It took a long time for the educational needs of the village children of Ashwater to be recognised. The Council School in the photograph above was not built until 1900 although a School Board existed from 1875, charged with the duty of providing education for the children of the village.
There is evidence that a small school room, long since gone, existed on part of the Village Green as early as 1842. This was followed by a school set up by the Bible Christians when they replaced their original Chapel in 1865 - presumably it was thought that even the old chapel was more suitable for the children than the room on the Green.
In 1879, four years after the local School Board was set up, the school based in the chapel was taken over and run as a Board School. It was not a very healthy place. Over time, there were a number of outbreaks of serious illness said to be connected with a contaminated water supply for the school which adjoined the chapel graveyard. In spite of this, physically very little changed but in 1883, a young, well-trained and enthusiastic Head teacher was appointed and he was to remain in this post until 1923, giving 40 years of service to the school.
When he arrived in Ashwater from Cornwall, Charles Alfred Rabley was just 21. He had to wait 17 years before his new school was built, with its water supply coming from a reliable source but it came at last, with decent housing for himself and his growing family and he was to enjoy the conveniences of a modern, purpose-built school for another 13 years before his retirement.