This is an account by Cecil Rhodes about his schooldays at Timsbury Church of England School on South Road. It is a particularly interesting account as his memories date back to schooldays at the beginning of the 20th century. This account is reproduced from Look! This was Timsbury by kind permission of the Cheshire Home.
|Q||Which teachers do you remember most?|
|A||In the infant school an elderly lady called Miss Cole was a very strict teacher and you weren’t allowed to say anything out of place. If you did she was round to you and then she’d have you out and stand you in the corner, put your hands up over your head and you had to stay there quite a long time, so everybody behaved as well as they could in the infant school. I started there in 1903. After we left the infant school we had to go into the top school. Then we had to start off in Standard l where the teacher was Miss Ladgen, she was alright but then in Standard 2 was Miss Chrouching, next standard Miss Hines, and next Miss Hunt and then in the class room off the school a bit was Miss Evans. The under master was Mr. Lewis and the Headmaster Mr. Arnold. Miss Hunt was the most strict teacher that were in there, you only had to blow your nose and she were round to ‘ee, and if you blow your nose twice a bit hard you were out for the cane.|
|Q||What was your school day like?|
|A||There were seven classes in the school, and around 20 pupils in the class. The school day started at nine. They’d ring the first bell at five minutes to nine, then the second bell at 9 o’clock, and then if you were not there on time the headmaster would have you up and want to know where you’d been. We were there from nine o’clock till 12 o’clock. He’d ring again at 2, after dinner break and then we stayed until 4.|
|Q||Did you have breaks?|
|A||The girls used to have a play yard on their own and they did skipping, hopscotch (marked out in the yard with chalk), but the boys had marbles or conkers.|
|Q||Did you ever miss school?|
|A||Course some of us used to play truant. I did for one. I was living in Hook and I had to go from Hook to Timsbury School and one morning I and another lad from Hook was collecting bird’s eggs. We got over the stone stile out in the field and we went collecting eggs. We were trying to get a case of eggs, one from each nest, as the second bell went.|
So the other chap said “Oh we hadn’t better go, we shall get the cane, so we’ll stay here.”
In the meantime, my mother come from Hook up to Timsbury to do some shopping and she seen me out in the field birdsnesting, she didn’t say nothing, she came back and we waited till the dinner time came at 12 o’clock and I went back down home to dinner. Mother didn’t say nothing to me, but she sent a note with my sister to the schoolmaster and I asked my sister what was in it.
”Oh” Mum said ”for you to come out early Mother wants you to do some shopping.”
I said “She didn’t tell me” so on the letter my mother wrote to the master and said she’d seen me and we’d missed going to school.
She said “Will you deal with him.
So the master, Arnold, said “Rhodes, come out. Where were you to this morning?”
“Oh” I said, “I wasn’t very well Sir.”
“Wasn’t very well?”
“No sir. Mother let me have the morning off.”
“Mother let you have the morning off? Are you sure? Well now look can you read? This is from your mother. Hold out your hand.” One, “Hold out your other hand.” Bang. “Bend down on the desk; bend your head down further.” The cane came down hard. He said “That’s for running away from school, and that’s another for telling a lie.”
I had a job to sit down. That finished my running away.
You couldn’t help being late one or two mornings going from Hook to school when it were raining and that. But he didn’t take that into consideration. He warned me two or three times about being late so one morning I thought to myself “Oh I won’t be late this morning. If I run through Pendoggett back gates and straight through out the front gates and up the gravel path, I’d take a corner off, I shall be quick enough.” As I got to the front gates, who should be sweeping up leaves but the gardener.
He said “What do you reckon you’re doing here? Get on back. Who do you reckon you are coming through here?”
I said “Oh, I’m a bit late for school and 1 thought I’d run this way not to get the cane.”
“Get the cane or not you b’aint coming through here. You go back and out and go the right way.”
