Sutton Bonington is in south-west Nottinghamshire on the border with Leicestershire. The buildings on either side of the long, straggling main street lie between the flood plain of the River Soar and the London to Sheffield railway line. The parish also includes the tiny canal settlement of Zouch and some outlying houses in the Melton Lane and Landcroft Lane area. Originally two settlements which grew together in medieval times, the village has two churches, St Michael's in Bonington to the north and St Anne's in Sutton. The parishes were united for civil purposes in 1829, but it was 1923 before an order was made in Privy Council to amalgamate the ecclesiastical parishes, and 1950 before both benefices were vacant and one rector could be appointed.
The village covers 2183 acres, with fertile arable land on the higher ground to the north and east, and pasture in the river valley. The main occupations were framework knitting and agriculture in the 19th century, a period when the numerous small farms of earlier times were consolidated into larger holdings. The coming of the Midland Counties Railway in 1840 provided alternative employment, and by 1900 other work was available at the Hathern Station Brick and Terracotta works, the gypsum mines at Kingston, the Zouch plaster mills and in the declining cottage hosiery trade. At this time much of the land was owned by the Paget family of Sutton Hall and Loughborough, and one or two other wealthy proprietors. By 1915 the Midland Agricultural College had purchased land in the north-east of the parish, and moved from its original site at New Kingston into purpose-built accommodation on College Road at the end of the First World War. As the college expanded this provided more jobs for local people and today, as the University of Nottingham Faculty of Agricultural Science, it is the principal employer in Sutton Bonington.
In the early years of this century the village, with a population of around 1,000 (now 1,600), was still very much a rural community, but it had excellent communications with the outside world. There was no station in the 'parish itself, but residents used either Kegworth station (closed in 1969) to the north or Hathern station (closed in 1960) to the south. Roads led to Loughborough, Derby and Nottingham, with bus services from the 1920s, and the Soar Navigation linked the village to the Midlands and North of England via the canal network. This convenient transport system enabled local people to work outside the village without having to move away, and attracted middle and upper class people to take up residence. There were four establishments of 'gentleman' status in the village, and a number of wealthy business and retired people occupied some of the larger houses, most of which had previously been yeoman farmhouses.
The community was largely self-sufficient and there were several shops. Trades like blacksmith and saddler flourished, and carriers and hawkers provided a service for those unable to visit the nearby towns. Education to the age of 12 or so was available at the village schools, one of which, the Endowed School, had been founded in 1718. The children of the better off attended schools in Loughborough, a private school in Kegworth, or boarding-schools elsewhere. The villagers made their own entertainment, much of it revolving around the activities of church or one of the four chapels. Until the 1920s there were six public houses, and these traded alongside the popular Union Jack Coffee House and Temperance Hall and a fish and chip shop kept behind one of the cottages.
Sanitary conditions were fairly primitive: a sewer was laid down Main Street in 1908, but many houses were not connected to it and relied on cess pits and earth closets. Mains water was not laid on until 1936 and the villagers drew their supplies from wells or old pumps in Hungary Lane and Goose Pasture. In times of drought, for example in 1935, many wells dried up. Not surprisingly outbreaks of diseases like typhoid fever were quite common. Mains electricity came to the village in 1928, and a gas main was laid in 1964.
Sutton Bonington in the first half of the twentieth century was a thriving village with various means of employment and a community with a diverse social mix of gentry, middle classes, tradesmen, farmers and working people. Our previous booklet Discovering Sutton Bonington Past and Present described the buildings of the village and something of their history. In the following pages we hope you will enjoy learning about some of the people who lived in them and their way of life, in an era so different from our own.
Sutton Hall c.1900, showing bay windows and porch, since removed
At the end of the 19th century much of the land in Sutton Bonington was owned by members of an old Leicestershire family, the Pagets. William Paget, a wealthy merchant hosier and banker of Loughborough, purchased the Sutton Hall estate from the Parkyns family in the 1820s and bought up a good deal of other property in the village before his death in 1846. The estate was divided between his two sons, William junior and George Byng. William Paget became Lord of the Manor of St Anne's and owned property in the Sutton end of the village, though his main residence was at Southfields, Loughborough. George Byng Paget inherited Sutton Hall and the Lordship of St Michael's Manor, but did not outlive his father by many years, and on his death in 1858 the Sutton Hall estate passed to his son George Ernest Paget who resided in the village for most of his life.
After an early army career G.E.Paget developed numerous business interests, the most notable being his chairmanship of the Midland Railway Company. The railway line ran through the grounds of The Hall, and until his retirement trains were stopped for his convenience a short distance from the house. He was well known in county affairs, being Deputy Sheriff of Nottinghamshire at one time, and High Sheriff of Nottingham in 1898. He was created a Baronet by Queen Victoria in her Jubilee Honours of 1897 to mark the many developments on the Midland Railway during her reign. He was instrumental in providing corridor carriages. The Deanery Magazine for July states that during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations the chairman of the Parish Council, on behalf of the whole village, presented an address of congratulation to Sir Ernest and Lady Paget on the baronetcy which had been bestowed upon him: "All share in the feeling of joy that the village has been honoured in this way." Sir Ernest was a member of the Jockey Club, and had horses in training at Newmarket. His horse Reacher won the Cambridgeshire in 1922 at 33 to 1. He was also interested in cricket and became President of the Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club one year.
Sir Ernest was very much the squire in Sutton Bonington. He lived at The Hall with his wife, Sophia, and owned a large agricultural holding and many of the houses in the St Michael's end of the village. Most of the lovely old red brick Hall was erected in the reign of Queen Anne, and it was enlarged by Sir Ernest in the 1870s. A large staff was employed there including a butler, footman, cook and several maids. John Cavey was the butler, and Mr Clark head gardener over four or five junior staff. The gardens were beautifully kept, providing the house with vegetables and a variety of fruits. Each year flowers and produce were sent to St Michael's Church for the Harvest Festival, and hot-house blooms for Christmas and Easter. Sir Ernest was a keen horseman and grooms lived over the stables. Joe Monk, father of the builder G.T. Monk, was his coachman.
Hall Farm on the estate was managed by a bailiff, Robert Fowler, and Sir Ernest took a great interest in agricultural matters. Many of the villagers worked on the farm. John White who was a labourer on the estate in the 1890s recalled that his weekly wage was 14s. His wife was employed on the farm as a girl and earned Is for a nine hour day, 'twitching' (weeding), mangold loading etc. According to Millicent Vickerstaff, Sir Ernest had "ever so many sheep up on top" and these were tended by her father Thomas. He evidently excelled at his job for the sheep often won prizes at the Royal Show and Christmas Fat 'Stock shows.
Sir Ernest Paget, Bt. 1841-1923
The Pagets were benefactors in the village as well as employers. They contributed to all the appeals for funds and supported charitable events. Every year they provided a dinner for the old people, with roast beef cooked in the baker's oven and puddings boiled in the copper. Coals and sacks of potatoes were also distributed to the elderly. Lady Paget took an interest in the welfare of the tenants, and if anyone was ill she would take them a rice pudding. She became the 'Lady Manager' in the village when the first District Nurse was appointed in 1894: persons requiring the nurse's services were requested to apply to her. (Subscriptions were a halfpenny per week or 2d per month).
Sir Ernest was closely involved in the affairs of St Michael's church. He was a member of the Vestry and rarely missed a meeting. He provided money towards repairs of the fabric when necessary, donating many items to furnish the church. These included the Paget memorial windows by C.E. Kempe dedicated on Easter Sunday 1897, and the oak eagle lectern described in The Deanery Magazine (December 1895) as 'an animated and finely-conceived piece of modelling with a noble and free outline'. These benefactions were accepted with suitable gratitude by the parishioners. In January 1899 The Deanery Magazine states: 'It is with the greatest pleasure and thankfulness that we here record a truly munificent act on the part of Sir Ernest Paget, in having provided for our Church a new and powerful boiler, a stokery in harmony with its surroundings, a radiator for the Chancel, and in a variety of ways enormously improved those methods hitherto adopted for heating the sacred edifice... We have, moreover, to thank him again this year for gravelling the churchyard'.
The annual church garden party was often held in the grounds of the Hall, as were hospital fetes. Mrs Alice Berresford remembers Sir Ernest teaching her to play croquet
at one of these events. The Hall Field across the road was frequently used for village celebrations.
Sir Ernest was a manager of the village schools, which he and Lady Paget would visit to inspect the buildings and see the pupils' work. Very occasionally they invited the teachers to concerts in Nottingham or provided the scholars with a tea or entertainment in the Temperance Hall at Christmas. One year Lady Paget decorated a Christmas tree with gifts for 200 children. Not all who were youngsters at that time remember Sir Ernest with affection, for he was a typical squire and expected due deference. Girls had to curtsey when they met him in the village, and boys tip their cap. They got into trouble if they did not open the gate when he approached on horseback, and one gentleman recalls an enraged Sir Ernest lashing a whip and chasing him and some other boys out of the field on the corner of Pasture Lane (now Council houses) where they were playing cricket! At this time there was no recreation ground so the children had no choice but to trespass if they wanted to play in a field rather than the village street.
Lady Paget was never seen without two or three black dogs at her heels. When she died in 1913 she was the first person to be interred in the new churchyard extension on Marlepit Hill. An estate dray was used as her hearse.
Sir Ernest and Lady Paget had two sons and a daughter. George Leigh Paget, the elder son, met a tragic end at the age of 29 when serving as a Captain in the Rifle Brigade in the South African War. He died of wounds received at Vlakfontein, Transvaal on October 10th 1900 and there is a window and cross in his memory in St Michael's church. Miss Ellen Gaskin remembered him riding up to her cottage door accompanied by his sister, and described him as "a fine young man". The younger son was Cecil Walter Paget, a brilliant engineer who followed his father in the Midland Railway, being General Superintendent for 10 years. His first marriage was to Lady
Miss Hylda Sophia Paget, later Mrs William Tilney
Alexandra Godolphin in 1906 and they made their home at Kings Newton, near Derby, where he rebuilt the burnt out old Hall. He served in the First World War with honours, and succeeded to the baronetcy and the estate in 1923 when Sir Ernest died and was buried beside his wife in the Marlepit Hill cemetery. Sir Cecil, who died in 1936 without issue, was also buried there with his second wife, Florence.
Miss Hylda Sophia Paget was Sir Ernest's only daughter. She is remembered with affection, and Mrs Jane Wrath described her as "a lovely person". She too supported St Michael's church in many practical ways, helping with bazaars and decorating the church for festivals. In 1902 she married Colonel William A. Tilney, a professional soldier with a distinguished military career. From 1911-1915 he was Commander of his regiment, the 17th Lancers, and in the First World War he was Military Secretary to the London and Eastern Command. They had two sons, Robert Adolphus George Tilney ('Dolly') and Edward Vyner Tilney. Owing to their parents' frequent absence overseas these boys lived for a while at 118 Main Street, Sutton Bonington in an old farmhouse belonging to the Paget estate. Lady Paget, their grandmother, is remembered carrying one of them piggy-back, along Main Street to The Hall.
When Sir Ernest died in 1923 Mrs Tilney and her husband came to live in The Hall as her brother was already established at King's Newton. They had fewer servants than in Sir Ernest's time, and altered the house for convenience. The gardens were still well maintained and made available for the traditional fetes. The links with the church and village schools also continued.
The estate eventually passed to Brigadier R.A.G. Tilney, their eldest son, and his daughter Anne the Lady Elton is the present owner of Sutton Hall.
The 19th century owner of the other Sutton Bonington estate, William Paget junior, built the house now called St Anne's Manor, but originally called The Cliff, in 1848. It
Sir Ernest Paget's funeral cortege, 1923. Robert Fowler, farm bailiff on left, Tommy Caldwell, waggoner, leading horse
Sir Ernest Paget's funeral, 1923. St Michael's choir approaching Marlepit Hill cemetery
stands on the high ground behind St Anne's church with fine views over the Soar valley. (The original manor house, a timber-frame building, stood in St Anne's Lane. It had been divided into three dwellings, and was demolished in 1965.) After the death of William Paget's widow in 1884 St Anne's Manor was let, and eventually sold, but to this day descendants of the family still own much of the original inheritance, which includes a large agricultural holding and the old stone house known as 'Hobgoblins' in Park Lane.
The Loughborough Pagets were generous in contributing to village fund appeals, and patronizing local events. They met a large proportion of the costs of the 19 th century restorations of both Sutton Bonington churches, and many members of the family have been brought to Sutton to be buried in St Anne's churchyard. There are several memorial windows in the church, and the lych-gate was erected by subscription in memory of Frances Ann Paget, the widow of William junior. Their eldest son, William Byerley Paget, gave the land in St Anne's Lane and built the Village Hall in 1908. Like Sir Ernest he was prominent in county affairs, being High Sheriff of Leicestershire, a magistrate, county councillor and Joint Master of the Quorn Hunt. He distributed coal and potatoes in winter to the elderly who lived in Sutton St Anne's parish and gave money for the needy of St Michael's at Christmas.
There are few memories of this side of the Paget family because they did not live in the village, but later on in the 1920s Mr Edgar Paget, a distant relative, came to reside at Eviton House near Kegworth crossroads. He and his wife are recalled as a very pleasant couple, greatly concerned with the welfare of the villagers. Mrs Paget was President of the Women's Institute for many years, and Mr Paget provided milk for the children at the Infants School in the days before it was given by the authorities. He died in 1945 and was buried in St Anne's churchyard.
The Old Manor and St Anne's Church, c. 1920
After Mr William Paget's widow died in 1884 this house was let and eventually Major Charles Richard Tennant J.P. became the occupant. He bought the property and the parkland around it in 1891 for £11,000, making many costly renovations and alterations to the house. Major Tennant was a professional soldier, born of a naval family in Staffordshire, and he served in the 2nd Life Guards in the Egyptian War of 1882. He retired from the army in 1885 and the next year married the Hon. Ruth Adamson Brooks, youngest daughter of the first Lord Crawshaw of Whatton Hall. The couple probably came to live at the Manor soon after this, and resided there for the next fifty years.
