This article is based on the School Log Book, Managers’ Minutes and Registers of
Preston School. It paints a picture of the children’s lives in Preston during the
era and includes details about the village. For example, Preston hosted nine Belgian
refugee children from Antwerp during the Great War.
Much of the logbook is taken up with notes about absenteeism due to illness and visits
from School Managers and ladies from Temple Dinsley and others. The constant cycle
of teachers has been included as they are part of the history of the village. There
are snippets of information about some families that may be of interest.
Also included is a listing of 529 children who were admitted to the School, when
they started and whither they went. It is therefore an essential window of Preston
history covering forty years. Link: Pupils 1900 - 1939
13 July. The school managers (The Revs Hensley and Switzer and Mr R d V Pryor) consulted
over the problem of finding adequate lodgings for teachers at Preston. It was proposed
that Ellen Smith’s cottage and its furniture be taken at a moderate rent. Messrs
Pryor and Dew were to look into the matter.
After considering the assistant teacher, Miss Walker’s, health and general work,
the managers were of the opinion that she didn’t appear likely to suit the School
and she was to be given notice.
12 March. School opened for new term. Eighty pupils were on the register. Head mistress:
Elizabeth S Hunt.
Her assistants: Selina Cole and Martha Peters.
22 March. Sale at Temple Dinsley. Mothers keep children to mind babies while they
7 May. School closed due to measles epidemic until 3 June.
23 July. Preston Church Choir was given a treat of a trip to Yarmouth.
10 September. Mr Wightman reports that his children have scarlet fever. The whole
family will therefore have to be absent from School for six weeks.
16 November. Lewis Hensley on behalf of Board of Education granted an annual pay
rise of £5 to the Head Teacher and 15/- to her assistants.
29 November. Miss Cole leaves today after more than three years good work.
10 December. Seventeen absent in afternoon owing to children going to Hitchin to
buy new clothes with club cards.
20 December. Miss Eliza Croxford replaces Miss Cole. Seventy-six pupils on register.
25 February. Mistress absent from School due to a serious illness at home.
18 March. At a meeting of School Managers (Rev Hensley, and Messrs
R d V Pryor and Barrington-White) Rev Hensley (shown right) reported he
had selected ‘after some difficulty’ Miss Eliza Croxford (bn 14 June 1863; teaching
at Stratton St Margarets 1890 – 1901) as Assistant Teacher. The
Head Mistress, Miss Hunt had been away due to illness of her parents. As
her mother had now died, she requested she be allowed to care for her father.
13 March. Rose Deacon commenced duties (as Head Mistress).
14 April. Katharine Helen Malpas commenced duties (as temporary Head Mistress).
13 February. Miss Croxford left.
19 February. Miss Susan A Surridge appointed ‘on supply’.
2 March. Miss Surridge replaced by Miss Florence J Knight.
9 May. I use disinfectant for the drains frequently.
15 June. It has been raining heavily since Saturday. There is much illness. The water
from the roof of the
School has been running under the playground and making a brook of the road. Several
mothers have kept
the small children at home on account of arriving home from morning School with
1 July. Haymaking is in progress and children are in request for taking their father’s
breakfasts, dinners and luncheons.
14 August. Miss Malpas has left.
14 September. Sarah A Record commenced her work.
4 November. This morning received a note of apology from J W. (I do not approve of
his returning here again however as he is such a disturber of the moral peace) For
the good of the School it would be well if his parents would send him to a boy’s
School at Hitchin. A boy at his hands and a girl through his influence were nearly
blinded. Their eyes were much injured and they very narrowly escaped the entire loss
5 November. J W returned to the School...before the day (was out) however he was
as bad as ever and the ringleader in staying out and keeping five other boys with
him....the boys all owned to hearing the bell except
this impertinent boy.
12 November. J W has by consent of the School Managers been removed from this School...the
family are leaving Preston soon. He goes to St Ippollitts.
27 February. After resignation of Rev Mears, Rev H E Jones (shown right) was appointed
Chairman of the Managers. The Managers decided to try to get more heat from the stove
by ‘seeing to the flue’ rather than replacing it.
2 April. Seventy-nine children on books.
26 April. Caroline Ashton absent by doctor’s orders (She returned on 24 July). Mary
Ashton will help with the babies’ class in her absence.
