Many of these date from the second half of the 19th century, when the Elementary Education Act 1870 permitted local authorities to build schools in places previously unserved by charitable institutions. The pace of construction picked up when the Education Act 1880 made school attendance compulsory between the ages of five and 10, and there are hundreds of school across England and Wales that date from this period.
Schools went up in villages up and down the country, but in recent decades, falling rolls and easier transport options have meant that many of the more out-of-the way schoolhouses have closed and their pupils assigned to other establishments nearby.
This has provided the housing market with a steady stream of characterful properties, which are often snapped up by buyers who can see the huge potential of conversion to residential use. Unlike churches, which tend to have soaring vaulted ceilings and long windows that get in the way when installing a first floor, schools tend to be relatively easy to convert, and are typically of a size that is far more appropriate for a private home. The following properties are all converted schools and are all currently for sale in our area.
The Old Schoolhouse on the Main Street in Weeton is a fantastic example of the genre, and has been added to since its conversion. It has five bedrooms, three bathrooms/shower rooms (two ensuite), a huge open-plan kitchen and dining room, pantry, utility room, cellar, study, three reception rooms, plus adjoining garage, bike store and wood store. It stands on a corner plot of almost an acre with gardens and a small paddock.
The Old School in Newton-on-Ouse pre-dates the universal education legislation, having been commissioned by the Dawney family, the owners of nearby Beningborough Hall. Completed in 1857, it was designed by York architect George Townsend Andrews, the architect behind York Railway Station, and is now a Grade II listed building. The school closed in the 1970s and it was then used as a photographic studio before being bought and converted by the current owners.
It has four bedrooms, all of them with en suite bath- or shower-rooms, a house bathroom, utility room and 40-foot-long living/dining kitchen. Outside, there are gardens to three sides and parking for two cars.
Finally, the Old School House in Harrogate was built in 1929 as an extension of the Sunday school next door, which itself was built for the neighbouring Wesleyan Chapel in 1896.
One of the flats it has been converted into has two bedrooms, two bathroom, a kitchen, utility room, two reception rooms, and two off-street parking spaces.