Share your school memories of St Michael’s for 190th anniversary

The pre-school, based at St Michael's Primary School in Lyme Regis, will close next week

ST Michael’s Primary School in Lyme Regis is looking ahead to its 190th anniversary in 2024.

The school is already preparing for the celebrations and plans to create a ‘living history’ in the school.

An appeal has now been launched for past pupils and staff to share old school photographs and memories from either the old school site off Church Street – now St Michael’s Business Centre – or the current building in King’s Way.

Photographs are also being sought of the current school building as it was being constructed, or memories from local tradespeople employed in building the school.

Anyone with photos, stories or information can email history@stmichaelslyme.dorset.sch.uk or send them by post (with a self-addressed envelope for the return of any items) to History Project, St Michael’s Primary School, King’s Way, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3DY, or call 01297 442623.

History of St Michael’s

It is likely there was some form of education centred around the church from medieval times, but 1834 is the start of formal education for all within Lyme Regis.

Immediately prior to this, the only free education was provided by the corporation to just 12 boys of local poor families.

They were taught in a room above the church porch, first by Henry Bennett Senior, the church organist, and later by his son.

The first Capital Church of England National Schools were established in 1834 by the recently appointed Vicar of Lyme Regis, the Reverend Frederic Parry Hodges.

This included separate education for boys, girls and a few years later an infants school – this catered for all children aged 5-14 years old.

Henry Bennett Jnr became the first master of the National School, housed in a building now known as Church Cliff Flats to the North East of the church.

Parry Hodges built the infants school, named St Michael’s Infant School, at his own expense on land already owned by the church. The building is now The Hub.

The garden to the east of the National School was privately owned by Parry Hodges and he allowed the schools to use it as their playground.

During the latter part of his life, Parry Hodges began to negotiate on the site opposite the church for a new building for the National School – deed of conveyance is in Dorset History Centre.

Parry Hodges died in 1880 and did not live to see the new building started. He left money in his will to go towards the new school.

The building was completed in 1892 at which time there were 180 boys, 160 girls and 190 infants on the school roll.

Numbers continued to increase after the Second World War. The current school building opened on King’s Way in September 1975.

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