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Almshouses and Schoolhouse, Babraham

The Almshouses and the School House, Babraham

History of the almshouses and the school house

Listed Building:

18th c.

Three dwellings, formerly a school and six almshouses. 1732, inscribed stone plaque ‘THIS SCHOOL AND HOSPITAL WERE ERECTED AND ENDOW’D BY THE MUNIFICENCE OF MRS JUDITH BENNET DAUGHTER OF Sr LEVINUS BENNET BARc AND AUGMENTED BY LIBERALITY OF JAMES BUSH ESQre AND LEVINUS BUSH ESQre HIS SON ANNO Dmi ; 1732’. The school buildings were in use till 1959. The almshouses were converted to four dwellings in 1959-60.

19th c.

Following a series of Education Acts in the second half of the nineteenth century, the immanent passage of the 1899 Board of Education Act seems to have caused a stir in places like Babraham. The Act sought to centralise the education authorities, set up measures to support vulnerable children, and put the age of comprehensive education up to 16 (see Board of Education Act 1899 – full text (

In an open letter to the Cambridge Daily News the author (signed simply as ‘EDUCATION’) had this to say on the matter:

The Babraham School is a Voluntary School, supported principally, as all other schools are, by a Government grant, but has in addition a small endowment. The interesting part the matter is that, as I am informed, before the passing of the Free Education Act. Mr Adeane used to subscribe £2O yearly to the school. As the income of the school was increased by that Act. Mr Adeane withdrew his subscription, thus taking the benefit himself instead of allowing the children to benefit. To show how much Mr Adeane’s help is needed, I need only state that the managers recently advertised for a master and mistress at joint salary of £110. The ridiculous inadequacy of this salary will be understood when I state that the average salary of certificated master for day school work is’ £126. As*Mr Adeane holds Babraham in the hollow of his hand, be consistent, he should either support the school, or use his influence to have a School Board formed.

Daily Cambridge News, 27 March 1899, 2.


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