A Taste of Schooling in The Wolfords
The Nineteenth Century witnessed a tremendous improvement in the availability of schools and schooling for ordinary children. That it was necessary and effective is demonstrated by the number of marriage partners, born and married in the Wolfords who, when married, merely marked the Register with a cross. From about 1760 to 1800 between 70-80% of bridegrooms and 50-60 % of brides could not sign their name. After 1894 all were signing! The last "X" in the Registers is that of John Hyatt married on 29th December 1894.
The Census Returns indicate the number of children actually attending school from 1841 onwards. In 1841 less that half the children aged between 3-14 were recorded as scholars. By 1891 the figure was 60%. In 1891 85% of the 3-10 year olds attended but only 31% of the 11-13 group. Most children left school quite early. It was only in 1891 that elementary education was provided free. A note in the School Log Book in October 1891 says "The Managers having agreed to accept the Fee Grant no further fees in future payable by the scholars".
The details of schools in the Wolfords before 1874 are somewhat sparse. No doubt some form of schooling was available prior to the first written evidence thereof. And was probably undertaken by the local curate. In 1819 the Report of the Select Committee on Education of the Lower Orders records that in Great Wolford "A Day School (i.e. a Dame School) kept by a woman and consisting of about twenty children, who are paid for by their parents ; and in Little Wolford there is a Day School, containing about twelve .... The inhabitants of Great Wolford have the advantage of sending their children free to a School established on Dr Bell's plan at Moreton. The poor of Little Wolford would be grateful for any assistance in the education of their children". By 1835 it was reported that in Great Wolford there was "one daily school (commenced 1821) containing 24 males and 38 females " and in Little Wolford "one daily school in which 33 children of both are instructed. There are successive references thereafter and in 1891, when schooling became free, Lady Phillips' School in Little Wolford was closed and the children of both villages attended the school at Great Wolford.
Of the earliest schools little can be said of the whereabouts of the buildings . The 1819 Report listed the Wolford schools but said nothing of the buildings in which they took place. Their locations are unknown.
In 1835 the School in Great Wolford was "a neat School, with a house for the master ....... Erected by the late Lord Redesdale". This is, in fact, the single building, formerly two red-brick cottages opposite the old post office and now known as "The Old School House". In 1874 the School opposite the Church in Great Wolford , now two separate dwellings , "The Millstone" and "The Old School" , was opened and operated for a hundred years. The Log Book records the opening day on 6th July 1874. The Schoolmaster "commenced duties ........ At 9 a.m. Number present 27 morning and afternoon". It finally closed in 1975.
Little is known about the history of Teachers House except that it was the residence of Mrs Innes from 1890 and there is a note in the Stratford Herald published 20th Jan 1905 that "Teachers House at Great Wolford is held on a lease from Lord Redesdale for 21 years from January 1st 1904, determinable at the option of the Committee at the end of the 14th or 21st year, and not on an annual tenancy as previously reported. The Sites and Buildings Sub-Committee are now giving the enlargement of the house their attention and they will report in due course to the Education Committee". Although a teacher was resident in Great Wolford at least from the 1841 Census there is no indication as to when Teachers House became "the official residence" although 1874/5 would seem a fair guess and prior to that it was probably one part of the now "Old School House" which were, until quite recently, two semi-detached cottages.
In Little Wolford there is no such direct evidence. The Gentlemans Magazine of 1846 indicates that the Little Wolford Manor House was "judiciously restored" . It is likely that the Little Wolford school was in the Manor House and was probably housed there until 1891. Certainly in June 1872, the Education Dept. acknowledged that Lady Phillips School in Little Wolford was adequate for the schooling of 50 pupils and in White's 1874 Directory "a school is held in the Hall and is supported by L:ady Phillips".
Little about what was taught before 1871 is known for sure. Perhaps the most important fact about the Schools, certainly that in Great Wolford, was that it was very much a Church School. The Vicars were doubtless the major influence on the schools policy . The following timetable gives a taster of the curriculum in the 1880's. It would seem that the timetable was for the boys. The girls had sewing lessons, on Monday, Wednesday & Friday, from 3.00 to 4.20pm.
