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A series of Evening Telegraph Articles, 1968-73
Renovation of Jacobean Schoolhouse, Church Street

The old schoolhouse - late 60's
The old schoolhouse - late 60's
The old schoolhouse after renovation - 1973
The old schoolhouse after renovation - 1973

The Jacobean Schoolhouse was completed in 1622. This was home to the freeschool originally founded in 1587 by Thomas and Margaret Burbanke in 1587, prior to its construction, children were taught in the chancel of the parish church. The Jacobean School remained in its original state until 1873 when an additional classroom was built, with a further one being added in 1889. . As the population of the town grew, further schools were built in 1873 and 1899, but the Jacobean school continued in use for the church school infants. The old school house on Church Street, finally closed in 1964 and was not used again. In September 1968, Rev Derek Hole looked into the possibility of converting the building into a parochial hall and office. Rev Hole made enquiries to locate the owners in order to purchase the building. However, the owners could not be found. The next step was to examine the various documentation concerning the building, and the legal history of the school was investigated. However, more problems arose when it was discovered that many of the relevant documents were in Latin! Some of the documents were over three hundred years old, but it was eventually discovered that the last trustees had been appointed in 1830. As all the trustees had now died, this left the building ownerless. Upon legal advice, an application for the appointment of new trustees was made. It iwas suggested that the new trustees should be composed of the diocesan authority, the rector and church wardens. The next step was for the parochial church council to apply for permission to modernise and assume control of the building.

However, in November 1968, Burton Latimer Urban Council suggested that the building could be renovated and turned into a museum. The Housing Committee had received a letter form Welling Housing Society in Kettering expressing an interest in developing the site, and the council agreed to accept draft schemes submitted by the society. County Councillor, Mr L. Patrick said that because of the dilapidation of the building - smashed windows, broken guttering and other defects - that the church may not be able to afford the upkeep. He suggested that the £250 grant from the Urban Council and £250 from the county council should be increased.

The situation remained unresolved for a number of months. Rev Hole started an appeal to raise the £5000 needed to renovate the building. He approached the urban council to join the sceme, but they refused, stating that they could see no use of the building for the benefit of the town. Mr A.F. Mutlow, vice-chairman of the council stated That it was only the front portion of the building that was involved in restoration and this would be very small when the rest of the building was taken away. He said:"Such places as these get to a point where they are more expensive to preserve than they are useful."

By June 1969 stalemate had been reached. Because the school was protected by an act of parliament it could not demolished; Rev Hole could not raise sufficient funds for the renovation, and the Urban Council were reluctant to commit funds to the project above what they had already pledged. As a result the building fell into further disrepair.

The building had been offered for sale by the Dept of Education and Science for a nominal fee of £50, but Mr Hole explained that although this was a very low price, under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1968, once purchased, the church would be bound to fund any maintenance . Mr Hole said:"I think this is very sad. This is one of the few buildings in Burton Latimer with any character, but I cannot commit my congregation to funding such a large sum of money." This indecision meant that restoration costs got gradually higher, but the only alternative was to leave the building until it eventually fell down.

This deadlock was finally broken in 1970, when Dr Kenneth Padget bought the property. Over the next three years the building was completely rennovated by architects Gotch Saunders and Surridge. The Victorian elements were demolished, except for an attractive side wing, the Jacobean portion of the house was opened up and the tiled roof replaced with Norfolk reed thatch. The Victorian wing was re-tiled, the demolished areas became paved sections at different levels and some adjoining old cottages were converted to garages. Dr Padget described the house as a derelict shell when first purchased; "It was an absolute ruin, with no roof on it. People in Burton Latimer were up in arms because it was going to be knocked down."

A £2850 grant from the government was awarded to Dr Padget for the restoration work, as well as improvement grants from Burton Latimer Urban Council and the County Council. Dr Padget finally moved into to the property in January 1973. Upon completion of the work, the house was entered into a conservation award scheme organised by the "Times" newspaper, where it received a merit. The doctor would not accept any praise for the conversion work, he said:"It was only due to the efforts of the architect that the building is still standing. He persuaded me to buy it. I had no vision of what could be done with it and neither could any of our friends, they all thought we were mad."

For more information on Dr Padgets time in Burton Latimer, click here.

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