August 1925.Miss Deed has earned our very great thanks by organising an entertainment with her scholars with the object of providing some money for the purchase of some new Bibles for Preston School. Unfortunately bad weather caused its postponement on the day originally fixed, but it is hoped that it may be able to be given this week. A most attractive series of items has been arranged, all set forth on very nicely written programmes with painted covers produced by the school children. September 1925.Miss Deed produced a most excellent entertainment with her scholars which was given on July 27 and 28 and after paying some small expenses of 5/6 produced £3 14s. 6d. which has been spent on the purchase of new Bibles and Prayer Books for Preston School. Our very best thanks for this help are due to Miss Deed and to her scholars. The Bibles and Prayer Books were very badly needed.July was quite a “red letter” month with Preston children. On the 4 July, they, together with the village generally, were the guests of the Hon. Mrs. Douglas Vickers, at a Folk Dance Fete in the grounds of Temple Dinsley. On the 17 July, Mrs. Vickers examined the needlework the girls had done in school during the term, and awarded some very nice prizes -material for dresses and such like. On Saturday accompanied by Miss Deed, went by excursion day, the 18 July, a party of 15 of the eldest children, train from Hitchin to Clacton for the day. The whole trip was a unique experience for most of the party. For some of them it was their first real train journey and they found plenty to interest them on the day. But the most thrilling moment was when they beheld the “briny” for the first time. What a strange fascination the sea has! Words failed to express their feelings and for the next few hours they seemed too happy to talk! A very contented but very tired little tribe reached home about 11 o’clock that night, and the day will live long in their memory. The following Saturday, the 25, was another landmark in the lives of ten of them. They competed, with several other teams, for the silver cup kindly given by WO Times, Esq., for the best Junior team in the Folk Dancing, at a Garden Fete organised by the Y.W.C.A. at the Priory, Hitchin. To their great delight they not only gained a First Class Certificate but carried off the Cup (gaining 94 per cent marks). They had taken part in the Junior Folk Dance at Ware, in March, and gained two Second Class Certificates there. (Incidentally it may be mentioned that the Senior Team gained the Cup in their Section too!) Correlatively with all this, preparations were being made for an open air School entertainment to procure Funds for providing some much needed new Bibles in school. This was to be given in the Cricket Field on July 23 and everything promised well until the day before when a heavy thunderstorm broke up the long spell of dry weather and dashed everybody’s hopes. After waiting till the following Monday to see if the weather would smile on the undertaking (but wept hard instead) it was decided to hold the “Show” in school Monday and Tuesday evenings. (The building was not large enough to accommodate all the ticket holders at once). All hands went to work to get the room ready, several kind friends lent chairs, so that seats were provided for between seventy and eighty and each night all of these were occupied, by a very kind and appreciative audience. Of course, space was limited and the various items, including Maypole and other dances, could not be so successful from a spectacular point of view as they would have been out of doors, but everything went well and was well received, especially the Sailors’ Hornpipe, which was given by nine boys dressed in white sailor suits and blue collars, and which “brought down the house,” and had to be repeated on both occasions. The proceeds amounted to £4 12s. 6d., and the Bibles and also some hymn books have been purchased and are ready for use when the school re-opens. The surplus money will be spent on “games equipment” as occasion requires. On Tuesday August 4 all the children who did not go to Clacton were entertained to tea and games by Miss Deed and Miss Barker, and on August 7 the school disbanded for a month’s holiday, after being visited and inspected by W F Dee, Esq., H.M.I. December 1925.Copy of School Report received after visit of inspection on 7 August, 1925:“This school continues to be conducted in a very pleasant manner. The children are frank and natural, and take an interest in their school work. Under test the work proved to be of a satisfactory standard in the fundamental subjects, and a good rate of progress is maintained by the scholars when promoted from the Infant room. A creditable attempt has been made to widen the outlook by providing easy access to suitable reference books, and the success already achieved is distinctly encouraging. The results of the teaching of drawing also pleasing. More