Meriden was fortunate enough to have charity schools long before the state provided free education.
On his death in 1811, Kenelm Digby,who lived at Meriden Hall left shares in his will to support a charity school for girls under the patronage of his sister Jane Mills. Land on the Old Bowling Green was leased from Lord Ayelsford for 1 shilling a year, where a schoolhouse was built in 1814. The dividend from the shares, which equated to £80 a year, paid for the school mistress and 24 girls to be clothed (usually when they left school). By 1833 the dividends had dropped to £64 a year and the school relied on the Right’s Land Charity, where Mrs Elizabeth Dyall left the interest on £20 to provide funds ‘for teaching and instructing poor girls in the parish to read’. Jane Mills made up the deficit, though the girls were no longer clothed, and some pupils paid to attend. Jane died in 1842, when Charlotte Mills took up the post of School Mistress. She was paid 15 shillings a week though this also had to pay for her assistant, Sarah Olton. The original building sill stands on the Old Bowling Green.
In his complex Will in 1786, Henry Barnett a wealthy but childless resident left a £500 endowment to, ‘put boys belonging or residing in the parish to school and finding them books, pens and other things used in schooling’ but mysteriously, it was not implemented until 1821. Kenelm’s brother, Wriothesley Digby, left four shares to Meriden Charities on his death. Two of these shares were given to improve the boy’s school. The first master was Francis Plant who earned £20 a year. His successor John Henry Fretton (1830-1842) was the father of the famous Coventry antiquarian, William George Fretton . The masters lived in the nearby stone house on Main Road, which is still there. One of the school’s donors was Lord Aylesford who had given the site for the school and owned this house. The Digby family of Meriden Hall continued to donate to the school. All pupils received a suit of clothing.
As the village population grew the current accommodation was found to be inadequate and more teaching space was required. With about 60 boys attending by the late 1830s, a new building sponsored in part by the Church of England’s National Society opened in November 1843 on the Main Road. It had two classrooms, one for boys, the other for girls and infants. The Digby Family provided this at a cost of £520. The master appointed in 1843 with a salary of £60 a year, John Kimpton, remained in this post to 1885 when he was 75 years old. His wife Nancy taught the girls, and together they lived in the school house. This building is still a central part of the village and is now used as the Health Centre.
Meriden CE Primary School
As Meriden’s population grew in 1950s, the school moved to Fillongley Road , where it remains. It is a modern, spacious school with a rural outlook.
The National School building (now the Health Centre), which was built in 1843. The current school building was built in 1953 and has been continuously improved and added to since.