History of Llanrhos Old School by Fiona Richards

The report was written and provided to Llanrhos Old School by Fiona Richards, a local resident and amateur historian . Fiona is a member of the History of Deganwy Group.

Llanrhos School

Miss Frances Mostyn of Bodyscallen, daughter of Sir Thomas Mostyn, was noted for her benevolence and charitable acts, one was the building and endowment (of 1000 guineas) of a school in Llanrhos in 1822. Frances Mostyn …

“was benevolently desirous of founding and endowing a school for the instruction and education of 40 boys and 40 girls, being the children of the poor and indigent persons residing in the Parish of Llanrhos and in case fit and proper children to that number to that number should not offer themselves for instruction, the deficiency should, from time to time, be made up with the children of the poor and indigent persons residing in the adjacent parishes of Llangwstein and Llandudno in equal proportions as to keep up the children attending the school to the number of 40 boys and 40 girls.”

(Ref: Eglwys Rhos (Llan Rhos) Parish Church: A Short History & Description. By Edwards, Stanley J. 1955, reprinted in 1989).


Sir Thomas Mostyn (her nephew) and Sir Robert William Vaughan (the husband of her niece Anne Marie) were appointed trustees and to them the land, schoolroom etc were transferred. Frances Mostyn endowed the school with a gift of 1000 guineas. The trustees were to pay out of the dividends and annual produce, after payment of rates and taxes, the annual sum of £20 to the Master and £10 to the Mistress and to apply the residue for repairs and additions to the school. The trustees were to appoint fit persons being members of the established church to be Master and Mistress. The Master was always to be a layman, instructed to teach, and to instruct the said children without further fee in Reading, Writing & Arithmetic and other Useful & Moral & Religious knowledge. The girls particularly were to be instructed in the Art of Knitting & Plain Needlework. It was expressly provided that nothing should be taught or inculcated in the school in the school which would be contrary to the doctrine and the Articles of Religion of the Established Church of England (Ref ‘Copy Statement of the Deeds relating to the Endowment of the Charity School at Llanrhos in the County of Carnarvon’ Denbigh Record Office DD/PN/268)


A copy of ‘Rules for my School FM Llanrhos School’ is held at Conwy Archives (Ref CX174/10/4) which gives the wages of teachers, rules & regulations for children (see Appendix 1). Again it states that the School Master must be an orthodox Layman, thoroughly professing the Religion of Church of England – no Calvinist or Sectary whatever! The children were to enter the school at six years old and to leave it at the age of twelve. They were then to gain their livelihood but should attend on Saturdays and Sundays to keep up their learning. The children should attend church and repeat the Church of England Catechism four times a year in Church. The Master and Mistress of the school were responsible for ensuring that the children of the Llanrhos parish came to church every Sunday and to oversee their behaviour in church.


Frances Mostyn died on 22nd February 1827, aged about 60 years


In “A Topographical Dictionary of Wales” by Samuel Lewis in 1833 , under the entry for Eglwys Rhos a description of the school is given …

“A parochial school, for the instruction of the children of this and the adjoining parishes, was founded and endowed with £ 1000 by Mrs. Frances Mostyn, in 1822; and a spacious and handsome building, including school-rooms and a house for the master, has been erected for it, principally at the expense of that lady: in this school, which is conducted on the National system, one hundred and four children are gratuitously instructed.”


It is worth noting the difference between the ‘National School’ systems opposed to the ‘British Schools’; both were formed to promote the education of poorer children. The ‘National Society’ (National schools or sometimes known as Church schools) was supported financially and politically by the Church of England. The Society had wide connections with the Society of Promoting Christian Knowledge and aimed to establish a National School in each parish. It was accepted that education at these schools would be firmly based on the tenets of the Anglican faith, and can be seen as a way to indoctrinate Establishment principles in the young.


In 1814 the British & Foreign School Society was founded in London; the society aimed to provide education for the children of the ‘labouring classes’ regardless of them being following of the Established or Non Conformist church. Despite their non-sectarian principles most British Schools depended on a large extent on Non Conformist support (Ref St. George’s National School Llandudno, by the Llandudno Seaside Building Preservation Trust 2003).


In August 1842 Miss Mary Bridget Mostyn (niece of Frances Mostyn) of Bodyscallen made a further endowment of 1000 guineas (Ref: Eglwys Rhos (Llan Rhos) Parish Church: A Short History & Description. By Edwards, Stanley J. 1955, reprinted in 1989: Indenture of 18th August 1842 between Robert Williams Vaughan & Mary Bridget Mostyn, Denbigh Record Office DD/PN/268).


