Clapham Primary School


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
The Green, Clapham, Lancaster, LA2 8EJ


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Statutory Address:
The Green, Clapham, Lancaster, LA2 8EJ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Craven (District Authority)
Clapham cum Newby
National Grid Reference:


National school, 1864 to designs of Edward Paley.

Reasons for Designation

This former National School of 1864 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a relatively early work of Edward Paley, designed while he practiced alone between his partnership with Edmund Sharpe and H J Austin; * a handsome school building in the Gothic style, that is well-detailed and well-executed in good quality local stone; * external and internal losses are few, and overall this is a largely intact mid-C19 school with good survival of fixtures and fittings.

Historic interest:

* for its association with a prominent local family, and especially with the traveller and plant collector Reginald Farrer who lectured at the school on a number of occasions.

Group value:

* the school benefits from a spatial group value with a small group of five listed buildings situated at the south end of the village.


A new school to replace a smaller predecessor had been discussed in Clapham since about 1845. However, it was not until the early 1860s that plans emerged for the construction of a National School funded by the local landowning Farrer family, principally three brothers James, Oliver and William. The renowned Gothic Revival architect Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905) was engaged to design the school with a brief to produce an infant school for 70 children, a mixed elementary school for 70 children and a schoolmaster’s house and outbuildings. Waterhouse designed a single flexible building in which the two schools could be joined together as one large space if required, and is detailed in plans dated 4 March 1864. However this scheme was considered too expensive and Waterhouse was asked to alter the design keeping the cost to a maximum of £800. Revised Waterhouse plans were not forthcoming, and by the end of May 1864 the architect Edward Paley had been engaged to provide a fresh design. Edward Paley's brief for the school design excluded the construction of a masters’ house in order to keep the cost below £600. After some alterations to Paley’s first design an agreed design was produced at a cost of £821. The National School in Clapham was built in 1864 by workers of the Farrer Ingleborough estate, supervised by the estate's agent W J Walker. It was dedicated to the memory of James Farrer who died in November 1863. In this event the school was funded by his brothers Oliver and William, and his son James. The school was used for the first time on 31 July 1865.

Paley’s plans are annotated ‘National Schools, Clapham’ and show that the building comprised a pair of rectangular ranges set at right angles to each other in an overall L-plan. The north-west facing range comprised a porch with a small classroom to its rear and a large attached classroom described as ‘Infant and Sewing School’ with a gallery to one end. The south-west facing range comprised a porch with small classroom to its rear with a large attached classroom described as ‘Mixed School’. Set to the east were separate playgrounds, each with a set of WCs (demolished). The building remains much as built. In the late C20 the original bell turret was removed and in 2005-2006 a mezzanine floor and roof lights were inserted to the infant school. The small classroom of the latter has also been converted to a kitchen.

The Austin and Paley architectural firm was founded by Edmund Sharpe (1809-1877), who took into partnership Edward Graham Paley (1823-1895) in 1845. Sharpe retired in 1851, and Edward Graham Paley practiced alone until taking in H J Austin in 1868 and the firm became Paley and Austin. Paley's son Harry Anderson Paley joined in about 1886 when the firm became Paley, Austin and Paley until Paley senior died in 1895, and the firm operated as Austin and Paley into the 1930s. Much of the highly-regarded firm's work is considered outstanding in both a regional and a national context. A descendent of the Farrer family, the national figure of Reginald John Farrer (1880-1920), traveller and plant collector lived locally; it is said that he gave several lectures in the Clapham School, and a local newspaper report confirms that he did indeed lecture at the school about his current war time experiences in late 1917.


National school, 1864 to designs of Edward Paley.

MATERIALS: squared and dressed local stone with ashlar dressings.

PLAN: L-shaped of two linked ranges, oriented north-north-east to south-south-west.

EXTERIOR: not inspected, information from other sources. The single-storey building with ashlar dressings has slightly overhanging, bracketed eaves, pitched and hipped roofs of graduated Welsh slate and a coped plinth. There are metal finials to several apexes, and windows are Gothic with Gothic tracery.

The main (north-west) elevation has an entrance bay to the left, with a main entrance set within a segmental pointed arched opening with a hood mould with head stops said to be those of James William and his wife Henrietta who had died in 1853. The words FARRER MEMORIAL are inscribed above the door and the stone tympanum is inscribed: ERECTED IN MEMORY OF/ JWF/ BY OF WLF & JF 1864. The slightly higher central section has a central six-light, stepped window, with cusped heads, that breaks through the eaves in the form of a half dormer. This is flanked to either side by triple lancets; there is a left gable stack. The projecting right end bay is the gable end of a cross wing and has a large plate tracery window of four cusp-headed, stepped lancets with a hoodmould and head stops (male left, female right). The left return has a two and three light window in the form of short lancets, and the right return has a central external chimney with a triangular head that rises through the eaves and carries a single large circular chimney pot. To either side is a short, three-light lancet window. There are multiple roof lights. The rear (south-east) elevation has stepped lancets with cusped heads to the gable end of the cross wing and paired cusp-headed windows lancets with a shoulder-arched entrance with chamfered jambs to its right return. The rear wall of the main range has two triple pointed-arch windows and a similar shoulder-arched entrance to their right side. The end bay is blind.

INTERIOR: not inspected, information from other sources. The original plan form of the school is retained. The former infant/sewing room classroom has a boarded dado and an inserted mezzanine floor with a suspended ceiling. The original moulded segmental-arched fireplace (blocked) is retained and at the north end a single original door gives entry to the former small school room, now a kitchen. The corbels supporting the roof structure are visible and the original roof structure is retained above the inserted floor. The former elementary schoolroom has a timber boarded floor, a boarded dado and a suspended ceiling. The corbels of the roof structure remain visible below the ceiling, and the original roof structure is understood to remain above. The original moulded segmental-arched fireplace (blocked) is also retained. The south end has a large, moulded pointed arched opening fitted with a tripartite folding screen of three original six-panel chamfered doors below a tympanum. At the north end there is a central full-height timber cupboard with a segmental head centrally placed cupboard divided into an upper and lower cupboards. To either side of this is a doorway giving access to the original porch and small classroom.


Books and journals
Brandwood, G, The Architecture of Sharpe Paley and Austin, (2012), 220
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Alfred Waterhouse, accessed 19-10-2020 from
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Reginald John Farrer, accessed 19-10-2020 from
Paley and Austin Architectural Practice, accessed 13-10-2020 from


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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