Thursday, November 24, 2011

From School to Pub: A tale of two buildings in Stony Stratford

I don't think it ever occured to me as I was sitting at my school desk trying to take care that my dip pen didn't leave a blot in my exercise book that I would ever live to enjoy a pint in later life in my old classroom. In Stony Stratford this could have happened and in a curious way the history of pubs and schools is intertwined.

As I have described in another post the old Rose and Crown on the High Street was bequeathed by its owner Michael Hipwell in 1610 to found a school. The inn continued to operate to raise sufficient money for the next 99 years and then was converted into a school. In the 19th century this was taken over by the National School movement and a school operated on this site and adjacent to it until the 20th century.

In the meantime the expansion of Wolverton works led to new building in Stony Stratford and the so-called Wolverton End developed. This enlargement of the Holy Trinity parish necessitated the building of a new church (St Mary's) and in due course another school. This was opened in 1873 on the corner of the Wolverton and London Road and was designed by the distinguished architect, Edward Swinfen Harris.
For part of the 20th century these two schools operated in tandem, with the boys in the High Street and the Girls and Infants at the London Road School. Then in 1936 a new co-educational school was built on King George Crescent and the old schools were redundant.

Fortunately there was a ready tenant for the Swinfen Harris school. The old Plough Inn had been in business next door for many years and the new premises were attractive to them. I imagine the conversion was not too costly and there was probably already a cellar in the school building.

Thus it came to pass that that the building designed by Swinfen Harris was a school for about 60 years and has been a pub for the last 80 - and possibly will continue in that line of business. The bell tower betrays its former use as a school but nowadays I suspect very few people have any inkling of its original purpose.

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