Long Drove / Station Road
This building was the former location of the school before it moved to its current location in 1914. Although there are mentions of the school dating back to 1844, according to White's directory of 1883, this building was built by the current rector of Hilgay in 1861.
This image from sometime around 1920 shows a couple of interesting features that no longer exist. Firstly there are two chimneys. A short one on the north end of the building, and a taller one on the right side of the gable end facing the road. Secondly there is what appears to be a 'vent' in the centre of the roof.
Baptised in 1808, Benjamin was the son of Benjamin and Mary Challis. The 1851 census show Benjamin Challis, residing at Ten Mile Bank, aged 43 with the occupation of Schoolmaster. His wife Eleanor was schoolmistress. There is no evidence that this was St Marks school or exactly where the school was located. By 1861 Benjamin has moved to Bridge Street Downham Market, still a schoolmaster but now aged 53 he is listed as widowed.
It appears that the premises were purchased by the Feoffee Charity under the authority of an order of the Charity Commissioners dated 3rd December 1875. The building was purchased and enlarged in 1876.
A sale of work consiting of useful and fancy articles was held in the National School-room on Friday and Saturday last. Peoples Weekly Journal, November 5, 1881
Kelly's directory states John Paterson Armfield is master with Mrs. Jane Pryor as mistress. White's directory of the same year indicates there were 150 children in attendance.
The 1891 census shows John P. Armfield (Schoolmaster) residing on Station road with his wife Lucy (Schoolmistress) and their two children Nelly and Allethea. Unfortunately John appears to have died later in the year on 19th October. His burial memorial states he was the faithful and efficient master of St Marks for 16 years.
Jane Pryer (National Schoolmistress) aged 43 is living on Ten Mile Bank as a widow. She is living with Jane Smith, aged 84, also a widow, who is most likely her mother. They appear to live close to the Engine house. This is quite possibly Hawthorn house, because that is where William & Jane Smith lived, but William died in 1872.
Kelly's directory of 1896 sates the school was further enlarged in 1895 for 180 children, with average attendance of 113. Henry Edward Elderkin is master, Mrs Ada Elderkin, mistress and Mrs Jane Pryor infants' mistress.
On Wednesday 10th October 1906, a largely attended meeting was held at the Town Hall in Downham Market to protest the education bill. The audience numbered over 500 mostly churchmen. Mr H. E. Elderkin of Ten Mile Bank spoke against the bill from a Teachers' standpoint.
Kelly's directory of 1908 states an average attendance of 123. Henry Edward Elderkin is still master.
The building was leased to the then Rector of Hilgay on an annual tenancy for the purpose of an elementary school. A letter from the Rev J. H. Maude indicates this tenancy at the time being £22-10-0 / annum terminated in 1911.
Gertrude Fearn is listed in the 1911 census as a school teacher. She appears to be residing in a boarding house, kept by Mrs Susannah Porter, close to Stevens shop.
In 1912 the Local Education Authority took over the school. They rented the premises from the Hilgay Feoffees on a temporary measure until the completion of the current premises in 1914, which were freehold property of the Authority.
Presumably when the school vacated in 1914 the building assumed the role of the village hall. Used for community functions and events.
This later image reproduced from the Francis Frith collection was taken sometime around 1955. It show the chimneys still exist but the 'vent' has now been removed.
For some time in the 1980s village discos and youth clubs were held here. Organised by Mr Fred Macro of Steven's Cresent. They would alternate weekly with one week being a disco and the next week a youth club. The disco weeks the hall be would clear and used for mainly for dancing. But on the youth club weeks the hall would be filled with games such as bar billiards, bar skittles, and table football.
On 19th May 2018 Ten Mile Bank watched and celebrated the royal wedding of Price Harry and Megan Markle at the village hall. The hall was filled with tables and decorated inside and out with Union Jack flags, bunting and balloons. There was food and drinks including a cake with figures depicting the royal couple. A screen was provided so those attending could watch the wedding live.
The Prince and Ms Markle broke tradition by choosing to hold their wedding on a Saturday, as royal weddings usually take place during the week.