Sunday Schools

Histories of 19th century education are closely tied to histories of religion. Before free state schools the only form of education for many poorer families was provided by the church – usually in the form of a school on a Sunday. Thus allowing for a normal working week and providing a useful activity on most people’s day off.

Old meeting house

From 1826 we have a diary entry penned by Mr Charles R. Freeman of Stowupland Hall, ‘pd Kerry for thatching Meeting House in part 6s 0d, Mr Prentice pd the rest’. Mr Wm Prentice paid a rent of £4 for the cottage which is generally assumed to be what is now known as Pendle Cottage along the A1120.

125th anniversary of founding of Sunday school

Founding of Congregational Sunday School.


This press cutting from 1936 puts the founding of the Congregational Sunday School to 1813, ie 30 years  before Stowupland’s  Holy Trinity Church was built and a few years after the Congregational Chapel was built.. NL  believes it was started by John Bayly Tailer of Stowupland Hall.

An article in the Suffolk Chronicle of July 27th 1867 reported that the Stowupland Sunday School that was established upwards of seventy years ago by Bailey Taylor, and held ever since in the old school room, was resigned on Sunday last, and removed to the chapel on the Green, which through the generosity of Manning Prenitce esq., has been placed at the teachers disposal. The school with the larger amount of accommodation will without doubt continue its useful  career and extend in great measure its sphere of usefulness’.

 From the 1820’s a thatched cottage along todays A1120 (from the 1960’s it was known  as Pendle Cottage)  was used as a chapel, Sunday school and even sold some essential food items.

In 1833 there was an independent Sunday School with an attendance of 117 and it had a lending library but this may have been at Stowmarket Church. At that time Stowmarket church was used for worship by the people of Stowmarket and the people of Stowupland.

Before 1842, when Hollingsworth built Stowupland Church he had a less ambitious plan for  a school building in Stowupland in which church services could be held for local people. The Marquis of Bristol offered to donate money to assist in building a church and the Freeman family gave land and money for a  church and a school.

1869 – The Post Office Directory tells us that Stowupland had a population of 986. ‘The Rev Frederick Cookson  is the church minister and there is a Sunday School. As well as Holy Trinity Church there is a chapel that is used by Methodists and Independents’.

In 1917, the Stowmarket Weekly Post (6th December, 1917) published the following reminiscence by a local resident. Unfortunately we don’t know when Mr Robinson was remembering back to.

“In a thatched cottage on the left of the highway a short distance away
from Stowupland Parish Church reside two of Stowupland’s oldest
inhabitants, Mr, & Mrs. Edmund Robinson. …… There was a
Congregational Sunday School held in the two cottages that adjoin his
home. Mr. George Stevens,  brewer, of Stowmarket, was the superintendent
of the Sunday School. There was a little pulpit, and Mr. Stevens would
preach on a Sunday evening, and there were good congregations, and the
building was often filled with worshippers. The Sunday School was
lighted with candles, and they employed a ‘ candle snuffer.” Stands were
fixed in the wall to hold the candles. In the Sunday School the work was
confined to Scripture lessons and singing of hymns. Mr. John Stevens, a
brother of Mr. George Stevens, came and preached. The Sunday School had
at that time been established many years. Through the efforts of Mr.
Thomas Prentice, of Stowmarket, the present Congregational Chapel was
erected. The Sunday School was continued for some time after the chapel
was built,  and was afterwards removed there. The old cottages in which
the Sunday school was held were purchased by Mr. F. Harwood, of
Tuddenham Hall, and they were converted into cottages.”

Neil Langridge adds ‘George and John Stevens owned the Stowmarket Brewery in Station Road and also owned The Retreat (in the 1850s).
Mr. F. Harwood of course owned Stowupland Hall which was let out. He probably already owned it (in the 1880s) as all was Stowupland Hall land around here.’