Broadly, the Christian faith and morality and the three R's: reading, writing and arithmetic were the three types of knowledge imparted. There is , I believe, evidence that the former two considerations were more emphasis than the latter. For instance, after the 1870 Education Act, when the State attempted to provide schooling of a defined standard for all children, the Rev George Domville Wheeler was most concerned to retain control of the School rather than surrender control to a secular School Board. He wrote to the National Society in July 1874, that "he would be very grateful to the N.S. if they would aid him in struggling successfully under any difficulties to resist the introduction of a School Board into his Parish".
MONDAY & FRIDAY
TUESDAY & THURSDAY
|9.00-9.15||Prayers, scriptures, register||Prayers, scriptures, register||Prayers, scriptures, register|
|9.15-9.25||Home lessons & tables||Home lessons & tablesp;||Home lessons & tables|
|11.20-12.00||Scriptures, Prayer Book & Catechism, Grace & dismissal||Scriptures, Prayer Book & Catechism, Grace & dismissal||Scriptures, Prayer Book & Catechism, Grace & dismissal|
|12.00-2.00||Dinner Break||Dinner Break||Dinner Break|
|2.00-3.00||Grace, Register & Arithmetic||Grace, Register & Arithmetic||Grace, Register & Arithmetic|
|4.20-4.30||Home lessons, Prayers, Tables & Dismissal||Home lessons, Prayers, Tables & Dismissal||Home lessons, Prayers, Tables & Dismissal|
The annual cost of the School in Great Wolford had increased from £46 to £106 between 1871 and 1875. Of this increase £35 was the cost of employing a Certificated Mistress i.e. a qualified teacher as required by the Act. It was, then, only under pressure that a relatively competent teacher was afforded! One of the conditions attached to a grant from the National Society was "the Children are to be instructed ion the Holy Scriptures, and in the Liturgy and Catechism of the Established Church". There were no non-religious conditions! In 1903, a later Vicar, the Rev. Reade wrote that if the School was transferred to County Council control he would "feel disposed to withdraw from it altogether, and it is possible that I may retire from the Parish".
The children would have been unaware of this background but the School log-books tell us a great deal about the consequences for the children. Weekly entries record the Vicar attending the school to take scripture lessons. There is an endless sequence of entries showing the children going to Church on various Saint's Days and Church Festivals. The achievement of this effort is recorded annually in the reports of the Diocesan Inspectors of Education who reported on the religious activities. The Children were doubtless prepared in advance for these visits which always took place early in the year. The report for 1894 says "the work of the infant division was excellent. Division II was excellent all through, oral and written alike being of a high order. In Division III the oral work was excellent The written work requires practice in the Upper Standards. They should be able to write answers to questions on the rest of the work as well as the catechisms, etc...." The Inspector goes on "I must say a word about the singing . It is seldom or never in a small country school I find singing of the class that is found in Wolford. The altos took their parts truly and correctly and as a man brought up to music and regarding it as I do, as an important educational factor, I am very glad to find it so thoroughly and carefully attended to".
Poetry was certainly given more emphasis than it is to day but as an opportunity to read and write rather than understand. Recital was valued. This in indicated by the examination requirements of pupil teachers. They were recruited to assist Certificated teachers and started their "on-the-job" training at the age of 13 and continued for five years. They were expected after the second year to repeat 50 consecutive lines of poetry with just expression and knowledge of the meaning. Presumably this was a skill they were required to pass on! Inspectors' reports reveal performance detail. Thus the Inspector's Report for 1897 says "the older children still read and write in a monotonous manner, but a successful attempt has been made to remedy this defect in the case of the younger children and it is hoped that the other mechanical elements in this teaching will disappear in time". The implication is, I think, that the children could recite but not understand.
I wonder what the Victorian children thought about poetry? Unfortunately I know of no source which gives clues and the children on the receiving end of this teaching are long since departed.
The Vicar was as I have previously indicated, perhaps the most important. But what of the Managers? They are known from the surviving Managers' Minute Book , the first entry of which is of a meeting at the Vicarage in April 1894. Apart from the Vicar, then the Rev. W.C.Wheeler, the two named governors are Mr W.H Warriner and Mr G Shepard. Mr Warriner was the steward of the Countess of Camperdown (and, in fact, attended the meetings of several local schools, presumably as a Manager representing the Countess) whilst Mr Shepard was a substantial farmer , living in Great Wolford and working about 250 acres. Both were substantial and influential people.