12 June. Eighty-five children on books.
25 July. Registers closed at 1.30 pm on account of the Kings Walden
17 September. Charles Boston has broken his arm and has been taken to the Infirmary.
31 October. School closed this afternoon on account of Preston Fair.
26 November. Hugh Seebohm of Poynders End replaced Mr Dew as a Manager. His interest
in Maths and Education would be ‘of value to the School’. They decided to send not
£1 but 10/- subscription to the Herts Vol Schools Association as ‘the School was
16 July. Miss Peters and Miss Bone both absent for Oxford Local Examination.
29 July. School closed all day on account of Choir trip to Skegness.
1 August. Caroline Ashton resigned as monitress.
7 October. Rosa Stoten began work as a probationer on a fortnight’s trial. (1 November.
Council did not agree
8 October. Five boys absent owing to being summoned to appear as witnesses in illegal
23 October. Miss Peters and Miss Bone have been absent during afternoon re Memorial
of the late Canon Hensley.
5 November. School closed all day due to a shoot at Temple Dinsley. Fifteen boys
would have been absent.
22 November. The Managers wanted to increase the teaching staff as there had been
some difficulty in filling
the place of Caroline Ashton who had failed in her examination.
Preston School 1917
2 January. Ivy Eleanor Smart is training as a pupil teacher.
22 January. L Peters who cleaned the School windows was very lax in his work. If
the windows were not
cleaned each holiday, someone else would be employed.
19 February. Forty-nine pupils on roll.
4 March. Margaret Ann Foster took temporary charge of the School (Mrs Corbett was
9 April. Anne Elizabeth Cracknell took temporary charge of the School.
3 June. Mrs Corbett resumed.
25 July. Sam Wray has been granted three month’s exemption from School attendance
from 24 July.
2 August. Mrs Vickers, our new School Manager, visited this morning. She represented
the Parish Meeting.
T Ashton was paid 2/6 for repairing the clock.
10 September. Mrs Vickers will give us a plot of ground near the School for a School
garden when the potatoes have been taken up. (It became available on 4 December.
Mr Pryor had charge of it. The timetable of work on
the garden was often disrupted by rain)
17 September. I am taking the children blackberrying (for the Government scheme)
this afternoon. They
gathered forty pounds.
28 October. Mr Smith of Castle Farm has permission to employ a few (9) boys and girls
for potato picking.
4 November. I was not at school on Friday morning last, my husband having been taken
ill with influenza.
There were only twenty-two children present and the School was closed in the afternoon.
Today only twenty-three children attended, all but two suffering from influenza.
(The School was closed for four weeks)
20 December. Miss Wise resigned due to ill health. A Roll of Honour containing the
names of former pupils
of the School who had served in the War was presented. It was framed by CE Bird and
hung in the School.
Preston School circa 1919
5 January. Forty-three pupils on the roll..
7 February. HCC approved the appointment of Mrs Wray as a cleaner at a monthly salary
12 February. Mrs Golledge resigned and was replaced by Miss RG Barker. Link: Miss
3 May. Grace C Sutherland temporarily Head Mistress. Mrs Corbett returned 7 September.
7 September. Gardening Class taken by Mr Stubbs.
October. Mrs Vickers presented gifts of a doll and a sewing machine.
15 November. Mrs Wray resigned as cleaner and was replaced by Mrs Hammond. Douglas
the School to use a strip of land to enlarge the playground. Mr Stubbs of ‘The Cottage’
was suggested as a School Manager.
9 February. Acting in agreement with the Correspondent, I have suspended CW for disgusting
the managers have conferred.
21 February. CW returned to School this morning. He was placed on probation for two
years by the
Magistrates and severely reprimanded.
3 March. Mr H J Andrews, Probation Officer, called this morning for a report on CW.
13 June. Mrs E E Barker on supply taking charge until Midsummer Holidays (Mrs Corbett
J J Robinson and F Harvey.
25 November. 40 on books
Preston School circa 1921-1922
3 January. Annie L Poole commenced temporary duties.
12 September. F L Deed new Head Mistress.
3 November. Mr Stubbs was resigned as tutor of gardening class and Mr Hedley was
suggested as his replacement.
8 February. 35 on books.
5 March. Registers closed this morning to enable children to leave in time to see
a meet of the hounds at the Green at 11.30.
