Parents on Trial
                                                            Where has our Generation Gone Wrong?
Article in Housewife magazine, April 1949, p70


Above: Ashburton County School 1902-03
Frances Berry collection

1876 'The new grant for needlework requires female help for the proper award of it. No-one will seriously maintain that a set of men are the fit judges either of plans on which to teach needlework or of  results of examination in it. All an inspector can fitly do in regard to this branch of instruction is to insist on its importance, and to see that in regulating and rewarding it the judgement of experts of the other sex, whose province it is, decides...
...Taking needlework as a class subject for girls means dropping as a class subject for girls either grammar or geography. They certainly ought to learn both...'
General report for the year 1876, Reports on Elementary Schools, 1852-1882, Matthew Arnold, London 1910,  p166-167

Above: Sewing box won as a school prize at the turn of the 20th century.
Frances Berry collection
'The hour appointed to writing copies is generally divided into three courses; the first fifteen minutes of each course being employed in writing, the remaining five, in inspection. The children who write the best hands...are selected as inspectinig teacher; each of whom has the care of one, or two of the desks, as the mistress may think fit to appoint...

...The principal rules are, that the body be inclined a little forward; the shoulders even, the pen, or pencil, pointing to the right shoulder; the left hand resting on the left edge of the slate, or copy-book; the slate, or copy-book, parallel with the desk.'

The village School Improved, or the New System of Education Practically Explalined, John Poole, Oxford, 1815, p28

Left: Copy book from 1904
Frances Berry collection
                                                                A Geography Lesson in the USA, circa 1930

My mother owned A Child's Geography of the World, by V M Hillyer, a headmaster and author of other books such as Child Training, and A Child's History of the World. Written in 1929, it was used as a text book in schools. Hillyer wanted to make geography interesting and relevant - a reaction against his own education, which consisted of rote learning, and question and answer sessions. He gave an example: 'What is the condition of the people of the United States?' to which a 13 year old boy answered, 'They are poor and ignorant, and live in miserable huts'. The teacher's response was 'No, that's the answer to the next question, What is the condition of the Eskimos?' [pxiii]
Above: A Child's History of the World
Barbara Rowland collection
Hillyer's chatty style is sometimes casual to say the least. He says that there are over 3000 languages, but that he speaks English because he was born in the United States. 'But I might have been born in Asia, a yellow boy, and learned to speak Chinese.'  As for boys in Africa, they would speak 'a language I don't even know the name of' with the implication that the reader doesn't need to bother knowing it either. [p27]
Most languages, says the author, are formed with Roman letters, but Chinese and Japanese, and 'some other faraway languages' are different. There is a drawing as an example, but whether the letters are Chinese, Japanese, or another 'faraway' language is not specified.
Hillyer admits that it has been difficult to know which countries to write about in his book. Understandably, most of the book is devoted to America, but included amongst the other countries are two chapters on the United Kingdom, two on France, and 28 pages on Italy. He also has a chapter on the "ia" countries - nine of the countries that lie between Russia and the rest of Europe. 'Some of them', he says, 'not very important, but all of them most important to the people who live in them.' [p 296].  Comparing size with greatness  (not necessarily a match, the author points out), he gives the example of Italy, a great country, with one the same size but which 'you have probably never heard of it. It is called Jugo-Slavia'. [p300] He says the things that come to mind when he hears the names of countries, finishing with Jugo-Slavia, for which 'I don't think of a thing.' [p301]
Barbara Rowland

Above: An 8th Grade end of year photograph, USA, c 1930. Underneath is written '8B2 Elm Place, June'
Barbara Rowland collection

School punishments:
Writing lines
Having a board rubber thrown at you
Having to learn chunks of Shakespeare
Cleaning the leaves of the Headmistress's rubber plant
Ruler on the back of the leg
Memories of the group

               Books for children has now moved to the sub-menu of Childhood

                                                              The 1700s

'The Age of Enlightenment', or 'The Age of Reason', the 18th century was a time of innovation and challenge. A range of ideas evolved centred on reason, and the use of the scientific method was paramount. There was an increase in knowledge and the arts: literature, opera, theatre, and interior design. There was a questioning of religious orthodoxy.
The 1700s was also the beginnning of the industrial revolution, and the movement of people to cities.

How were children seen during this period?
1. The child as a blank slate.

