The seed from which Great Maplestead School grew dates back to 1836, the vision of a lady named Mrs Mary Gee (described as "a lady of large figure and of a bountiful heart" ).
She started a charity school, at which time there was already a Dame School, a Straw Plaiting School and a Church/Sunday School in the village.
It wasn't until 1863, when a Mr G R Hanbury presented a piece of land to Mrs Gee that the present school was built, entirely at her own expense. Mrs Gees dream became reality. The school was presented to the parish and the Vicar and the churchwardens became trustees; this is why the school adopted the name of the church, and became known as St Giles' Church of England School.
Open to both boys and girls from the age of 4, who were taught scripture, prayer, composition, dictation, and needle skills for the girls. Students would have spent their whole school life at St Giles', until 1943 when Hedingham Senior School was completed.
Much has changed over the years; the school was originally made up of 2 classrooms downstairs and upstairs was the school teacher's accommodation. Open fires were the only form of heating until the 1950's. Central heating didn't arrive until in 1985. The school's first phone was installed in 1955 and running water was not supplied until 1958. The inside toilet block was built in 1973 and in more recent years we are proud to have added a magnificent school hall and 3 new classrooms (all heated, with toilets, running water, computers & whiteboards!!).
We hope Mrs Gee would be proud to see her school today, a school which still holds a high profile within the community and has a dedicated workforce still building on the foundations she laid.