Until about 150 years ago the majority of the population of Purley received no education other than a parent passing on skills to its children. Throughout mediaeval times the only literate person in the village would have been the parson who probably also served as the clerk to the lord of the manor. Towards the end of the 18th century however we see the rector holding classes for the children at the rectory and, following the Education Act of 1870, proper schooling being provided, at first only for the younger children but later for all age groups.

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