28 May. Mrs Vickers visited School bringing a ‘National Favour’ for each child and
a large Union Jack which
she has presented to the School and which was hoisted and saluted in her presence.
She also brought a gramophone from which the children heard the speeches of the King
and Queen spoken for Empire Day.
3 December. Started P O Savings and National Savings with the children.
Probably this is the team that won the silver cup in the Country Dance Competition
15 January. Snowing heavily – only 16 children turned up out of 44 and as the weather
looks bad, they were sent home at 10.00 am. Not one infant came.
30 April. Mr Austin (Head Gardener at Temple Dinsley) commenced duty as Gardening
Instructor on 20 April.
16 July. Mrs Chalkley now School Cleaner, earning 7/- a week.
18 January. Through the kindness of Lady Priestley, all the children are going to
see ‘Aladdin’ – a pantomime – at the Playhouse, Hitchin this afternoon.
11 June. A day’s holiday has been granted by the Managers for all the children to
go to the zoo – a treat provided by Mrs Vickers.
1 February. Rev Ashly replaced by Rev RFR Routh as Chairman of Managers.
6 December. Mrs Vickers reported to be resigning her position as a Manager. Mr Austin
resigned as Gardening tutor.
Rose Barker - Assistant Teacher from 1920 until at least 1946
29 April. Taught children a new exercise with dumb bells in accordance
with the Government circular.
25 June. Hay making has begun. There is a great deal of undergrowth
this year which makes the crop very difficult to cut with a machine.
24 October. Half holiday owing to visit of Sanger’s Circus to Hitchin,
Saturday Bank Holiday preventing work and the Kings procession.
6 February. Seventy-four on the register.
11 February. Mr Barrington-White’s Head Keeper has left causing a less number on
Diocesion Inspectors’ Report – ‘The year’s work has been considerably interrupted
by changes in the teaching staff’.
30 March. Head Mistress left
11 April. Rosa Blanche Marchant took charge of Preston School.
15 April. ‘I find that this School is in a very poor state. The discipline is shocking
and the attainments of the children of the Upper Division is very low’. Seventy-two
29 April. Miss Knight left to be married.
2 May. Carrie Ashton is teaching the infants for a week or two until an assistant
7 June. Miss Mabel Alice Bone has been appointed as Assistant.
17 June. Lavinia Brown has been engaged as a monitress to help in the class room
with the Infants.
1 July. Several boys have been at work in the hayfields this week.
14 July. Miss Marchant resigned.
18 July. Amelia Harriett Leech, late Head Mistress of St James School, Bristol commenced
10 November. Gave thirteen boys leave of absence for the day to go with Mr Barrington-White’s
16 November. Have taken Jack Wray’s and George Jeeves’ names off the register during
the winter months.
13 December. Miss Peters will be away all week sitting for Kings Scholarship Examination.
31 January. Winnie Brown replaced as monitress by Caroline Ashton.
12 March. Mumps are about in the village badly. Twenty-three children away.
12 April. Report: The school rooms are dingy and need painting and thorough cleansing.
walls of the offices (toilets) should be cleaned and whitewashed....the Infants’
Room appears to be insufficiently warmed by the present close cooking range.impressed
the Managers, while a Miss Hornby of Richmond was unable to attend apart from a Saturday.
Ten desks with backs and a bookshelf were ordered. Mr W Jeeves’ estimate for repairs
4 August. Miss Leech resigned. (She was considered not suitable by the School Managers)
22 August. Following the death of Rev Hensley, the Managers were comprised of Rev
F Peel Mears, Mrs Barrington-White, Mr Pryor and Mr Dew.
11 September. Miss Minnie Oakley appointed as new Head Mistress.4 July. The School
Managers advertised the position of Head Mistress with a salary of £80. Miss M Oakley
7 January. Seventy-five pupils on books. Miss Peters is absent due to death of her
uncle. The gallery has been removed during the holiday.
17 January. Rose Stoten appointed as moniteress with an annual salary of £10.
24 January. The new stove has been fixed and is a great success. The temperature
has been 54F during
the day and the ends of the room have been quite warm. (Note: 54F is 12C. Today the
legal minimum temperature in Schools is 18C)
22 June. Miss B Moore is acting as supply teacher during the absence of Miss Bone.
21 July. Mr Hugh Seebohm visited and brought a splendid picture of the Crusaders
for the School. Also, the Barrington-Whites resigned and Mr Priestley took Rev E
P Gough’s place.