One idea of children was that the child was a 'tabula rasa', usually translated as 'blank slate'. The human mind started blank, and acquired knowledge and reason as the world was impressed upon it. This theory went back to the Greeks, but in the 1600s John Locke had reworked the idea in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
'Let us suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper void of all characters, without any ideas. How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from EXPERIENCE.'
John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Hernnstein & Murray, 1994, p311
Above: John Locke, after Godfrey Kneller
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning Education, 1693, is available as a free eBook via Google Books

Having considered a healthy mind in a healthy body, and the advantages of suitable clothing, food and bodily functions, Locke's thoughts included those on reward and punishment. 'Beating them, and all other sorts of slavish and corporal punishments, are not the discipline fit to be used in the education of those we wise, good and ingenous men; and therefore very rarely to be applied...On the other side, to flatter children by rewards of things, that are pleasant to them is as carefully to be avoided.'
'For I advise their parents and governors always to carry this in their minds, that they are to be treated as rational creatures.' (The rationality increasing with age).

Locke advocates esteem and disgrace as motivating factors. 'The great difficulty here is, I imagine, from the folly and perverseness of servants, who are hardly to be hinder'd from crossing herein the design of the father and mother.'
'But pray remember, children are not to be taught by rules, which will always be slipping out of their memories.'
'They must not be hindred from being children, or from playing, or doing as children, but from doing ill; all other liberty is to be allowed them.'
'Curiosity should be as carefully cherished in children, as other appetites suppressed.'
Locke reminds his readers that what seems obvious to us is puzzling to a child, and advises listening to questions seriously and answering them appropriately. 'Children are strangers to all we are aquainted with,; and all the things they meet with are at first unknown to them, as they once were to us'
'I have always had a fancy, that learning might be made a play and recreation to children, and that they might be brought to desire to be taught...'
He had some practical advice on teaching. 'There may be dice and playthings, with the letters on them, to teach children the alphabet by playing; and twenty other ways may be found, suitable to their particular tempers, to make this kind of learning a sport to them...
...I think, as soon as he begins to spell, as many pictures of animals should be got him, as can be found, with the printed names to them...'
p177ff, p184
'the right way of teaching [French] which is by talking it into children in constant conversation, and not by grammatical rules.'

Many of John Locke's ideas seem very modern, and may have taken some time to be accepted. His ideas on teaching and learning are not ones we tend to associate with, for example, Victorian Grammar or Board schools.


The second way children were seen in the 18th century  
2. The child as corrupt.
Alongside this idea came that of the Puritans, who believed that humans were born sinful. Children's souls had to be saved, and to do this their development had to be shaped through discipline and control.

3. The child as innocent.
In contrast, in 1762 Jean-Jacque Rousseau published Emile, or On Education.
Rousseau not only rejected the doctrine of original sin, but claimed that children were born entirely innocent - it was the world that corrupted them. Emile, an invented child, is allowed to follow his own natural and healthy instincts. In this way Emile would become a well-adjusted adult and a good citizen.
Professor Kimberley Reynolds,

Whilst highly influential, Rousseau's ideas did not obliterate earlier thinking. Hannah More, one of the most learned women of her time, wrote at the end of the century:
'Is it not a fundamental error to consider children as innocent beings, whose little weaknesses may perhaps want some correction, rather than as beings who bring into the world a corrupt nature and evil dispositions, which it should be the great end of education to rectify? This appears to be such a foundation-truth...'
Hannah More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, London, 1799, vol 1, p64

In Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education,  Hannah More was addressing the upper classes. She was keen to curb subjects that she considered frivolous, and wanted instead to concentrate on serious study, and on educating girls to particular roles. 'The profession of ladies, to which the bent of their instruction should be turned, is that of daughters, wives, mothers and mistresses of families. They should be therefore trained with a view to these several conditions...for though the arts which merely embellish life must claim admiration; yet when a man of sense comes to marry, it is a companion whom he wants, and not an artist.'
ibid p107

'An early habitual restraint is peculiarly important to the future character and happiness of women. A judicious, unrelaxing, but steady and gentle curb on their tempers and passions can along ensure their peace and establish their principles...