Throughout the 1890's the Head Teacher was Mrs Clarissa Innes. She commenced her duties in September, 1890 at the Great Wolford school. Her salary was £65 p.a. together with a house and garden free of rent and taxes. She was born Emily Clarissa Fowler in 1845, the third daughter of James Fowler, a tailor and Mary, his wife. Clarissa was a pupil teacher at Cheltenham Normal School and was aged 22 when certificated in 1867. She married Charles Innes, a stonemason, in Cheltenham, in 1868 and taught in Gloucestershire and Somerset before she arrived in the Wolfords, an experienced teacher, aged 45, in 1890. She brought with her husband Charles, four children Maggie aged 17, Leopold, 14, Vivian 7 and Ethel, 5. Neither her eldest daughter, Beatrice nor Adelaide, aged 16, come with her. Clarissa was, without doubt, a good teacher as as successive Inspector's reports reveal. In 1893, the Diocesan Inspector wrote "I have the pleasure of congratulating Mrs Innes and her daughter Maggie and the Managers ......... upon the marked improvement that has been made since my last visit in 1891". Notice daughter Maggie! She was the Assistant Teacher and resigned in May 1898 to go to "a better post after serving the school for 5 years". Youngest daughter Ethel was appointed Monitor in February 1898 aged 12. It is fairly certain that Mr Innes was the Church Organist and in May 1892 he attended the Ruri-decanal Conference as the Wolford's representative. In short, the Innes family were very much a part of the Wolford's scene. Clarissa's demise is therefore all the more surprising.
In February 1899, the new Vicar, the Rev. Reade, was appointed Correspondent and Treasurer. At this meeting Mrs Innes was given an increase in salary. By May 1900, at the instigation of Reade, the advisability of appointing a master was discussed and in July it was resolved to "give the usual three months notice to the school mistress with the option of resignation on account of her service". Mrs Innes responded in July. The Managers considered her letter "very uncalled for and objectionable in its tone and terms". Unfortunately there is no evidence extant as to the reasons for dismissa! If only the letter had survived? Her last entry in the Log Book of 24th August, 1900.
During her period as Principal Teacher, Clarissa Innes was assisted by a number of Assistant Teachers, Monitors and other helpers. The Education Department's "New Code of Regulations (1873)" stipulated that Assistant Teachers must have acquired some examination success and must be subject to continuous assessment by both His Majesty's Inspectors and from the Principal Teacher of their School. There were two such Assistants in the 1890's. A log-book entry in March 1892 records the appointment of Clarissa's daughter, Margaret (Maggie) Innes, aged 19. A meeting of the School Managers in May 1895 Maggie proffered her resignation which was accepted - but it never happened for a subsequent entry in April 1898 indicates "Alice Neville, from Todenham, on trial to fill the post ...... now Miss M Innes resigning for a better post after serving in this School for five years".
It is unfortunate that so little is known of Maggie's later career. The log-books show her standing in competently on several occasions in her mother's absence. But mother would think so, wouldn't she?
Alice was the daughter of Richard Neville, carpenter of Todenham and was born in 1873 so was 25 on appointment. Both her grandfather and great grandfather had been Parish Clerks in Todenham and her father had died in 1895 predeceasing his own father. Alice's report in 1900 reads "Alice Neville, who is fit to teach, has been good and has been obedient, diligent and attentive". However, in May she gave a month's notice but agreed to stay till the end of the school year. This was held in obeyance till Mrs Innes' position was resolved but, in July "Alice "did not wish to remain and she would leave at the same time as Mrs Innes". Alice's family, now fatherless , had decided to move to London. Alice taught for a brief period at Earls Court, London, prior to to her marriage to a Mr Thomas Forrest in 1903 but did not teach afterwards.
The later careers of Maggie and Alice are very interesting as in late Victorian times teaching was one of the few ways in which a woman could use her potential adequately and rise up the social scale.