31 July. Mrs Barrington-White visited to say ‘Goodbye’ as she is leaving Temple Dinsley.
23 October. Mrs Fenwick visited and heard the children sing.
30 October. Miss Bone resigned, to be replaced by Miss Mary A Taylor, who also resigned
on 9 November.
18 December. As a result of a medical inspection, the lady health visitor reported
that Fred Jenkins, and
– Wray were in need of nourishment. Jenkins of Hill End Cottages was in Dr Shillitoe’s
hands who forebade
her to come to school for three months. – Portous of Back Lane has bad adenoids and
the health visitor will
try to persuade his mother to have them attended to. The Vicar is providing for Jenkins
23 December. Minnie Oakley resigned as Head Mistress (She moved to Boxmoor).
11 January. Maud Horsfield commenced duties as Head Mistress.
28 January. Mrs Fenwick supplies the infants every day with milk (She was the representative
of the County Council on the Board of Management).
11 March. The first class was taken to (Welwyn) Garden City on Saturday afternoon.
They were afterwards entertained to tea at the house of the Head Mistress.
18 November. Mr Priestley replaced by Major Richardson of Offley Holes as a Foundation
9 March. Harry Ewington a fourth Standard boy fell while playing and put his shoulder
out. He was taken immediately to the hospital. It is still very much bruised.
October. Three girls from Preston School have written compositions for the Daily
Mirror. They were printed in today’s issue. Link: Daily Mirror
19 May. Mr RJW Dawson was elected correspondent of the School at the Managers meeting
held today (replacing Mr Seebohm)
17 July. Following four weeks of 100% attendance, Miss Horsfield suggested the Managers
help towards the
cost of a tea for the children. They suggested a half day holiday instead.
1 August. A ventriloquist from Hitchin gave 1½ hours of entertainment – the mothers
enjoying this as well as
20 September. Miss Bloy now Assistant Teacher.
10 October. Two children (Barretts) from Offley Holes are down with diphtheria. The
School was closed on Friday afternoon and desks thoroughly scrubbed.
8 November. As estimate of £14 10/- to replace the toilets was accepted. Mrs Fenwick
suggested that a
School Master be appointed or a resident Head Mistress. The views of the Managers
were to be passed on
to Miss Horsfield.
21 December. Miss Bloy left today. (This followed complaints from the parent of one
of the pupils)
January. Infants classes taken by Rosa Stoten and Margaret MacPherson is the temporary
March. Mrs Fenwick, Sir Frederick MacMillan have sent cheques.
24 May. Miss Stoten resigned, leaving for St Mary’s, Hitchin.
29 May. Miss Horsfield’s retirement impending.
10 July. Staff now: Head Mistress, Mrs Margaret Corbett; assistants Miss Peters and
Miss Daisy C Wise.
10 July. Miss Martha Elizabeth Garbutt temporary Head Mistress Mrs Corbett resumed
4 July. The children of Standards 2 and 3 have had a nature lesson on the rose and
were taken to Mr R de V Pryor’s rose garden this afternoon.
7 July. Miss Peters took her class to see the Knights Templar Chapel.
26 November. Mrs Priestley presented the watches for five year’s perfect attendance
to Rex Heathorn,
William Chalkley and Jack Wray. (These had been awarded by the County Council. However
they didn’t give
one to Fred Sharp who had a perfect attendance record for four years, but due to
sickness had been absent during a fifth year. This was felt to be very hard on the
boy, however, Mrs Priestley and Mr Seebohm offered
to provide a watch for him.)
19 May. I have sent home Alfred , Albert and Clara Simonds this afternoon as they
smell very badly. The village nurse has been to see the mother.
20 May. The three children named above are in School today. They are clean now having
had a change of clothing and a good washing.
29 May. The Head Mistress was to warn Miss Peters that her teaching and conduct had
given grounds for dissatisfaction to the Inspectors and Managers.