Above: Hannah More, by Henry William Pickersgill [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
...They should be accustomed to receive but little praise for their vivacity or their wit, though they should receive just commendation for their patience, their industry, their humility, and other qualities which have more worth than splendour.'
ibid p154

When it came to the education of the poor, Hannah also had clear ideas. 'My plan of instruction is extremely simple and limited. They learn, on week-days, such coarse works as may fit them for servants. I allow of no writing for the poor. My object is not to make fanatics, but to train up the lower classes in habits of industry and piety.'
Letter 1801, to the Bishop of Bath and Well. The Letters of Hannah More, 1925

Above: Maria Edgeworth, by John Downman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In contrast, Maria Edgeworth, a prolific writer of both adults' and children's literature, had a very modern view of educating children. She believed that children should learn through the manipulation of objects, and that nothing was to be gained by giving children things that could only be admired and not played with.  In Practical Education, 1798, she wrote:
'A boy...would in all probability prefer a substantial cart, in which he would carry weeds, earth and stones up and down hill to the finest frail coach and six that ever came out of a toy-shop.'

Maria Edgeworth, Practical Education, 1798, p4

'Toys which afford trials of dexterity and activity, such as tops, kites, hoops, balls, battledores and shuttlecocks, ninepins and cup-and-ball, are excellent.'

ibid p22
Practical Education covers areas such as grammar, geometry, arithmetic and geography, and throughout emphasizes reason over rote, and making subjects intelligible. It has the following to say on science: 'No great apparatus is necessary for shewing children the first simple operations in chemistry; such as evaporation, crystallization, calcination, detonation, effervescence and saturation.'

'To direct children in their choice of fossils, and to give them some idea of the general arrangements of mineralogy, toy-shops should be provided with specimens of ores etc., properly labelled and arranged in drawers, so that they may be kept in order; children should have empty shelves in their cabinets, to be filled with their own collections.'
ibid pp34, 38

However, in some respects she was a woman of her time and class. Whilst advising that girls should be taught the science behind culinary skills, she says, 'We do not by any means advise, that girls should be instructed in confectionery arts at the hazard of their keeping company with servants...'
ibid p34
Compare this with John Locke's concern about the influence of servants (above)

Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743 - 1825) created a pioneering reading primer - Lessons for Children - for teaching her own nephew and foster son,  Charles. Issued in four graded parts, she explained her thinking in the preface to volume 1: 'Amidst the multitude of books professedly written for children, there is not one adapted to the comprehension of a child from two to three years old'.

'Lessons' was the first work to address this gap, using objects and activities from the real world.
As the books progress, the vocabulary, ideas and concepts become more complex. By the time Charles is four, for example, he is expected to know not only that a horse has four legs but that an animal with four legs is "called a Quadruped. The Cow is a quadruped: and the dog, and the lion, and all the beasts.."

A page from Lessons for Children part 2, the first part for children of 3 (1779 Dublin edition).
Mrs Barbuld's books had wide spacing and large type.
By Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1744 John Newbery, a writer and publisher, wrote a book primarily for children's entertainment, embellished with gilded edges and attractive titles. Entitled A Little Pretty Pocket Book, it consisted of rhymes about children's games, together with a moral for each game. He sold it through his London bookshop.

A page from A Little Pretty Pocket Book

The joy of primary sources. A lot of sources detailed the games in A Little Pretty Pocket Book, but none said that it also had rules for behaviour. These can be found in the free eBook, available through Google

Chapter two has 163 rules for children's behaviour, covering: At the meeting house; at home; at the table; in company; in discourse; at the school; when abroad; when among other children.

Among the 43 rules of behaviour whilst at the table are:
2 Sit not down until thou are bidden by the parents or other superiors
13 Make not a noise with thy tongue, mouth, lips or breath, in eating or drinking.
24 Smell not of thy meat, nor put it up to thy nose; turn it not the other side upward to view it upon thy plate.
25 Throw not anything under the table.

There are 26 rules when in company:
1 Enter not into the company of thy superiors without command or calling, nor without a bow.
3 Put not thy hand in the presence of others to any part of thy body, not ordinarily discovered.
5 Stand not wriggling with thy body hither and thither, but steady, and upright.
11 Spit not in the room, but in the corner, and rub it with thy foot, or rather go out and do it abroad.


                                                One 18th Century Childhood

Richard Carlile was a political activist and important agitator for the freedom of the press. He was born in Ashburton in 1790

'With a father much too talented to apply himself to any of the ordinary business of life, my subsistence depended on the industry of a mother, and the kindness of relatives. I was in this condition till five years of age, when a shop at the corner of Lawrence Lane, given up to my mother by an old uncle, for ten years furnished moderate supplies for subsistence. I lost my father at four and a half years old, but I cannot see that he ever ministered to my subsistence, though he was a man of much talent; at last he profligately enlisted for a soldier, under which discipline he soon died at the age of thirty-four.

