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The construction of Ford Village School was commissioned in 1860 by Louisa Anne, Marchioness of Waterford, the owner of Ford Estate. To aid the village children’s religious education, Louisa spent 21 years painting a series of huge watercolour murals of bible stories to adorn the walls, using her tenants as models. Despite being a Pre-Raphaelite artist of some repute her achievements, like those of so many other female artists, have been overlooked. Yet here in Ford she created something entirely unique; the only school in Britain to have its walls embellished with Pre-Raphaelite art. The building remained in use as a village school until 1957 and despite having as many as 134 local children in attendance in its heyday, the remarkable paintings somehow remained intact.
Today, this former schoolroom is open to the public as the Lady Waterford Hall Museum and the exquisite paintings are carefully preserved. Here you can marvel at Lady Waterford’s astonishing feat, study her sketches and other paintings, learn about her life and how she developed Ford as a ‘model’ village. School furniture has also been preserved, so children can experience something of day-to-day life in a Victorian schoolroom, as well as following an unusual Lego trail.
No admission charge, donations gratefully received
Group rates: suggested donations £3 per person
Lady Waterford Hall open daily, 11:00-16:00, last admission 15.30. Closes at the end of the season on 31st October, 2021.