Ratcliffe House

Photo:Ratcliffe House drawn in 1841 by Charlotte Morice, later Mrs Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe House drawn in 1841 by Charlotte Morice, later Mrs Ratcliffe

Photo:The subscribers' sampler, 1840

The subscribers' sampler, 1840

Photo:Charlotte Morice, self portrait

Charlotte Morice, self portrait

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ratcliffe House' page

43 High Street




Ratcliffe House was built as a school and residence for a schoolmistress on land given by the Vicar and Churchwardens of Ashwell.  It was financed by public subscription, as recorded on an embroidery sampler, dated 1840, which lists the subscribers, headed by The Lord Bishop of London, who gave £10. 


The school was managed by the Vicar’s daughter, Charlotte Morice, who became Mrs Ratcliffe after her marriage to the curate.  Pupils at the school paid for their education by putting coins into a collecting box in the form of a model of the school.  Both the sampler and this model are now to be seen in Ashwell Village Museum.


Following the 1870 Education Act and the building of the Ashwell Board Schools (now Ashwell Primary School), Mrs Ratcliffe’s school was closed.  The house was sold by public auction at the Three Tuns in 1877 – sold for £300.  The school house had been built of clay bats, soft wet clay and straw, pressed into a wooden mould and allowed to dry naturally.  The walls were then rendered.  When it became a private house it was given a brick façade and the original windows and porch were remodelled.


Since 1938 Ratcliffe House has had only three owners.  Mr Barlee, a gentleman of leisure, sailed on a banana boat to the West Indies every winter.  His widowed niece raised her family here and bred whippets.  There were 17 in residence and the house was known as The Dog House when Ian and Sheelagh Stead, archaeologists, took over in 1973.  


The house now (2010) belongs to David and Rachel Williams.

This page was added on 11/01/2011.

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