Successively during the 1890's, Clementina Hunt, Mary Leicester, Nellie Shepard, Maggie Shepard, Ethel Innes, Jane Edgington and Florence Shepard were appointed monitors. They seem to have been appointed aged 13-14 years and were obviously chosen from among the more able pupils. They were paid e.g Florence was paid £5 p,a, when appointed in 1910. Little else is revealed about these children. There is only occasional reference to them in the log-books. In June 1894 Mrs Innes wrote "The monitress (Clementina) finished her work on Friday after a year of careful and thorough teaching.. In November 1894 "the little ones were particularly troublesome, the monitress (Mary) does not appear to have much control over them". Again in June 1895 "Nellie Shepard, the monitress in the infant teaching is rather too sharp. I have spoken to her as several of the parishioners complain that they have some difficulty in getting the little ones to school". It is perhaps interesting that three of the monitors were from the Shepard family. George Shepard was, of course, one of the school managers and I believe that at least two of the monitors were his daughters!
Another familiar name occurring in the records is that of Mr Dormer, the visiting Drawing Master for a short period in 1891/2. Nothing to do with Dormer House School since the building did not get its name until the late 1960's, when a profit making trust took over the School, inserted a large dormer window in the roof and renamed it Dormer House!
During the early part of the nineteenth century the provision of adequate school places , trained teachers and free instruction were consecutively the subject of major debates and subsequent policy changes. By 1891 these problems had been more or less resolved. A log-book entry in 1891 reveals "The managers having agreed to accept the Fee Grant, no further fees are in future payable by the Scholars".
The problem then was to ensure that children took advantage of the schooling that was available. Today we would think attendance would be universally accepted . Unfortunately the argument was not quite so clear cut.
In evidence to the Royal Commission on the Employment of Children, Young Persons and Wommen in Agriculture in 1869, the Church Teachers' Association said of Warwickshire that "the age of children leaving school is under 10 on the average". Mr Norman, the Assistant Commissioner, discussed possible reason for the poor attendances. He felt the supply of school accommodation was satisfactory, considered what was taught acceptable and that a school fee of 1d to 2d a week was no deterrent as "the poor do not value what they pay nothing for". On the other hand, "the indisposition of the parents to forgo the child's labour labour forms everywhere a serious obstacle to education" and "in almost every parish will be found some parents who are utterly indifferent to education". Few farmers "think that a man is a better labourer if he has been educated". The Rev.W.M.Sherwood deprecated "most earnestly any attempt to force education". Mr Norman finally goes on to advocate a plan to make "the permission to earn wages dependent upon the proficiency attained by the child at school ..... It makes for the interest of both the parent and the employer that the child should be educated; the sooner the child attains the requisite proficiency the sooner the income of the family will be increased by the child's earnings". By the mid 1890's, this latter idea had been adopted nationally and strict guidelines were laid down in byelaws by School Boards or School Attendance Committees.
The 1870 Education Act provided for School Attendance Committes to be established . In the Shipston Union, under which the Wolfords were administered, the School Attendance Committee was appointed in April 1877. The Minutes reveal an ongoing debate about the formulation of the requisite byelaws. In 1884, the Rev.J.W.Caldicott, Vicar of Shipston, wrote to the Chairman of the Board of Guardians, advocating a tightening up of the administration of the system. Under the then byelaw, children could leave school any time between the ages of 10 and 13 provided they had passed Standard IV examinations. Also "a child over 10 "shown to the satisfaction of the Local Authority to be beneficially and necessarily employed , shall not be required to attend school for more than 150 attendances each year, if such a child had received a certificate from oine of His Majesty's Inspectors that it has reached the Third Standard".
The Fourth Standard required a child to read "a few lines of poetry selected by the Inspector", to write "a sentence slowly dictated once, by a few words at a time, from a reading book" and to compute "Compound Rules (common weights and measures)". Scarcely advanced?
There had been many participants in the education debate. Liberal politicians alone had, as their essential objective, mastering the three R's. The Churches, both Anglican and Non-Conformist, seemed preoccupied with the nature of religious instruction and fought each other continuously throughout the 19C and so delayed educational developments. Farmers and landowners were often primarily concerned with the supply of farm labour. With their "superiors" at odds, ordinary people could be excused from wholehearted support. They had little opportunity to make their feelings known, other than by direct action. Few dared. The Hyatts did!
The Log Book for 29th June, 1886 records "I (i.e. Mr Davies, the School Master) consulted my Managers today about the payment of School Fees and the trouble I have with most of the parents every Monday morning. The conclusion - "send them home for their money as they are not properly sent to school minus their fees and if they stay away or are kept, then write to the School Attendance Officer, compel them to attend and if employed in contravention of the Act they must be proceeded against and be made to know better".