In the chapel of Lawrence Lane, where, from nine to twelve years of age, I got some Latin, you will probably find my name cut in the boards, if it be worth looking for. At 'Lads-Well, at the bottom of that lane, you will see the scene of some early exploits of mine, one of which was.....with a new suit of clothes on, trying to jump over this well.

I jumped in! and on a Sunday, too! The stile of the first meadow was a leaping bar, and in the church-yard you cannot see a tomb or headstone, forty years old, but I have jumped over it. Should you see the centre of the town flooded in its drains, you may see my picture as a boy...... beating through it. I have bathed and fished in every brook, and stolen apples from every tree within a mile of the town…. I have played at hoop through every crick and corner of the shambles and market-place, have well pelted both towers with tennis-balls, and the flagstones of the street with peg-tops, and have often formed one of the troops of rag-a-muffins …. My first schoolmistress was old 'Cherry Chalk', who taught me the alphabet on a horn book, and performed all sorts of cures without medicine by the potent power of charms. She was a witch, but much respected as one who performed wonderful cures. ... I had two other school mistresses of a more respectable stamp than old 'Cherry Chalk'. I believe the first taught for three half-pence a week and the other for twopence. When I got to a five-penny school it was considered an extravagant affair, too expensive to be borne, and a successful effort was made to put me upon the list of free scholars. From the age of six to nine I was at writing and arithmetic; from nine to twelve at Latin. But the sum of all this narrative is that though at twelve years of age I left school, with a knowledge of writing, arithmetic, and the Latin language, and a pretty good knowledge of words and the tact of spelling them, I was wholly ignorant of grammar. I remember well when my severe old writing and ciphering master was told that I was about to leave him to learn Latin, he said, 'Hi, hi! you had better learn English first'. This old man never gave me a chastisement without saying, 'There, you larned rascal, take that! You will thank me for it by the time you are twenty years old." '

*Heavyhead ? Possibly a scanning or transcription error.

From Richard Carlile to Eliza Sharples Carlile, quoted in The battle for the press, as told in the story of the life of Richard Carlile, Theophila Carlile Campbell (his daughter), London 1899, chapter 2 Accessed 17-11-2013


'My grandmother said she once remembered as a child only having an onion for a meal. Her father was an alcoholic, and they frequently had no money.'


                                                                 The 1900s

In the early 1900s country children were generally healthy and robust. Although most of them caught the usual measles, scarlet fever or chickenpox, few were very badly affected. There were more serious outbreaks of diptheria from time to time, and polio not only crippled but killed, too, but despite this rural Devon was probably a healthier place to grow up in than a big town. If a child did fall gravely ill, poorer families were never short of gifts of food from neighbours and benevolent employers.

My mother had her appendix removed on the local doctor's kitchen table in the 1920s - her mother paid in a shilling a week for health care. Also in the 1920s she spent two weeks in an isolation ward with scarlet fever, and to her distress when she came out all her toys and clothes were destroyed.

Childhood in the past seventy years has changed beyond all recognition - here are some reasons for this.
The first concerns the size of families. It was not unusual in the early 1900s for parents to have six children, or even more*. Children represented cheap labour in agricultural families, where self-sufficiency on the land meant that feeding them was never a serious problem. Nor was looking after them, as grandmother was usually nearby if not living in the same house to help look after the eldest - and then the older children would look after the younger ones, leaving the mother to concentrate solely on the baby currently at the breast.

My grandfather born in 1895 was an elder one of nearly a dozen children. He left school at 12 to earn money to support the family. Children were seldom lonely and never short of playmates; few marriages broke up, and unless a parent died from accident or illness, or perhaps a father was killed in the First World War,  relatively few women were left to cope alone without the support of a family.

Infant mortality at one time was so high that it was necessary to have several children just to replace those who died in childhood. But in the years leading up to the 1900s ordinary people began to understand basic hygiene and childcare, more children survived and families got bigger and bigger.

The second major difference in childhood in the past relates to the freedom with which even quite young children were allowed to roam the villages and countryside around their homes. Cars were few and far between in country areas until well after the First World War. Traffic was light and cars travelled relatively slowly, so that children had time to hear vehicles coming and get out of the way. Parents rarely worried about child abuse, assault or abduction - there was little concern about strangers because there were so few.