attention should be given to the training of the younger children, and the Head-mistress should endeavour to give the Assistant Mistress definite guidance in teaching methods. At present the standard reached in the essential subjects in this class is not very high. Suggestions made at last year’s visit with regard to the teaching of Needlework have received attention. All the records connected with the general organisation of the school are kept in very good order by the Headmistress. August 1926.Unfortunately the school premises need very extensive repairs. Window cills have decayed, walls are cracked, the floor is very much worn, and in addition to such repairs as these, the school is overdue for cleaning and painting. Altogether it looks like being an expenditure of between £50 and £60, possibly more, but there is no choice as to whether the work can be taken in the summer holidays. It is difficult to say where the money is to come from. December 1926.The Day school has been thoroughly repaired and put in good order at a cost of £64 and the Vicar acknowledges with many grateful thanks the following sums towards meeting the cost of these repairs: Major J. Harrison, £5; Mr. H. E. Seebohm, £5; the Hon. Mrs. Douglas Vickers, £5; Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Priestley, £5; and Anonymous, £5. The Vicar has also heard from the Diocesan Secretary that Betton’s Charity are making us a grant of £15, so that already we have £40 in hand towards meeting our bill of £64. January 1927.An admirable children’s entertainment organised by Miss Deed just before Christmas, resulted in £3 3s. 0d. Being handed to the Vicar towards the expense of repairing the School buildings. Our very best thanks to Miss Deed and to her pupils who did their part most extraordinarily well. February 1928.Our very best thanks to Lady Priestley, who most kindly treated all the scholars of Preston School to the pantomime on Wednesday, January 18. August 1930.On Tuesday, July 1, through the kindness of Col. Dennistoun, of Temple Dinsley, all the day school children spent a most delightful day at the Zoological Gardens. On arrival at the Zoo, the party was met by two guides who accompanied it all day. In this way many most interesting features were seen which the ordinary visitor to the Zoo might never see, and the children were admitted into enclosures available only for the use of Fellows and their friends. February 1934.A very happy party (all the school children) gathered in the Institute Room (kindly lent by Mrs. Dawson) on Wednesday, Dec. 20, when Lady Priestley gave them a delightful tea. The table was prettily decorated by Miss Loretta and in addition to other goodies, a brand new shilling daintily tied up and cut from some small Christmas trees, was presented to each child. Games and carol singing followed the tea, and the party was a very happy one all round. December 1934.Report on Religious instruction, Nov., 1934:Much are and thought have been given to the scheme of work which is being followed in this school, and the children are sharing with their teachers in what is being done. In both groups the children’s response is encouraging, and they are gaining helpful knowledge and forming sound ideas. Free expression is encouraged and the exercises which were done were quite good. There is a happy tone about the school. R. PARKES, Director of Religious Education. June 1935.We are very glad to have Miss Deed back again to her school duties after her illness and hope that her change at the sea has improved her health for future work connected with the village and its welfare. August 1935.The school children spent a very happy day on July 19 at Walton-on-the-Naze and they would be only too pleased for us to pass on their thanks to the kind friends who are always willing to help them in their small country pleasures. B.E.N.
February 1904.The Wednesday Evening Services are not appreciated as they ought to be. The congregations have lately been very very small. The Churchwardens are getting very anxious about the finances of the Church and it is a question whether the funds will bear the expenses entailed by this extra service. It seems strange that a village containing over 200 souls cannot maintain three Services a week, especially as all the parishioners are not poor People. There seems to be so few who have any real love and enthusiasm for Church life. For the present, then, the mid-week Services will be discontinued although the Curate-in-charge hopes to arrange for an occasional Devotional Meeting in the Clubroom. April 1921.Twenty-eight Communicants at Preston on Easter Day was an encouragement, but we cannot say the same about the attendance at Sunday Matins, and unless there is going to be a larger Matins, and unless there is going to be a larger demand than there is at present for this service, it seems useless to continue it. We shall go on for another month and see what response we get.
