A brief history of the school

The village of Essendon can trace its roots right back to the 12th Century when the manor of Essendon was passed to Peter de Valoignes, a baron of great power. For the last 400 years the village has been linked to the famous Cecil family who took the Hatfield estate early in the 17th Century. For much of this time the estate has protected the village and provided work for the inhabitants.


There has been a school in the village of Essendon since before 1873. In that year a new Master was appointed and his Log Book records that he "found the scholars in a very backward state." The school was established, like so many other rural schools of the time, due to the largesse of several notable residents of the parish, many of whom were extremely rich and several were titled. The Deeds of the school refer to its Christian character, which it has not lost and to its purpose of educating only the poor of the parish, which it has.


The school flourished through to the Second World War when it was destroyed by an errant V1 Flying Bomb in 1944. Fortunately this happened on a Saturday and no one was injured. The present building was constructed by unrepatriated prisoners of war in 1947-48 to a (then) revolutionary design. The school was officially opened in December 1948 by the Marquis of Salisbury. The building originally had 3 classrooms, however by 1955 there were over 130 children in the school and lessons were being held in the Hall, the staffroom and on the stage. A fourth classroom was added that year. The building was officially declared Grade 2 Listed in 1983.

In 2018, the school (in its present form) celebrated its 70th anniversary.

Below are a series of original pictures of the buildings as they appeared in 1949.

All pictures by John Maltby, 1949, reproduced from, property of RIBA.


Shot of the school hall, showing the now-demolished chimney.


Internal view of Harefield class, including old-fashioned desks.


This extrenal shot demonstrates that what is now the playground was originally just a playing field.


Little has changed in this shot of the school hall.


The central corridor as it once looked, with the famous lattice-work on show.


While not actually a shot of Essendon, this photo of the construction of Burleigh Junior School shows how the school would have looked during its original construction.


The entrance hall as it was originally designed. What became of the statue, no-one knows.


Children head out to play in this shot of Pantherswood class.