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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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John Walling Brooks was born in 1839 in Chulmleigh. He was the son of William Brooks, a tailor and draper in Fore Street, and Sarah, his wife. It has been said that he was educated at Prospect House School in Shebbear and later, that he taught there but when is not known. The 1851 census does not show him as a pupil there nor does the 1861 Census show him as a staff member.

At some point in the 1850s, John Brooks married Amelia Cobbledick, a farmer's daughter from Shebbear. After their marriage, they returned to Chulmleigh to live in High Field House in Leigh Road where they opened a school for boys. They later moved to Rock Hill, a substantial property in the centre of Chulmleigh which they ran as a Boarding School for Boys under the name of Rock Hill Academy.

As the years went by,  John Walling Brooks became a wealthy man. In 1893, he purchased the historic Manor of Chulmleigh, together with the title of lord of the manor. He renamed the place Wallingbrook Hall and moved his popular boys' school to these premises, at the same time changing the name of his school to Wallingbrook School.


  John Walling Brooks

By this time, he had already realised that parents might be looking for a suitable and comparable school for their girls and in the late 1880s he had opened such a school in Hill Field House, his first home in Chulmleigh.  His daughter Annie was appointed  headmistress and her sister Amelia became the school's housekeeper. Many pupils were boarders but both schools took day pupils as well.

In the early years of the 20th century, new buildings were added at Wallingbrook Hall by which time, the girls had moved out of their rather cramped quarters at High Field House into the building at Rock Hill which the boys had once occupied allowing that school too, to expand.

Wallingbrook School, Chulmleigh

When John Walling Brooks died in 1907, Wallingbrook School  passed into the hands of John Powlesland who had married Annie Galsworthy Brooks, the eldest daughter of John and Amelia in 1894. He continued as headmaster throughout the Great War (in which his two sons were killed) through to the 1920s but eventually, the school passed out of his hands.

Under his leadership, boys were prepared for public examinations leading to professional or commercial careers and the pupils who boarded carried on the pattern which John Walling Brooks had laid down of Sunday worship at the nearby Congregational Church .


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