This is a very exciting discovery for me because it is one of the oldest photographs I have seen of a part of old Alcombe that I can recognise, even at my great distance from the UK.
My Great-Grandfather George Mildon had a school at Alcombe from the year of his marriage to Alice Frankpitt in 1874. He evidently bought the school from a Francis Ransome who had lived there with his wife Ann, their 4 children, his Assistant Thomas Kemm, 2 servants and a number of boarding pupils.
After 20 years teaching in Alcombe, in 1894 George Mildon sold the school, and with their 6 children, they emigrated to New Zealand.
The following details are as we can reconstruct from recent research, which has placed the school down the modern Manor Road off to the photographers right, which was once an extension of Combeland Road seen here to the photographers front. The school master's family and the boarders' accommodation probably occupied the two residential buildings to the right of the modern Britannia Inn and the school itself and school yard was accessed through a tunnel under the second of those houses. The building still exists.
George Mildon and his family occasionally attended St George's Church at Dunster and his eldest daughter Alice played the organ at the church. With his Lay Licence George could also preach at the Chapel of Ease in Alcombe located in The Grove. There is a window in St George's at Dunster that commemorates Walter Ludlow, who with his wife Ellen lived at Rosebank Villa in Alcombe on Manor Road. They were great friends and corresponded for many years after the Mildons left for New Zealand. George Mildon taught both of their sons at his school.
The contrast of the pretty villages of Alcombe and Dunster compared with the swampy unstumped farmland they emigrated to in New Zealand was extreme and the physical work in getting the farm productive was immense. George Mildon died in 1904, however the land in New Zealand was worked for 3 more generations before the farmland was sold in 1988, although this writer still occupies the house originally bought. Alcombe and Dunster are still remembered as important places in our history although none of the family that emigrated are with us now, and seeing photographs such as this help us to envision the village as it was nearer the time when they lived there.
Although George Mildon passed his school on to another teacher, by 1901 it appears it was no longer functioning, the address becoming known as the Old School House, and it appears to have become workers tenements.
A full record of all the pupils that attended Alcombe School and a quantity of other material that relates to their time there can be found at minehead-online.co.uk
The writer would welcome any information that would add to the above and may be contacted by email by clicking my name below or writing to me at Richard Mildon, 1069 Kairanga-Bunnythorpe Road, Palmerston North 4475, New Zealand.
A memory shared byon Jan 4th, 2007.
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