Davies then wrote to the Attendance Officer concerning Alfred Hyattt, aged 8, who the previous day had been employed on the land. He came this morning without his fee (his parents live just round the corner from the School). I sent him for his money; now not only did he not return to school but was sent up to a field to work, sent by his father (George Hyatt), the Carrier. The father this way defies all authority and school law and openly declines, in a boasting and bumptious way " I'll have any of my young 'uns whenever I like. I don't care about the law. I'll have them ...... And ther's another thing. I won't pay more than I like ........ They're my children and I'll do as I like with them", I'll have any of my young 'uns whenever I like. I don't care about the law. I'll have 'em..... And ther's another thing, I won't pay more than I like... ...... They're my children and I'll do as I like with them. Later in August, "George Hyatt has absolutely refused and defied the Managers and the Attendance Committee. He will neither pay nor send his children regularly to school unless he likes. In order to evade, he has send Rose, the elder girl, to Evesham to live with her Aunt there; and as he objects to pay only what he deems proper i.e 1d a child & 1œd in case of the oldest, they have left the School. Both myself and my wife have taken a great deal of pains with, and been invariably kind to them as well as to the parents. Some time ago I drew up a paper of appeal to the public to enable him to buy a new horse to carry on his business as a "carrier". This he is enabled to do, but declares he is not in trade at all, in order to make out that he is but a labourer and in order to pay the school fees of a labourer. He maybe poor, but he is in trade, and need not be so insolent, as we have given him no cause, more than demanding regularity". Poor Davies! I suspect that he was reluctantly pursuing the Managers' requirements but actually sympathised with Hyatt. Davies recommended a revision of the scale of School Fees to the Managers and resigned in August, 1886 leaving finally in January 1887.
Davies then wrote to the Attendance Officer concerning Alfred Hyattt, aged 8, who the previous day had been employed on the land. He came this morning without his fee (his parents live just round the corner from the School). I sent him for his money; now not only did he not return to school but was sent up to a field to work, sent by his father (George Hyatt), the Carrier. The father this way defies all authority and school law and openly declines, in a boasting and bumptious way " I'll have any of my young 'uns whenever I like. I don't care about the law. I'll have them ...... And ther's another thing. I won't pay more than I like ........ They're my children and I'll do as I like with them", I'll have any of my young 'uns whenever I like. I don't care about the law. I'll have 'em..... And ther's another thing, I won't pay more than I like... ...... They're my children and I'll do as I like with them. Later in August, "George Hyatt has absolutely refused and defied the Managers and the Attendance Committee. He will neither pay nor send his children regularly to school unless he likes. In order to evade, he has send Rose, the elder girl, to Evesham to live with her Aunt there; and as he objects to pay only what he deems proper i.e 1d a child & 1 1/2d in case of the oldest, they have left the School. Both myself and my wife have taken a great deal of pains with, and been invariably kind to them as well as to the parents. Some time ago I drew up a paper of appeal to the public to enable him to buy a new horse to carry on his business as a "carrier". This he is enabled to do, but declares he is not in trade at all, in order to make out that he is but a labourer and in order to pay the school fees of a labourer. He maybe poor, but he is in trade, and need not be so insolent, as we have given him no cause, more than demanding regularity". Poor Davies! I suspect that he was reluctantly pursuing the Managers' requirements but actually sympathised with Hyatt. Davies recommended a revision of the scale of School Fees to the Managers and resigned in August, 1886 leaving finally in January 1887.
Hyatt family intransigence continued. In December 1890, "May Hyatt was absent from Monday throughout the week. She had leave of absence as her mother was ill and she was required to take care of a young child". May was 7 years old and the child was probably brother Bob aged 2! Mother was expecting Elsie! In October 1893, Edgar had "been playing truant for the past fortnight Reported the case to the Vicar". In November, 1893, "Caroline Hyatt returned to school after an absence of seven months". In December 1896 "There is still much irregularity in the Hyatt family tho' they have been cautioned by the Attendance Officer. In June 1897, His Majesty's Inspector "visited on Thursday to examine six children requiring labour certificates. All were passed except for Edgar Hyatt". Finally in July 1897 "V Hyatt met with an accident on Thursday while working in his father's garden and broke his arm".