Major and Mrs Tennant had no children and lived quietly at the Manor, not joining in village life to any great extent. They went to St Anne's church every Sunday and Mrs Berresford recalls Mrs Tennant wearing lovely grey furs and splendid jewellery on these occasions. Major Tennant was Rector's Warden for many years. The Manor gardens were not opened for charity events, even though they were beautifully kept, and fetes for St Anne's church were always held in the Rectory grounds. However the Major contributed generously to the upkeep of the church, and he was also a manager at the National School. The Major was a prominent follower of the hounds and kept hunters in the stables adjoining the house.
In keeping with their lifestyle and the size of the house, the Tennants employed several staff. Mr William Shaw, who had been batman to the Major in the army, retired with him and came to Sutton as his butler. He lived with his wife Emma and two young daughters in a cottage near St Anne's church, so that the children did not disturb the
peace at the Manor! After Mr Shaw retired, Mr Wright became the butler. Mr Watts was head groom and lived in the Lodge House in Hungary Lane. Jo Patrick and Harry Silvester, the under-grooms, lived in the village. The other servants were a cook/housekeeper, housemaids and a gardener, Mr Holden, who lived in the Old Manor in St Anne's Lane. When motor cars came on the scene Jack Thomas was the chauffeur and Mrs Edna Marshall remembers that he was always sent round the village on polling day to pick up the Conservative voters. She and her friends used to climb on board for a free ride!
The big event remembered about the Manor is the night that it caught fire. It was Christmas time in 1908, and most of the villagers were at a social in the Old School near St Michael's church. Word came down that the house was on fire and everyone left and rushed there to assist in any way they could. Percy Haywood recalls people running about shouting "Fire at the Manor!" and virtually the whole village was quickly at the scene helping to carry the furniture out. All those who helped at the fire were given a gold sovereign by Major Tennant afterwards.
According to local newspaper reports, the fire was discovered by a maid shortly after midnight, and the alarm given immediately. Mrs Tennant's invalid sister, Mrs Townshend of Nuneaton who was staying with them, was evacuated to a nearby farm whilst helpers brought out much of the valuable antique furniture and priceless works of art: these included a number of Gainsborough pictures. A good quantity was saved from the drawing room and some of the bedrooms, and everything was removed from the dining room on the west side. It was stored in an arbour on the lawn, and in various
The Hon Mrs Tennant planting King George V's Jubilee Tree at Pasture Lane in 1935. I to r: W. Brown, A.E.M. Shepherd, Rev Hodder (Meth.), F.W. Beckett, Rev A.L. Thomas (St Anne's), J.R. Branson, Rev F.W. Soames (St Michael's), Mrs Tennant, Mr Pateman, Rev Weddell (Metn.)
St Anne's Manor before and after the 1908 fire
St Anne's Manor in 1985, showing former stables and outbuildings
outbuildings. However the flames spread rapidly, and soon the whole south side of the house was enveloped. The fire and a huge pall of smoke could be seen from many miles away.
A motor car was sent to Nottingham to summon the Fire Brigade, but Sutton Bonington was outside their area, so the car had to make its way to Loughborough where the Brigade received the call about 2 o'clock. Foreman Wesley turned out with the light steamer and a complement of men, but their progress was impeded by the icy roads, and they did not arrive until 2.30. The firemen had great problems with the water supply, for the Manor well kept running dry. An attempt to connect the hoses to Sir Ernest Paget's reservoir failed because the pipe became choked with ice due to the intense cold. The freezing weather hampered all the firemen's efforts, icicles formed on their faces as they worked, and to cap it all a blizzard engulfed the scene for some time. Eventually the fire was brought under control, so that by daylight the flames had been put out, although the debris continued to smoulder for hours. The brigade finally left the scene at 5 o'clock in the afternoon.
Practically the whole of the south-east portion of the main building was gutted, nothing standing but the walls, and much of the contents of the remainder was damaged; the losses ran to many thousands of pounds. The Major took the opportunity to refurbish and extend the house. The family lived at Whatton Hall for a while before moving into the back of the Manor whilst the front part was rebuilt. The fire was thought to have started in a beam over the library fireplace, but this was never resolved satisfactorily.
Major Tennant died in 1937 and his widow in 1943. Both are buried in St Anne's churchyard. After their deaths the house passed to Sir Charles Buchanan, a nephew of Major Tennant, who died in 1984. Sir Charles and Lady Buchanan opened the attractive and interesting gardens for fetes and parties, and took a much more active part in village life than their predecessors. Lady Buchanan still lives at the Manor, which has now been in the occupancy of one family for nearly a century.
The Elms is a large house situated between College Road and the railway line, now used as a Veterinary Investigation Centre by the Ministry of Agriculture. It was built in 1860 for John Harris, Esquire, and While's Directory of 1864 describes it as a 'neat brick dwelling, with pleasure grounds and gardens attached, tastefully laid out'. Towards the end of the 19th century the house had some famous occupants. Owen White described the situation well: "Mrs Tillotson lived at Whatton Hall. Her husband realized that when he passed on, she wouldn't be able to keep it up, so he disposed of the Hall and bought The Elms. Well, he passed away and she married Admiral King-Hall. After that she married Sir Alexander Armstrong, but she outlived them all."
Charlotte Simpson was born in Staffordshire in 1827 and married Thomas Tillotson of Sheffield in 1850. They appear to have bought The Elms in 1874, although Mrs Tillotson probably did not live there until after her husband's death in 1878. There is a window and brass tablet to his memory in St Michael's church, but Mr Tillotson does not seem to have been buried in Sutton Bonington. Mrs Tillotson's second husband Admiral Sir William King-Hall was born in 1816 and had a distinguished naval career, winning honours in the Chinese War of 1856. He was deeply religious and a leading figure in the temperance movement. After he came to live at Sutton Bonington in retirement he was much concerned with charitable organizations, and was responsible for the building of the Temperance Hall in Bollards Lane (to be described in a future publication). He died in 1886 and was buried in St Anne's churchyard, where his grave is marked with a headstone in the form of an anchor. There is also a window to his memory in the church, depicting Christ walking on the sea with Peter, erected by his widow, and a memorial plaque in St Michael's put up by the children of his first marriage 'who thank God for having blessed them with such an unselfish father'.
Dame Charlotte King-Hall was married again in 1894 to Sir Alexander Armstrong, another naval hero. He was Honorary Physician to Queen Victoria and to the Prince of Wales, but had spent 5 years in the Arctic as medical officer on board The Investigator. This ship's expedition was famous for achieving the long-sought North-west Passage, and Sir Alexander was responsible for keeping the crew alive under conditions of great hardship and privation. In Sutton Bonington he lived quietly, dying at The Elms in 1899, aged 81. Lady Armstrong gave the present seating in St Michael's church in his memory.
According to Owen White, Lady Armstrong was "a very kind lady. She used to entertain the choir from St Michael's church each year, and she attended the service at St Michael's one Sunday, and the following Sunday at St Anne's. Now, that large opening at the top of the lane outside St Anne's, that was made on purpose for her carriage and pair to turn round in. Previous it was just a straight lane and they used to have to go into the field to turn round, so Mr William Paget of Loughborough gave that bit of land to make a carriage ring". This was in the days before the Village Hall was built. Lady Armstrong was much involved in the affairs of the village and the two churches, contributing generously to charitable appeals and patronizing local events. After Lady Armstrong died childless in 1913, The Elms was put up for auction and the sale catalogue gives a good picture of a 'gentleman's residence' of the period. The house is described as having a 'spacious hall, dining room, drawing room, study, billiard room, nine principal bedrooms and dressing rooms, bathroom, schoolroom,
nursery and complete domestic offices'. These latter were 'well shut off from the residential part of the house' and comprised butler's pantry, servants' hall, housekeeper's room, kitchen, scullery, larder and storeroom. There was a bungalow lodge at the entrance to the drive, stables for three horses, carriage house and motor garage, harness room and two cottages for a coachman and gardener, plus a large kitchen garden with glasshouses etc.. The estate extended over 14 acres and included 'The Farmery' a range of brick buildings comprising cowhouses for 12 beasts, barn, large granary, open cartshed, piggeries and fenced-in rickyard. The purpose of this 'farmery' is somewhat puzzling as the property did not seem to be an agricultural holding, only one acre being arable and the remainder 'rich old pasture with spinnies'. Possibly there was more of a farm in the house's mid-Victorian beginnings.
It took a good number of servants to run this establishment and in the 1881 census returns eight were listed at The Elms a butler, cook/housekeeper, page, kitchenmaid, two housemaids, a lady's-maid and a governess for those of the Admiral's children still at home. In addition there was a resident coachman and a gardener. All of these people came from elsewhere, so the house did not help with local employment.
The property was evidently bought by the Midland Agricultural College for The Elms was next occupied by Dr Goodwin, Principal of the College and then by his successor, Dr Milburn. They cannot have lived in the style of the house's Victorian and Edwardian heyday. Later the house was converted into offices and laboratories.
This stone house first appears in White's Directory of Nottinghamshire for 1864, being described as 'a neat brick(!) residence 1 1/4 miles from the village and near Kegworth Station'. The seat and property of Thomas B. Chamberlain J.P., it was close to The Elms in the far north-west of the parish, and the two houses were built around the same time in the early 1860s. The site occupied part of an 85 acre holding allotted to John Chamberlain (grandfather of Thomas) in the St Michael's Enclosure Award of 1777, and was bounded on the north by the road to Kegworth and the east by the Kingston road, now College Road. The railway cut the holding in two when it came through in 1840, and the close proximity of the new Kegworth Station may have induced the building of Sutton Fields and The Elms in that otherwise isolated part of the parish. Unlike The Elms, Sutton Fields had a sizeable area of farm land attached. The house was substantial, with a lodge at the entrance to the drive on Kegworth Road, and a range of outbuildings, including coach-house, stables, farrier's shop, forge and a pair of cottages for employees.
Little is known of the Chamberlain family. By the time of the 1881 census William Tidmas was the owner and occupier of Sutton Fields. Born in Manchester, he was a surgeon and physician turned lace manufacturer. His wife Martha was the daughter of Jonathan Burton, a self-made Nottingham brown net manufacturer who had purchased an estate in the village, and the couple probably moved to Sutton Bonington after his sudden death in 1856. According to the 1861 census William and Martha
Sutton Fields House, from the garden, 'c. 1930
Gables Farm, from the garden, c. 1900
Tidmas were living in Main Street near the Baptist chapel with the widowed Mrs Burton, and it is known that he built Gables Farm which was demolished to make way for the houses of Gables Lea in the 1970s. Evidently this was not large enough for the family, for they purchased Sutton Fields, a much grander residence, and farmed 178 acres in Sutton Bonington: this made William Tidmas the third biggest landowner in the village after Sir Ernest and William Paget. The Gables farmland was in St Anne's parish in the south-east, between Park Lane and the Brickworks, extending to the Rempstone Road, and also included the fields behind the farmhouse running down to the river. Lodge Farm in Sutton Bonington was also the property of the Tidmas family and the Midland Agricultural College was built on this site after the land was sold in 1911.
The Tidmas family was wealthy and influential in the village at the end of the 19th century. In all the lists of charity contributions Mr Tidmas's name regularly comes third after G.E. and W.B.Paget, and he seems to have given money to every possible Sutton Bonington cause, for example donating £250 to the restoration of St Michael's church in 1878 (the Pagets each gave £500 that year). After he died in 1882 his widow stayed on at Sutton Fields and his son Jonathan inherited the farms, and presumably the lace business in Nottingham. Despite their economic importance in the village, the family seem to have made little impact on the inhabitants, for memories of them are almost entirely lacking. Mrs Martha Tidmas lived on to the ripe age of 81, and was buried alongside her husband in St Anne's churchyard in 1906. Her daughter Lucy gave the litany desk and choirstalls in St Michael's church in 1914 in memory of her
mother. Gables Farm was let out to Mr J.W. Burrowes, who bought it when this holding and Lodge Farm were sold up in 1911. Sutton Fields was purchased by Mrs Shakespeare and Jonathan Tidmas went to live in Normanton-on-Soar, so by the time of the First World War there was little trace of the Tidmas family in Sutton Bonington.
Mrs Shakespeare and her daughter lived at Sutton Fields for a few years, and had one of the first motor cars in the district. Fred Baxter remembers delivering milk and cream to them from Manor Farm, Kingston, in a pony and trap during the First World War. The head gardener then was Mr Maddocks, who lived in the lodge house. Percy Haywood remembers another called Gaskin living in the coachyard. Mrs Shakespeare died in 1919, and her daughter went to live in Loughborough.
The next occupant of the house seems to have been a William Parnham Smith, a farmer who also had some other land in the village. By this time it must have been extremely difficult to run the house without the battery of servants employed in Victorian and Edwardian days, and the house was empty for some years in the 1920s. Mr Kent was the caretaker, and he stayed on after the property was purchased by Nottinghamshire County Council around 1930 for use as a boarding school for educationally sub-normal girls. Miss Foster was the first headmistress; Mr Pearson took over as caretaker in 1935 and a number of local people worked in the gardens. The old coach-house was turned into a cookery room, and three wooden classrooms were built in the grounds. The crocodiles of girls in brown uniforms walking through the village are still remembered. In due course it was decided that boarding education was not suitable for this type of child and so the house and grounds were sold off and converted into private residences.
Main Street, showing Gables Farm on the left and Baptist Chapel railings on right
CHURCH AND CHAPEL
There cannot be very many villages the size of Sutton Bonington that could boast six places of worship co-existing at one time. The Anglican churches of St Anne and St Michael date back to the days when there were two separate communities, and they were only united under one rector in 1950. The Baptist chapel was built in 1794, the first Wesleyan chapel in 1796 (rebuilt in 1868), a Primitive Methodist chapel in 1832 (closed in 1914) and a United Methodist chapel in 1854 (closed 1940).