By the time I got back and out the right way I were a lot later! The master had me out and give me the cane for being late and I said to one or two of me pals “I don’t know, I seem to get it all the time . ”
We had night school for woodcarving and Bert Moxham was the chap that used to be the head on us, because he were a better chap. They used to give us pieces on board to do the gouging and stippling and when you got good enough, they’d have a table top and let you do a table top. We used to go there one night a week 6.00 – 7.30.
I said to some of the chaps “What about if I have my own back on the master.”
They said “What thee mean?”
So I said “Well I’ve been and brought a bag down and stuffed it in hedge down Harry Colmens. Will you help I? Cause there’s a ladder besides.”
Jack Holbrook and Wally Green said “Ah, we’ll help you. What’s you gonna do?”
I said “Stuff the bag up in the bells so they won’t ring tomorrow morning.
They agreed and we got there, stuffed this bag up in. Next morning the master come up “Who reckoned to pull the bell? It’s time that bell was gone” and so he asked one then asked another. He went out and pulled the bell himself and the bell wouldn’t go. “I shall have to get someone to see to it. Anybody got an idea who’ll see to it? You lads, who’ll come and see to that bell.”
I said I reckon Mr. Moxham would.
“The blacksmith? You go up and see if he’ll come and do it.” And I went up and I was friendly with Ern Moxham at the time and I told him what I been a-done. He said “You tell Mr. Arnold I’ll be down this evening and do it.”
So he went down and took the bag out and charged Mr. Arnold half-a-crown for coming down. He said the bell had got rusted up and only wanted a drop of oil on it. So I did get my own back.
|Q||How often did you see the rector at school?|
|A||Twice a week|
|Q||What holidays did you have?|
|A||August, Easter, Whitsuntide and Christmas.|
|Q||What form of heating and lighting was there in the school?|
|A||A stove which used coke. It was in the middle and it had a stack that went up through. The master would say to the pupils to put some coke on the stove. There were oil lamps.|
|Q||Did you have any school meals or milk?|
|Q||Do you remember any private schools at Timsbury?|
|A||I think there was one in the High Street in a big house. We always called it Beacham’s House. After the school broke up they let it off in apartments for three families.|
|Q||Did you ever have any prizes at school?|
|A||Oh yes, for attendance. It was a book. We had to go up to church some mornings. We’d generally go up at 10 o’clock for service on special days.|
|Q||What subject did you like best at school?|
|A||Oh drawing was my favourite. They used to put mine up on the board. We’d always try to beat one another so the master would put it up on the blackboard.|
|Q||What things did you learn at school that have been useful to you through you life?|
|A||Writing, arithmetic – reckoning up and the way to write properly. Everything came in useful that I learned at school. The way to speak to people. In them days when you did meet the master or the rector in the street you had to raise your hat. The gentry were always in their carriages then – there were no cars – and when they did come up you’d generally stop and raise your hat as they’d go by and they’d recognise you. If you wanted help or anything like that, I don’t think there’s any of the gentry in Timsbury at that time who’d refuse you. They’d help you out. And the village were always kept nice and clean with just the roadman. It was a lot cleaner.|
I lived at Hook about three quarters of a mile from school. When I got a bit older I could race pigeons coming out of the Post Office. They used to allow me four minutes running. Of course walking to school seemed farther still and when it was a wet day you’d generally get wet through before you got there, unless we took shelter under the trees and that made us late. That’s why I got into trouble; of course plenty of others were late. We didn’t all keep a straight line. There’s few of my old school friends living in the village – there’s one or two a bit older than me. I was born in 1900.
Mr. Cochrane’s photo is now in the Church. The Church choir was there with the Reverend York-Fossett, that was before Meade-King’s time. All the choirs there and the schoolmasters, the schoolmaster sat by the Rector in front. My brother was straight behind them carrying the banner up through the middle of the church. On special Sundays we did all start in the vestry, go up through the church then into our seats. And when we go away on school holidays or our anything, my brother used to take the banner with St Mary’s Timsbury on it and when we got to Weymouth or Weston, they did stick this banner in the sand and we all know where to come back to or if we needed anything, there were always somebody by the banner, we could come to they if anybody was missed.
That were the best of me days, schooldays.