by  • September 8, 2013 • Cardigan, Ceredigion, Modern, Period, Post-Medieval, School, Site Type • 2 Comments


    In 1846 it was proposed to build a new National School here. Rev. Robert Henry Miles of the Priory bequeathed the land for that purpose. It was to be built to designs by Messrs. Scott & Moffatt of London. On 25th September 1846 W. Jenkins of Blaenbarthen, Llangoedmor, was selected to be the mason and David Morgan of Cardigan as the carpenter. Daniel Evans was the clerk of works for the two school houses and a master’s house. In November 1846 the Crown gave £20 towards the project. The foundation of the new National School was laid on 19th March 1847. On 8th September 1848 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:

    CARDIGAN.—The new National Schools, which will be finished and opened the latter end of this month, have been inspected by the Rev. Robert Miles, A.M., owner of Priory estate, along with the architect, who highly approved of the manner and excellence in which the work had been executed, and when completed it wi11 be a considerable ornament to the entrance of the town from Llechryd…”

    The new school opened on 29th September 1848, having cost £1,473. 7s. 3d. In 1850-52 Thomas Richards was the master. On 13th August 1851 Eleanor Lloyd of the National School House was buried at St. Mary’s Church having died aged 25. In 1852 Dorcas Kendrick was the mistress alongside Thomas Richards. On 14th October 1853 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:

    “…CARDIGAN NATIONAL SCHOOL.—Mr. D. Williams, C M., master of the Churchstokes School, Shrewsbury, has been appointed Master of the St. Mary’s Boys’ National School, Cardigan, in the room of Mr. J. Thomas, who is about to resign…”

    On 22nd August 1856 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:

    “…CARDIGAN NATIONAL SCHOOL.—The Annual Entertainment given by the supporters and friends of these schools took place on Wednesday last, when upwards of two hundred of the scholars were regaled, being abundantly supplied with cake of different kinds, and excellent tea and bread and butter. The boys were under the direction of Mr. Jenkins, the master; and the girls under that of the mistress, Miss Buck, the whole being under the Superintendence of the Managing Committee of ladies. After the repast was concluded, the children amused themselves in various ways until the evening. and several pieces of vocal music were executed by the children in a manner that reflects much credit on their tutors for the care bestowed upon them…”

    In 1868-87 Daniel Thomas Jenkins was the master. In 1868-71 Miss Catherine Cave was the mistress. In 1875 Mrs. Jenkins was the Mistress. Ca1879 Miss Jessie H. Jenkins became the Infants’ mistress until 1924. On 4th September 1880 the ‘Cardigan Observer‘ reported the following:

    “…ST. MARY’S NATIONAL SCHOOL.—The following report of H.M. Inspector, for 1880, has been forwarded to us for publication This school is in good order, and has made a very decided improvement in attainments during the year. The elementary work was, on the whole, very well done except in a part of the 1st Standard. The arithmetic of the whole school was exceedingly good. The writing in the 1st Standard was much too small. Grammar, in the 4th, 5th, and 6th Standards, was very good; in the 2nd Standard, pretty fair but in the 3rd Standard, decidedly weak. Geography, on the whole, and needlework were pretty good. The music was sung with taste and was good. The infants did not seem to be classified according to their attainments. The results were only fair. More mental arithmetic would be very desirable.” In the pupil teachers’ examination, Beatrice Lowther obtained the highest marks awarded, and Jessie H. Jenkins marks of the second rank. The Diocesan Inspector re- ports, too, that the religious instruction in the school is highly satisfactory.—D. T. Jenkins, master…”

    In 1881 the following persons lived here: Daniel Thomas Jenkins, 46, National School Master; Harriet Jenkins, 48, National School Mistress; Jessie H. Jenkins, 15, their daughter, pupil teacher; Mary E. Jenkins, 12, daughter; H. B. Jenkins, 10, daughter; E. Stanley Jenkins, 8, son; and Mary Davies, 17, domestic servant. In 1884 there were 107 pupils. In August 1885 Mrs. Jenkins, a mistress at the National School, had her Teaching Certificate raised to First Class because of her excellent work at the school. Daniel Thomas Jenkins died on 9th September 1887, aged 53. On 10th September 1887 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:

    DEATH OF MR. D. T. JENKINS. — It is with feelings of extreme regret that we announce the death of Mr. D. T. Jenkins, head master of St. Mary’s National School, in this town, which occurred at 5.30 this (Friday) morning, after lingering and painful illness. Mr. Jenkins has for many years held the position of master of the National School, and no one in the town was more highly esteemed and respected…”

    The school is marked on the 1887 O. S. map. Mr. T. Ross became the new Headmaster from 1887-94. On 30th August 1890 the ‘Cardigan Observer‘ reported the following:

    INSPECTION OF THE SCHOOLS. ST. MARY’S NATIONAL SCHOOL, CARDIGAN. The following is H. M. Inspector’s Report on St. Mary’s National School for 1890:-

    Mixed School – This school is in a very good state of organisation and discipline and has passed a highly creditable examination in the elementary subjects, and in English and Geography, in spite of hindrances during the year. The Singing by ear and note was very good. The Needlework was, on the whole, good.

