Mr George Markwell's Memories
Lessons in good manners were taught and put into practise. Since there had been a Lord and Lady of the manor in the village everyone was expected to acknowledge their presence. The men and boys would have to doff their caps and the women and girls would have to curtsy in their presence. So whenever Lady Pell visited the school, something she did regularly up to her death in 1868, the girls would curtsy.
The same continued with the next Mrs Pell and her family. Mrs O. C. Pell came regularly to take the lower standards for reading. She did this up to her death in 1917. I did learn that several parents forbade their children to curtsy when Mrs Pell came to the school.
The following verse was used as practise for good handing writing:
Lost, somewhere between sunrise and sunset
Two golden hours each set with sixty diamond minutes
No reward offered, they are lost and gone forever.
Scripture formed an important part of teaching in school. The Church of England scholars had to say the Catechism almost word perfect, and know by heart the Churches seasons. The Nonconformists had to be able to say by heart a certain chapter from the book of Isaiah.
The Diocesan Inspectors called regularly to test the scholars in order to assess the standard of teaching and knowledge of the Bible. From reading the records I found nothing but praise for the school after an inspection, the teaching being classed as “excellent”.
The infants learnt to write firstly by mastering oblique strokes ||\ //. Next stage was pot hooks; next they practised meat hooks. When they were learning to write letters they had too remember the words “Thin up and thick down”.
The two English books read by the older scholars were King John and The Merchant of Venice.
Mr Markwell provided me with examples of geometry which Mr Marchant taught one afternoon a week.
As the Boer War was taking place at this time the songs which the scholars sang were mainly patriotic as well as being seasonal. The older children were also shown old English writing which they they copied.
The drawing lessons were of two types: one was free hand. Mr Marchant would display a book, vase or picture which had to be copied accurately. In order to have every part of the object in proportion the scholars had been taught to line up points on their pencil. The other type of drawing demanded accurate measuring as written instructions were given.
The leaving age was 12 yrs in 1899 with local discretion in agricultural areas.
The trick the boys enjoyed playing was flicking screwed up pieces of wet blotting paper on to the ceiling. If they managed to stick it was quite an achievement as the ceiling was so high.
Mr Markwell remembers geography being taught. The scholars would be given maps of the British Isles and they would have to fill in as many principal towns, rivers and county boundaries as they could.
Several of the old scholars remembered the canes were kept on the window ledge. The scholars dreaded being asked to stand up and answer a question. If they could not give the right answer it meant a stroke of the cane, the teacher would turn his back and the boy would come back with the right answer a pal had whispered to him. I wonder why the teacher called his cane “His Magic Wand”?