The Schoolroom was first opened in 1862 by Cornishman James Bailey Bassett (1810-1875) who taught here until his untimely death aged 64. It was located next to his first school (and home) called Buckland House Academy which he and his first wife Ann had opened in 1847. His second wife Mary continued to run Bassett School and Buckland House until her death in 1889.
During the 1890s the Schoolroom became a Church of England School, known as St Stephen’s School under Ella Hawkens. It was purchased by the District Council of Willunga in 1896 and served as Council Chamber and meeting room until 1962. After further use as Council depot and library storage area, the building was leased to the Willunga branch of the National Trust of South Australia and underwent major restoration in 1988.
Under the care of the National Trust it was used for a variety of purposes, including as a music studio and art gallery, before reverting to its original purpose as a schoolroom.
As well as running the Willunga Courthouse and Slate Museum, the National Trust also run a school learning program here called ‘Mr Bassett’s Schoolroom’ that has been developed to support teaching of Year 3 History in an authentic heritage setting. The program focuses on continuity and change in the Australian experience of school over 150 years. It has been designed to enable teachers and students to reflect on how schools and education have changed in their own area over time, as well as the shifting role of symbols and emblems in the identity and heritage of their local area.