It is a little difficult to tell what the relationship was between the various congregations: it probably changed from time to time. Most people had their particular loyalty, though Owen White said that Lady Armstrong, from The Elms, at the beginning of the century attended both Anglican churches. Owen went to St Michael's Sunday School, and when the Rev W.R. Hamilton started a Sunday School for St Anne's in the newly-erected Village Hall (about 1908) he came home one day and said to his father, "Can't I go to Mr Hamilton's Sunday School?" Says he, "You know where you started?" "Yes." "Well you'll finish there." "I never asked him no more." The Deanery Magazine in the 1880s and 1890s has separate entries for the two parishes, and it is evident that they functioned quite independently.
Mrs Eva Walker recalls that children from one parish did not play with those from the other parish in the Edwardian era, although they attended the same day-school. Her mother, Mrs Mary Stokoe, was unusual because she went to the afternoon service at St Anne's (the parish in which she lived) and to St Michael's in the evening, for she had always been used to an evening service.
Mrs Jane Wrath went to the Baptist chapel as a child, and remembered another child saying to her, "Church is better than chapel." "They are both the same" replied Jane, "God is in them both." "Oh" the girl retorted, "but the Church is the Temple of God, and chapel is only the House of God." "Well," said Jane, "I'd rather live in a house than in a temple!"
Chris Taylor, a Methodist, remembering his younger days in the 1920s and 30s, says: "In them days the church and chapel got on very well together, and on special occasions they used to join forces. The Rector of St Michael's was the Rev F.W.Soames, and we used to get on well with him you could work with him."
St Michael's, the larger of the two Anglican churches, stands back from Main Street amid grassy banks. It has an Early English nave and 15th century spire. An old story has it that a cottager undertook to haul as much stone from Castle Donington as would wear out a pair of wheels provided for the purpose. The tale may not be true, but the church tower is certainly built of Castle Donington stone. The clerestory was added in the 16th century, but the chancel and porch were rebuilt from the foundations in 1878 when the roofs of the nave and aisle were also renewed and the walls repaired. A screen and pulpit were erected in 1895 (though the fund to pay for them remained open for several more years), and the lectern was presented by Sir Ernest Paget, who also paid for the bells to be re-hung in 1902.
The Rev Ralph Owen Yearsley was rector of St Michael's for 47 years, from 1866 to his retirement in 1913. The Rectory was the large house with a drive leading off Marlepit Hill which is now post-graduate flats belonging to the School of Agriculture.
The Rev R.O. Yearsley, Rector of St Michael's 1866-1913
The family was wealthy, and kept a carriage and pair and several servants, including a gardener who lived in a cottage near the Rectory. Mr Yearsley was a Manager and Correspondent of the National School for many years, and also took an interest in the history of Sutton Bonington. He privately published a little booklet on this subject in 1902 entitled Our Church and Parish, which he dedicated to the parishioners of the village 'whose constant kindness for many years has won my lasting regard.' An article by him on St Michael's church was also published in the Thoroton Society Transactions of 1910. In the window on the south side of the chancel in St Michael's the face of Mary Magdalene is a portrait of the rector's first wife. A brass altar cross commemorates his daughter who died in 1885 aged 14, and a window was put in the north wall of the chancel in Mr Yearsley's memory after his death in 1917 at Brighton.
In the 1890s, Sunday School treats took place in the Rectory grounds and one such event is described in The Deanery Magazine for August 1891. One hundred scholars and teachers attended a short service in St Michael's and then marched with flags and banners to the Rectory, where amusements were provided and a 'sumptuous tea' at 4 p.m. Each child received a generous gift such as a workbox, fancy basket, inkstand, football, cricket ball, bat, stumps, etc. The Sutton Brass Band played and the day ended at 9 p.m. with the National Anthem and cheers for the rector and his wife.
In the same decade cricket and football clubs were started for the boys in the choir which proved popular, and the Mothers' Union seems to have been founded in 1893 when weekly meetings for mothers were held in the National School on Monday afternoons. By 1896 the M.U. was meeting at the Rectory, and it is still in existence.
The Rev George Augustus Seymour Metford followed Mr Yearsley in 1913. His daughter played the violin and held little musical services oh Sunday afternoons.
The Rev Francis W.Soames was rector from 1922 to 1948. He "made himself poor by being kind", and with his wife took part in many village activities; they kept open house at the Rectory where the children and young people were given free run of the place. The annual New Year party they gave in their own home is still remembered with pleasure. Mrs Soames taught the girls to sew, and helped with the Girl Guides and Friendly Society which met at the house. The church was always full during Mr Soames' incumbency, and the couple were very friendly and would stop and chat with parishioners they met in the street.
The Rectory was sold to Nottingham University after he left the village.
The affairs of the church were managed by the Vestry which met once or twice a year until the early 1920s when it became the Parochial Church Council with quarterly meetings. The rector was usually in the chair, and Sir Ernest Paget was invariably present, or Colonel Tilney after Sir Ernest's death, along with the churchwardens and other village worthies. The main business conducted was the appointment of churchwardens, parish clerk, sexton, bellringer, church cleaner etc. for the year, and the fixing of their wages. Before the First World War churchwardens nominated included J. Spiby, G. Towers Chester, George Dutton, G. Shepherd, J.R. Branson, Robert Fowler (bailiff to Sir Ernest Paget), Thomas Haywood, the butcher and Oliver Thompson, headmaster of the National School. In 1904 after the new cemetery on Marlepit Hill had been opened, George White was appointed caretaker at £6 10s p.a. to be paid quarterly, whilst Joe Hardy who tended the churchyard received £4 15s 4d. In 1912 the annual salaries paid by the Vestry were: Parish Clerk £4, Organist £5, Blower £2 3s, Cleaner £4 5s 6d and Washing surplices £1 14s.
Various men worked as parish clerk, but Joe Hardy did the job most often, finally retiring in 1926. His life was wrapped up in the affairs of the church and his daughter, Mrs Annie May Anderson, recalls: "Me dad was a big churchman, me mother was a chapel woman. Over 50 years he was choirboy, sexton, bellringer, grave digger, clockwinder, all the lot. Clock's never gone proper since he died! Every Friday night we used to go with him to wind the clock. There's a trap-door where you go to ring the bells, where the ropes are and the bells are above...and you used to go up the back trapdoor to wind the clock...all the flies collected round the clock in one black mass! He used to ring the curfew every night at 8 o'clock, and on Saturdays he used to ring the five bells round. And always for funerals, he used to do all that."
When anyone died the bells were rung three round on each for a man and two round for a woman, followed by the age of the person. The curfew was rung daily at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. on Saturday) from October 13th (Old Michaelmas Day) until the following March 25th, except at Christmas, and the prayer bell was rung on Sundays. The wages of the ringer were paid out of the rent received for Bell Close, a small plot of land down Soar Lane. In 1912 the income from this source was £2 10s, but the tenants became troublesome and in 1924 the field was sold for £50 and the money invested in Consols. Percy Haywood was curfew ringer at a later date, so was Walter ('Warwick') Wright and various village lads seem to have taken a turn occasionally.
There were five bells in the church tower and these were rung regularly, with special peals on important occasions such as the wedding in London in 1933 of Brigadier Tilney to Miss Frances Barclay. This peal is commemorated by a small brass plaque in the tower. A sixth bell was added in 1977 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee.
In the days before the First World War heating and lighting the church were not just a matter of pressing a switch. Joe Hardy used to prepare the building for services and his daughter recalls: "There were oil lamps and a boiler, and we used to wheel the coal for him...when he were at work." Lighting the boiler was not always straightforward as
the stokehole was below ground level and subject to flooding due to the high water table in Sutton Bonington. 'Water in the stokery' was a perpetual problem mentioned in the Vestry Minute Book during the early years of this century, and it caused a good deal of expenditure. Mrs Anderson remembers it too: "That's where the water used to get...we used to pump the water out sometimes before me dad got in. But we used to revel in it!" Despite all these activities connected with St Michael's, Mrs Anderson and her brothers and sisters always attended chapel! The blacksmith, W.S. Pritchett, was a devoted churchwarden later on, who spent much time looking after the churchyard, maintaining the clock and, no doubt, the heating apparatus. The church cleaner for 20 years was Miss Ruth Lee, sister of Alice the headmistress of the Endowed Infants School. She resigned in 1919 and by 1925 when Mrs Sutton was the cleaner the wages were raised from 3s 6d to 4s a week! For an extra 10s per annum she was also to polish the church brasses three times a year.
The choir at St Michael's was large and included some fine singers. Oliver Thompson, the schoolmaster, was choirmaster for many years. This meant that the day-school was closed when the annual choir outing took place a trip to Morecombe or Liverpool. Miss Lottie Shaw, a pupil teacher with Mr Thompson, often sang solos, and her sister Edith was also in the choir. Edith married Leonard French, bellringer and sometime parish clerk, and their son Alfred can remember his days in the choir as a small boy. At that time, just after the First War, his fellow choristers included Veryl and Norman Clark, sons of the head gardener at The Hall, Jimmy Moody, whose parents ran the Temperance Hall, the Sutton boys who lived next the Old Boot public house, and Albert and George Cavey, sons of Sir Ernest Paget's butler. When Sir Ernest had weekend house parties at The Hall the choir had to perform special anthems and pieces in church on Sunday for the guests. Every October for many years Mrs Dashwood, who lived at Eviton House, presented each member of the choir with 'a carefully selected and well-bound volume in recognition of their services.' In 1985 Percy Haywood was presented with a medal by the Bishop of Southwell to mark 75 years of singing in the choir.
Alfred French was also in the Sunday School, which met in the Old School in the church forecourt. He well remembers the outings to Longcliffe, in Charnwood Forest, in a farm waggon lent by Sir Ernest Paget, which was pulled by two mules through Loughborough and up Forest Road. The children had tea and games, usually organised by the day-school teachers, before the two hour journey home. The mules always pulled a lot faster on the way back! Occasionally the outings were to places further afield such as Liverpool in 1906, but this was unusual.
Important events in the church calendar were Christmas, Easter and the Harvest Festival, when St Michael's was lavishly decorated with greenery, flowers and produce as appropriate, given by the wealthier parishioners. The erection of the new chancel screen and pulpit in 1895 meant that 'the area for decoration was somewhat more restricted than heretofore.' The senior girls of the Sunday School helped with the decorating, and were rewarded by seeing their names listed in The Deanery Magazine account of the occasion. The money collected at the Harvest Festival was often given to Loughborough Infirmary and the produce distributed amongst the sick and needy of the parish.
Most of the social events connected with St Michael's were directed towards fund-raising. Rummage sales were ever popular, and there were fetes and garden parties. In 1920 a Victory Ball made £13 and a garden fete in 1921 helped to raise the £55 needed for new heating apparatus in the church. The Organ Fund often seems to have been in dire straits, and the proceeds of Socials often went to this cause. Sometimes the
organist had to give a recital to raise the money for his own salary! Most events, such as a whist drive held in 1926 to pay for a mowing machine for the churchyard, were held in the Old School. The church crockery kept there for serving refreshments seems to have caused some problems. There are several inventories of this assortment of cups, saucers and plates etc. preserved in the parish records. For example in 1919 the list included 135 cups, 3 chipped, 3 without handles; in 1925 the matter became so serious that a committee was set up to supervise the church crockery, led by Mrs Soames the rector's wife!
Thanks to wealthy patrons, the dedication of sincere rectors, and much hard work by parishioners from all walks of life, the role of St Michael's church was an active one in the parish, and still is today.
St Michael's Church, before pews were installed, c. 1900
The small 11th century church of St Anne overlooks the village from its peaceful churchyard where trees, wild flowers and roses mingle with interesting old tombstones. The nave was restored in 1860 by Mr William Paget, Lord of the Manor of St Anne's, and the chancel in 1877 when the Rev E.S. Taylor was rector, £250 being borrowed from Queen Anne's Bounty charged to the benefice, and £240 subscribed. Edwin Dolby was the architect. In 1891 The Deanery Magazine reported that the church was offered altar rails 'which are much needed. A kind friend has also offered to supply another want, that of a pulpit, which we have accepted, but it will require some thought as to the best situation in which to place it, and a design for the plain and simple one in accordance with the internal fittings of the little church must be procured. In September 1896 the purchase of an organ was proposed, and by the following autumn £280 had been subscribed, and the instrument was dedicated on October 31st. 'The instrument, though small in point of size, is ample enough in sound and sweetness of tone for so small a church as ours, and will prove to be a very great help to the choir and congregation in their service of praise and thanksgiving. It had been necessary to build a recess in the chancel wall in which to place it. The old harmonium used previously was sold to the National School for £5.
At the same time it had also proved needful to repair the bells. According to The Deanery Magazine they were inspected by Mr Taylor 'the well-known bell-founder of Loughborough, and his report is that they must be taken down immediately to prevent further mischief, repaired, and re-hung in the picturesque bell gable where they have hung so long, one of them for more than 400 years. The other bell was placed in its present position in 1829, and very probably took the place of one as old as the first. The total cost of the operation was £14.
The Rev E.S. Taylor died in 1902, and as a memorial to him the window to the east of the south door was put in and the vestry built. Owen White recalled: "Mr Taylor used to make a practice of visiting all his parishioners, independent of who they were, each week. He'd go to so many on a Monday, a few more on Tuesday, and so on through the week." It is clear from his articles in The Deanery Magazine that he was a sincere Christian, deeply concerned for the spiritual welfare of his flock. In spite of constant calls for money to repair the stove, buy new surplices, supply new books for the choir, etc., he arranged services with special preachers at which collections were taken for numerous good causes. Every year he gave a garden party at the Rectory for the elderly and friends of the church.
From old photographs it can be seen that the west window used to be smaller. Owen White remembered the present large window being inserted "in memory of Miss Edith Paget Mrs Bowman her name was. How I can remember it so well: as lads we used to take the chisels each night from the stonemasons down to the blacksmith's to be sharpened, for which we received a penny. It took several weeks of course they'd got all the stone to cut through. And one outstanding thing I can remember about it, the Rev Hamilton (rector of St Anne's 1903-1920) he was showing his brother-in-law Lord Wolverhampton, the window. He says 'Do you like it?' He says 'No! I like what I like and I don't like what I don't like, and I don't like that!'"