Preston Sunday School
October 1904.The Sunday School Scholars received their Annual Prizes of Bibles, Prayer Books, Story Books &c., which were presented by Mrs. Barrington-White, who also gave them a few words of encouragement, and hoped that she would be able to hear a good report of them next year. The prizes are all gained by marks – full marks 392. The first four on the list were:- 1, Emily Andrews, 391; 2, George Andrews, 391, Emily Thrussell 390; 4, Mary Ashton, 362. Mrs. Barrington-White promised the children a tea, which took place on the 6 September. Although the day seemed dull happily the rain kept off and a very enjoyable time was spent. Mrs. White received the children at her front door and then showed them all round her beautiful gardens and afterwards took them to the Cricket Ground for games, racing &c., until tea was announced. After a very sumptuous meal more races were run and then Mrs. White gave each child a prize. Mr. Ivan White gave a special prize for jumping to the boys: it was carried off by Ernest Wray. Mr. Cummings gave one to the girls which Emily Thrussell won in triumph. August 1912.The children of the Sunday School are to have their Treat with the Hitchin Schools this year, and are eagerly looking forward to a happy afternoon. September 1912.On Wednesday, August 7th, the annual Sunday School Treat was held in the grounds of the Boys’ Grammar School, by kind permission of Mr. J. King, the Headmaster. About 975 children of St Mary’s and the daughter Sunday Schools assembled by 3 o’clock in the St Mary’s School Yard. Owing to the unpropitious look of the weather the tea was provided in the schools, and proved most satisfactory. At four o’clock the children, carrying banners, flags, and floral decorations, and headed by the Hitchin Town Band, the Boy’s Bugle Band, and detachments of the Church Lads’ Brigade and the Scouts, marched in procession from the schools to the field, the youngest children being conveyed in wagons. Happily by this time the day had settled in fine and the enjoyment of the youngsters was well-assured. In the field, swings, roundabouts, and side-shows of every description provided endless amusement for the boys and girls; at a later hour the grounds were thrown open to the general public at a moderate charge. Judging by the groups of amused and delighted parents, who were looking on, the children spent a thoroughly happy afternoon and evening. Races of various kinds were run, the Scouts proving themselves useful in keeping the course clear, and the prizes were afterwards distributed by the Rev. F. A. Mather. The Vicar expressed thanks to all those who had assisted in providing pleasure for the children, and so ended an extremely happy and successful treat. For bringing about such a success, a great deal of anxious thought, hard work, and detailed organization had been required, and for this we must especially thank Miss Perkins, Miss Lewin, Miss Mather, Miss Burrows, Mr. and Mrs. Hall, Mr. Freeman, Mr. Flint, and the numerous other teachers, inhabitants and kind friends. November 1912.Sunday School attendance has fallen off owing to cases of whooping cough amongst the children, but in hope that parents will now see to it that they are in their places regularly again. February 1913.The Sunday School has now re-opened once more, and about thirty of our scholars are in attendance. We notice that some of the children do not come on the Church after Sunday School, and trust that parents will make enquiries and see to it that they are in their places for service instead of wasting time idling in the lanes. Sunday School attendance is an important matter, but it is of even more importance that the habit of Sunday worship in Church should be gained in childhood. May 1913.The Sunday School Prizes were presented to the children on Sunday, April 13, by Mrs. Dawson. Twenty-seven scholars were awarded Bibles, Prayer Books and interesting volumes of stories. October 1916.The Sunday School had a little “summer” treat on September 29; it was a very quiet affair, but, it is believed, very enjoyable. It was unfortunate that the Langley children could not come. Many thanks are due to Mrs. Ashton and her two daughters, the Misses Mary and Carrie, for excellently and punctually preparing such a good tea. As the grass was wet, a few games were played in the Club-room, followed by competitions, and the distribution of a few prizes concluded the afternoon’s enjoyment.December 1924.The scheme for re-organisation of the Sunday work of the Parish is getting into shape and a short account of the position should interest all Parishioners. A very full meeting of Teachers was held last week and various points were discussed and great keenness was displayed. This question goes further than the actual Sunday Schools and the whole subject of organisation for boys and girls, such as Scouts, Guides, and their Junior branches, in close connection with St. Mary’s will be included. With regard to the Sunday Schools we propose to aim at a high standard of teaching, both in the art of teaching and the matter taught. Classes in both these sides of teaching will be regularly held for teachers, particularly the younger teachers. The teachers will be brought together at monthly meetings, which will include a devotional service, and a social gathering afterwards where they can get acquainted with each other and feel that they are one body. This should