Scarning School

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A brief History of the School at Scarning

In 1604 a local farmer, William Seckar, left his house and land to his wife Alice for so long as she should survive but that upon her death the income from the estate shall be used for "the maintenance of one free school, to be kept for ever in the said house, while the world endure, in Scarning."

Following William's death on 1st November 1604, Alice married again on 3rd December 1604. Alas this second husband succumbed on 6th December 1608. Alice duly married for the third time on 7th January 1609. This husband died in 1622 and Alice did not find another. She died in 1638 but there were delays and litigation over the construction of the school but it was now eventually opened in 1645 to general rejoicing.

By 1700 the school master was teaching the sons of the yeomen and farmers many of whom boarded at the school. These boys were kept separate from the sons of labourers so that the poor scholars did not contaminate the wealthier pupils. The labourers' sons were taught by the usher who taught them reading, writing and arithmetic during the day. In the evening the usher looked after the master's boarders who came to the school from all parts of Norfolk and Suffolk. Among these were the grandsons of Roger North of Rougham, one of whom set the school-house on fire, twice!

In 1800 the Schoolmaster, Mr Priest, had attracted a large number of day-boys to the school because there was no room for them to board. These boys come to school on dickies (donkeys) which were turned out for the day on to Podmoor. The mischievous village boys took great delight in driving the dickies a mile or two to Daffy Green so that the young gents had to chase and catch their dickies before they could ride home.

Extract from White's Norfolk Directory of 1845

"The Free School was founded by William Seckar who endowed it in 1604, with about 86 acres of land, to which 16a 2r 3p was allotted at the enclosure in 1766. The master occupies the large house and garden, left by the founder, and also about 12a of the land. The other 90a are let for 164 a year, out of which the master receives a salary of 80, and 5 a year to provide stationery for the poor scholars.
trust map
The residue is applied as a fund for repairing the premises, and for providing for the arbitrary fines levied on the copyhold lands, on the admission of new trustees. The schoolmaster teaches reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography, without any charge, to all the children of the parish above the age of five years, who are sent to him, and has generally about 50 pupils."

More about the history of the trust can be found in part 3 of "The Hundred of the County of Norfolk " by GA Carthew 1879. Carthew printed notes by Barry Girling, giving a spirited account of the Trust and the school down to 1850 with details of numerous controversies surrounding the conduct of the trustees and masterts they appointed in the 17th and 18th centuries. You will also find a modern account in "Scarning A Portrait of a Village" by Nick Hartley [Parish Clerk] 2009.

Nick has also prepared a list of those early pupils who went on to Cambridge University and their records from the Alumni Cantabrigiensis.


School fieldThis is a view of the School from Rushmeadow Road which skirts the northern boundary of the Parish. This is one of the fields belonging to the Trust which provides a small income for the benefit of the school.

Mad Hatters Tea Party, This was the school's contribution to the Flower Festival held in the parish Church. pictures of other flower arrangeme


New Library and reading area 2015

Scarning School

This view of the school is virtually unchanged since it was rebuilt in 1850.

This view of the school was taken in the 1980's. Today, as a result of recent extensions the school now has over two hundred pupils.

The School is part of the Dereham Cluster; which incorporates 17 schools within Dereham and the surrounding villages.

The cluster has been especially created by these schools to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Individually, schools can offer a limited range of services. Collectively, the cluster can offer full access to extended schools services. Together we are stronger and more supportive. Foor more information see For more information about the day to day business of the school see here School Website

Scarning School

How it looks today

Scarning School Cricket

School Cricket club Shield winners in 1922.

Tony Blades who now lives in Suffolk and was born in 1928 at Woodhill, Gressenhall has kindly given his permission for the following recollections of his time at Scarning School to be included here.

"At the age of 5yrs I started my education at Scarning School, I lived at Woodhill which meant about a 2 mile walk to school with my 10 yr old sister usually stopping to play in the stream at Podmore on the way. School dinners! there was no such thing,it was sandwiches which,regardless of weather had to be eaten in the playground. I can still remember that the head mistress was Mrs Grand who lived in the house attached to the school. One very vivid memory was of twins Olgar and Hubert. One sad day Olgar ran from behind the school bus to cross the road to school and although in 1933 there were very few cars on the road poor little Olgar ran accross at the wrong moment and died. So very sad for her little twin brother who was there at the time. I was only at this school for about a year then moved to Dereham.

I can still remember a silly little song we used to sing as kids.

Young folk old folk everybody come
Come and join our company and have a bit of fun
Bring a bit of chewing gum and stick it on the floor
For Scarning Fen, Daffy Green, Churchgate and Podmore.

That was all such a long time ago but still fresh in my mind. I moved to Dereham at the age of 6yrs and left when I married some 20 years later. It was a happy childhood in spite of the war years, in fact it added to the excitement of those years, dashing out to crashed planes, collecting shrapnel, army badges etc and of course the generous handouts from the American troops of chocolate, gum, cigs plus the grub when we went on to the bases at Shipdham and Wendling, bearing in mind that our food was rationed."


This well researched book about the school,written by our Parish Clerk, gives a fascinationg account of the comings and goings of the eminent norfolk families associated with the school. Unfortunately all copies have now been sold. Two copies have been given to Norfolk Libraries so should be available in the library system.