Elizabeth Allfree

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Elizabeth Allfree (Simmons)

Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Seaford, East Sussex, UK
Death: 1850 (84)
Lewes, Sussex, UK
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Thomas Simmons
Wife of Edward Allfree
Mother of Elizabeth Allfree; Ann Allfree; Mary Allfree; Thomas Robert Allfree; William Allfree and 7 others

Occupation: Teacher and Co-ed Boarding School Proprietress
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Elizabeth Allfree

1783 Married at 17 years old.

"The teachers provide an amazing collection of biographies, including.............*Elizabeth Allfree, who married at 17, had 13 children, and ran her successful co-educational school;

The School House in Windmill Hill appears originally to have been built in the early Seventeenth Century as a farmhouse. It was purchased in 1766 by Edward Allfree, who founded there a school which had the distinction of being the first co-educational boarding school in Britain - pre-dating by some 125 years the founding of Bedales which currently lays claim to that title.

Allfree had previously been a surveyor and draughtsman, and these subjects took a prominent place in the boys' curriculum.

His wife Elizabeth* taught the girls needlework, music and French.

The experiment proved an immediate success, and over 40 children were registered at any given time as boarders, along with many local day pupils. The school was renowned for its extravagant balls, intended as recruitment drives, and for its excellent food, which earned it the title of "Gluttony Hall". In 1777, fees for girls were 13 guineas - "tea and sugar included" - while boys paid 16 guineas, which included special tuition for university entrance.

1790 Highlighted the teaching of French.

1793 February France had declared war, and the Allfrees noted "As the French language is now become almost a necessary part of education, they take this opportunity of informing the public that they have engaged a gentleman, who has taken his degrees in the University of Paris, to superintend that branch of literature." They added: "The Classics are taught by a Clergyman of the University of Cambridge..." (Source: Sussex Schools in the 18th c, by John Caffyn)

  • 1822 "Copy books of Richard Lamb and Richard Bodle, pupils at Mrs Allfree's school at Herstmonceux (including maps of Mrs Bromley's heirs' Woolpack Fields and Mrs Allfree's Harlots, Chapmans and Chickmot in Herstmonceux), 1822;

[Source; AMS5879 ,The National Archives, London]

Elizabeth owned the school up to 1839.

The school flourished into the 1850s under the direction of Allfree's eldest son. Afterwards it passed through a succession of hands until competition from the free local church schools led to its closure at about the time of the First World War. The Allfree dynasty continued for many years elsewhere, however, as five of Edward Allfree's 14 children went on to found schools in their own right.

1841 UK Brighton Census Elizabeth was living in Brighton with son John, and granddaughter Sarah Emily McSwiney.

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Elizabeth Allfree's Timeline

Seaford, East Sussex, UK
July 1784
Age 18
Herstmonceux, East Sussex, UK
January 1786
Age 20
Herstmonceux, East Sussex, UK
April 1787
Age 21
Herstmonceux, Sussex, UK
June 1788
Age 22
Herstmonceux, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Age 23
Herstmonceux, East Sussex, UK
Age 25
Herstmonceux, East Sussex, UK
April 1792
Age 26
September 1794
Age 28
Herstmonceux, East Sussex, England