowles School ca.1957/8. The three adults at the back are Mrs. Jones (left) who taught the Infants (basically the front row), Mrs. Hamblin (centre) who was Headteacher and taught the Juniors (basically the second row) and Mrs. Dorothy (Dot) Dowle, the schoolcook. Only a few of the pupils lived on the village while the others came from around the district attracted by the small class numbers and the excellent food!      David Dowle

Scowles village Christmas party around 1949 and another Christmas party around 1952


The average attendance was 69 in 1904 and 48 in 1938. In 1964 all but 3 of the 23 pupils came from outside Scowles. February 1965 saw the transfer out of pupils from the Secondary School, and by 1968 it was designated a one teacher school with only 15 pupils. The last child to be enrolled on the school register in October 1968 was a Scowles girl, Lorraine Elizabeth Cripwell, whose father Anthony lived at 2 Southview. Rumours had spread that the school was due to close so parents were not keen to enroll new pupils. Monica Cope did not receive notice of closure until October 1969 and together with Mrs Dowle the school cook and Mrs Griffiths the cleaner, had the sad task of clearing and packing in just a few weeks. On November 22nd Mrs Dowle received a presentation recognising her 20 years of service. 

Scowles School finally closed on November 27th 1969.

Mrs Cope recorded her thoughts: 'I like to feel that The Scowles School was not a little outback school, but a jolly good one!'

The Founder - Mary Brickdale

On September 2nd 1895 Mr Cope wrote in the school log. "It is with the greatest possible sorrow that I have to record the death of our dear manager during the holiday. Miss Brickdale passed away on Monday August the 19th very suddenly.

To the very end her care and love for this school never wavered and her last act performed was in the interest of the school. I make this entry with very great sorrow."

Mary Brickdale's Funeral

Seventy year old Mary Fortescue Brickdale was buried at Newland in August 1895. The procession left Dark House, Newland on a stormy summer's afternoon.  Following at the rear of the mourners were several old men, inmates of the alms houses, and a number of other people both old and young.

The church was very full. The local newspaper estimated between two and three hundred mourners. They included  parishioners, and people from Berry Hill, Crossways, Scowles, Whitecliff, Coleford, Lane End, Clearwell, and Redbrook were present in large numbers. 

The Scowles school children, under the supervision of their master, Mr Cope, occupied seats at the rear of the church. They were each provided with a  bunch of flowers which they deposited on the coffin as were  a number of wreaths and crosses brought by several old men and women who had  been the recipients of the deceased lady's generosity  upon many occasions.

The Reverend gentleman lucidly described  the many generous deeds of charity which were performed by Miss Brickdale; " her whole time was occupied in doleing out charity to those in need and distress, and her life was an example which many should strive to emulate. She was gone, but her name would never be forgotten." 

The coffin was then carried to the brick vault on the right hand side of the church-yard already containing the remains of the deceased lady's sister which had been opened and adorned with flowers.   The photograph above shows Newland churchyard as it is today.

Shortly after, in 1897 when the Infants and Mixed schools became amalgamated, her beloved lifetime's work-place was renamed the Brickdale Memorial School.

In 1907 the school was initially on a 7 year lease and then yearly thereafter. In 1922 a deed transferred the property to Gloucester Diocesan Trust.


Mary Brickdale's heir was her nephew Charles Fortescue Brickdale. The son of her brother Matthew, he was born in 1857 and is famous for his contribution to land registry reform. In 1888 Sir Charles Brickdale was appointed to the Land Registry; enormously talented, it is in no small measure due to him that the Land Registry survived and prospered. His 1896 report on registration in Germany was very influential. Finally Lord Chancellor Halsbury was able to get compulsory registration on the statute book in the 1897 Land Transfer Act.

Sir Charles transferred ownership of the school to the Gloucester Diocesan Trust in 1922.



My grateful acknowledgement to family historian Mike Cope for supplying Charles Cope's memories which are now also in the Articles section of the Forest of Dean family history web-site and to David Dowle and David Jones for their contributions. 


If you have any  memories or photos, comments, contributions or criticisms. I would be most grateful for any input.