A History of YALDING, Kent, England

1665    Endowment of Cleaves School.

Thomas Cleave, citizen and haberdasher of London, came to Yalding with his family in the early 1630’s to seek refuge from the plague. He died here in 1637, as stated in his will, which gave details of an endowment charity for the poor of the village. His son William inherited the house and land that his father had purchased. Later thinking England to be free of the plague, William returned to the city of his childhood where he suffered a fate similar to thousands of others.

In his Will dated 11th of May 1665, William Cleave left his lands, a farm of 48 acres, towards erecting a free school for the use of the parishioners. He also gave £ 100 towards building a school house.
‘English, writing, accounts and the catechism were to be taught. The house consisted of six rooms in all, three up and three down. Downstairs in the front was the master’s drawing room and behind were the kitchen and general purposes room, that became a dining room at meal times. Upstairs there was the master’s bedroom, the maid’s bedroom and a general bedroom, which was bunked as it was the sleeping place of the children and any visitors. There was no stairway, just a ladder.
The school had one large room downstairs, the ceiling of which was supported by three baroque pillars, whilst upstairs were two dormitories which between them could sleep about eighteen or twenty pupils, with the head prefect using an attic on the top floor as a study.’

From 1604, schoolmasters were required to be licensed by the bishop as the following item (from the County Archives) shows: -

School Master’s Licence 1744.
Testimonial by the minister and churchwardens of Yalding stating that John Manly of Cleaves School is competent to teach writing, arithmetic, and English, and is well affected to the present government in church and state. The document bears the bishop’s order in Latin for a school master’s licence to be issued.

In a Charity Commissioners statement of 1818, it was stated that the farm of 48 acres was let to Lawrence Starnes at a rent of £ 50. Schoolmaster Mr William Williams received the whole of this rent, plus another £ 17, being the rent from another farm let to Mr Samuel White, and drawn up under a will of Mrs Julian Kenward. (This is detailed separately under Charities.) He also had £ 6 a year to provide pens, ink and firing. At this time the school taught 35 to 40 boys, with English, writing, accounts, and their catechism. There are usually about 6 or 8 private day scholars from neighbouring parishes, about ten boarders, and the remainder are free scholars from the local parish.
(See item of closure 1921)