Census returns and entries in postal directories can give an idea of who was the School Master at Llanrhos School.


The 1841 and 1851 census returns show that John Jones was the School master, born in Conwy in about 1789 with his wife Ellen, born in Dwygyfylchi in about 1799. Their five children Margaret (c. 1826), William (c.1828), John (c.1831), Mary (c.1836), Humphrey (c. 1836) were born in Eglwys Rhos. Also living with them in 1841 was Grace Jones, aged 75 years, who was probably John’s mother. Pigot’s Postal directory of 1844 shows John Jones as the master with Mary Williams as the mistress.


As part of the government’s scheme of inspecting all schools in Wales (often referred to as ‘The Blue Books’) it received a visit from John James in 1847 (see Appendix 2). There were only twenty-two children present in a building designed for eighty pupils. The walls were dirty and everything was covered in dust. The master apparently attempted to keep order by blowing a whistle every four minutes but this proved to have a rapidly diminishing effect. The monitors were unfit for their office. Only three pupils could read well, four could recite the Catechism correctly and only four could answer a few plain questions on the Bible.


Although it does not name the schoolmaster, the report says he was a 57 years old and had been kept school for 27 years, although it was noted without any training. It is likely that the teacher was John Jones.


Slater’s Directory of 1856 gives the entry as a Charity School, Llanrhos with Evan Lloyd as Master. The census return for 1861 describes the school as a ‘National School’ with Thomas Williams, aged 20 years, a Certified Schoolmaster, born in Llandygai near Bangor (just by Penrhyn Castle). Thomas Williams was assisted by a local lad, Thomas Jones, described as a ‘Pupil Teacher’. Thomas Jones lived up on the Vardre at the now ruined Caer y Ddiol cottage.


Slater’s Directory of 1868 gives the entry as National School, Eglwys Rhos with Morris Griffiths, as the Schoolmaster.


The censuses return of 1871 shows that Henry Parry, aged 26 years, a Certified National Schoolmaster, born in Llanllechild, near Bethesda & Bangor. Living with him was his wife Catherine Lloyd Parry, from Anglesey, and their two young children, William H. Lloyd Parry (born c.1869 in Eglwys Rhos) and Esther Elizabeth Parry (born c.1871 in Eglwys Rhos). Worral’s postal directory of 1874 and Slater’s postal directory of 1880 gives H. Parry as the Master and Mary Williams as the Mistress of the school. Worral’s describes the school as an ‘excellent National School’.


By the Elementary Education Act of 1870 the Parish of Llan Rhos was made a school district. A schedule dated 25th June 1872 shows the school with 121 children and that a school for 40 infants was being built at Tywyn (Ref Eglwys Rhos (Llan Rhos) Parish Church: A Short History & Description. By Edwards, Stanley J. 1955, reprinted in 1989).


In 1872 the nearby Bodafon National School opened, built by funds from the Mostyn family (Ref NWWN April 29th 2010).


Coming of Age

On April 7th 1877, the Hon. Llewelyn Nevill Vaughan Lloyd Mostyn (son of Lady Augusta Mostyn) attained his majority and it was decided that this should be celebrated in the area. The date of May 4th was chosen with a band, sports, dinner for the ‘aged poor’ and a tea for the children. The tea for the children (of which there were 126 from Llanrhos) and presentation of commemorative mugs took place in the Congregational Church; attended by Lord & Lady Mostyn, Lady Augusta Mostyn and Hon. Llewlyn Mostyn. After the parade through Llandudno, there were addresses and presentations made; one being to Lady Augusta Mostyn by George Felton of a silver inkstand which had been subscribed by the children and teachers of Llanrhos School ( Ref Llandudno and the Mostyn Influence 1861-1939. Williams, Ron. E. 2002)


In 1879 when Lady Augusta Mostyn returned to live permanently at Gloddaeth Hall there was an illuminated address on behalf of the tenants to Lady Augusta, presented by a deputation, one of which was Henry Parry, schoolmaster at Llanrhos School (Ref Llandudno and the Mostyn Influence 1861-1939. Williams, Ron. E. 2002).