help to unite the schools more closely. The organisation of the schools will be improved, where necessary, to make them more attractive to the children, more convenient and satisfactory from the parents point of view, and to keep a closer connection with children who are absent or irregular. Many things in all the Schools are admirable now, but one thing here, another there, needs attention to make the whole really efficient. To make this improvement a success we need first God’s blessing upon it, and this we are certain of for it is direct work in building His Kingdom. But God’s blessing can only be put into effect by our good will and active co-operation. Parents who belong to the Church should give their active support by sending their children to the Church Sunday Schools, and as far as possible seeing that they belong to Church organisations; by taking an interest in the work of the Sunday Schools, or in other ways. We need the interest and support of all parents, rich and poor, working and leisured. More teachers and helpers will be needed in the schools and other organisations, and I appeal particularly to those who have a certain amount of leisure for visiting, organisation or help in other ways to offer themselves for this work. The first thing and hear Miss Taylor, the Diocesan Expert in Sunday School work, speak on the Religious Training of Children, she will give two addresses.
Preston Young Man’s Club
May 1903.The Young Men’s Club has now closed for this session. It is good to know that it has been revived and has been doing some good work. What it specially needs is the support and active interest of those living on the spot who have the means and leisure to devote to it. If those who contribute to its funds would only visit the Clubroom at intervals it is likely that much real good might be accomplished. It is by friendly intercourse with one another that openings occur for aiding and influencing. It is easy to give a contribution, but after all that is only a beginning or work that has to be done, and which should not be left undone, or left for one or two to undertake unaided. On the whole, the Joinery Class seems to have been a very good thing. The interest was not maintained quite so much as it ought to have been, but as this departure was quite a new one it is possible that want of experience in organizing, &c., accounted for a little cooling down of enthusiasm. Moreover, the Club-room is exceedingly ill-adapted for work of this kind and carpentering is carried on under great disadvantages. If the Club were only taken up thoroughly and heartily by the men and lads of the place who knows whether a new Club-room might not be forthcoming? June 1908.The Club is now completed and very proud we are of it. We must defer any account until after the opening ceremony which is now being arranged. We ought, however, to express our thanks to Mr. Pryor for the making of paths up to the door and also the constructing of a new fence along the front. The whole surroundings will now be very nice and add much to the appearance of the village. Owing to the generosity of Mr. Pryor a site was available adjoining the School. Not only has he given sufficient ground for the building itself but has also given a nice piece of ground about it also fencing it in and making paths. That piece which faces the road has been nicely laid out by Mr. H. Seebohm and set with flowering shrubs. About a year ago the scheme was set on foot and the money collected so that only a deficit of £14 remains at the present moment. We hope that friends will help us to clear this off and that the Committee of the Club will do all that lies in their power by local effort to make some contribution towards the amount. Our grateful thanks are due to Mr. Westwood who has built the Club practically with his own hands, doing all the work in his leisure time and charging only the cost of the materials used. The village has indeed been fortunate in finding that a man who had only been a resident for a few months, was willing and able to undertake this work for the sake of others and for the future benefit of this little community. Speaking for ourselves we find it hard to express our gratitude and sense of obligation to him. It has been decided that the opening should take the form of a benefit concert for Mr. Westwood and Mrs. Barrington-White very kindly consented to declare the building open. Mr. W. Allen, of Hitchin (recently made famous in current literature) brought a splendid band of performers to Preston and gave us two hours’ real enjoyment. All the songs were appreciated “likewise” the Band. During the interval the Vicar, who presided, said a few words as to the Club and its purpose and usefulness in the future. He expressed the thanks of the village to Messrs. Westwood and Pryor and called upon Mrs. White to declare the building open, which she did very charmingly and gracefully. A vote of thanks to her was then proposed by the Vicar and seconded by Mr. Hugh Seebohm. At the conclusion of the concert a vote of thanks was given to the Building Committee and to the performers. November 1912.The men’s Club is opened and there is a fair attendance of members, but there must be many others who might avail themselves of its advantages. We may remind the villagers that there is an excellent library of books at the Club Room, and Mr. Ashton will be glad to issue volumes for reading at home.