    Infants’ Class – The Infants had been well and carefully taught…”

    Postcard of Cardigan National School, circa 1918 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Postcard of Cardigan National School, circa 1918 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    In July 1894 Mr. T. Ross, Headmaster since 1887, retired, and Llewelyn Davies became the new Headmaster. In 1894-1931 Llewelyn Davies was the Master. On 4th October 1901 tenders were being sought for the building of new classrooms to plans by Richard Thomas. On 24th July 1902 headmaster Llewelyn Davies married Emillie Martha Davies, daughter of the late Mr. Picton Davies. On 27th October 1902 David Peregrine of the National School house died aged 27. On 30th June 1905 tenders were sought for repairs and renovations. On 9th August 1907 tenders were sought for conducting alterations to plans by Lewis Lewis, architect, Cardigan.. Mary Anne Jones lived at the school house in 1910. In January 1920 Llewelyn Davies celebrated 25 years as the organist at St. Mary’s Church and as the schoolmaster here. In 1921-43 Anne Rees of No. 5 Church Street was the caretaker. A 1922 report stated the following:

    Stairs need repairing badly. Playground rough, Water supply nil; water obtained from tap outside. Offices: automatic flushing; flushing cistern out of order. Ventilation: needs more open windows…”

    Staff of Cardigan National School circa 1925 (Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser)

    Staff of Cardigan National School circa 1925 (Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser)

    In January 1924 Miss Jessie H. Jenkins retired after 45 years as Infants’ Mistress. On 19th February 1931 Llewelyn Davies retired after 36 years as Headmaster. In 1934-57 Rowland Peregrine was the Headmaster. In 1946 Rowland Ll. Peregrine, became the Mayor of Cardigan. By 1st July 1949 the school was being referred to as St. Mary’s Modern Secondary School. In 1959 the school was amalgamated with Cardigan Grammar School and the pupils moved to the other site. It remained in use as an annexe of Cardigan F. E. College Art Department. The building was advertised for sale in July 2001. Repairs were under way in March 2009. The upper floor was advertised to let in November 2010.


    The following observations were made in 2001:

    Former National School in September 1998 (c) Glen K Johnson

    Former National School in September 1998 (c) Glen K Johnson

    1847-8 former National School, with alterations of 1901 and 1907, possibly further altered c1960. Snecked stone rectangular 2- storey building, gable ended, with sandstone mullioned windows and door and pitched slate roof with red ridge tiles and coped gables. Façade has 3 irregular bays. To left at angle is stepped shouldered buttress, then tripartite mullioned window to ground floor with raised rectangular head and cut stone voussoirs over. Upper storey has bipartite mullioned window with rectangular hood, eaves breaking, beneath short raised coped parapet. There was formerly a miniature gablet here. To right is shouldered-sided projection, formerly tall stone chimney with three rounded stacks to upper section, but truncated at eaves level and roofed over. Blank sandstone shield within square recess at upper storey level. To right of this, ground floor pair of tripartite mullioned windows with 4-pane similar window to first floor, again with eaves-breaking parapet, formerly double gablet. Shouldered butress to right. Beyond this, right, is full height gable ended section with Gothic pointed-arched ground floor entrance with boarded timber door, sandstone dressings and rectangular raised hood. Stair light above – bipartite mullion and single narrow light with similar dressings to gable. Left end has quadripartite mullioned window in the same manner, with wider centre post, and renewed tripartite mullioned window to first floor. To rear is 2-storey red brick extension with pitched slated roof and gabled to rear.

    East side has small rectangular flat headed 2-pane light with stone lintel to ground floor left, quadripartite mullioned with voussoirs over to left of centre, raised plinth, and boarded timber door to right, matching that to façade. First floor has tripartite mullion to right and bipartite to raised attic gablet with raised coping and slate roof. Rear has gable ended range to left with 2nd floor and attic small lights, then, set back, main range with pair of tripartite mullions to ground floor and quadripartite to first floor, eaves-breaking and coped, matching façade opening. Roof apex formerly had, to centre, small bell turret with domed roof on narrow cast iron columns.


    Pembrokeshire Herald 1848

    Slater’s Directory 1850; 1852; 1868

    Parish Register of St. Mary’s, Cardigan

    Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1870; 1880; 1887; 1894; 1901-02; 1905; 1907; 1920; 1922; 1924

    1931; 1934; 1943; 1949; 1952; 1957; 1998-99; 2001; 2007-08

    Post Office Directory 1871

    Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1875; 1884; 1895; 1914; 1926

    Census Returns 1881

    O. S. Map 1887 etc.

    A Guide to Cardigan & District, William Edward Yerward James 1899

    List of Voters – Cardigan 25/07/1910

    Llangoedmor Parish Registers

    Post Office Telephone Directory 1955

    The Gateway to Wales, W J Lewis 1990

    Those Were The Days Vol. II, Donald Davies 1992.

    © Glen K Johnson 08/09/2013



    1. AnneTaylor
      September 11, 2013 at 6:41 am

      Did I pass to you the 1880 photo of St Dogmaels school? My g randfather and G Uncle are there!Altho they lived in Moylgrove an aunt of mine b 1907 was toid they walked to school across fields -is this possible? may be it is a photo of Moyelgrove? I do have records prior to that of children @ the webley arms 1871& 1881 attending school in St Dogmaels -these are from the school enrolement books @pembs Archives.A short reply would be appreciated-I am finding tour site useful!Anne Taylor

      • glen
        September 11, 2013 at 7:55 am

        Hi Anne
        I don’t recall a photo of St. Dogmaels School quite that early, so I would be very interested to see that. Lots of children used to walk remarkable distances through fields and along footpaths in the days before the school bus.

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