Closure of the Wagstaffe School
The old school in-spectre may go mod – HM30
(Newspaper cutting with “Headmistress Mrs Janie Watts pictured in the playground of the old Harbury infants’ school” and a picture of the school and graveyard)
Harbury’s ghost has deserted. For three centuries the kindly spectre has watched over village children at the Wagstaffe Infants School – using his terrible curse to keep head teachers up to standard.
Now the school has been closed, and next term the 70 children move into an ultra-modern glass and concrete building in Mill Lane.
For 19 years Mrs Janie Watts has been head teacher at the school. She says: “I’m sad to be leaving. The new building is wonderful, all clean and hygiene … but it’ll be another hundred years before it has a bit of soul.”
The phantom is said to be the restless figure of Thomas Wagstaffe, the squire who endowed the school with £21 in 1611. Whenever an unsatisfactory headmaster took charge of the children, Thomas took a ghostly stroll through the school building, where the head lived until 1898.
He met little resistance until the 1750’s, when an unusually stubborn teacher moved in, it is said. He took a dislike to the spectre and lay in wait for him one moonlit night in the deserted schoolroom.
Promptly at midnight the phantom appeared. The quaking teacher shot him with a flintlock … but the ball passed straight through the shadowy figure and buried itself in the schoolroom door. After that Thomas Wagstaffe got pretty well his own way.
He may follow the children to the new building among girders and glass, or stay peacefully in the grave that closed over him 350 years ago.