This is our School
Reading British School 1811-2011

Author: Daphne Barnes-Phillips
Illustrator: Jim Barnes-Phillips
Published by: Corridor Press in June 2011
to mark the 200th anniversary of the start of what became Reading's British School which provided free education 80 years before it became freely available in England

ISBN: 987-1-897715-12-3
Price £9.95 now just £9.00

Built in 2 months and still standing 200 years later


Built in two months in 1810; considered unsuitable accommodation for a Board School in 1902; this building still stands in Southampton Street, Reading two centuries after it started life as Reading Lancasterian School on 8th January, 1811.  For 80 years before education was provided free in England, Reading’s children benefited freely from this Quaker initiative.


George Palmer, the founder of Huntley and Palmers’ Biscuit Factory (Reading’s biggest employer for over 50 years) actively supported the Reading British Free School as did many other local industrialists.  However, in George’s case, his support was of a very practical nature as he remained its Secretary and Chief Officer for half a century, despite his many other public offices in the town – Mayor, Alderman and Member of Parliament.  He held annual treats for the children in the grounds of his home and visited the School on a regular basis until just prior to his death and, ten years later, the replacement school was named George Palmer School in his honour.  Other supporters for similar periods of time were Girls’ School Secretary, Susan Champion; Boys’ School Master, Thomas Gleave; and Infant School Teacher, Annie Fabry, as their stories reveal.


One of those who was educated at George Palmer School and whose book So many hearts make a school recalled its history from 1907 until 2007 is popular Reading author and historian, Daphne Barnes-Phillips.  In This is our School, Daphne brings us tales of educational life in Reading in the 19th century, beginning with the Londoner, Joseph Lancaster, whose successful formula for educating many children at little cost was adopted by the far-sighted members of the Reading Non-Conformist Churches who were wanting to offer education to those whose parents could not afford to provide it for them.