Should we sympathise with George? Was he acting in the best interests of his own family? Certainly he was poor and his family large. No-one had convinced him that schooling was "value for money". He was independent and not easily bullied! No blacks and whites, only shades of grey?
There were, of course, other reasons why children were not present at school lessons.
Firstly, there were numerous sad occasions. In February 1891 "It is very doubtful whether John Franklin can recover so terrible is the weakness at the present into which he has relapsed........ John Franklin removed to Moreton Hospital". In July he "re-entered having been absent since Christmas ". He is obliged to be placed in the 1st Standard". Also, in February, Joseph Franklin, aged 4, presumably John's younger brother, was "admitted on Monday, came to school two days and is now away with the measles". The 1891 Census shows the children's mother to be a widow, aged 43 and housekeeper to Joseph Lyddiatt, a widowed carpenter. In November 1896, "Ernest Phillips, one of the 4th Standard boys after three days illness died on Thursday. His death was felt very keenly by teachers and children".
Secondly, there were many holidays on special occasions. Typical to the Wolfords were the "Wakes". In Great Wolford it was held on the third Monday in October. Apart from the entry above little is known of these occasions. Mrs Lucy, the post master's daughter in the early years of this century, told me of the excitement of Curtis's Circus which appeared in the village but little else. Little Wolford also enjoyed a Wake held on the Tuesday following Whit Monday.
The Log-book entry for 17th October 1884 which reads, "A holiday was given on Monday it being Wolford wake and many of the friends of the children had come to see them and their parents. Spoke to the Managers about this and it was thought advisable to give the day. Tuesday was the day on which the Shipston Fair and Annual Bull Roast took place; this year there was also one on the same day in Moreton".
May Day was celebrated. In April 1886, the children "are all excitement about their May Day festival. The assemble tomorrow morning at 8 or thereabouts ......... in order to let the children go to gather flowers for their May garlands, I have had school till half past one today commencing at nine with an interval of a quarter of an hour ............... on Saturday the children enjoyed themselves as usual on May day, carrying around their May Day garland and money boxes. The collected £1/0s/5d and after defraying the cost of their tea, cake, etc which they heartily and thoroughly enjoyed, the balance was divided amongst the children. Many of the got 8d each and all got some (none less than 2d); it was decided according to their standing in the school ........... The attention to the children by the ladies, the Misses Wheeler, Miss Chetwynd and the Misses Bull and Mrs Wheeler was very great and was evidently much though of by the children. After their usual games in Mr Bull's Homestall the children reassembled and again partook of cake, bread and butter and biscuits given by the Misses and Mr Bull. Then songs & dismissed". These are photographs of the assembled children in 1897 and of the may-pole.
Oddly enough, little is said of Christmas in the log-books - the children's treat seems to have been held in February! The Parish Magazine for 1892 says "For years past it has been the custom to have a Christmas Tree in the School Room at Great Wolford, preceded by a tea for the young children of the Parish ..... Many of the farmers sent contributions of cake, tea, butter, etc and an excellent tea was thus provided, to which over 70 children sat down and seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. After tea came an interval of about an hour and then the tree was lighted up. It was the same tree which a few weeks before had done duty at the Moreton Sale of Work, and which was a particularly good and shapely specimen. Now planted in a cartwheel, it had grown a great crop of useful presents and oranges, sweets, flags and ordainments of various kinds. For some weeks past the ladies at the Vicarage and the Misses Bull had been making pretty caps, aprons, etc for the children every one of whom now received some present from the tree. The oranges and sweets were next stripped off and then the tapers which had not by this time burnt themselves out were extinguished. Before the children went to their respective homes, each of them carried off a big bun, Miss Fanny and Miss Helen Bull having very kindly provided them for all the little people. We were sorry not to see more of the parents appear to see the Christmas Tree. When lighted up it was in itself a very pretty sight, and we should have thought that their children's pleasure would have been an even stronger attraction. Perhaps another year more of them will come".
Circa 1901, from an article by Judy Steele in "Farmers Weekly" in 1977
Wolford School Concert, circa 1918.
L to R: Bertram Barrett (LW), Eddie Harris (GW), John Dyer (GW), Alfred Hall (LW), "Fatty"
King (GW), Archer Gilbert (GW), Lesley Hemming (GW), Bert Collins (headmaster's son)