This window was put in around 1908 and the blacksmith who sharpened the masons' tools was George Dexter, who was also sexton and verger at St Anne's. His niece, Miss Millicent Vickerstaff, for many years a teacher at the Infants School, remembered: "He clipped the churchyard all over in his spare time. It was the best kept churchyard, it was smaller than it is now. He dug the graves and trimmed the oil lamps in the church. He
The Rev W.R.Hamilton, Rector of St Anne's 1903-1920
used to be clipping the lawn at 2 o'clock in the morning. He got about £6 a year for all that."
The Rev Robert Hamilton and his wife are well remembered. Mr Hamilton ran Bible classes for adults and children in the week, and took a great interest in young people. He gave them references when they started work. Mrs Hamilton mothered the girls and told thpse who were leaving home the facts of life. Many of them went into domestic service. She wrote a book called The Young Pretender. She also kept an eye on people's behaviour in church, sitting near the back for a good vantage point! The Hamiltons bought the women in the choir black hats, which were worn with black robes and white jabots. Mrs Alice Berresford's mother, Mrs Bessie Smith, washed and ironed the 23 surplices for nothing, drying them in front of the fire. She also scrubbed the church floor, and had to heat water on a Primus stove to do so.
Owen White was more disparaging about Mr Hamilton: "He were a different kettle of fish to Mr Taylor. It was him who agitated for the Village Hall being built. He wanted a Sunday School there was no Sunday School at St Anne's we had one at St Michael's. He wanted a place so he could have a Sunday School. Well, Mr Paget of Loughborough built the Village Hall and Hamilton though he'd make a present of it to the church, but it didn't come off. They had to pay rent for it not a big rent. And now of course it's been taken over by the Parish."
The original rectory was St Anne's House, leading out of the churchyard. It was sold in 1877, along with most of the glebe land. The present Rectory had been built in 1845, and when Mr Hamilton came in 1903 he borrowed £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty to extend the house, and a further £500 in 1911 for more building. A piece of land for a kitchen garden was purchased in 1903 for £215. They were evidently comfortably off, for they had a full staff "maids, nanny, French governess, chauffeur and several gardeners, plus a trap" according to Mrs Berresford.
During the First World War Mr Hamilton went as an ambulance driver, and in 1920 he exchanged livings with the Rev W.E.Buckland. He eventually retired to Overstrand in Norfolk.
The Bucklands came from East Mailing in Kent and had a beautiful home. Mr Buckland was said to be gruff but very sincere. Like Mr Yearsley at St Michael's he was interested in the history of the village and wrote Notes and Jottings on Sutton Bonington which was published by the Thoroton Society in 1925. Mrs Buckland was "a real lady." They were active participants in village life and continued to run the Sunday School in the Village Hall, where a Christmas tea party also took place. There were six or seven classes, and in the summer the children had a treat in the Rectory grounds, and sometimes went to Woodhouse Eaves. The Bucklands provided hampers of food for Sunday School outings as far afield as Skegness and Maplethorpe. The whole family could go and the fare was 2s!
Each year the choir had an outing to the seaside and a supper in the Village Hall. These choir outings seem to have been feats of endurance, for the party set off around 6 a.m. from Kegworth Station and did not return until the early hours of the following morning. One year St Anne's choir went to London where they first visited the Zoological Gardens, then went on to the Crystal Palace to hear Handel's Messiah. After a large tea they visited the Naval Exhibition in the evening before catching the train home! The Junior Choir went to Nottingham for the day that year where they visited the Castle, a Wild West Exhibition and the Arboretum before taking d steamer trip down the Trent to Colwick.
St Anne's Mothers Union at the Rectory in the 1920s
1 to r. Back row: Mesdames Thomas, Canner, Pass, Miss Jackson, 2nd row: - , Mesdames Wilson, Hunt & Lillian, Burton & Esme, Davies, McCaughan, Maud Swift, 3rd row: Mesdames Stokoe, Hardy, Burrows, Miss J. Dewsbury, Dalby, Bloxham, , Phipps, 4th row: Mrs Smith, Mrs Berresford, Front: Mesdames Hardy, Bentley, Sheffield, Isaac, Lovett, Beswick, Miss Bloxham, Miss Dalby
Church fetes were held in the rectory gardens in the summer. On Wednesday evenings there was an adult Bible class in the Village Hall, and other Bible classes were held at the Rectory. The Girls' Friendly Society also met there. They attended the District Service in Southwell Minster and had an annual trip to London, travelling by bus to East Leake and on from there by train. They were also encouraged to join the Girls' Reading Circle which met at Mrs McLaren's home, 34 Main Street, to read "classical books". (Mr McLaren was the accountant at the College.)
In 1931 Mr Buckland retired to Thrumpton Cottage, and was succeeded by the Rev Arthur Llewelyn Thomas. He is remembered as "a dark figure in a round black hat, gliding hurriedly by"; he had a withered hand, the result of an accident on the cricket field. He was High Church, and "a very shy man, but most interesting to talk to." Like Mr Buckland, he visited people regardless of whether they were church or chapel. At that time some people lived in one parish but worshipped in the other, either from personal choice or because they had moved house to a different part of the village.
In 1950 the Rev T.W. Bryan, later Canon Bryan, became the first rector of the united parishes. Mrs Bryan founded the Friendship Club for the retired people of the village which met on Tuesday afternoons in, what was by then, the very shabby and draughty Old School. They are still remembered with affection.
Today services are held in both churches on different Sundays and the rector also has care of Normanton-on-Soar parish.
THE BAPTIST CHAPEL
The Baptist chapel was built in 1794 as a single storied building with an earth floor. The side galleries were added in 1823, and in 1829 the front gallery was built and the roof raised. The adjacent cottage which once had a thatched roof was occupied by full time ministers of the church until 1886, after which it was lived in by the chapel caretakers. Later it was condemned as a dwelling and used as a builder's store by Arthur Corbett until it was demolished in 1977 when the chapel lounge was added.
After 1886 there were several honorary pastors, and in addition services were regularly conducted by students from the Baptist College at Chilwell, (later transferred to Nottingham). Services were also taken by Baptist and other Free Church lay preachers, with occasional visits by ministers from nearby Baptist churches.
The Sunday School, which began in 1810, was from 1829 held in the side galleries, boys in one, girls in the other. During the early years, in addition to religious education, reading and writing were taught, because some children were at work by the age of ten, and so missed schooling. In 1851 there were 83 scholars, by 1871, 129. Despite the shortage of accommodation the Schoolroom was not built until 1901, due to lack of funds.
Mrs Marjorie Beswick recalls her mother telling how her grandparents, Mr and Mrs Henry Brown, spent their Saturday afternoons cleaning and trimming the oil lamps in readiness for the services on Sunday. Henry Brown, his son Walter, and grandson Cyril, between them played the organ for over 100 years.
Before the First World War William Garner and his wife kept the shop next to the chapel (the present Post Office), and sewing meetings were held in their kitchen, making pillowslips etc. to raise money for chapel funds. The ladies used their own sewing machines, which were transported by Mr Garner. His daughter, Miss Gertrude Garner, remembers climbing over the wall to the chapel, and entertaining their numerous relations to tea in the schoolroom at the Sunday School Anniversary,
Baptist Chapel, with chapel-keeper's cottage on left, c. 1900
because their house was not big enough to hold them all! "There was ever such a lot in the Sunday School, they were big families in those days. Hardys and Websters they had twelve! We went morning and afternoon, and when we got older we went at night as well. We all had a prize."
John Hardy remembers each child had a card, and received a star to stick on it each week for attendance. "We used to have a tea and prize-giving. I got about twelve first prizes for most attendance. That was under old Mr John Draycott (the Sunday School Superintendent), he lived in Hungary Lane. Mr Fred Webster, Mr Corbett, me brother Bill and Walter Brown, they were the kingpins in the chapel then."
Marjorie Beswick recalls Sunday School Anniversaries with the children "sitting up on the boards' (wooden platforms erected in tiers for the occasion), her father playing the organ and her grandfather conducting the children. The girls all wore new dresses on that day! Until about 1930, a group of friends from Shepshed came with their stringed instruments to augment the music on these occasions. Even earlier there was woodwind too.
John Burrowes of Gables Farm, across the road from the chapel, used to lend his horse brake to take the children on their annual outing to Springhill Farm, Woodhouse Eaves, where they played games in a field and a Mrs Kirk provided teas.
The Harvest Festival was always held on the first Sunday in October, the Wakes weekend.
Mrs Jane Wrath recalled: "Our chapel used to be full on Sunday night the young men up in the gallery, and the singing were grand. The Young Men's Christian Endeavour, they used to meet on a Sunday morning and sing away. It were lively, Sutton was, in them days. There were no buses then as soon as they started the buses
(in the 1920s) they would go on the half past five bus instead of coming to chapel or church. When the pictures opened, that were a bad thing...for Sunday."
As Mrs Wrath hinted, there were lean years ahead for the chapel, in common with many other churches, when the cause was maintained by the faithful few. Among those who held office as Deacons over the years were Henry Brown, John Wrath, Mr Odell, Frank Lovett, Mrs Annie Johnson and Arthur Corbett. It is pleasing to report that in recent years there has been a marked revival in the work and numbers attending the Baptist Church.
The 19th century dissensions within the Methodist Church were reflected in Sutton Bonington. The reasons for the various divisions were constitutional rather than doctrinal. Early in the century the Primitive Methodists desired a more informal structure than the Wesleyan Methodist Conference (the governing body) had ordained, and they tried to return to the principles of the Early Church. In the middle of the century many members of the Wesleyan Church were expelled for protesting against the autocratic rule of the ordained ministry, and the Free Methodist Churches came into being.
In Sutton Bonington the original Wesleyan chapel was built in 1796 and replaced by the present building in 1868. A Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1832 and was in use for about 80 years.
The third chapel was built in 1852-54 when Thomas Shepherd was expelled from the Wesleyan Church by the Superintendent Minister of the Castle Bonington Circuit (group of churches) for 'publicly countenancing the uprighteous agitation which is now carried on in our connexion, and hereby promoting jealousy, discord and strife in our Societies, confirming the prejudices and strengthening the hands of the enemies of Methodism.'
So for nearly 70 years there were three Methodist churches existing side by side. The original Wesleyans were part of the Castle Donington Circuit, the 'Prims' belonged to the Loughborough Swan Street Circuit, and the 'Zion' (or 'Shepherds') chapel joined the Loughborough United Methodists. No doubt there was some jealousy between them. James Dewsbury had a story that one local preacher from Loughborough was waylaid by members of the Wesleyan chapel as he passed through the village on his way to take the service in one of the rival chapels and made to turn back.
Primitive Methodist Chapel 1832-1914
After its closure as a chapel this building was used as a garage for many years, but in the 1970s Mr and Mrs Ellis restored it to its original external appearance when they added it to their house, 143 Main Street. They put back the windows facing the street, and replaced the stone tablet inscribed with the builder's name, 'T. King, Primitive Methodist Chapel 1832'. While it was a garage the gallery was still in position, there were hat-pegs along the side walls, a stencilled frieze could be seen round the ceiling, and the position of the high central pulpit could be surmised by the marks on the wall.
Memories of the chapel are sparse, but some old Minute Books that were found in 1968 throw a little light on its activities. Miss Melissa Branson remembered the days when the singing for services was accompanied by cellos and flutes, before the harmonium was purchased in 1906. (It was agreed that J.H. Chadburn should be 'Harmoniumist'). One of these cellos seems to have caused a bit of trouble, as in 1895 it
was resolved that 'Brother Ecole write to Mr John Hardy asking him to give up the chello belonging to the chapel' before the March Quarterly Meeting. Eleven years later it was again resolved that 'Rev E. Hancox write to Mr John Hardy requesting him to return chella'!
Revival meetings were organised in 1894 and 1895, and the services were followed by a week of special meetings.
In the Sunday School elementary education was provided, for in 1878 'nine easy books and two ABC books, and two spelling books, two dozen copy books and one bottle of ink and one box of pens and one lead pencil' were to be purchased.
The Sunday School Anniversary was a great event. In May 1878 Israel Shepherd was asked to write for '50 dialogues suitable for Sunday Schools', and William Whittaker and James Hopwell were 'to ascertain who they thought would be best suitable for saying pieces'. Chas. Beswick and Thos. Hardy were 'to learn the children to sing their Hymns at the School Sermons'. (These Anniversary services are frequently referred to as 'the Sermons' by local people.) Each year arrangements were made to address envelopes and take hymn sheets to all the houses in the village on the Saturday evening. On the Monday morning two men went round collecting subscriptions and in the afternoon the scholars paraded with the flag, and a tea was arranged in the chapel or in the National School. Visitors had to pay 7d for a ham tea.
The Sunday School outings were also red letter days in the children's lives, not least because they meant a holiday from school. Numerous entries in the National School log book record low attendance, early dismissal or complete closure due to the absence of scholars from the various Sunday Schools. Woodhouse Eaves was a favourite venue, but on July 28th 1902 the Primitive Methodist children were taken to Mount St Bernard's Abbey, and the village school closed for the afternoon.
Primitive Methodist Chapel as a garage in 1968, with Owen White
Members of the congregation looked after the building. 'Bro. Morgan to paint the bottom row of panes in front windows imitation frost.' 'Bro. Taylor to clean windows. Sister Burk wash the blinds. The stove and piping to be blacked with Brunswick Black. Bro. Hardy and Bates to do it.' When a ham tea was planned for the Chapel Anniversary: 'the offer of the women to provide provisions be accepted, if for any cause they fail to do so the men engage to do it.'
In August 1899 there was a two-day bazaar in the Temperance Hall, and friends from Hathern and Loughborough were asked to assist at the entertainment in the evenings. Sisters Chadburn and C. Beswick ran the refreshment stall, and Sisters Allen, Taylor and A. Beswick ran the other stalls. Bro. Pierrepoint was in charge of the bran tub. Admission was Is in the afternoon, 6d in the evening, and half price the second day. There was also a 'washing competition, open to both sexes, entrance fee Is'!