The censuses return of 1881 shows Richard Elias Butler, aged 25 years, an Elementary Teacher, born in Bradley in Northamptonshire. He was assisted by his sister Elizabeth Butler, aged 22 years, born in Llanllechild; their family had presumably moved there. It is interesting that the Butlers and the previous master, Henry Parry, were from the same village. Llanllechild parish school first started in the church and from 1828 operated on the National School plan, supported by subscription. Llanllechild National School was built in 1851.



It is interesting that the Schoolmasters listed in the censuses returns were from around the Bangor area; the North Wales Training College (later become St. Mary’s College in Bangor in 1893, an Anglican teaching college) was established in Caernarfon in about 1840’s, mainly through the exertions of Thomas Thomas, Vicar of Llanbeliog with Caernarfon (Ref online Welsh Biography). Coleg Normal was established in 1858 in Bangor; this was created through the efforts of the British & Foreign School Society (doubtful that certified teachers from this establishment would be offered employment at Llanrhos National School).


In the 1891 and 1901 censuses returns William Williams is shown as the Schoolmaster, born in about 1856 in Bangor. Slater’s postal directory of 1889 & 1890 shows William Williams as Master of Mostyn School and Slater’s postal directory of 1895 shows William Williams as Master with his wife, K.H. Williams as Mistress. Their marriage entry shows that William must have been the schoolmaster of Llanrhos by 1885 (in the 1881 census William Williams was the ‘National Schoolmaster’ living at the School house in Llanfaelog in Anglesey).


William Williams and Kate Hortense Aydon were married on 29th December 1885 at Eglwys Rhos, William is described as Schoolmaster, living in Llanrhos and Kate was living in Mold (her family moved there from Wakefield, Yorkshire when Kate was about one year old; in the 1881 census Kate is living at home and working as an Assistant Teacher). Their six children were born in Eglwys Rhos; William Aydon in 1887, Llewelyn M. in 1889, Margaret Emma in 1891, Dora Matilda in 1896, Arthur Horatio in 1897, Annie Aydon in 1899 .


In 1882 by the benefice of the Mostyn family a site at Tywyn was given for the creation of a school for the education of children and adults as well as a residence for teachers and a Chapel in which religious services were to be conducted according to the teaching and articles of the Church of England & Wales. (Ref Eglwys Rhos (Llan Rhos) Parish Church: A Short History & Description. By Edwards, Stanley J. 1955, reprinted in 1989). However the leaflet on the history of All Saints church in Deganwy suggests that the mission church of St. James was built in 1880 and that it was used at first as a Church school. In 1884 the Rev. Arthur Jones (who had been active in getting St. James’s built) was appointed as Chaplain, the building was dedicated to St. James and was then open for divine service and the children returned to Llanrhos. As the population of Tywyn and Deganwy grew considerably in the 1890’s, it was decided that a larger church was needed than St. James’s. The site for All Saints Church was given by the Hon. Lord Mostyn and his mother Lady Augusta Mostyn funded the cost of building the church in the memory of her parents. All Saints church opened on All Saints day, 1st November 1899.


St. James’s was then used as a school again; the school logbook notes that Deganwy National School was formally opened on October 25th 1897 with W. Williams, Llanrhos School in charge and with about 63 children attending. The mangers of the school were the Hon. Lady Augusta Mostyn, Rev. F. G. Jones (Vicar), Rev. Bevan Evans (Curate), Mr. Pilkington (of Bryn Cregin) and Mr. Fincham (original logbook is at Conwy Archives). Previously the St. James’s building appears to have been used as an infant school, known as Towyn/Tywyn Deganwy CE School (for infants) with R. Hughes in charge from 1893.


It appears that William Williams became the headmaster of Deganwy National School when it opened in 1897 but that his wife, Kate,  continued teaching at the Llanrhos school until 1905 (pers. Comm. David Godfey & date 1905 is given in Stanley Edwards’ tome on Eglwys Rhos). They continued to live at Schoolhouse at Llanrhos. Kate Williams died in 1910. One of her grand daughters, Gwyneth Aydon Godfrey, wrote an essay about revisiting Llanrhos and about her grandparents and her mother, their daughter Margaret Emma (see Appendix 3)


The 1911 street directory shows an entry for All Saints School (Elementary) the headmaster was William Williams with an average attendance of 150.


William Williams died in 1933, his grave in Llanrhos notes that he was the Schoolmaster of Llanrhos school for 38 years. On his retirement, former scholars of Llanrhos and Deganwy National Schools presented William Williams with a certificate as a record of their appreciation of the zeal, devotion of duty and high personal qualities of their former schoolmaster.


Fiona Richards, October 2011