Mrs Lucy's School Memories
The following was written after discussions with Mrs Lucy in 1985, which I recorded on tape. Mrs Lucy was then 85 years old.
Mrs Lucy's father, George Faulkner, was a furniture manufacturer in Buckinghamshire when, aged 29, he suffered chest trouble, possibly consumption. This was reported to Rev Reade, George's old Vicar but now in Great Wolford. He persuaded George that the better air at Wolford would be to his advantage and, in 1898, George moved here with his young family. He had now to earn a living so was persuaded by Reade to open the first Wolford Post office, becoming the first Postmaster. Mrs Lucy was then only six months old. Her father survived till 1952!
Her earliest memory was starting school at the age of 3 with her friend Nancy Gardner whose father ran the "Fox and Hounds". She remembered her first day because, with Nancy, they thought school was over at lunch-time and played on the Green in the afternoon. When reprimanded by her mother Mrs Lucy replied "But we went in the morning!". Most children left school at 14 years old but Mrs Lucy stayed until almost 16.
Apart from this incident she remembered little of her very early days at school. She claimed she was "sharpest at school" and hated learning her times tables. She said the eighty children were split into pairs and repeated, ad nauseum, 2x2=4, 3x2=6,3x3=9 up to 12x2=24.
Mrs Lucy was shown this school photograph and tentatively identified Mr Swain, who, she said, was followed by Mr Collins. Her mother also liked Mrs Innes very much.
She related a story concerning a school outing, School outings were normally to Bournemouth but when Mr Swain had left, moving to Plymouth, a visit took place there. Apparently Mrs Lucy and her friend Mary Wharton from Lower Farm, spotted some red patent leather shoes, new on the market then. The decided to buy with their sixpence but when they emerged from the shop the rest of their party had disappeared. On asking a passerby they were directed to the wrong station, not realising that there were two in Plymouth. They missed the train but eventually joined up with Mrs Swain and slept the night. She recollected Mrs Swain wagging her finger when they were put upon the return train, she was the oldest and was to look after Mary. She then recounts how Mary slept all the way to Cheltenham. Mrs Lucy felt very much that she had paid a penance!
At Christmas, the School put on a concert entailing months of preparation. She claimed that Wolfords were better than other villages, not knowing whether it was chance or skill! A Mrs Yelf, a Moreton doctor's wife, an actress, used to help. She remembered the performances being always on two consecutive nights so that mothers could go on the first and fathers the second. She recollected people from other villages coming to the Wolford concerts but wasn't sure if the Wolford residents reciprocated, citing the problem of transport.
Writing was her favourite subject. They had copy books and had to faithfully copy selected extracts of copperplate writing. She recalled an incident when her friend, Nellie Barrett, distracted her by scribbling on a penny to reproduce the image. She hurried the copying exercise and misspelt "interest" omitting the first "i". For this she was caned but accepted that the punishment was merited because she had been careless!
On another occasion, a new Mr Collins had them complete a a general knowledge test in order to check the abilities of his new pupils. Those scoring less that 5 correct out of ten were caned! On one occasion, most people merited a caning but Mr Collins tried again. Mrs Luck had scored seven on the first occasion but only four on the second and was duly caned. She thought this very unfair!
Mrs Lucy's favourite subject was dictation. She told a story of a teacher, probably Mr Collins, who, on receipt of his monthly teacher's magazine, used to subject the children to a previously unseen dictation. Mrs Lucy was worried that her cleverest class rival, George Dyer, might do better than she. Included in this dictation was the word "antarctic" and Mrs Lucy prayed that George would not know that there were two "c"s. She need not have worried - he didn't!
Questioned about absenteeism, she did not recognize it as a problem. Wolford residents were never downtrodden, always hardworking and honest.
Her remarks on the Church were interesting. At times she went to two Services and two Sunday school sessions each Sunday. These latter sessions were held in the school so she was in school six days a week. She was quite happy with this claiming no undue parental pressure. She recalled Mrs Moody, the Misses Bull teaching at Sunday School and Mrs Lucy did so herself when she was older. Finally, confronted with this photograph she could only recall that Robert Haine and his wife Sarah were very active in Little Wolford.
When she was a child the first Sunday in October was very special Was the day for all the roundabouts and shows to arrive. When we came out of Sunday School we used to run up the Moreton Road to meet them. Was where he learned to spell "amusements". A firm named Curtis ran roundabouts, swinging boats, shooting galleries etc. It was known as a "wake" and was held behind the council houses opposite the Fox & Hounds. People used to come from all round the district. It was quite a do! She remembered the noise of the music and the of the hissing of the engines. She didn't like them. Couldn't remember much more. This was all before the first world war and ceased thereafter. She remembered a massive advertisement "CURTIS AMUSEMENTS" which spread all round the roof of the roundabouts and carriages. Was ½d on the carriages and 1d on the horses.
Mrs Lucy said that the Misses Fanny, Mary & Ellen Bull always seemed old. They did not buy in 1920 and moved to Feldon Cottage in Brailes. They were of some importance in the village. Mrs Lucy recalled an incident when she w as about eight years old, when, with other children, she passed the Misses Bull coming from Manor Farm. The other children curtsied but not Mrs Lucy. To her mother's consternation, she didn't agree with such deference!