This freedom to play out of doors with no fear of the common dangers that haunt children today also meant that children needed, and had, far fewer toys because they spent comparatively little time indoors except in very bad weather. Youngsters knew a great deal about the wildlife around them, and spent many happy carefree hours playing together in the countryside climbing trees and collecting birds' eggs. What toys they had were crude and often home-made, and life out of doors, away from the grown-ups, was for boys and girls alike the basis of many a carefree  childhood.
My father in the 1920s and 30s used to roam the countryside for miles, learning, with other children, how to swim in the river at Spitchwick. They walked up there, and on their travels they spotted a horse/pony and adopted it. They tied it up in an old abandoned barn and took it out to practise riding; they 'appropriated' hay etc. to feed it. After a week or so someone told my grandfather what was going on, so that was the end of that adventure.

But childhood in those days had its serious side, too. Children left school at 14 or sometimes earlier, and were expected to put in a full day's work for very little money from that time on. Many children ran errands or worked in their free time from as young as seven years old to contribute to the family budget, and they were widely exploited, working for next to nothing with little regard for their safety or welfare.
Children living on farms were proud of the fact that they could usually help milk by the age of seven or eight, and milk deliveries and tasks like feeding the animals often had to be completed before and after a hard day at school. Fortunately many youngsters greatly enjoyed their spare time work, and were delighted to earn a penny or two by whatever means they could devise. Consequently education for life was more the focus than an academic education for many children which restricted their aspirations for the future.
Frances Berry, from family reminiscences and family history research

For trends in statistics since 1900 see

*But numbers were falling. 'Women who married in England in the 1860s bore an average of more than six children while their granddaughters who married in the 1910s bore fewer than three...'

Siân Pooley, Parenthood, Child-rearing and fertility in England 1850-1914,


                                                                   The 1920s

The following biography was written by Anne Berry when she was herself a child. It consists of the memories of her grandmother, Gwen, who was born in 1924.

Parents and childhood
Gwendoline Arscott's father was called John Stanley Rundle and was born in 1896; her mother was called Annie Davis and was born in 1896 as well. Stanley's grandparents lived in Gerrans where Annie lived, so they knew each other when they were quite young. They were married in 1917 during the First World War; then Stanley went away to war, while Annie worked as a cook housekeeper in Plymouth. When he came back from the war it took over a year to find a job, A) because there were few and B) because everyone else was trying to do the same. He found a job in Paignton. The in June 1924 Gwendoline Arscott nee Rundle was born.
When she was 4 years old she had an operation for appendicitis. Then when she was 10 she caught scarlet fever, which she described as  hot, feverish, sore throat and she had a rash. As she got better her skin peeled off her hands and feet. She was in the hospital for four weeks as there were no antibiotics in those days to fight infection. Any toys or clothes given to the children had to be kept in the isolation hospitals so they wouldn't spread the disease and when you went home you were given fresh clothes so the old ones wouldn't spread the infection.
Gwen had a pretty china doll, which she called Nora, and a dolls' pushchair. She wheeled it up and down the pavement outside and the neighbours came out to see; a girl from further up the road asked if she could wheel the pushchair. Her name was Violet but she was careless with the handle and it crashed on the ground breaking the doll's head. Gwen was very upset; she never spoke to the girl again. The doll was taken to the mender's but it was beyond repair, so it was fitted with another head, not so pretty as the original one.

Gwen's memories of Christmas were always exciting. She would usually receive a hamper from her granny, which usually contained a goose or chicken (not alive!), a tin of cream, and other goodies; not forgetting a little money. On Christmas Eve her father would go to the countryside to get something to stand as a tree - a branch of evergreen or a branch of holly. This was put into a flowerpot and decorated with their precious collection of ornaments, and candleholders. The decorations were a gift from a neighbour who was a sea captain on a trading boat. He brought a box of them back from abroad, glass baubles of all different shapes in red, silver, blue, pink and gold. Also clip-on birds in silver and blue. The candles were lit after dark on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day. There were visits to her grandparents where they would sometimes have a meal. They would walk home where the lights would shine through the windows so that every one could see the trees as the curtains were left undrawn. They would hang their stockings at the end of their bed and one year her father was replacing her full stocking at the end of the bed, when she awoke and sat bolt upright wondering what was going on. He had to lie on his tummy out of sight and wait for her to go to sleep again!

