Our first term at Grainthorpe has been a busy one, focusing on our 200 year celebration of education in the village. Thanks to George Lill, education began formally for twenty boys in Grainthorpe in 1819.
Local farmer George Lill died and in his will he left £240 (about £19,000 in today’s money) for bread for the poor, and an even more generous £500 (about £46,000) for their schooling. A school was opened in the Methodist chapel in Chapel Lane – later the village forge, and now a private house - inaugurating an educational tradition which is now two centuries old.
There was still a very long way to go. The curriculum was limited to reading, writing and arithmetic, resources were few, and teachers were often poorly-paid outsiders. In the 1830s, a Lincolnshire land agent moaned, ‘the deterioration of the morals and industry of the labouring class have been constantly augmenting’ – and this was connected to illiteracy, which actually increased in some parts of Lincolnshire over the 1830s. In the 1840s, 30% of men and 50% of women in the county were still illiterate.
The Lincoln Diocesan Board of Education was founded in 1839 to regularise the informal network of schools, gradually taking them away from the control of non-denominational boards, turning many into the new National Schools. Grainthorpe’s school outgrew the chapel, and moved into its present premises in 1852, the £287 cost for the building paid by public subscription within the village. Across the county, illiteracy retreated rapidly from the 1850s, and by 1900 was almost non-existent.
On Saturday 5th October, we opened the school so the village residents and anyone interested in how the school has developed since that time could come in. It was a busy afternoon.
Visitors were entertained by a band on arrival and had the chance to try some old time games and enjoy an ice cream before entering the school. Inside there was an exhibition of photographs, school log books, registers and punishment books up to the mid-twentieth century. Refreshments were provided by the Parent Teacher Association, and to keep the young visitors happy, a Punch and Judy show was provided.
There was a keen interest in the school log books which were the daily accounts from the headmaster’s perspective (there were no Grainthorpe headmistresses in the nineteenth and early twentieth century). Pupils were often mentioned in the log books by name because of any misdemeanours and cross-referencing these accounts to the admissions books and punishment books could build up a picture. Many visitors on Saturday had their accounts to add to the stories – these will all be included in our Grainthorpe book which we hope to produce by the end of this school year.
Some of the later accounts in the log books were corroborated by past pupils who came in to share anecdotes and add names to the class photos of yesteryear.
Mr Jacklin had always been tempted as a pupil cycling home by the dangling rope from the school bell. He was so tempted to ring the bell that one day the urge got the better of him and he pulled the rope! Next morning he confessed to his “crime” and took the punishment.
A happier Mr Jacklin is pictured with the very same bell, now inside the school to preserve it.
Other visitors discussed how the school layout has changed. The school hall used to be two rooms: the older children’s classroom and the kitchen. Where the kitchen is now, the cloakroom was housed. The later extension on the school house was completed in 1995 and Mr Jacklin had been instrumental in the drive to extend the school during his time as a school governor.
Mr Grashan and Mr Pannell recalled being in the infant class next door to the hall. They had fond memories of the school and recalled how the teacher used to bake a cake if it was your birthday. Children could choose friends to sit with in the Wendy House and eat the treat, although all the pupils were given a slice of cake.
William Grashan, Trevor Stones and Charles Pannell shared anecdotes about school days at Grainthorpe.
Many visitors, young and old, were keen to find themselves and relatives in the plethora of photos exhibited. Mr Ruairidh Greig, a former Grainthorpe Headteacher, shared insights into the past and will be sharing his memories with the children later this year.
The celebrations will continue with the completion of our legacy quilt which will bring the last two hundred years of Grainthorpe into one creative piece. Mrs Jennifer Gamble has been a frequent visitor to school supporting the quilt project. Every child will contribute to the project and we hope to display the finished work in our school hall.
Running alongside the 200 years, the children will be thinking about the future and what education may be like in another two hundred years. This will culminate in our time capsule being buried. We have received a very generous anonymous donation of £100 to help celebrate the bicentenary. We will use this to create a time capsule outdoor space. The children will discuss how best to remember and report back in a future Grainthorpe News.