Visit to the British Schools Museum


Over 200 years ago, in 1810, William Wilshere opened a school for the children of the ‘working classes’ in Hitchin. He turned an old malthouse into a powerhouse of learning. It was a radical idea at the time – why should we teach the working classes to read or write? Wilshere’s inspiration was the London Quaker Joseph Lancaster. He had developed the “monitorial system” of teaching. Just one master would instruct the older and more able boys; they then taught the younger pupils. This Monitorial Schoolroom dates from 1837 and is now the only one of its kind left. This is one of the buildings that make up the British Schools Museum in Hitchin.

But that’s not all there is to see. The Gallery Classroom was added in 1853 and then came the 1857 Girls and Infants’ School, the Headmaster’s House and finally the Edwardian classrooms.

We will have a guided tour led by the museum’s dedicated award-winning volunteers and a “lesson” in one of the classrooms. Afterwards there will be free time to look in more detail at the various rooms, possibly including the collection of needlework and samplers.

The museum is close to the centre of Hitchin, a mediaeval market town with an historic cobbled mediaeval Market Place and the largest parish church in Hertfordshire. Although there is plenty to see at the museum you might also like to spend some time exploring the town. We are visiting on a Tuesday which is Market Day, so there may be a chance to find a bargain.

We suggest you bring a picnic lunch although you could walk into the town centre to find something to eat. We will be visiting the Schools Museum on Tuesday 5th September. The coach fare, coffee and biscuits on arrival, museum entrance and tour are included in the price. We have to confirm this visit some time in advance so ask you to book early if you’d like to join us.

Event Dates

Event Date Allocation Date
Tuesday 5th September 2017 Tuesday 1st August 2017


£30 (£32 for non-members)



Other Information

Email Confirmation? Yes

Wheelchair Access? No

Members Only? No

SEFWI News Edition: May 2017 / Page 11