After the troubles of earlier years, a happier state of affairs existed between the various chapels in 1901 when it was resolved 'that we close our chapel for the afternoon service for the Free Methodist and Wesleyan School Anniversaries and close our place for the evening service on the Baptists' Anniversary.' Mrs Elsie Corson remembers "as a very small girl" going with fellow scholars of the Baptist Sunday School to help with the 'Prims' anniversary. This must have been in the last years of the chapel, for with the departure of the Chadburn family from the village, falling numbers led to its closure in 1914, the remaining members joining the United Methodists.
United Methodist or Zion Chapel 1854-1940
Having been turned out of the Wesleyan Church, Thomas Shepherd set about building a new chapel in Main Street, now two flats next to the Playing Field. The original account book shows contributions promised from 63 people, ranging from £1 to Is. £80 was collected in this way, though the total cost was £355 9s 4/2d. The cause appeared to thrive, so that in 1894 a schoolroom was added. In the 1920s and 30s
United Methodist Chapel as school canteen and library in 1968
services were held morning and evening and there was an average congregation of 50 to 60 at evening worship. The young people sat in the choir pews, and the organists during those years were successively: Miss Lillian Bagguley of Kegworth, Stanley Moore of Loughborough and Frank Dakin of Kegworth. Albert Shepherd, grandson of Thomas, and Frederick Beckett were church stewards for many years, and Mr Beckett was also Sunday School Superintendent. Through his influence and the keen interest he took in the work it was a very well attended and flourishing school, which met mornings and afternoons.
The Sunday School Anniversary was always held on Whit Sunday. George Beswick remembers one year when the Rev J.H. Burley made some remark in his sermon about people who only attended chapel on special occasions. It must have struck home with at least one member of the congregation, because Henry Cotton Brown called out from his pew: "Oh, I can see you looking at me!"
A Young People's Class was formed in the 1930s, and met in the chapel on Sunday afternoons. The preacher for the day, who would probably have enjoyed the hospitality of one of the stewards for lunch, usually spoke to those attending.
Albert Shepherd married Miss Hilda Roworth, daughter of the Wesleyan chapel organist, so forming a link between the two chapels, which were amalgamated in 1940, although both buildings continued to be used for some time. Mr and Mrs Shepherd served the Methodist Church for the rest of their lives, and generations of students from the Agricultural College were entertained by them on Sundays at Park Lane Farm.
The building was sold to the Nottinghamshire Education Committee in 1947 for use as a school canteen, and crocodiles of children from the Infants and Council schools walked there each dinner time. It also housed the local branch of the County Library.
Wesleyan or Trinity Chapel
Despite the rival chapels, the Wesleyans prospered sufficiently to undertake the erection of a new building in 1868. A subscription list was opened, and between 1868 and 1870 £584 9s 8d was raised in amounts ranging from £100 to 2s. The trustees at that time were George Marshall, a farmer and timber-merchant from Zouch, John Simpkin, baker and shopkeeper, Thomas Buxton, carpenter and wheelwright, John Sarson, farmer, and a grocer and a chemist from Castle Donington, Matthew Attwood and J. Moulton.
Members were allocated to 'classes' which met weekly, and a penny a week was collected from them. George Taylor recalled that about 1896 Mrs Simpkin held a ladies' class on Wednesdays, and that Arthur Barker was another of the leaders. William Newbold, who lived at the White House, led a class that met on Mondays.
Regular attendees paid a seat rent each quarter, the money going towards the upkeep of the building. In 1900 at a Trustees Meeting a discussion ensued as to the advisability of the whole of the chapel sittings being made free, the matter being deferred for the present. The matter was again discussed in 1903 and it was decided to call a meeting of the congregation. Evidently no decision was arrived at, as in 1905 the trustees again left the matter in abeyance! By 1909 a public collection was being taken in lieu of seat rents.
A small pipe organ was bought in 1872, but in 1905 the present two-manual instrument was built by J.H. Adkins of Derby. Its arrival was reported in the Loughborough Monitor and News: Whilst a furniture removal van, belonging to Mr Alderman of Derby, was descending the hill leading into Sutton Bonington, with one horse attached, notwithstanding that the brake was tightly on, the horse could not hold
Methodist Church, formerly the Wesleyan Chapel, from Baker & Judson's builders' yard in 1968
the van back, the result being that it dashed into the railings at the bottom of the hill in front of Mr Roworth's house. Mr Alderman, who was driving, had his right foot badly crushed, and Mr Whittaker rendered first aid. The horse received a cut on one of its hind legs. The shaft of the van was also broken. The van was rather heavily laden, it conveying a new organ for the Wesleyan chapel'. George William Roworth was the organist for more than fifty years, and the electric blower was installed in his memory in 1933. His marriage to Miss Louisa Ann Dalby in 1885 was the first to take place in the chapel. In 1911 W.G. Briggs was appointed deputy organist. His daughter Miss Poppy Briggs played until 1936 when Mrs Ada James, whose husband was a plumber, took her place.
Three generations of the Taylor family have been chapel caretakers. William was born in Bradford, and came to live at 'Hobgoblins' in Park Lane about 1860. In 1872 he was paid £2 for cleaning the chapel for a year. His son George was Sunday School Superintendent and a trustee, as well as caretaker. George's son Chris Taylor remembers: "In the back kitchen there was a stove and pipes about three foot down in the ground, and when they got any floods it wiped it out and you couldn't use it. We had to go down on Saturday night and light it, and then stoke it up on a Sunday morning half past seven time. Then there was all the oil lamps round the chapel and in the schoolrooms (26 in all) it were no good going down just before a service."
By 1927 lamps on the pulpit were run off batteries which were charged at Widdowson's Garage in Park Lane. In 1928 it was agreed to 'the electrification of the church and schools. The work to be proceeded with as soon as the necessary Parliamentary powers had been given for the Electrification of the Village.'
The Sunday School, Young People's weeknight meeting and the Wesley Guild catered for all ages. Chris Taylor remembers: "About every March time we used to have the Derby Male Voice Choir, George Roworth brought them, he used to work with them. One year it'd be the Messiah, another year Elijah, all such things as that. They used to get the chapel full, I'll tell you."
Although the various branches of Methodism were united nationally in 1934 it was some years before the two Sutton Bonington chapels became one. After a period when joint services were held at both chapels in turn, it was finally agreed in the early 1940s that Zion chapel, the smaller of the two, should be closed, although they had the larger membership. So the former Wesleyan chapel, then called Trinity, became the Methodist Church.
In 1981 extensive repairs became necessary, and the pews were replaced by chairs to allow a more flexible use of the building. The railings outside were removed, and a garden planted by Mrs Lillian Isherwood, many of the plants being given by Mrs Sylvia Shepherd in memory of her mother.
Wesleyan women's outing in 1920s
l to r: Nancy Dewsbury, Miss Hales, Miss F. Dalby, Miss Wardle, Mrs Bloxham, Mrs Hales,
Miss E. Bloxham, Mrs Osborne
There have been three schools in Sutton Bonington: the Endowed School founded in 1718, the National School built in 1844 and the Council School in Park Lane (now the County Primary) which opened its doors in 1909. The history of these institutions is rather complicated, especially in the latter half of the 19th century. By the 1840s the Endowed School, a charity school run by local trustees, was not fulfilling its intended purpose, and so the Rev Robert Meek, rector of St Michael's, decided to open another school under the auspices of the Anglican National Society, which ran many of the schools in England at that time. A government grant of £160 towards the total cost of £450 was received and the remainder raised by subscription. The school was built on a small piece of land to the north of St Michael's forecourt given by the church; it catered for girls and infants. The children had to take a few pence each week to pay for their schooling; subscriptions and an annual government grant made up the running costs.
Boys went to the Endowed School at this time, but it did not qualify for a government grant until 1857 when the accommodation was enlarged to comply with regulations. From this date both schools were worked as one under a common Board of Managers, and in 1886 the Endowed School became a separate Infants Department and the older children attended Meek's or the Mixed School as the National School was called locally. Thus the Church of England National Society had a controlling interest in elementary education in Sutton Bonington, and the local clergy played an important role in running the schools, in conjunction with the government Department of Education. Until 1880 when the Education Act imposed compulsory education for all children aged five to ten, many village children did not attend school at all. As has been shown previously, the chapel Sunday Schools had helped to fill this need with rudimentary teaching of reading and writing.
In 1903 the recently formed Nottinghamshire County Council assumed responsibility for elementary education, working with the National Society, and the schools seemed to come under closer scrutiny. As a result of adverse reports on the condition of the building the National School was forced to close, and the Local Education Authority built a new Council School for all children over eight. Thus the National Society lost its influence on the education of the older pupils, although it continued to run the Endowed Infants School. School log books and other records have been used to supplement the memories of older villagers in these all too brief descriptions of schooldays, but much of interest has been omitted due to lack of space.
The oldest school was the Endowed School at the top of Bucks Lane, founded by subscription in 1718. The history of this fascinating institution has been described by its last head teacher in a booklet published in 1985 (The Endowed Infants School, Sutton Bonington 1718-1965 by K.L. Shipley), and so the present account will concentrate on adding to that from reminiscences of pupils and teachers.
After the Endowed School became a separate Infants Department in 1886 under the auspices of the Anglican National Society its first headmistress was Mrs Sarah Pawley who came to teach at the school with her husband in 1884, but he had died within a few months. She lived in the school house adjoining the classrooms and was remembered as always wearing black and having a full length beaded cape. Mrs Pawley was also
very active in the affairs of St Michael's church, and helped with the Sunday School. She was a strict teacher, but the children seemed to like her. A child who misbehaved was shaken, or hit across the hand with a ruler, or stood in the corner. Especially disobedient little boys were taken out into the porch, their trousers taken down, and they were smacked or caned on the bottom. Mrs Eliza Singleton remembered making daisy chains in a hollow tree in The Pasture' while playing truant one day. A passer-by enquired what the children were doing and they told her they had got a holiday. Eventually her mother found them, took them back to school and asked Mrs Pawley to keep them in until 6.30 as a punishment. Mrs Pawley pinned each of them to a corner of her apron, and when she moved about they had to go with her!
Children went to the Endowed Infant School at the age of five or earlier and had to take three pennies each week to pay for their schooling until 1891 when this system was phased out by the government. Miss Melissa Branson started when she was three and Jack Tongue when he was two and a half. The small children did not do very much at school they used to sit at their desk with their head on their hands, almost asleep. Sometimes the teacher tied the tiny ones to the table leg to keep them out of mischief.
The alphabet had to be learnt before starting to read or spell. This was learnt both forwards and backwards: ABC...ZYX... Multiplication tables, which were considered very important, were chanted in a sing-song way which was remembered to old age. Slates and squeaky slate pencils were used for most written work. When learning to read, lists of three lettered words like CAT, DOG etc. were tackled first.
Mrs Pawley and children of the Endowed Infants School, c. 1895. The two older girls in black dresses were pupil teachers
Miss Alice Lee and pupils of the Endowed Infants School, c. 1906
Since there were no school buses children would walk from the outlying Normanton Hills and California Farm. Mrs Berresford remembers walking from her West Leake home when only four and a half years old. These children would bring sandwiches and eat them at school for dinner no cooked meals were provided. There was no supervision as the teachers went home for their lunch. The school was heated by unguarded open coal fires, and one day Lizzie Mears was wearing a flimsy 'pinner' which caught alight. She ran out into the street, badly burnt; the scars on her neck and face remained all her life. All the village children went home for dinner until the Second World War when school meals were delivered and eaten in the classroom.
Mrs Pawley was assisted by one or more pupil teachers or monitors. These were bright girls, usually from the village, who served an apprenticeship of several years duration by helping with the children and learning to teach by example. They sat examinations at the end of their apprenticeship and if successful became certificated teachers. Julia Whitby helped Mrs Pawley for a number of years and was presented with a marble clock when she left in 1891. After Mrs Pawley's retirement in 1903 another village girl and former pupil teacher, Alice Lee, took over the headship of the little school. In 1905 Miss Millicent Vickerstaff was chosen by the headmaster of the National School as the most suitable girl to go as monitress to the Endowed Infants School when she was only 12 years old. She recalled: "I was there for three years, and was paid five shillings a week. I attended then part-time at Long Eaton Pupil Teachers' Centre and came back as an assistant teacher. I stayed until I retired at 62 years of age
Mrs Thompson, formerly Miss Alice Lee (1), and Miss Millicent Vickerstaff (r), teachers at the Endowed Infants School, c.1925
in 1955." Miss Vickerstaff s long association with the school was a very happy one and she is remembered with great affection by her old pupils. She recalled that the rector of St Michael's was always the Correspondent for the school and dealt with business matters. He also came in one day a week and gave religious instruction, as did the rector of St Anne's on a different day. "The chapel and Catholic families did not seem to object to their children being taught. The Saints' days were recognized and on Shrove Tuesday and Ascension Day the school children went to church and then had a half holiday."
In Miss Lee's time improvements were made to the 'big' classroom and a 'Tortoise' stove was put in. The curriculum was widened and a different method of teaching reading introduced. In 1909 children under four were excluded from the school, which kept the numbers down to around 35.
In 1920 Miss Lee married Mr Oliver Thompson, head of the National School, but she continued as headmistress of the Endowed Infants School until her retirement in 1936. Miss Vickerstaff recalled: "In the 1920s Mrs Thompson and I used to get up concerts, do the sewing and get a lot of material cheaply in Nottingham to make costumes. We used to have a concert three nights and the Old School was full. We bought a dolls' house and train set out of the money raised." The old rocking horse, well loved by generations of pupils, was purchased by this means in 1921.
Mrs Thompson was succeeded as head by Mrs Dorothy Jeffs of Loughborough, a very kind teacher. She and Miss Vickerstaff retired in the 1950s, and the school finally closed its doors in 1965 when the children joined their older brothers and sisters at the extended County Primary School in Park Lane. The building was used as Church Rooms after this date and the school house was sold in 1984. However, the village playgroup still meets in the 'big' classroom every morning, and the school's link with the children of Sutton Bonington remains unbroken after 268 years.
