A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
Preston School: 1900 - 1939
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
1897 13 July. The school managers (The Revs Hensley and Switzer and Mr R de 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. 1901 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 go. 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.
1902 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). 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.
1903 6 February. Seventy-four on the register. 11 February. Mr Barrington-White’s head keeper has left causing a less number on the books. 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 wet feet. 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 of them. 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. 1904 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 on books. 29 April. Miss Knight left to be married. 2 May. Carrie Ashton is teaching the infants for a week or two until an assistant is engaged. 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 duties here. 10 November. Gave thirteen boys leave of absence for the day to go with Mr Barrington-White’s shooting party. 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. 1905 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. Ten desks with backs and a bookshelf were ordered. Mr W Jeeves’ estimate for repairs was accepted. 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
1906 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 Flower Show. 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
Preston School 1917
1918 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 pregnant). 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. 1919 12 February. Mrs Vickers called this morning with reference to the School children’s 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.
Preston School circa 1919
1920 5 January. Forty-three pupils on the roll.. 7 February. HCC approved the appointment of Mrs Wray as a cleaner at a monthly salary of £1 12 February. Mrs Golledge resigned and was replaced by Miss RG Barker. Link: Miss Rose Barker 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 Vickers allowed the School to use a strip of land to enlarge the playground. Mr Stubbs of ‘The Cottage’ was suggested as a School Manager. 1921 9 February. Acting in agreement with the Correspondent, I have suspended CW for disgusting behaviour until 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 sick)....followed by J J Robinson and F Harvey. 25 November. 40 on books
Preston School circa 1921/1922
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. 1923 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 Post Office Savings and National Savings with the children. 1924 21 July. All twenty-five elder children being treated by Mrs Vickers to Wembley Exhibition. 1925 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 country dancing. 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 week. 20 November. Received six more dual desks from the CC and also a wheelbarrow.
This is likely the team that won the silver cup in the Country Dance Competition mentioned above
1926 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. 1928 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. 1929 1 February. Rev Ashley 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. 1930 April 14. Lt Col Dennistoun appointed as Parish Council representative on Board of Managers. 1936 9 October. Miss Deed offered to continue as Head Mistress until the summer of 1937. 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. 1938 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. Link: List of 529 pupils 1900 - 1939
Rose Barker - Assistant Teacher from 1920 until at least 1946 Link: R Barker
School’. They decided to send not £1 but 10/- subscription to the Herts Voluntary Schools Association as ‘the School was poor’. 1907 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 her appointment) 8 October. Five boys absent owing to being summoned to appear as witnesses in illegal employment cases. 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. 1908 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 monitress 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 and Wray. 23 December. Minnie Oakley resigned as Head Mistress (She moved to Boxmoor). 1909 11 January. Maud Horsfield commenced duties as Head Mistress. Link: Eugenics 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 Manager. 1910 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 1911 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 the children. 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) 1912 January. Infants classes taken by Rosa Stoten and Margaret MacPherson is the temporary moniteress March. Mrs Fenwick, Sir Frederick MacMillan have sent cheques. 24 May. Miss Stoten resigned, leaving for St Mary’s, Hitchin. 1913 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 7 July. 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.) 1914 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. 1915 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 of influenza. 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. 1916 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. 1917 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.