History of St. Mary’s Playgroup & the Old Church Schools

The children of Hayes have been taught at this location for over 200 years.  In the year 1791, Lord Lewisham, then the owner of the great house at Hayes Place, provided a property to be a school-house on the site of what is now known as the Old Church School, the home today of the St. Mary’s playgroup and other community groups.

Hayes Charity School opened on 27th June 1791 with thirty eight children.  Lord Lewisham became a trustee of the property along with the vicar of St. Mary’s Church.  A school master and mistress were appointed to teach the poor children of Hayes parish to read.  Lady Lewisham provided books.  Bibles were given to children when they left the school but only if they deserved them!  From 1791 until 1937, this was the school for the village of Hayes.

John Till, Rector of Hayes for nearly fifty years from the year 1777, was a man much beloved by his parishioners, and his memory was cherished with deep respect and affection. To an amiable disposition he added a considerable share of pleasantry and dry humour.  The following impromptu toast which he gave at the village school feasts, in which he much delighted, are worth preserving;

“May our School be the friend of the Church and the Crown:

May it often break up; May it never break down.

May virtue and learning still thrive in our School,

And our duty to God and the King be our rule.

May we keep to this rule to the end of our days,

And always remember we learnt it at Hayes.

May our School be kept by the wise and discerning,

And always be famed for plum pudding and learning.”


Hayes Place was demolished in 1933 and the old estate made way for new housing in Hayes.  With many new houses built in the 1930’s, the Old Church School was no longer large enough for the increased population and so a new school was built in George Lane in 1937.  This is now Hayes Primary school, where many of our children move on to.  After the war, Pickhurst Primary School was opened in 1953 and then Hayes Secondary School in 1956.

St. Mary’s Nursery School started at the Old Church Schools on 25th April 1963.  From 1965 to 1972, a Play Centre for disabled children was also run in the Club Room until an act of parliament changed responsibility for disabled children to the Ministry of Education.  From then, the club room was used for the youngest pupils of St. Mary’s, as it still is today. The Pre-School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013.


History of St. Mary’s Playgroup