Thundersley School Children 1921

Can you spot a relative?

A late photo of Thundersley Church School, shortly before demolition

In 1856, Charles Bosanquet, the Lord of the Manor of Thundersley at the time, built – at his own expense – the village’s first Church of England School in Church Road, near the junction with Kenneth Road.
His preferred site had been Swans Green but, although this site was quite acceptable to the Vestry meeting at St Peter’s Church, Mr Salisbury, the curate in charge, objected because he didn’t fancy the long, regular trek from the Rectory to read the lesson! Charles Bosanquet relented and the new school was built nearer to the Church, prompting locals to coin the phrase, ‘As the parson would not go to the school, the school had to be taken to the parson’.

These photographs are of three classes at Thundersley Church School, taken in 1921, just a couple of years after the horrors of the Great War. Many of the families represented here had lived around Thundersley for generations and, without doubt, many of their descendants still abide in the locality. Click on the pictures to check them out in a bigger view and see if you can contribute some information about the characters.

Robert Hallmann’s fabulous and long-awaited history book about Thundersley & Daws Heath is in an advanced stage of production, but it is not yet too late to include additional information about these pictures, should you care to respond below.



Thundersley Church of England School, Class 4, in 1921. Seven year old Mary Wiggins is highlighted in the back row. The Wiggins family were regular attenders at the Peculiar People Chapel in Rayleigh. Her father, Claude Stanley, had been a Conscientious Objector in the Great War.

Behind: Headmaster, Colonel Walter Joseph Bransden, (b. June 1888 d. Sept 1970); Teacher, Miss Montgomery.
4th row: ? ?; ? Cooper; ? Daly; ? Daly; Mary Wiggins; D? Potter; ? Pritchard; ? Casson; ? Buck; ? ?; ? Cannon.
3rd row: ? ?; ? ?; D? Summers; ? ?; ? ? ; ? Elsdon; D? Smoothy; ? ?: V? Holt; ? ?; ? Butcher.
2nd row: ? ?; ? Beckett; ? ?; ? ?; ? Byatt; ? ?; B? Barrett.
Front row: V? Crabb; ? ?; ? Warren; ? Poianey; ? ?; ? ?; ? ?; Tommy Seeley.



Thundersley Church of England School, Class 3, in 1921. I have no names at all for this class, though the teacher may possibly be Rita Newman née Hall.



Thundersley Church of England School, Class 2, in 1921. Joseph and Cyril Wiggins (later to become pillars of the community) are highlighted, aged 10 and 11 respectively. They had recently transferred from Love Lane School in Rayleigh because, hitherto, there was no room for them in this overcrowded Thundersley School.

Behind: Headmaster, Colonel Bransden; Teacher, Mr Robert Alfred Williams (b. 1900).
4th row: John Pond; Fred Cable; Len Bardell; ? ?; Joe Wiggins; Cyril Wiggins; ? ?; Eric Cooper; ? Marslen; ? Littlejohn; ? ?; ? ?.
3rd row: ? ?; ? Elsdon; ? Sessions; ? Littlejohn; ? ?; Mabel Playle; ? ?; ? Simmonds; Doris Grubl; Girlie Smith; ? ?; Amy Monk.
2nd row: ? Knowlson; ? Petrushkin; Barbara Newman; Peggy Figg; ? ?; ? Deveson; ? Marshall; N? Barrett; Alice Monk.
Front row: ? ?; Arthur Keys; Bert Carter; ? ?; L? Seeley; ? ?; ? Hopwood; ? Prior; James Bellamy.

Well, did you spot anyone you recognised? It’s a simple matter to add a comment and, once ratified, your contribution could be included for posterity in Mr Hallmann’s book. (Isn’t History fun?)

Comments about this page

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  • I’ve just come across these details via the book by Robert Hallmann, I believe the teacher of Standard 11 (class 3) Miss Montgomery may be my great Aunt.
    She would be Nellie Kathleen Montgomery who sadly died young at the age of 38.
    Her father James Stanley Montgomery was apparently a farmer in the area who also died young (54) in 1949.
    Both buried at St Peter’s Church.
    If anyone has any further info on the family or can confirm my theory I would be most grateful.

    By Andrew Hart (24/10/2019)
  • I have only just discovered these photos.  In class 4,  ?V Holt could be my aunt Vera Holt.  I can’t identify my mother in any of the classes but in class 2 Barbara Newman and Peggy Figg remained friends of hers for many years.  Peggy married a John Newman.

    I do have a couple of class photos myself which I have assumed are of Thundersley School – with I think Rev Maley?

    A previous comment mentions a log book for the school.  Would be very interested if that could confirm how many of the Holt family attended and when. 

    By Susan Thomas (02/06/2015)
  • I went to a children’s party in a hall opposite the clinic in about 1966. I still have a photograph somewhere. My friend Beverley went to Sunday School there too though I’m not sure if both were held in the School Hall or if there was a separate one.  

    By Denny Warner (11/04/2015)
  • I remember a hall on the opposite side of the road to Thundersley clinic and on the same side of the road as Ponds grocery shop. Was this the old Thundersley church school? In the fifties the Thundersley Library was running there I believe and the Brownies held their meetings there. I also remember bazaars being held in the hall. Were there two halls?

    By carol powley née southward (26/03/2015)
  • Sorry Guys, but the headteacher is not Colonel Bransden and Mr. James Francis Airey was the headteacher. So says the Thundersley C.of.E School Log Book 1917-1921. I found no reference to Colonel Bransden at the C.of E School (I Think he was the head master at Dark Lane school when it opened in 1922)

    The Staff of the National Staff in 1921 was

    10 Jan 1921
    Mr. Airey (Head Master) – Standards V. VI. VII (Class 1)
    Mrs Airey – Standards III. IV. (Class 2)
    Miss Montgomery – Standard II (Class 3)
    Mrs Ingrams – Standard I and Infants (Class 4)

    Extra Staff: Mrs. Finch Caretaker (1918 – 21) Miss ‘Winne’ Mordy appointed as supply Supplementary teacher (1919-1921) Mr. Edward’s was the attendance officer (19??-1921)

    By Jon Stamp (18/02/2015)

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