The Parish Records of Bexhill, held at the East Sussex Records Office, show, however, that there were schools in the late 1700s and it’s reasonable to assume that there were schools earlier.
For instance, the “Overseers’ Accounts”, of 1779, show that there was a “Free School”, paid for by the parish but which, probably, took in many paying scholars. In 1781, the Parish Records tell us about an independent school, run by the Curate of Bexhill, Henry Barwick.
As can be see from the long lists of schools, they played an important part in the history and development of Bexhill and had a considerable social and economic impact. The extraordinary length of the platforms at Bexhill Central Railway Station was said to have been built to cater for the arrival and departure en masse of hundreds of children, although actually this was due to the 1902 station being only slightly further up the line than the 1891 station so what we have is two sets of platforms joined together.
Bexhill at the end of the 19th century was a fashionable, new resort with a reputation for its health giving environment and this seems to have precipitated an academic ‘gold rush’. Many small ‘dame schools’ were established in private houses and the larger ones that prospered moved, later, into purpose-built facilities. Many of the children who boarded in Bexhill were sons or daughters of people working overseas in all parts of the British Empire and this strengthened the Town’s colonial links. The schools were evacuated during World War II and some never returned but, perhaps, a more serious blow to Bexhill’s Independent schools was the break-up of the Empire, following 1947.