Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 10, 2016.
Webpage updated: July 10, 2017




Saint Paul's National School was located in Cornwall Street, Devonport, a thickly populated district of the Town.  The premises were also used as a Mission Chapel, having been erected in 1860 during the incumbency of the Reverend John Adams.

The building was designed by Mr Piers Saint Aubyn, of London, and consisted of two large well lit and ventilated rooms to accommodate 140 children daily.  A small playground was attached and the total area of the premises covered some 2,000 feet.  'In consequence of the paucity of funds, that portion of the original plan which provided for the erection of class-rooms and a better entrance for the upper room was not carried out'.

Boys, girls and infants attended the School, although boys over seven years of age were not as a rule admitted, especially if they were troublesome, which in that area of Devonport was apparently not unusual!  There were about 150 children on the registers of which about 100 attended daily.  Some of the parents of the district were accused of 'looking upon the necessity of regular attendance with great laxity'.  There was no particular qualification required for entry into the Saint Paul's and although it was a church school, all sects were admitted.

The education provided by the certified mistress and her assistant was of an elementary nature, due to the tender age of the pupils, although scripture and the Church catechism was included.  In addition, the older girls were taught needlework and knitting.

Children under the age of 5 paid a penny a week while those over that age paid 2d, although this rule was overlooked in the cases of large families and great poverty.  As a result, the larger number of pupils paid only a penny.

Saint Paul's was a poor parish and although the education of the girls and infants was regarded as adequate, it was felt that there was a need for a good boys' school with facilities for a night school.  The only such school in the area was the Royal Naval and Military Schools.