Holidays at Treloan.
Grandma used to go to Cornwall with her mother and brother to visit her grandparents.They went by train from Paignton to Falmouth. They stayed overnight with her Auntie Lillian and in the morning they went by ferryboat to St. Mawes. From the ferryboat they were taken by pony and trap to the farm.
They stayed there during harvest time; the fields of wheat were left to ripen then cut down and left in bales to dry. Then the wheat was threshed and made into grain,which was stored in the barn to be used as feed for the chickens and farm animals, or to be made into flour. When it was time to thresh the wheat other people from different farms came to help. Her mother made snacks of tea and buns for the workers. Gwen and her brother took it out to them and sat with them while they rested. It was hot work. There was a traction engine, which provided the threshing machine with energy. If they ran out of coal for it they would borrow some from my great great grandma. She didn't like having to lend it even though they paid her for it. When the corn had been threshed the straw was baled into bundles and taken to the place where a haystack was made. The bundles were loaded on to a cart and grandma, with her brother, would ride on the back of it. It was full of stalks and thistles, which prickled their bottoms.
There were trips to the beach and the harbour at Portscatho where small crabs coiuld be bought cheaply. Gwen's mother cooked them in a large pot over an open fire in the kitchen of the farmhouse and would spend an afternoon taking out all the crabmeat from the shells for their tea. At the end of the holiday they would go back to Falmouth on the ferryboat from St. Mawes.

Trips to Plymouth and Dartmouth
On Bank Holiday Monday Gwen and her family would go to the railway station and get cheap tickets (cheaper on the Bank Holiday) and go on the train down to Dartmouth or Plymouth. The trip to Dartmouth meant going to Kingswear and then to catch the ferry across the River Dart to Dartmouth. Many big trading boats came into the river to moor up for the time it took to unload and reload cargo. There were some yachts and fishing boats, which were very interesting and exciting to look at for children.
Dartmouth held a regatta every year. This was when the fair came to town; there would be amusements in the day such as a big carousel and fireworks in the evening.
On the trips to Plymouth, they explored many of the bigger shops and arcades with displays of fine clothes, shoes and jewellery. The market hall in particular was full of stalls selling fruit, vegetables, whole hams and cheeses; there were lovely cakes and sweets as well.
One year they had to buy a big basket to take home all the goods they bought because there were no plastic bags in those days.
The shops in Plymouth were much bigger and were built into arcades; Gwen and her brother, (because they were children} found the shops amazing because it was so very different to Paignton.

Gwen used to walk to school; she went to Curtledge Street Council School (when she was 5). It was a long walk to school so when the "Parish" church started to be used as one she went there. The desks she used were wooden and the surfaces were sloped. You could lift the top up and put your things in it. At the top of it there was an inkwell. If there was a girl in the class with long plaits she had to be careful that the person behind her wouldn't grab a plait and stick it in their own inkwell. When Grandma was 9 years old she was given 6 pence a week to escort two boys to school. They lived in a road near where she lived and it was a long way to walk for small children.
She entered an anthology competition of her favourite poems, which were written in a book and decorated with drawings; prizes were awarded and grandma received an autograph book. Her favourite subjects at school were English, poetry, drawing and needlework. When she was 12 years old she was summoned to the headmistress' office. The head said there was a scholarship to attendthe art school at Paignton on Saturday mornings and would she like to go! It was arranged for her to go from 10am - 12 during term time for one year.
Drawing was taught with pencil on cartridge paper. Perspective and basic principles of art composition led to painting with watercolours. Tone values were taught before colour. There were exams and prizes at the end of each term. Grandma received a box of watercolours, paintbrushes and a book. She went to the art school for 2 years and left school at the age of 14 years.

After school
When Grandma left school she was apprenticed to dressmaking. She continued evening classes at the art school to include embroidery. When Gwen was working at the dressmaker's there were times when the work was not enough for everyone so people were "stood off". One year when she became unemployed she made nightdress cases and sold a few.
After Christmas people did not have many clothes made so the months of January and February meant no work. Work began agian in March for the Easter clothes and this is when she sold the nightdress cases. The money from each went to buy materials for the next nightdress case. On one occasion, Gwen was given a dress to embroider with beads. It was black chiffon with multicoloured bugle beads. It was pleated at the bottom.
The apprenticeship was to serve 6 years. The first two years grandma learned how to sew, to cut out and make patterns. She also learnt about fabrics and how to use the sewing machine. Then she learnt how to make up pockets, sleeves and to do other basic sewing. Grandma was good at this because she was given work to do before she was properly qualified. She was paid 5 shillings per week which is 25 pence nowadays.
Anne Berry
See also At War for Anne's account of Gwen's life during the Second World War.