Endowed Infants School pupils, 1940
1 to r. Back row: Rogers, A. Cavey, D. Gee, L, Hopkinson, , J. Mardell, - , , 2nd row: J. Baker, M. Allison, S. Nutcher, D. Lester, V. Dewsbury, , B. Corson, D. Hardy, S. Young, I. Haywood, , J. Neal, 3rd row: B. Culpin, M. Dakin, J. Wright, E. Gasson, B. Hunt, A. Haywood, P. Taylor, P. Smith, S. Dewsbury, W. Insley, Front: A. Hardy, H. Young, E. Marshall, B. Smedley, F. Lester
From the Endowed Infants School, children moved on to the National School at the age of eight. After Mr Pawley, the head in 1884, died he was followed by Mr John Smyth who lived in accommodation adjacent to the classrooms. No memories of him endure, but it is clear from entries in The Deanery Magazine that the schoolmaster was expected to be a sincere Anglican and participate fully in the activities of St Michael's church. Every year at Christmas Mr Smyth 'adorned the window bases with neat texts' when the church was decorated, and he helped to run the Sunday School. He also took part in many fund-raising events connected with the church, running stalls at fetes and organising concerts. Whenever the choir had an outing Mr Smyth was invited along; he also went to their annual supper at the Rectory with the churchwardens. He must have been well thought of, for when he left the village in May 1896 he was presented with an Illuminated Address and purse of gold to the value of £17 by the Committee, a ten volume set of poetical works by the parents, and a third gift from the night school pupils.
During Mr Smyth's headship the annual government grant to the school rose considerably, reflecting his teaching powers. Under the iniquitous system of the 1862 Revised Code for Elementary Education, the grant received depended on the results of an annual examination of the scholars in the '3 Rs' (reading, writing and arithmetic) and other subjects, conducted by the formidable figure of Her Majesty's Inspector
The National School in St Michael's forecourt, 1890s, showing schoolmaster's house, 'big' classroom under bell, and 'top' classroom
Mr Smyth, schoolmaster of National School, c.1895. Mrs Shaw and her daughters, Lottie & Edith, in centre of picture - others unknown
(HMI) from the Department of Education, and on the level of attendance achieved during the year. The regulations were eased somewhat in the 1890s, but as the major income of a school depended on this 'payment by results' system, the late 19th century schoolmaster was understandably pre-occupied with attendance levels and HMI visits. In a rural area like Sutton Bonington absenteeism was rife, with children being kept away to do agricultural work or help with cottage crafts such as framework knitting and lacemaking. Fortunately 'school pence' were abolished in 1891 and so parents no longer had to withhold children on the grounds of poverty.
Mr Smyth was succeeded as master in 1896 by Oliver Thompson, who came from Oadby in Leicestershire. Older villagers have many memories of Mr Thompson, whose first wife Ellen also taught with him as a certificated mistress. They had a family and did not live at the school, but resided first at 102 Main Street, and then in the house beside St Anne's churchyard until Mr Thompson had 91 Park Lane built in the 1930s.
Mr Thompson was a first class cricketer and an excellent shot. He had a very fine baritone voice and was choirmaster at St Michael's for many years. Many remember his musical ability: he conducted the Messiah and other ambitious works in church. Like his predecessor he was soon involved in the activities of St Michael's, and became a churchwarden.
There were two pupil teachers at the school, both women. "Yes, they'd been learnt how to teach, but of course they hadn't been to college" was how they were described by their former pupils. Florence Harrison and Sarah Jane Whittaker, both village girls, were pupil teachers when Mr Thompson came, and they completed their apprenticeships with him. Sarah Whittaker did very well she passed her examination and went on to become head teacher of Ratcliffe-on-Soar Board School and Lady Belper's School, Kingston-on-Soar. A succession of other young ladies followed: Mary Elizabeth Wilde (nicknamed Queenie) from West Leake, Catharine Jackson, Martha Sketchley, Lottie Shaw, Bertha Newton, Edith Folley, Annie Dalby and Mr Thompson's daughter Maude. Some of these girls only stayed a short while and were inclined to leave without giving notice; the ones who seemed to stick it out were former pupils, no doubt used to obeying Mr Thompson! The pupil teachers often caused problems through absenteeism due to sickness or accident falling off bicycles seems to have been popular at one time.
Mrs Thompson, the certificated mistress, appears to have been in poor health for much of her time in Sutton Bonington. The log book records numerous absences due to personal sickness or that of one of her children. She contracted typhoid fever in 1905 and was off work for many months. Poor Mrs Thompson seems to have been an early example of a working mother, but she can hardly be described as emancipated in the modern sense, being permanently worn down by ill health and domestic cares.
When Mr Thompson came the school building was altered. The gallery was removed and heating pipes were put round to supplement the open fires. There was a main room, with a platform at one end and Mr Thompson's desk stood in the middle. There were two other rooms; Percy Haywood recollects: "The Standard I was in the to^ room, the Standard II in the other, and then the rest were in the long room with the headmaster. Mr Thompson's daughter, Maude, used to teach in the top room. The boys used to stick their legs out and make her trip over. Then she'd send them to her father to get the cane. Instead of going we used to walk through and go round the back of the boiler. But if he did hit you well, he knocked three of us out of the end of the desk one day, that was Ernest Hardy, Marshall Dewsbury and myself!" Other former pupils remembered that he was "very handy with the cane." Mrs Fanny Brown could demonstrate how he would swish the cane up and down a few times before lashing
down onto the unfortunate victim's hand. Jim Dewsbury remembered one of his sayings which he used to convince the children that he could see what was happening behind his back while he was writing on the blackboard "I've got something at home which tells me I can very nearly see round a corner!"
Lessons were mainly reading, writing and arithmetic. English, history and geography, which were called 'Class Subjects' were also taught, and additional grants could be earned if HMI was satisfied with the proficiency of the class in these topics. The timetable and subjects to be taught were agreed with the HMI at the beginning of the school year, which began on April 1st, until it was changed to September in 1906. The pupils were divided into seven Standards and each child was expected to move up a Standard each year after passing the HMI's examination in the 3 Rs. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons the boys had drawing and the girls had sewing. Drawing consisted of object drawing, blocks and cubes, as well as household things. There was no imaginative drawing of pictures, and no mention of painting. The girls sewed items like pinafores,' chemises and pillowslips under the tuition of Mrs Thompson, who was a fine needlewoman. All classes had singing, and the younger children in Standards I to III had 'Object Lessons', which were highly favoured in Victorian times. The pupils were given a topic like 'iron', 'wood', 'a river', and all their work revolved around it. A list of 30 Object Lesson subjects was sent to the school by the HMI at the start of the school year.
Slates were still used in this school slate pencils could screech terribly! Older children had pencils, and later pens with loose nibs. Copy books were used for writing at the top of a page the pupils would write letters between a printed outline, then underneath they copied the printed words freehand. Often the words to copy were those of a proverb such as 'Many hands make light work'. The best work, either writing, drawing or sewing was put on exhibition at the Flower Show in the Hall Field on Bank Holiday Monday, and later in the year Lady Paget or the rector's wife would come into school and give the winning pupils their cash prizes.
Mr Thompson took the whole school in the playground for drill. The mothers used to watch from the road and someone once remarked that he was turning all the children into soldiers. They would march round and stand in rows for exercises. In fact this was another Victorian educational fashion it was believed that by teaching the children to obey orders without question, and exercise in a disciplined way, they would better know their place later in life, and be good, dutiful employees.
Religious Instruction was an important part of the curriculum in National Schools, and the rectors of both parishes came in once a week on different days to teach the children Scripture, the Collects and the Magnificat. The rector of St Michael's also had a temporal role in school life as he was the Correspondent and dealt with all business matters, liaising with the National Society and the Board of Education. By law dissenting parents could withdraw their children from R.I., and to facilitate this these lessons were held at the beginning or end of the school day. Few Sutton Bonington children were withdrawn, even though many of the families were nonconformists. Every year the Diocesan Inspector came round to test the scholars in Religious Knowledge, usually just before Christmas. Like all the other subjects, Scripture was learnt" by rote, and the children could easily chant out the answers to the Inspector's questions. His reports were invariably good for the National School, and often 'Excellent in all Standards and Subjects'. In any case his visits were not feared like those of HMI, on whose word the school was partly financed.
It is remembered that all the teachers were very much stricter than they are today, and there was no talking in class. The cane was used freely, as already described, and
National School staff and pupils soon after Mr Thompson became headmaster in 1896. Next to him is Mrs Ellen Thompson, and pupil teachers Florence Harrison & Sarah Jane Whittaker.
*Many children were identified in 1970 and included 6 Beswicks, 5 Bransons, 5 Dewsburys, 4 Taylors, and other familiar names*
there was no conversation between pupils and teachers. Many of the HMI's annual reports comment on the inability of the Sutton Bonington scholars to express themselves verbally all they were used to was answering questions in a chorus! There was no homework; nearly all the children had more jobs to do at home than today, either about the house to help mother, or paid work. Children left school when they were 11, 12or 13. Some of them went half time, in the mornings one week, and in the afternoons the next. Mrs Polly Tongue went half time when she was 11, and by the time she was 12 was sent away to service in Thrumpton. In order to leave school before the age of 13 the pupils had to attend a minimum number of times and pass an examination known as the 'Labour Certificate'. Those who were unable to get through even this elementary test obtained a 'Dunce's Pass' based solely on attendance.
This subject of attendance was a great pre-occupation of Mr Thompson in the years when the school grant depended on it. There are numerous complaints in the log books about absenteeism, like that of January 29th 1897: 'Attendance is getting worse and worse...children give very unsatisfactory reasons for absence. Only about three-quarters attend.' Sergeant-major Harris, the School Attendance Officer, was often called in to deal with the worst cases. Eventually the managers decided to grant £3 a year for prizes to children with the highest attendance, hoping this would induce an improvement. This seems to have worked for by 1898 the numbers attending had risen to an average of 130 (from 101) and the school was in receipt of the 'Excellent Grant' of 21s 8d per head for the first time. The annual distribution of these prizes became quite an event, with the children performing recitations and songs for their proud parents prior to receiving their awards. Each child who had not missed more than 20 attendances received a book, and in addition those never absent were given 'a very nice medal'. Not surprisingly Mr Thompson's own children usually came into the latter category! By 1907 the system had changed and the Local Education Authority permitted merit half holidays for good attendance, which occurred frequently at Sutton Bonington school; no doubt compulsory education was more accepted by that time.
Apart from general reasons for absenteeism, special events often caused low numbers. Sunday School treats and choir outings have already been mentioned, but Plough Monday, an Agricultural Show, the village Wakes, Loughborough Fair and Loughborough Races all kept the children away. The school was closed for many special occasions such as the Reliefs ofMafekingandLadysmith, the 1902 Coronation and, once, for Barnum and Bailey's Circus! Certain days like religious festivals Ascension Day, Ash Wednesday and Empire Day were always given as half holidays, and sometimes the school was closed because the rooms were needed for other purposes ranging from rummage sales to elections. Whenever the teachers had an outing the school was shut, and Mr Thompson, a keen marksman, once closed it down for a week so that he could attend the annual meeting of the RSA at Bisley. Such absences would not be countenanced today in schools. By far the greatest cause of low attendance and closure was illness. In the days before inoculations and antibiotics, epidemics of one disease or another were always sweeping through the school. Numerous entries in the log books testify frequent outbreaks of measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, typhoid fever and ringworm, not to mention coughs, colds, sore throats and influenza. In 1901 two pupils died from diphtheria; all that the Medical Officer of Health could do was to close the school for two to four weeks to contain these outbreaks, as there was little in the way of treatment for the diseases.
Life was not always grim for the children, of course. As well as the treats provided by the village worthies on high days and holidays, there was always playtime at school
when they played rounders, tig round the trees and hop scotch. They had skipping ropes, hoops, whips and tops, and for the boys there were snobs and marbles. On Shrove Tuesday shuttlecocks and battledores would come out there seemed to be a season for the various games. At dinnertime the village children went home. Those whose fathers worked in the Hathern station brickyard or in the plaster mill at Zouch were let our at five minutes to twelve so that they had time to go home and collect a basin with Dad's dinner in it, which they had to take to him at work by 12.30.
The log book entry for June 30th 1903 reads 'Last day under the old regime, tomorrow being the appointed day for the commencement of the new Act (of Parliament)'. After this date Nottinghamshire County Council assumed responsibility for the school, and Mr Thompson grumbled that the attendance for July, the first month under the new system, was 'the worst during the present Master's office of seven years' at an average of 84.4%. However, there were much bigger problems on the horizon, and the next few years were to be most unsettled. For some time the annual HMI report had complained about the poor condition of the school building. It was damp, and the classrooms had brick floors. Ventilation in the main room was bad, and the 'offices' (toilets) were most unsatisfactory: boys had to pass the door of the girls' lavatory, and the urinal was close to a classroom window. In addition there was a considerable 'nuisance arising from the proximity of the privies of the neighbouring cottages.' These primitive arrangements were evidently quite noisome, and repairs to the fabric of the entire building were required.
In 1903 the brick floor of the main room was removed and boarded, but little else was done by the Managers who were, no doubt, hampered by lack of funds. Matters came to a head in 1905 after a series of visits by Mr Bristowe, the county Director of Education, and discussions ensued about the alterations he demanded. After several Managers' meetings a scheme was proposed, but this was costly, and in December a public meeting was called in the Temperance Hall, with Sir Ernest Paget in the chair, to explain the options. These were: to raise the necessary £200 by subscription; for the County Council to take over the school, do the alterations and then run it as a council school; or to build a new school costing about £3000. The middle course was agreed by those present; but the National Society who were the trustees of the school refused to lease the building to the Council because their controlling interest and religious influence would be lost. The Managers then proposed that the school should be leased on condition that the Church should have the right to teach what they liked one day a week, but this was still not acceptable to the trustees, even though all government grants would be lost if the improvements were not made. In 1906 the Bishop of the Diocese visited the school but this did not make any difference. By 1907 the Managers had given up trying to satisfy two masters. At their meeting on January 5th they resolved: 'That the Director of Education's letter of November 27th 1906 and January 2nd 1907, with one from the Board of Education of October 30th 1906 stating the latter's refusal to continue their recognition of the school premises in their present condition after July 31st 1907 these letters should lay on the table.'
