The Willis Museum

Basingstoke

Sarum Hill

The earlier view shows the road a little more treed than it is now, but the houses on the right have changed little. On the extreme left of both photographs the roofline of one of the former British Schools can just be seen.

Sarum Hill was the Basingstoke home of the British Schools system. The first school was established just below the present Methodist Church in 1841. It was very unusual in being co-educational. By 1875 the first school had become overcrowded, and the building one on the extreme left of the pictures was opened as a new infants’ school.

These schools were the non-conformist churches’ equivalent to the National Schools run by the Anglian church. In the 19th century both systems contributed to enhanced access to public education prior to the establishment of School Boards. The headmaster of the British Schools in Sarum Hill, Mr Gage, became the first headmaster of Basingstoke’s Board School – Fairfields – when it opened in 1888.