The Richard Comberbach Trust

The Richard Comberbach Trust, also known as the Bucklow School Charity of Richard Cumberbach and his wife is constituted by deed of Trust and is a registered charity.

The Charity owns Lower Peover Primary School and 'School House' which comprises one building (Grade 2 listed); the school field; and part of 'The  Cobbles' from the building currently known as 'The Little House' School to the Lych gate and up to the side of 'School House'.

Richard Comberbach was born in Latchford near Lymm in 1644, the son of a gentleman. He went to Cambridge University in 1665 and became a curate of St. Oswald's Church from 1687, following the Rev. James Leycester. Richard Comberbach was a supporter of the Royalist Stewart monarchy and resigned the curacy following the revolution of 1688 which culminated in the fleeing of King James II and the arrival of William of Orange (conflicting dates given for his resignation are 1691 and 1701).

He remained in the area, continuing his friendship with the Leycester family and became a farmer. The Leycesters of Tabley were Patrons of the Living of St. Oswald's and remained so until the death of Lt. Col. John Leicester-Warren in 1975, after which the Tabley Estate and the Patronage of St. Oswald's were acquired by the university of Manchester. 

Richard Comberbach's ambition had been to found a school. Thus in 1709, with the assistance of his wife who had private means, he bought a lot of land on which to build a school. This plot was by the south-west corner of the churchyard, and the building still stands there currently named 'The Little House'.

The School was opened in 1710 and Richard Comberbach and his wife taught there together. The grave of the first master, John Meir (Mear) can be found in the churchyard near the big yew tree.

In his will, written in 1720, he left money for the provision and maintenance of a school teacher, or teachers, to teach the children of the poor within the Parish of Lower Peover. At his wife's request, some money was to be designated for building repairs and for classroom materials. And so in 1722, it became an endowed school registered as an educational charity under the title of 'Foundation of Richard Cumberbach and Wife' and managed by the Trustees. A copy of the will is framed and hangs in the church. The original is at the Cheshire Records Office in Chester. He died in 1722 and is buried in the Churchyard.

Richard Comberbach, with his wife, also contributed to a fund whereby bread was made available for the poor within the church. These bread shelves can be seen, near the font. 

From that time until 1874 the vicar of St. Oswald's Church was also the senior master of the school. This changed within the Education Act of 1870 and since the death of Rev. John Holme, who was vicar from 1829 to 1874 the Head Teacher has been a layperson.

During the long time that the Rev. Holme was Headmaster, the school grew in numbers. the girls were taught in a school building which was on the site of what is now 'The Old Vicarage' (currently a private dwelling). Boys were taught in the School. In the late 1870's a new school was built which had a house attached to it for the Headmaster to live in ('School House') and this situation continued until 1974. Since then the school has been extended.

 The old School was then used for various purposes including an Apprentice Training centre and again as a classroom. Since 1971 it has been privately owned and its uses have included being a private dwelling house, and since 1993, a school once again - a private Nursery School (The Little House). When the old School was sold, proceeds went to the Trust, and became part of the endowment.

In 1984 the school Governors became a separate body from the Trustees.

At the present time the Trustees comprise the current incumbent of St. Oswald's Church who is a Nominative Trustee (ex-officio); two Co-optative Trustees; and others elected by the Parish Councils representing the villages within the Parish of St. Oswald's Church, that is - Allostock, Plumley, Nether Peover, and Peover Inferior. The Trustees appoint from among themselves a Chairman and a Treasurer. The Correspondent is not a Trustee. One Trustee also sits as a School Governor.

The Trustees meet routinely twice a year together, and once a year jointly with the School Governors and also for additional meetings as necessary. They provide annual accounts to the Parish Councils. The Trustees continue to have a responsibility towards maintaining the fabric of Lower Peover School, 'School House' and adjacent land. Their aim is to support Lower Peover School in all respects.

The above piece was compiled mostly from the booklet 'Beside the Bright Stream' by the Rev. Canon J. Sladden; 'The Life of the Rev John Holme' by the rev. C K Dean, and from the archives at the Cheshire Records Office.

Sally Geake

Correspondent to the Richard Comberbach Trust

March 2005 & February 2015