Grandmas Gleanings from Newton's Woolsthorpe

Recollections from a Lincolnshire Hamlet By Margaret Anne Winn Published in 1994 Copyright M. A. Winn 1994

This is a collection of stories and facts, recording the childhood of the Robinson children and their way of life growing up in Woolsthorpe in the early 1900's.

Chapter 4 School Days

As the Robinson children grew up they all attended Colsterworth School, then situated half way up school Lane on the right and a distance of approximately 1 mile to walk. A far cry from the schools we know today, it was ruled with a rod of iron by the Headmaster, Mr Frederick Ball, a strict disciplinarian who was a fair and knowledgeable man. My Mother showed great promise at her lessons and was always very good with the children in the infant room. It was recommended that she should train as a teacher under the Pupil Teacher system, but it was out of the question her family could not afford to make an exception for one child, especially a girl. Mr Ball certainly made an impression on the children in more ways than one as he often caned the boys for their misdemeanors, but never the girls. Some 70 years later my Mother could still quote things he had said and taught them, even remembering some of the poetry she learned by heart. Colsterworth School was at that time a National School, endowed by Edmund Turnor Esquire of Stoke Rochford and the Reverend John Turnor. It had been built in 1826 for 200 children aged from 5 to 14 years. The boys and girls were mixed in class but each sex had separate playgrounds, divided by a stout stone wall. The children sat in rows on long wooden benches and wrote on slates.

One punishment was to stand on the bench with a pile of slates on your head, but this enabled the wrong doer to see out of the high window and often a very hushed commentary was given on activities in School Lane especially interesting if there was a Funeral processing from the Church to the Cemetery, opposite the School! Once, one boy who was to be punished somehow got to the cane first and wedged a drawing pin in the hand-held end. When Mr Ball gripped the cane the pin stuck into his hand. I guess this didn't go unpunished either! The children all went home for lunch, as the school meals service had not yet begun. They walked each way and often in winter had to carry Alice between them. Poor Alice suffered very badly from chilblains on her feet, and in cold and snowy weather she couldn't bear to walk far, so her sisters, brothers and friends all helped her along.

The midday meal at home usually consisted of some sort of steamed pudding. It was made from suet, rolled in a cloth and boiled in a pan of water over the open fire. Various fillings were used like currants or jam and sometimes a different one at either end of the pudding gave the children a choice. Puddings were eaten first to fill everyone up. Meat was only bought once a week. Fred would bring home a joint on Saturday evenings, after he had been paid. Often he went to the Pub first, so the quality of the meat depended on how much he had spent and quite often it was a scrag-end of lamb. Pubs were very plentiful in Colsterworth in those days, even Woolsthorpe had its own hostelry called The Sir Isaac Newton. It was situated at the top of Read's Lane poor Isaac Newton I think he would have a shock if he knew of all the things named after him some of which would most definitely have earned his disapproval! At this time there was even a Pub at Bridge-end called The Queen and years before that another pub on the other side of the road here had been called The Kings. It was later converted into a shop and bakery. The girls had jobs to do before they went to school each morning. They fetched milk for their neighbours from Woolerton's Farm at Woolsthorpe Manor. On Helen's list was Mrs Weller, from the middle cottage opposite the Robinsons, Mrs Toby Rippin from next door up the lane, and Mrs Reed from the Pub. Their pay would be a few pennies at the end of each week.

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