Every year on her birthday, May 17, the pupils of Staffordshire’s Colwich School hold a celebration to honour her. That’s because Charlotte founded their school in 1827.
She believed all children deserved an education so took it upon herself to open a school, paying for everything herself – teachers’ salaries, books, materials and repairs. The total costs for a year came to £180.
At the time few schools for poor children existed. In 1818, John Pounds set up a school and began teaching poor children reading, writing, and arithmetic and in 1820, Samuel Wilderspin opened the first infant school in Spitalfields.
But Miss Sparrow was not far behind them. She wanted to help her community and made practical plans to do so.
In the meantime, Bishton Hall itself, the epitome of English country house splendour, was transformed thanks to Charlotte. Around 1820, shortly after her father’s death, she added the east and west wings of the house.
She must also have witnessed a mysterious addition to property’s gardens. Built in the first half of the 19th century, they are home to a central fluted Doric screen, one of the largest and finest of its kind in the UK – possibly the world.
However, it’s not known who commissioned the magnificent structure or why. The Doric screen is thought to date back to around 1830. This was a time when wealthy land owners and aristocrats routinely went on a Grand Tour of Europe and came back inspired by the wonders of Athens, Rome and Paris.