The Schools of Finmere
The rectors and parishioners of Finmere have long supported school education and there has been a school in Finmere since the eighteenth century. In 1739, Rector Thomas Long told his Bishop that Finmere did not have a ‘Free School’ but there was ‘a small school in my parish where a few poor children are taught to read at my Expense.’
William Malins is the first recorded teacher. He was master of a school at Finmere from 1779 or earlier and taught seventy children. This seems a large number for a parish of about three hundred people, but Malins had ten children himself. The school was financed by subscription, with major contributions from the Rector and the landowners, the Grenville-Temples of Stowe. Finmere lacked a school building at that time. In 1808, the parish clerk, John Fox, was teaching twenty-four children reading and the catechism in a house provided rent free by the Marquess of Buckingham. The school had twenty-five pupils, the Rector paying for eight pupils in 1815 and thirty in 1817.
The Rector William Jocelyn Palmer considered these arrangements unsatisfactory. In 1824, he persuaded Richard Temple—the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos and landowner of Finmere—that a new school should be built. The new school was built to be ‘for the use and benefit of the poor children of the parish, under the direction of the Church and its ministers.’ At first, the churchwardens agreed to erect a lean-to against the church but there was a change of mind and the school was built as a freestanding building in the grounds of the Rectory.