10 things you might not know about going to school in Victorian times
- Credit: Sally North
As Sally North's museum - set up to give children the experience of a Victorian school day - was given a Grade 2 listing by English Heritage, reporter Geraldine Scott looks at what may have been taught more than 100 years ago.
The original building, in The Street, Great Cressingham, was built in 1890 to provide education for the poor – a mission statement commemorated in a plaque on the outside of the building – and was open until 1950.
Now, Mrs North's Victorian School mainly caters for school visitors nowadays to immerse them in another time.
1. Mrs North - who has run her school for 23 years - said the first major difference was boys and girls entered school through different doors and sat separately.
2. Slate boards and pencils are used by children in lessons to take down their answers - not a laptop or iPad in sight, or even a piece of paper and ballpoint pen.
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3. In the Victorian classroom, children would have object lessons. Items such as models, seeds, rocks and pictures were placed on each pupil's desk. The pupils were meant to make observations about the object in front of them. At Mrs North's museum she has pieces of taxidermy she keeps at the front for observation.
4. For other lessons, children often learned by rote and focussed on the 'three Rs' - reading, writing and arithmetic.
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5. When it was time to go outside and play, boys and girls were again kept separate. Boys could play in the meadow with metal hoops.
6. But girls were only allowed wooden hoops and sticks. Both boys and girls would play with Victorian spinning tops. Mrs North said: 'This is a first for many children, they've never seen them before.'
7. Another lunchtime pursuit may have been playing marbles, which Mrs North said was a novelty to many children.
8. To go to Mrs North's school for the day, children are also encouraged to dress up for the era. 'There was no school uniform,' Mrs North said. 'These were very poor children and some of them at the time would not have even had shoes.'
9. For lunch itself, children are encouraged to bring food in-keeping with the era in a paper bag. This would have just been bread and water for some, or if they were lucky a hard-boiled egg or turnip may be included. Boys and girls sat separately for lunch.
'Some of them say it's disgusting but some actually like it,' said Mrs North.
10. Before getting back to an afternoon of learning, children would wash their hands - but only using cold water and carbolic soap. Mrs North said: 'Now children expect soap to squish out, so it's different.'
• To find out more go to www.victorianschool.com.