31 July. Miss Peters leaves today.
8 September. Miss J I Robinson (of Preston) began work with an annual salary of £30.
18 February. I had to send Jack Wray home early this afternoon as he seemed ill.
19 February. On instructions of Dr Day, closed School until 15 March owing to epidemic
26 February 1916. The Clerk of the Hitchin Rural School Attendance Sub-Committee
wrote which resulted in a list of boys being prepared who could be employed in agriculture
despite being under age.
9 March. I have admitted nine Belgian children (refugees) this morning. Their ages
range from five years to twelve. (This is the first oblique reference to the World
War that had been raging for about six months)
31 July. Fifty-seven pupils on books.
13 January. The vicar called to say that as the County Council had advised the Managers
to reduce staff, they had decided that Miss Robinson be given notice. The Managers
were now: Rev L B Ashly, Mrs Fenwick, Mrs Fellowes, Mr H E Seebohm, Major Richardson
and Mr RJW Dawson.
24 February. I have sent home the children this morning for the day – after seeing
the Correspondent about the matter. Twenty-two presented themselves (one being an
infant) and of these practically all had not boots or stockings owing to the heavy
fall of snow.
23 May. Mrs Reynolds called this afternoon to thank the girls for the shirts they
made for the soldiers.
2 June. Letters were received from HCC re use of slates instead of paper; exclusion
of children under 5 years and Thrift 1 War investment.
10 October. I have had to alter the entries with regard to Harold Pell in both the
Admissions and Attendance Registers. The wrong name was given viz George Wray.
10 September. Reopened School this morning but only 39 children (of 52 on roll) present.
Several boys are working in the harvest fields – the harvest having been delayed
by the wet weather.
22 September. Following the death of Major Richardson, Mrs Harrison of Kings Walden
Bury was proposed
as a Foundation Manager.
29 October. The horse chestnuts which the children have gathered are being sent away
today. There is nearly
a ton of horse chestnuts. Some of the children are now collecting acorns.
12 February. Mrs Vickers called this morning with reference to the School childrens’
dinners which will be given from next week (2d a head) For the remainder of the week,
she will send soup for the children who stay for dinner.
13 February. Miss Gladys Cecilia Marsh appointed as Assistant Teacher (She received
an annual salary of £70 married in April 1919, becoming Mrs Golledge)
12 May. Mrs Vickers called bringing with her a watch for Sidney Peters, the first
boy to knit a pair of stockings.
5 November. I have had to send Cecil Hall and Violet Jenkins back to Standard One.
21 July. All twenty-five elder children being treated by Mrs Vickers to Wembley Exhibition.
6 January. Thirty-seven pupils
20 March. A team of eight (four boys; four girls) is going to Ware tomorrow to compete
in the Junior Festival of the English Folk Song and Dance Festival.
23 March. The School team gained a second class certificate at Ware on Saturday for
11 May. Piano tuner tuned School piano.
29 June. On three afternoons during the last fortnight I have taken the elder children
to the cricket field for the
last part of the afternoon to play stoolball and cricket, Mr Pryor kindly volunteering
to coach them in the latter.
17 July. The Hon Mrs Douglas Vickers gave prizes for the best nightdresses (Hilda
Hammond, Ella Claxton, Rose Worthington), chemises (Kathleen Hammond, Rose Trehane)
and drawers (Mary Cullen, Mary Chalkley).
27 July. In a Country Dance Competition held in the Priory grounds at Hitchin on
Saturday in which seven
teams competed, the team from this School (the same that went to Ware in March) gained
a First Class Certificate and a silver cup awarded to the best team gaining 94 marks
out of 100.
8 September. Forty-six on books – 20 boys in upper School; 7 in infants
6 November. Admitted a fresh scholar from Hill Farm Cottage, Kathleen Burrows, this
20 November. Received six more dual desks from the CC and also a wheelbarrow.
April 14. Lt Col Dennistoun appointed as Parish Council representative on Board of
9 October. Miss Deed offered to continue as Head Mistress until the summer of 1937.
5 March. The question of a house for the Head Mistress was discussed. Also, a re-organisation
scheme was discussed when it was strongly felt that older children should not be
sent to Offley but to Hitchin as ‘Preston naturally looks to Hitchin as its centre’.
9 July. Miss E M Cole of St Ippollitts was appointed as Head Mistress from 27 July.
1 July. Bills were received from Mr GW Nash and WJ Woodhams for repairs. Mrs Corbett,
a former Head Mistress was proposed as the new Head Mistress.