History of the Old Girls' School 

The land for the Girls’ School on Kirkgate in Sherburn in Elmet came from the estate of Lady Ashtown, formerly Elizabeth Gascoigne, and her husband Frederick Mason Trench. The Gascoignes have had a long presence in local history and were noted for their charitable works and commitment to education. In 1874, a School Board of five members was formed for the school district of Sherburn in Elmet, with the aspiration of providing a school for girls and infants.


Through the generosity of the Gascoigne sisters, Mary Isabella and Elizabeth, a plot of land was provided for building the Girls school in Sherburn. The project was taken on by the Sherburn School Board and tenders for the building of the school on that land were issued by Wm Ellis, Architect, on Sat 18 September 1875.


The school opened in 1876 at a cost of £2,000. It had a capacity for 268 pupils; a large number for the size of the village at that time. It continued to serve the village as a first-class educational establishment, educating many of the older residents of the village, until the new Hungate school opened and the old school closed in 1978.


The building was later used by by the successor local education authority, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), as offices for social services. NYCC vacated the premises at the end of 2013 and the property was put on the open market with the potential it would be demolished for housing.

Our Story

In early 2013, a number of local residents came together and decided to create a group called ‘Friends of the Old Girls’ School’ (FOGS) to try and preserve and protect the facility for the community. Many had been educated at the school themselves. 


Local residents then formed Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust (re-named Sherburn and Villages Community Trust in 2023), which was able to secure funding and support to transform the building for community use.


The Old Girls' School was completely renovated and opened for use on 1st September 2018. Read more below.


Transformed for community use

Browse some of the photos below showing the transformation of this building.




Friends of the Old Girls' School formed when it became clear the building was likely to be sold. The purpose of FOGS was to preserve the building for community use.


Late 2013

North Yorkshire County Council vacated the premises at the end of 2013 and the property was put on the open market with the potential it would be demolished for housing.



Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust (SIECT) was formed as a registered charity by local residents in 2016 with two objectives:

  1. To ensure that Sherburn in Elmet library would continue to operate successfully as a community managed facility.
  2. To facilitate, together with FOGS, the conversion of the former Old Girls' School into a Community Centre.

Read more about SIECT, including its successes and current aims, on the Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust website.


Early 2017

Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust (SIECT) negotiated leases for both the library and Old Girls' School by April 2017.


April 2017

The library successfully became community operated in April 2017 thanks to dozens of volunteers to help run the facility.


Spring / Summer 2017

The Friends of the Old Girls' School now moved forward with drawing up proposals and fund raising to convert the building into a community centre and tearooms. SIECT made a number of applications for grant funding using its strength as a community-wide group to support its case and was rewarded with early success with a grant from Tesco Bags of Help to develop the garden area at the front of the building. Meanwhile a former outbuilding at the rear was leased out and developed as a Childrens Nursery, thus bringing in some much needed income.


Autumn 2017

In the Autumn of 2017 we were awarded National Lottery funding for the refurbishment of the building and also to enable us to run the community centre for 3 years with paid staff so that we will not have to rely entirely on volunteers. Additional funding was also obtained from Selby District Council.


September 2018

On the 1st September 2018 the Old Girls' School Community Centre and Tearoom became fully operational. A new Management of the Old Girls' School Group (MOGS) provides Operational Management. The Friends of the Old Girls' School Group (FOGS) continues to provide support and fundraising activities.


The building provides a wide range of community acitivities including exercise classes and activities to help tackle social isolation. Room hire helps generate an income, as does leases from the Childcare and Tearoom.

Contact us

Please contact us if you have any questions about our history, how you can help or volunteer, or if you have any enquiries about events or room hire.