The new Council School was built in 1908, and the entire staff and pupils of the National School transferred there on January 12th 1909. The old building was then used as Church Rooms for social events and St Michael's Sunday School the 'Old School' so often referred to in these pages. It was demolished in 1965 and the site used as part of the church car-park.
The new school continued to run on much the same lines as before, the main difference being that the village clergy no longer came in to take scripture and played no part in school management. William Whittaker became the Correspondent, and most of the managers were the same, some in the guise of the representatives of the Parish, District and County Councils required for this type of school.
The new building in Park Lane had three classrooms leading off an entrance corridor. In the early days there were many problems with dense smoke billowing down the chimneys of the open fires when it was windy, but these were eventually put right, after much grumbling by Mr Thompson.
There were innovations under the Council School system, as more modern teaching methods began to replace the Victorian ideas. In July 1909 the first medical inspection took place and a nurse came in to weigh and measure the pupils and test their eyesight. She also checked the girls' heads for lice, but curiously did not inspect the boys. This was the beginning of a long battle against pediculosis, and the girls were often excluded from school for this reason. The doctor ('a lady' remarked Mr Thompson in the log) then examined over 30 children, in the presence of their parents if so desired. Thereafter a school doctor visited annually, but the 'nit nurse' came much more often. On October 10th 1932 the children were let out early in honour of the first ever occasion when the school was 100% vermin free!
In 1911 the HMI recommended the teaching of gardening to the boys, and the Managers met in October to make the arrangements for laying out a plot adjacent to
Aerial view of the Council School in Park Lane, before enlargement in 1965. School garden behind the toilets and pottery shed
the playground, fencing it and buying tools. Dr Goodwin from the Midland Agricultural College came to inspect the proposed site, but the garden was not laid out until December 1912 Mr Thompson evidently showed little enthusiasm for the project. Some plants arrived the following February, together with the tools and wire netting, and gardening lessons began. The boys were allowed to keep the produce from their plots, on payment of the cost of seeds. The Horticultural Adviser to Nottinghamshire County Education Committee paid visits to check the progress being made.
Nature study was also introduced into the curriculum at this time and seems to have gone down rather well. When Rev Thornley, the Nature Study Superintendent, made his first report in 1912 it was favourable: 'The head teacher has a very satisfactory new scheme just coming into operation. It embraces all the usual subjects of agoodNature Study programme. The drawing I saw was good.' A year later the Nature Study report was even better: 'The possession of a nice school garden helps the Nature Study immensely and the Head Teacher is endeavouring to correlate all his obj ect lessons etc. with the gardening. I saw some excellent examples of plastercine modelling and some good drawing. There is a sad lack of windowsills to put plants on and this want makes it difficult to carry out experiments.'
Mrs Thompson was also to be congratulated on her needlework. Under her guidance some items were submitted to an Exhibition of Needlework in Nottingham in 1913 and the judges awarded two Certificates of Merit for work done by the school. In other spheres the teaching methods were still rooted in the 19th century and the HMI's report for that year was not so good: 'Good work is being done in the school in subjects for which manual skill is required e.g. needlework and drawing, but to develop the proper intellectual powers of children there needs to be considered an alteration in the methods of teaching all subjects which ought to require independent mental effort on their part. At present in too many lessons children are merely the recipients of knowledge imparted by the teachers. The children should be trained to answer audibly and at some length, and all collective answers should be stopped. Reading and recitation dd not reach a satisfactory standard. A very promising start has been made with gardening during the year.'
The First World War put a stop to any changes that might have been made as Mr Thompson was called up for active service. Mrs Thompson remained a teacher, although still in poor health, and Miss Amy Brown (later Mrs C.Watts), who had joined the staff in 1910, stayed until 1923. During the war years there was a succession of different head teachers, including Mrs E.Orme, who later became headmistress of Ratcliffe School. Her husband was killed in action while she was at Sutton Bonington school. The children helped the war effort as entries in the log for 1917 show. In June 'A War Saving Association has been formed among the scholars. 40 enlisted,' and in November 'the children volunteered to subscribe Id or more per week to buy wool for socks etc. for the troops and these will be sent to the Nottingham Association of Voluntary Workers. 10s has been collected and the socks started.'
In March 1914 the average number of children attending school was 84, but by February 1918 it had fallen to 49. Mrs Ellen Thompson died on March 8th 1919 and Mr Thompson was demobilized on September 29th. He recommenced as Headmaster on October 1st. He married Miss Alice Lee, head teacher of the Endowed Infants School in April 1920.
Mr Thompson's musical ability was still in evidence and on January 15th 1921 'a very successful concert was given in the Old Schoolroom at 7 o'clock by the children of this and the Infants School comprising songs, dances, recitations and playlets. The
Mrs Watts and Mr Thompson with the Lower Standards at the Council School, c. 1920
1 to r. Back row: Alfred French, Veryl Clark, Maltby, Jack Webster, Chris Taylor, Tom Buxton, 2nd row: Frances Knight, Lucy Moore, Daisy Sharp, Edna Botham, Hilda Maltby, Lois Maltby, Alice Tongue, Dolly Tyers, Ada Smith, Pat Webster, Front: Norah Ward, Sam Pass, Fred Gamble, Fred Henson, Ernest Wheway, Walter Wright, Cyril Brown, Percy Vale, Wilfred Young
room was filled to suffocation by interested parents and friends, and large numbers could not gain admission. The proceeds were given towards the establishment of a School Fund to provide apparatus and to aid any object of educational value to benefit the children'.
Mrs Ivy Judson was a pupil who had a life-long association with the school, returning in 1937 as a qualified teacher and becoming headmistress in 1957. One of her most vivid recollections of her schooldays is the production in 1924 of the operetta Princess Ju-Ju in which she appeared as the Spirit of the Night. Mrs Edna Marshall remembers being Princess Chrysanthemum in the same production.
The school had but two teachers in the 1920s which made it difficult to teach a wide curriculum to such a broad age range of pupils, for the leaving age was 14 by this time. In May 1923 Miss Kathleen Harvey commenced duty as an uncertificated teacher in place of Mrs Watts, and George Beswick, who moved up from the Infants School in 1924, can remember that she taught him in Standards II and III.
By 1925 Mr Thompson had been Headmaster for 29 years, and was becoming somewhat lax. One pupil recalls that Mr Thompson in the months prior to his retirement occasionally extended the playtime in the afternoon by at least 30 minutes, allowing the boys to continue their cricket match until it was too late for lessons, much to their delight. An Inspector's report of December 8th on the school was very disparaging: '...The Head Teacher has undoubtedly a most difficult and exacting task in having to teach no fewer than four distinctly separate groups of children, and at the
same time to keep a watchful eye upon the work of his assistant...his teaching lacks the insight, determination and thoroughness essential for really effective instruction. It is a matter of regret that there is no provision for Domestic Instruction for the older girls, and that use is no longer made of the fine stretch of gardening space adjoining the school playground...' Mrs Ivy Judson recalls: "I was a ten year old pupil at thetimeof Mr Thompson's retirement. Right to the end of his headship he worked assiduously with 'scholarship children', setting and carefully correcting a great deal of homework. I remember being one of a group of children he took by train to Nottingham to sit the exam. He treated us all to tea afterwards and took us to the 'pictures' it was Tess of the D'Urbervilles. 'Tosti', as he was always called, was certainly a law unto himself in some ways an eccentric but oh, what a truly glorious voice he had!"
Mr Thompson retired on March 31st 1926 and William (Bill) Tate, a young man of 24, took charge on April 12th. Mr and Mrs Tate had rooms with Mrs Smith at 'The Poplars' (now called the Dower House, 76 Main Street) for a time before moving to 65 Main Street, at the corner of Pasture Lane.
Shortly after this the staff of the school was again a head and two assistants. Miss Inger was a supplementary teacher for a while, succeeded by Mrs Evans in 1930. She was tall, a quiet refined lady who stayed for five years. Miss Harvey left in 1931 to be followed by Miss Hunt who is remembered as a formidable person with long plaits in 'earphones' over her ears.
Mr Thompson with older Council School boys, c.1920
1 to r. Back row: Harold Smith, Alf Baker, John Hardy, Sharp(W. Leake), Jack White, 2nd row: Staples, Eddie Sutton, Frank Hudson, Jack Insley, , Albert Botham, Front: Harold Pateman, , Herbert Giles, Cyril Bloxham, Alf Moody
Mr Tate introduced the subject of surveying into the school's syllabus, and promoted an interest in local history. The log book for March 16th 1927 shows that 'Senior boys and girls (V,VI & VII) left school at 3.15 to pay a visit to St Anne's church for the study of 1. Local History and Architecture, 2. Scale drawings'. George Beswick remembers that plans of St Michael's and St Anne's were drawn to scale with a key indicating the different types of architecture. He continues "Mr Tate was mad on history if anyone found old things that they had dug up in the garden, they took these along to him. High up on the walls in Mr Tale's classroom there were coats of arms painted in different colours, for example Richard the Lionheart.
It was expected of the children who reached the top class, Std Ex VII, that they should choose some historical subject which interested them and make a special study of it. Constance Astill and Marjorie Brown picked the study of 'Early Forms of the Place-names Sutton, Bonington, and Sutton Bonington, together with a list of the Field and other minor place-names of the Townships of Sutton and Bonington.' This was done in their last year, 1929-30, and was later published in the Transactions of the Thoroton Society. Mrs Beswick still has her off-print inscribed by Mr Tate, 'Miss Marjorie Brown from her collaborator with many thanks and kind regards.'
Council School pupils with Mr W.E. Tate in 1926
1 to r. Back row: Wright, A. Evans, A. Pass, J. Branson, N. Clarke, C. Anderson, Tongue,
Pateman, Branson, 2nd row: F. Bloxham, D. White, P. Wright, E. Towle, P. Aris, I. Harris,
G. Young, P. Sherwood, N. Smith, I. Oliver, A. Tongue, Front: J. Pritchett, C. Draycott, ,
H. Giles, E. Maltby, T. Sutton, L. Poxon, E. Gamble, B. Pritchett, , S. White, Hardy,
School reports were introduced for the first time and the children were given these at the end of each term. George Beswick's first report is dated July 30th 1926, at the end of Mr Tale's first term at the school. From the following year, when George was in Standard IV, with Miss Agnes Court, a student, as class teacher, a school stamp
appears on all the reports. This depicts a sheaf of corn and the words: 'Harvest Shall Come' and 'Sutton Bonington Senior School, nr Loughborough'. The subjects on the report include reading, writing and spelling, arithmetic, composition, recitation, history, geography, surveying, science and needlework, drawing and nature. A note on the back was directed to parents: 'Parents are most earnestly requested to give careful attention to their children's reports, to discuss with them any remarks that have been added. It is found that such action is by far the most effective means of interesting children in their schoolwork.' Parents were also encouraged to take a greater part in school life under Mr Tale's headship. The first Open Day was held on October 2nd 1928 and between 40 and 50 parents attended to see the children at their lessons. Later on the Open Day was combined with a prize-giving ceremony. A Parents' Council was also formed a forerunner of today's Parent Teacher Association and this arranged and funded an annual outing for the pupils in the summer term.
A number of plays were performed. Mr Tate was keen on Shakespeare and George Beswick recalls two productions in particular, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Another innovation was an anemometer which was erected on the top of the school to measure wind speed and direction, for weather recording. Rainfall and temperature charts were also kept.
Mr Tate organised a school museum to help in the teaching of history and geography, and this was housed in the corridor at the front of the school. His entry in the log book of October 3rd 1927 states: 'I intend the whole of the exhibition to remain in the school permanently but I wish to place on record the fact that, with the exception of Messrs Colman's exhibit, all the cases are my property and at my disposal.' This museum was later to feature in the Loughborough Monitor with the caption 'Village school's novel museum', with photographs of the children examining some of the exhibits, including articles of husbandry (sickles, scythes, clippers, singeing lamp) and a bull's hoof! Mrs Ella Reeves recalls that about 1950 it was suggested that the objects should be moved to Shire Hall, Nottingham, where they would be accessible to more people, and the museum disappeared.
An Inspector's report of January 31st 1933 clearly shows Mr Tate's influence on the school: 'One or two strongly developed characteristics make this school of 74 children interesting to visit. It has, first of all, as a result of the Headmaster's live scholarship on this side, a real interest in its own village and county history: by a simple study of local place-names, of the 'science' of heraldry, of architecture, in addition to its more conventional work in history, it has come to a warm and intelligent knowledge of the past that speaks in its immediate environment...'
Mr Tate raised the academic standards at the school considerably during his headship, for the HMI report goes on lo state: 'In the period 1927-32...the percentage of leavers going on to higher forms of education has been 27 as against 9% for the period 1920-25.' Most of these successful pupils passed the scholarship to grammar schools in Loughborough and Nottingham.
However Bill Tate was an ardent Labour man and his political activities got him into trouble with some of the school managers and the Education Authorities. He also came into conflict with his teaching staff, and resigned in 1933. An entry in the school log book dated September 7th hints at some of these problems: 'Pages 222-235 of this Log Book were removed by me as they bore entries by the late Headmaster Mr W.E. Tate of a nature not authorized by the Code. Signed J. Bramley, Assistant Director of Education.'
Mr Tate moved on to another school at Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, and later in life
Museum exhibits at the Council School in 1937
became a full-time lecturer in Historical Studies at Leeds University. His book The Parish Chest is still a standard work for local historians 40 years after being published, and he wrote many other books on historical topics. In a tribute to him published in the Transactions of the Thoroton Society after his death in 1968, Professor J. D. Chambers included the following example of his unorthodox but enthusiastic teaching methods: 'On a day set apart for the washing and preparing for the school museum of the month's archaeological finds H. M. Inspector arrived unexpectedly, only to find the school empty. A hum of voices directed him to an outhouse on the boundary of the school playground where the entire school was busy boiling cannon balls, coins, pottery, tools etc., in an old copper set up for the purpose. The inspector was delighted and sent in a most commendatory report. The local managers were less favourably impressed.' The obituary concludes: 'It is probable that his prodigious labours and his frenetic pace of living had shortened his life .... Even in his Nottinghamshire days his marble pallor and hollow cheeks were signs of strain and overwork. He was ... a craggy individualist, loveable but exasperating. Deeply religious, he delighted in salty characters. He was a man of the Left, but devoid of the petty bitterness of the exponents of class war. We salute him as a great Nottinghamshire man, and one of the most important agrarian historians of the century.'
