In a 1907 inspection report, Haslingfield School was described as having an “ample garden area”. Only boys did Gardening, and there was a strong emphasis on neatness and accuracy – “measuring the distance between rows of vegetables” and “trimming the edges of plots”. Apparently there was much student interest, and early attempts at an integrated curriculum, with gardening “widely made the basis of various exercises in Arithmetic and Composition”. Read more
The First World War barely merited a mention in the Haslingfield School Log Book. The first mention is in June 1918 when the Head Teacher, George Royston, announced “I have given up the charge of this school today, as I am joining the Colours on Thursday next.” George returned to school duty in February of the following year. Read more
The build-up to Christmas in the village clearly wasn’t as great in Victorian times as it is today. Children at the local school only had Christmas Day off in 1875 and 1876, a week’s holiday only being introduced in 1877. Given that pupils had days off for Church outings, Chapel outings, Band of Hope outings, good attendance and inspections, perhaps the staff saw Christmas as just another incursion into the teaching year. There is no mention of a Christmas treat for pupils until 1923, when the staff went overboard. The Log Book reports:
The roads around Haslingfield appear to have been very unsafe places in the 19th century, and the ‘Cambridge Chronicle’ is filled with largely gruesome reports of fatal accidents. The following are not quite so gruesome, but do illustrate the dangers. There were clearly roadhogs around at the time. In August 1825, the Haslingfield carrier, who delivered post to and from Cambridge, was fined £2 for driving on the wrong side of the road “and thereby obstructing the gig of F.C. Knowles, Esq.” He seems to have exacerbated the situation somewhat by throwing stones at Mr. Knowles, for which he was fined another £1 which was “paid … to the treasurer of Addenbrooke’s Hospital”, an untapped source of income perhaps for today’s NHS. Read more
‘The Haslingfield Chronicle 1776-1900’ is a collection of newspaper articles printed in the ‘Cambridge Chronicle’ relating to the village, and the Village Society is hoping to arrange a reprint sometime in the future. One of the items regularly reported is unexplained death. Read more
Adults were not the only ones to misbehave in Haslingfield School during this period. Unsurprisingly, children were also prominent in this field. In February 1879 Jane Lawrence was pickpocketed of a handkerchief containing six pennies. The Head ordered an “individual search” of every pupil in the school, and a Mary Chandler was seen to deposit something white and jangly in the cloakroom before entering the search room to be frisked by the Sewing Mistress and Pupil Teacher. The Head decided not to cane her, as he was considering criminal prosecution.
In the latest of this occasional series on life in Haslingfield School between 1875 and 1900, I thought I would regale you with some of the scandalous events which merited more than the customary single line in the log book.
Those of us involved in some way with schools, as parents, staff or governors, are today accustomed to a steady turnover of teachers in our schools. This wasn’t the case during this period. There were, for example, only three head teachers – Micaiah Marshall, who stayed until the end of 1883, Ramsden Mellor from 1884 to 1890, and George Senior for the rest of the century.
I talked in the last entry about the importance of school attendance in the functioning of a Victorian village school. Part of the annual grant was based upon attendance, and successive heads assiduously plotted weekly averages in the log book. Any cause of widespread pupil absence was therefore also noted.
Taking over from the redoubtable and late lamented Howard Stringer as village archivist, one of my first tasks has been to complete a transcription of the School Log Book entries for 1875 to 1900. This has been a formidable task, copying nearly 200 pages of copper-plate writing. It is, however, done. I’ve paused at 1900 for rest as much as the convenience provided by the end of the Victorian era, and if anyone would like a copy in Word please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be warned, however – it is a hefty document of 272 pages.