                                                                                        The 1950s

'My father asked me if I would like to be a ballerina, and the next thing I knew I was being packed off to a boarding school that advertised ballet.'


                                                                                   My Childhood

I was born in Surrey in October 1945. Pictures of me show a little girl dressed in pretty frilly dresses, paid for by my mother's wealthy family (her father was a self-made millionaire). They had plenty of material possessions, and my maternal grandmother was a fearful snob! My mother (the eldest of 3 children) and her sister were sent to Roedean School as a boarder, and was allowed to go up to Oxford to read music (sadly she became ill and was also overtaken by the war, so she never got her musical education). Their homes were kept clean and tidy by maids, and we children knew that we were expected to be quiet, polite and not answer back. My father's family was very much less comfortably off: born in 1918, he was the younger of 2 sons.His father had died while his sons were very young. My father left school at 14 and was expected to earn his living from that age, his brother going to university and having a career in teaching in South Africa.

I tell you this at the outset, so that you can see where my upbringing originated. As the eldest of 3 daughters, I felt the weight of responsibility and expectation of both my parents, which was sometimes hard to bear. All of our education was paid for by my maternal grandparents, so more expectation was heaped upon us. I went to the local nursery school till the age of 8, when I started attending as a weekly boarder a primary school some 6 miles away from home. I enjoyed the learning, except for my form teacher making quite sure that I knew I was not supposed to write or draw with my left hand - a ruler on the knuckles soon got the message across and left me with a stammer.

I went to secondary school (a private school for girls some 8 miles from home), again as a boarder. We were allowed 3 visits home per term with our parents. All our personal possessions had to be vetted by the house mistress, and had to fit into a tiny locker in our common room. Perhaps that is why I am naturally tidy and such a good packer of suitcases! Little girls can be very cruel, so we all came up against the "you can't be my friend: line, and if you are in any way different from the leaders of the pack, beware! You learn to cope, but funnily enough I never wanted to send my children away to boarding school...
I did well academically at school, at a time when academic success was really all the scholl was  bothered about. Luckily this pleased my parents, and I was encouraged to apply for a place at university. I took this up and had a wonderful time.

'I came home from school for dinner, and my grandmother served me sprouts. I refused to eat them, and my grandmother would not let me leave the table until I did. I sat there all afternoon: my mother was most upset when she returned to find that I had missed an afternoon's school.'
Shirley Buckley
'My father often came home late, although I suspect he could have returned earlier if he had tried. We could not eat until he arrived, and consequently the food, kept in the oven, was often dry. That is my memory of food as a child - it was dry.'
Barbara Rowland

                                              Random memories of the 1950s

Fuses blowing, and having to replace fuse wire with a screwdriver, under the stairs.
Crackling radios the size of a fridge. Having to wait for them to warm up.
Listening to Radio Luxembourg on smaller radios under the sheets.
Balancing on chairs holding the television aerial aloft to get a picture.
Paraffin stoves.
Windows misted up or covered in ice on the inside.
Striped toothpaste, and toothpaste in round tins.
Gas at the dentist's.
Turning up at doctor's (no appointments). And doctor coming to your house.
Sunday being a day of rest, with eg church and going to grandparents for lunch. A day for families, with no shops open.
One holiday a year.
One present for Christmas or birthdays.
Davy Crockett hats
Families often had no car.
Classes of 40 at school. Outside toilets, which were frozen in winter. Walked to school. No preparation for school.
Roaming during days off.
Contributions from the group


                              Miscellaneous pictures of the late 1940s and 1950s

All the photographs in this section are from the UK with the exception of the photograph right, which was taken in the USA.

                                              Miscellaneous pictures of the 1960s

Left: Family photograph taken in the USA in 1965
Barbara Rowland collection
            Remembeirng a grandfather

Right: A list of things that a 1970s' child remembered about his grandfather, 'Bangumps'. 'Big Besse' was a device used for testing equipment for EMI.
Vanessa Griffith collection.