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1610: Daring Robert's fatal fall

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

The gallery for the children was probably to the rear of the nave of Cuckfield church.

This is an extract of an account of a talk given to the Cuckfield Women’s Institute by Miss Marion Cooper daughter of the former vicar Rev Canon JH Cooper found in Mid Sussex Times in October 1921:

The schoolmaster might be absent for sixteen days (if leave granted) but must find someone at his own expense to take his place. When the master was ill one of the scholars was to teach, or some other able man at the master’s cost, or else the scholars should depart and that act should destroy the school.

Miss Cooper said it was not known where the site of the first school was, but in 1589 Sir Thomas Pelham bought the lands purchased by Flower for £80 and a yearly rent of £20, which is still paid.

With the £80 and other money given, a new stone school house was built which was still used by the infants and some of the upper classes. There was one long room with a similar room over it. Possibly the latter room was used once as a dormitory, as the boys could not have gone home each night, owing to the long distances some of them came from and the lengthy school hours.

When the school was built there was a third floor of three rooms where the schoolmaster slept, and the late Mrs. Morfee, when she first became headmistress, slept there.

Robert Sharpe fell from the gallery

Quoting from extracts from the Church books, Miss Cooper said that in 1633 Lady Shirley, daughter in-law of the first Henry Bowyer, built a gallery in the church for the use of the schoolchildren, and in l610 it was recorded that a lad named Robert Sharpe voluntarily climbed to within six feet of the top of the roof of Horsham stone and fell, his injuries necessitating the amputation of an arm and a few days after he died.

Up to the year 1844 the masters of the school were always clergymen, but then so few boys attended that it was decided to unite the grammar school with an elementary school which had been built some time in 1822. Under the National Society’s regulations the master need not be a clergyman but must be a churchman and no more Latin or Greek were to be taught.

Mid Sussex Times 18 October 1921.

The interior of Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield, West Sussex taken 27 August 2017. Wikimedia public domain image.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

Jill Harwood writes:

Here's the burial, 1605

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