Christ Church Infants' School, Hertford
Christ Church was built on Port Vale in 1868. Bengeo Parish was expanding so much that Holy Trinity Church built in the 1850s was not now big enough to hold everyone who wished to worship. Thus Christ Church was built to serve "lower" Bengeo.
In the following year the Infants' School was built behind the church, financed by Mr Abel Smith of Woodhal Park. It opened on 30th June 1869. The school catered for children up to and including Year 1, Junior. At times there were more than 100 children attending the school but much of the time there was significantly less than this number. In 1871 there were 90 children on the books.
When they left the school most children went on to Bengeo Boys' and Girls' Schools although a small number, perhaps because of where they lived, transferred to Cowbridge.
The school was 35' X 20' and 12' high with a classroom 15' X 12' in size.
Although logbooks were required to be used by schools from 1863 the first logbook now available for Christ Church starts in 1871. The first entry begins:
Miss Sarah Chandler began her work as Mistress of Christ Church Bengeo Infant School on 11th of January 1871. The School had been in an unsettled state for some time previous to the coming of Miss Chandler, owing to the absence through illness of the Mistress
Kelley's Directory of Hertfordshire for the year 1870 lists Sarah Gray as the mistress so presumably it was she who was ill and unable to return to the school.
The vicar, Rev Robert Rutland was the correspondent of the managers. He was the rector for more than 30 years and often visited the school, presumably giving advice to the mistresses of the school.
After the Education Act of 1902, Christ Church Infants' School was one of the first two schools to become County Council Schools. The other school was Cowbridge.
On 27th March, 1923 a "Local Inquiry" was held at the school after which Hertfordshire County Council decided to close the school at the end of the summer term. This was due to a shortage of pupils and the large number of available places at nearby schools. The last recorded number of children attending was on September 9th 1921 when the average for the week was 40.8, 88.8%. Thus there were only 46 children on the school books.
It was a shame in a way because the teaching was still of a high standard as is obvious from the report of Basil J.M. Reay, Diocesan Inspector, on the teaching of Religious Education. Reay inspected the school on April 30th and he reported:
" The children in this school did remarkably well, today, and gave full proof of careful and helpful teaching, while the reverence and excellent tone that prevailed reflects much credit on Miss Porter and her staff.
In both classes the knowledge was full and much above the average, while the answering was intelligent and well distributed. I was pleased to see in the top class, that the children could link up the Creed with the Gospel Story. The Church’s year was, also, very well known. The repetition had been carefully chosen, and was very well said.”
After the school was closed the building became the church hall.
The building still exists and is now occupied by The Company of Players. This lies behind the houses which have been built on the site of the church which was demolished in 1970.