The Parish School

The earliest schools at Rondebosch were private establishments or mission schools, run by the various churches. The Cape Almanac for 1840 states that "there is at present no government free school, or infant school, in this populous part of the environs of the Cape", i.e. Rondebosch. One of the earliest private schools is mentioned in "The Findlay Letters" to the effect that in 1838 "Miss Hanbury has taken Miss Smith's school at Rondebosch" and that a daughter of the Findlay family, living on Camp Ground Road, was attending it.

In January 1844 the Rondebosch Infant School was established with a committee consisting of John Montagu (Colonial Secretary) as chairman, and as members J. B. Ebden, Rev. J. Fry, Lt.-Col. Alexander, A. Steedman as treasurer and Duff Watt as Secretary.

It was a "free school established chiefly through the benevolent exertions of Maj.-Genl. and Lady Catherine Bell, immediately prior to their departure from the Colony. A neat and appropriate school house built from funds raised principally by the voluntary contributions of the gentry and inhabitants in the neighbourhood" was erected. In 1845 there were 100 pupils. This school, it was claimed, "now furnishes the less wealthy and poorer part of the community that desideratum, so long earnestly desired, viz, a good school for the education of their children." This school was later known as St Paul's (Church of England) Mission School.

Pic of School 1870s

A picture in the Cape Archives shows the children gathering outside the School Room. Although the Cape Archives entitles the picture as being the school at the Congregational Church, Belmont Road, it is quite obviously at St Paul's and many of the gravestones in the picture still exist. The picture was taken around 1872 when the schoolmaster was a Mr Cowper (is he the bearded gentleman in the picture, I wonder?). In 1865 the Parish Vestry Minutes (as the St Paul's Parish Council was known in those days) inform us that there were "25 coloured children, 18 emancipated slaves' children, 6 negroes, 8 Malays and 45 white children" in the upper school.

After World War II the numbers at the School had increased to between 150 and 180 pupils. Miss Currey reported that this led to over-crowding and the Education Department decided to limit the numbers to 150 by making the cut off at Std 4 (Grade 6).

The facilities at the school, however, were not up to the Education Department's requirements and some land belonging to the City Council alongside St Andrew's, Newlands, was offered to the parish to combine the two schools (those of St Andrew's and St Paul's). Plans for this continued to be delayed until on 13 December 1951 the school at St Paul's shut its doors for the last time.

According to the Parish Council Minutes, the majority of the pupils were transferred to "the Hindu School in Main Street". Quite which school this was and whether it was "Main Road" or "Main Street, Newlands" is at present not known.

In 1993 the Parish decided that its outreach should include re-starting a school which, like the original, should be open to all. The parish office and the stage of the Parish Hall were converted into three classrooms with toilet and play facilities. A Montesorri Pre-school called The Children's Place was opened under the direction of Mrs Bridget Doyle.

In 2003 she sold the school to Mrs Wendy Mathers. The Church realised that it had no input in the running of The Children's Place and therefore asked for a market-related rent for the facilities being used. The Children's Place decided to move on to other premises and the facilities began to be converted back into a parish office, storage room and meeting room in 2007.