Our guest blogger Emily, a Museum Studies M.A. student at the University of Leicester, takes a look at mementos from Gloucestershire’s schools.
The Corinium Museum’s social history collection contains many charming mementos from Gloucestershire’s schools. These objects have the ability both to highlight how much has changed about education and childhood, and how much remains the same!
This well-used exercise book contains the schoolwork done by Hannah Builder between 1798 and 1801. While the work inside is very neat and precise, the cover tells a different story with its doodled names, scribbles, and tally marks. A familiar sight on many a school book today!
This sampler was made as a schoolroom exercise in 1881 by S. Buttle. The alphabet is embroidered on it twice, alongside the numbers one to ten, the date, and Buttle’s name. Samplers were originally used by craftsmen and women to record embroidery patterns, effects, and experiments as a reference tool for their later work. Some of the earliest known samplers date to the 14thcentury! Samplers were soon recognised as a useful teaching tool. S. Buttle’s sampler would have served as a literacy, numeracy, sewing, and handwriting exercise, all in one!
One recurring theme in the social history collection, and in most people’s memories of their time at school, is school uniforms. Of particular note is the Powell’s School uniform. The Powell’s School was founded in 1876, when the 1714 Blue School for Boys merged with the 1722 Yellow School for Girls. The above photograph shows schoolchildren wearing the traditional uniform when it was originally in use. The photograph below, however, shows a more recent generation of Powell’s School students dressing up in reconstructed versions of the uniform!
The traditional Powell’s School uniform was so iconic that a miniature version was even made for this mid-19th Century wax doll!
Standards of dress and behaviour were certainly stricter than they are today, as can be seen in this photograph of a very smart and serious class of pupils at the Chipping Campden Grammar School. The school was founded in 1440, and girls were first admitted in 1906. From the fashion of clothing, it seems this photograph must have been taken fairly soon afterwards! Chipping Campden School became a comprehensive in 1965.
Although ‘back to school’ time is often met with dread by children (and teachers!) across the country, it should be remembered that, in amongst all the rules and formal education, school time can be a lot of fun! This group, again from Powell’s school, are in costume for a performance of Sleeping Beauty!
If you’re going back to school soon, we at the Corinium Museum wish you luck in the new academic year, and hope your class is as happy as this group in the playground at Down Ampney School seem to be!
This blog post was written by Emily Tilley, a Museum Studies M.A. student at the University of Leicester.