Mr Tate's successor was Mr T.S. Fielding who took up duty on October 2nd 1933. His period of headship is remembered with pleasure by all who knew him. Mrs Kathleen Sharp recalls Mr Fielding as "so kind he brought out the best in everyone." He was always fair and insisted on good manners, as 'manners maketh man'. In his first week of office Mr Fielding divided the school into two houses, Sutton and Bonington, and introduced a system of prefects. He initiated a wide variety of activities into the life of the school and his enthusiastic efforts stimulated an interest in sports and other outdoor pursuits. The boys played football against local schools, and the girls hockey. The school athletes competed annually in the North Leicestershire Athletic Sports at Shepshed. School Sports Day was held in the Big Pasture and eagerly looked forward to by the scholars, parents and residents of Sutton Bonington and Normanton-on-Soar. All events proved popular, especially the cricket match Fathers v. Boys. A newspaper cutting in the school log book records that the Boys scored 59 runs and the Fathers 52. Playing for the Boys were J. Sheffield, D. Barrowcliffe, A. Murphy, M. Tongue, K. Smith, R. Kent, H. McCaughan, H. Flower, C. Young, J. King and S. Woods. On the Fathers' side were B. Isaac, W. Vickerstaff, P. King, C. Barrowcliffe, W. Beswick, R. Tolley, J. Murphy, F. Jackson, A. Young, J. Calverley and J. Tollington.
Mr T.S. Fielding with the Duchess of Norfolk at the Prize-giving in 1937
Swimming instruction classes began at Loughborough Baths and another newspaper report dated May 9th 1934 reads: 'The excellent feeling that exists between the Kegworth and Sutton Bonington schools is primarily responsible for the inauguration of these swimming classes as the two schools have co-operated in their foundation. Mr T.S.Fielding, Headmaster of the latter school, is acting instructor. He is, by the way, a bronze medallist and Hon. Instructor of the Royal Life Saving Society.' The first swimming gala took place on September 16th 1936. By this time over one-third of the total scholars were considered to be capable swimmers.
The first annual School Camp from July 14 21st 1934 was an experiment of great interest as this was the first time the Nottinghamshire Education Committee had sanctioned such a camp. Mr Fielding took twenty boys aged 9-13 to camp on the West Leake Hills, by kind permission of Lord Belper. A typical day's programme shows that a time-table was adhered to and that the lessons were of a practical nature: 7.00 Reveille and strip wash. Breakfast. 9.00 The Quartermaster's Books examples in quantities, budgeting, costing, etc. 10.00 How the Primus stove works. 10.45 Lecture My Travels Abroad. 11.15 Physical Training and organised games. 12.30 Dinner (prepared and cooked by the boys). 1.00 Rest. 1.30 Nature ramble. 4.30 Tea. 5.00 Games. 8.00 Supper. 8.30 Yarns. 9.00 Prayers. 9.45 Lights out.
Annual prize distributions took place in the Old School. In 1937 the guest of honour was Her Grace the Duchess of Norfolk, accompanied by her father, Lord Belper. Mrs Ivy Judson remembers this as being shortly after she joined the staff of the school. There were then 75 pupils in three classes, from 8 years to 14, the school leaving age.
An Inspector reported, 'The headmaster's sensible direction and judicious control of the school have secured the goodwill and co-operation of the children and of their parents...Gardening, combined with Handicraft and the keeping of small livestock is now the main practical activity in the school. All children share in the amenities of the garden and make full use of the grass tennis court which has been laid down.' Arithmetic still seems to have been a weak spot, as the report continues: 'Formal subjects are in the main well taught, but it is suggested that Arithmetic should be more closely connected with Practical Subjects.' The livestock referred to included rabbits, hens and bees. Girls were encouraged to look after garden plots, and Mr Fielding presented a cup for the girl with the best plot.
Mr Fielding resigned in 1939 and Mr H.B. Armstrong was appointed Headmaster. Mrs Ivy Judson remembers the years of the Second World War as a confusion of evacuees and teachers, mainly from Sheffield, Nottingham and Birmingham. "I remember gas mask drills, getting under the desks for air raid alerts and scattering children i.e. sending them out to houses not too far away from school. The first influx of evacuees caused severe overcrowding problems there were not enough desks and some children had to sit on forms round the sides of the classrooms. We were overstaffed too, with the teachers who came with the evacuees. There was of course no staff room and I remember four or five teachers standing in the corridor and debating as to whose turn it was to take a class. The curriculum was severely affected for a time, but after the first year or so of the war most of the evacuees and teachers had returned home, and normality reigned. Much was done by the school to help the war effort; a Pig Club was organised, and a number of concerts were held sometimes in conjunction with the Infants School. The proceeds of these concerts were given to some aspect of the war effort.
"Annual sports were held in the field between the school and Hobgoblins by permission of Mr Albert Shepherd. It was a cow pasture, and I remember the cleaning up operations which took place before Sports Evening particularly in the long jump
Mr H.B. Armstrong with Council School pupils in 1940
1 to r. Back row: Dewsbury, C. Towens, , R. Gamble, R. Canner, T.King, , F. Insley,
2nd row: J. Barrowcliff, B. Woods, M. Corson, Jones, M. Hardy, , Tollington, J. Robinson,
Front: E. Baker, .
Mrs Ivy Judson with Council School pupils in 1940
1 to r. Back row: Woolley, R. Tolley, Tollington, M. Banner, Young, I. Rogers, E. Hunt 2nd row: D. Buller, Beard, E. Burton, B. Peet, L. Hunt, Smith, J. Wood, I. Messam, P. Gamble, Marshall 3rd row: P.Corbett, , , Messam, , Mrs Judson, P. Insley, Collins, Marshall, B. Sketchley, , Front: , D. Hardy, , R. Smith, B. Corbett
pit! I also remember the start of school dinners, sent in containers from a central kitchen and eaten at desks in the classrooms. The senior children from Normanton were admitted to Sutton Bonington at this time."
Mr Armstrong was succeeded by Mr Stanley Reeves after the war, in 1946, then Mr T.H. Burden in 1954.
To bring the story of the village schools up to date: it was in January 1957 that the senior children were sent to the new East Leake County Secondary School. Mr Burdett left, and Mrs Judson was appointed as Head of what had now become a Junior School. Mrs Richmond was her assistant. This was a time of two little 'family' schools in the village, with 5-7 year olds in the Endowed Infants School and two classes in the Junior School catering for the 8-11 year old children. At last there was enough room in the spare classroom for drama and practical activities!
In 1963 plans were produced for enlarging the building to accommodate up to 200 children and two years later the infants left the Bucks Lane building and joined their older brothers and sisters in Park Lane. The school expanded still further in January 1967 when the school at Kingston was closed, and children were brought by bus from Kingston, West Leake and Ratcliffe each day.
A pottery class in the Council School in 1950, showing one of the old classrooms. Pupils include: D. Gee, Swarbrocke, H. and S. Young, B. Corson, S. Dewsbury, P. Taylor, B. Hunt, M. Dakin, J. Farrell, J. Neal, J. Watson, B. Culpin, V. Dewsbury, I. Haywood, W. Insley, Robinson
These people have supplied information:
Mrs Annie May Anderson (nee Hardy)
Mrs Alice Berresford (nee Smith)
Mrs Kay Berridge
Mrs Marjorie Beswick (nee Brown)
Miss Melissa Branson (d.1972)
Mrs Fanny Brown (nee Lester 1890-1983)
Albert Cavey (1895-1985)
Mrs Elsie Corson (nee Buxton)
James Dewsbury (1883-1971)
W. Alfred French
Miss Gertrude Garner
Miss Christine Jones
Mrs Ivy Judson (nee Harris)
Mrs Edna Marshall (nee Botham)
Mrs Grace Moore
Mrs Ella Reeves
Mrs Kathleen Sharp (nee Robinson)
Mrs Eliza Singleton (nee Hardy 1895-1985)
Mrs Polly Tongue (nee Mary E. Hardy
Miss Millicent Vickerstaff (1894-1977)
Mrs Eva Walker (nee Stokoe)
Owen White (1899-1981)
Mrs Jane Wrath (nee Buxton 1891-1979)
These people have supplied the photographs:
Mr & Mrs George Beswick
Mrs Mary Cargill
Mrs Elsie Corson
Anne the Lady Elton
Mr & Mrs Alfred Judson
Miss Mary McCaughan
Mrs Edna Marshall
The late Alan Sims
(We apologize if any names have been inadvertently omitted.)
Many different books and documents were used for research; the principal sources were these:
St Michael's Enclosure Award 1777 (Sutton Bonington Parish Council)
St Michael's Vestry Minute Book 1891-1945 (Nottingham Record Office)
National Schools Managers' Minute Books 1875-1926 (NRO)
School log books 1896-1936 (NRO)
Loughborough Monitor & News (Loughborough Library)
Loughborough Herald (LL)
Loughborough Echo (LL)
Sale Catalogue Tidmas estates 1911 (LL)
Sale Catalogue The Elms 1913 (Nottingham Local Studies Library)
West Bingham Deanery Magazine 1884-1901
The Endowed Infants School, Sutton Bonington 1718-1965 K.L. Shipley
Wesleyan Chapel Trust Account Book 1868-1970 (Leicester Record Office)
Primitive Methodist Leaders' Meeting Minute Book 1893-1906 (LRO)
Sutton Bonington Methodist Church 1868-1968 C.L. & K.E. Crawford
INDEX OF NAMES
Alderman, 30, 31
Anderson, 19, 20, 48, 56
Armstrong, 12, 17, 53, 54, 55
Baker, 31, 37, 47, 54
Baxter, 16, 56
Beckett, 9, 30
Berresford, 4, 8, 23, 24, 35, 56
Beswick, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 46, 48, 50, 52, 56
Bloxham, 24, 32, 47, 48
Botham, 46, 47, 56
Branson, 9, 19, 27, 34, 48, 56
Brown, 9, 25, 26, 27, 30, 39, 45, 46, 48, 56
Buchanan, 11, 56
Buckland, 24, 25
Burrowes, 16, 26
Burton, 14, 15, 24, 54
Buxton, 30, 46, 56
Canner, 24, 54
Cavey, 3, 20, 37, 56
Chadburn, 27, 29
Clark, 3, 20, 46
Corbett, 25, 26, 27, 54
Corson, 29, 37, 54, 55, 56
Culpin, 37, 55
Dakin, 30, 37, 55
Dalby, 24, 31, 32, 39
Dewsbury, 24, 27, 32, 37, 39, 40, 54, 55, 56
Draycott, 26, 48
Evans, 47, 48
Fielding, 52, 53
Flower, 40, 52
Fowler, 3, 6, 19
French, 20, 23, 46, 56
Gamble, 46, 48, 54
Garner, 25, 56
Gaskin, 5, 16
Gee, 37, 55
Giles, 47, 48
Hamilton, 17, 22, 23, 24
Hardy, 19, 24, 26, 28, 29, 37, 39, 47, 48, 54, 56
Harris, 12, 42, 48, 56
Harrison, 39, 41
Harvey, 46, 47
Haywood, 9, 16, 19, 20, 37, 39, 55, 56
Hunt, 7, 24, 37, 47, 54, 55
Insley, 37, 47, 54, 55
Isaac, 24, 52
Jackson, 24, 39, 52
James, 27, 28, 31, 56
Jones, 54, 56
Judson, 31, 46, 47, 53, 54, 55, 56
Kent, 16, 24, 52, 56
King, 6, 9, 12, 27, 52, 54
Lee, 20, 35, 36, 45
Lester, 37, 56
Lovett, 24, 27
Maltby, 46, 48
Marshall, 9, 30, 37, 39, 46, 54, 56
McCaughan, 24, 52, 56
Moody, 20, 47
Moore, 30, 46, 56
Neal, 37, 55
Newton, 6, 39
Oliver, 19, 20, 36, 39, 48
Paget, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 40, 43
Pass, 24, 42, 46, 48
Pateman, 9, 47, 48
Pawley, 33, 34, 35, 37
Pritchett, 20, 48
Reeves, 50, 55, 56
Robinson, 54, 55, 56
Rogers, 37, 54
Roworth, 30, 31, 32
Shakespeare, 16, 50
Sharp, 46, 47, 52, 56
Shaw, 8, 9, 20, 38, 39
Sheffield, 1, 12, 24, 52, 53
Shepherd, 9, 19, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 53
Singleton, 34, 56
Sketchley, 39, 54
Smith, 16, 23, 24, 37, 46, 47, 48, 52, 54, 56
Smyth, 37, 38, 39
Soames, 9, 17, 19, 21
Stokoe, 17, 24, 56
Sutton, 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 24, 26, 27, 30, 32, 33, 36, 39, 40, 42, 45, 47, 48, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56
Tate, 47, 48, 50, 52
Taylor, 17, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 32, 37, 46, 55, 56
Tennant, 8, 9, 11
Thomas, 3, 9, 12, 14, 19, 24, 25, 27, 29, 30
Thompson, 19, 20, 36, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47
Tidmas, 14, 15, 16, 56
Tilney, 5, 6, 19
Tolley, 52, 54
Tollington, 52, 54
Tongue, 34, 42, 46, 48, 52, 56
Vickerstaff, 3, 22, 35, 36, 52, 56
Walker, 17, 56
Watts, 9, 45, 46
Webster, 26, 46
Wesley, 11, 32
White, 3, 12, 14, 17, 19, 22, 23, 28, 30, 47, 48, 56
Whittaker, 28, 31, 39, 41, 44
Woods, 52, 54
Wrath, 6, 17, 26, 27, 56
Wright, 9, 19, 37, 46, 48
Yearsley, 17, 18, 24
Young, 23, 26, 30, 32, 37, 46, 48, 52, 54, 55