March 1915.I am making plans for placing a resident Priest at Preston, and I think I have succeeded in securing a really suitable colleague for this work. Preston and Langley really do need to have a Clergyman living in the midst of the people there, and there can be no doubt as to how heartily his presence will be welcomed in this outlying part of our large and unwieldy parish. I feel that this will greatly improve the efficiency of the work of the parish and the visiting which is so sorely needed at Preston and Langley will be able to be undertaken systematically. Such an arrangement has only become possible by the provision of the necessary money for a fourth Curate, whom I hope to secure as a Deacon at Trinity or Michaelmas, in the person of Mr. Percy Woodfield, and its continuance will depend entirely upon steady support being given to the Parochial Fund and the Freewill Offering scheme. Mr. Fenwick is kindly placing a good cottage at my disposal in Preston at a moderate rent, and we are much indebted to Mr. Dawson for all the kindness which he has shown in making the arrangements for this. It only remains for the people of Preston and Langley to give a warm welcome to the Rev, H. E. Jones when he comes (as he hopes to do) on March 25, and to rally round him and help him in his work. This we feel sure that all will do. Mr. Jones will give us a share of his time in the town part of the parish and at the Parish Church. LEONARD ASHBY.
August 1904.The fourth Anniversary of the Consecration of St. Martin’s Church was kept on Sunday, July 17, when special reference was made to it in the services. The Rev. B. N. Switzer preached in the morning and drew attention to the changes which had taken place since the day of the consecration, July 11, 1900, even in a small place like Preston, where many homes did not contain the same people, some were dead, and some gone elsewhere to live. People formerly unknown in the village are now well known, old ties have been severed, and new ones formed. Officially, he said, we have the same Vicar, but the Curate has departed, and the Churchwardens are different people. The organist is the same, but the choir has quite altered. The congregation that assembled four years ago in St. Martin’s could not be brought together now. Change had set its mark everywhere, especially was it seen in the churchyard, which then was empty but now contained seventeen graves. It is a pleasure to notice how well kept both the church and churchyard are. A few defects have appeared in the course of the past four years in the “rough cast” or outer coating of the church. In one or two places it has fallen away from the brick work and will need careful watching in wet and frosty weather, that repairs may be executed in time. Ivy and creepers are beginning to take off the monotony of the bare white walls, and the young trees in the churchyard have now taken firm hold of the soil. But what is all this if the inside of the Church is not duly furnished with a good congregation?When Mr. Switzer preached on the text “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is,” he said that he did not think that all the inhabitants of Preston had properly responded to this exhortation – some had, others had not – some had made noble efforts to be in their places on Sundays, others had made no effort at all, and it ought to be noted that God required Sunday Morning Prayers, as well as the Sunday Evening Worship.”Thanks are due to Miss Robinson for making and presenting a set of six white book-markers for the Church. It is a kind gift, like many others that Preston has received since its Church was begun.