MRS. BARTON (Alice Pain), 1875-1879

A school day.

Strip bed before coming down to Scripture Class, at which portions of the Bible had to be repeated by heart. I learnt the whole of the four Gospels and most of the Psalms in this way.

Breakfast at eight a.m., then made bed and put cubicle tidy.

Lessons until twelve, then walked two and two for an hour. Dinner at one p.m. Lessons two to four p.m. Walk for an hour. Tea. Preparation, during which time every one had to lie down either on a board or the floor for part of the time.

Practice or needlework.

Supper. Bread and butter and milk at eight p.m. Bed. No talking after lights out. I often learnt my lessons in bed, getting light from the passage gas.

French was spoken during school-time. At eleven a.m. a plate of thick bread and butter and a large white jug of water was brought to the school-room. This jug was known as the “Cardinal.”

We wrote very long exercises ; twelve to twenty pages was no uncommon length. Loss of marks was the general punishment, but on one occasion the whole school walked in silence for several days as a punishment. A deportment mark was lost for running up or down stairs or along the passages, or again, sitting with feet crossed.

The elder girls had to “mother” a small one. I think I must have “mothered” the lot, for my nickname was “Grannie.”

We were devoted to Miss Andrews, she was so dainty, slight and spirituelle.

Tennis came into being during my school life, but the ground was very rough and our play comic, I think; we also had croquet, but there was not much time for games of any sort.

We were carefully taught plain needlework, and always did our own mending. Very small waists and much-boned dresses were in fashion during the last part of my school life, and on one occasion a girl who wished to appear in a new dress had to get the others to draw her stays more tightly before she could fasten it up. We had a half holiday on Saints’ Days, and those who had friends near were allowed to go to them.

On 9th November the Mayor used to ask for a half ­holiday for us. On one occasion for some reason this was refused, so we girls decided to have a spree “on our own.” My dormitory being the front room at the top of the house, I issued invitations to all the other girls to come to a Cock Fight in fancy dress, bringing their pillows, and a hand on the wall in the passage pointing to the door, announced “This way to the Cock Fight.” The fight was to take place while the staff were at supper. Unfortunately some eager souls appeared too soon, one wearing a cock head­dress. This caused much mirth just as the staff were filing along the passage to supper. Soon the jingle of

Miss Andrews’ chatelaine was heard on the stairs. As many as possible flew into the beds, the rest hid behind the curtains round the wash-stand where the food for the feast had been put. “Go to your rooms immediately,” was the order, and one by one they filed sadly out from behind the curtains, one in her fright leaving her pillow behind and having to sleep without it. There were very few good conduct marks next day.


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