Geraint welcomed another full-house and reminded members that we need to plan the programme for next year so that he can distribute it at our December meeting.
Geraint made a public declaration of our funding position, as we do not hold any audited accounts. Following an event held in the Village Hall 2 years ago there was a small profit of £102 that is held by Richard Davies on behalf of the group. Geraint has made a payment from this to Derek as he had paid Richard Rees, who spoke on the Dams that did not Happen, a fee, travel expenses, and purchased a booklet, amounting to £40.
Shirley mentioned that there is to be an event in the Village Hall in aid of the League of Friends of the Hospital in Llandrindod in 28th September. Shirley and Annette have tickets, £6, for afternoon tea and some entertainment that includes a theatrical performance.
A very rusty piece of metal was brought in from Bank House to identify. It had the appearance of a small machete, that might still be useable, after a great deal of work, to slow down the New Zealand Rugby Tea,
Sadly, we had a moment or two of silence to remember Billy Davies. Geraint expressed our combined sense of loss to Joy who was present.
Derek mentioned that Gina had brought in a Microfiche machine that had become surplice to requirements at Weobley Historical Society. Our thanks to Gina and the Society for this interesting piece of equipment and the range of slides that have come with it. The machine and slides are on a table in the Gentleman’s Outfitters within the Thomas Shop.
Derek also mentioned that the widow of the Rev. Wilkinson who was visiting the area for a family baptism. Rev. Wilkinson had followed Geraint as Vicar of the Parishes of Llanbadarn Fawr, Llandegley, and Cefnllys. Geraint said that Rev. Wilkinson had been a very popular Vicar. His widow now lives in Swansea near the All Saints Church on the Mumbles, where her husband had also been the Vicar. By a strange piece of fate, the Vicar, Rev Christopher Lee, in the Parish that Derek had lived in prior to coming to Penybont, Tytherington, South Gloucestershire, had also gone to be Vicar at All Saints on the Mumbles. Another very popular Vicar!
Main Topic: Llanbarn Fawr School – Judy Dennison and her elegant assistant, Bob Dennison
Judy explained that she would give some background to the evolution of schools in Radnorshire before going on to talk about the school itself and show a number of photographs that will hopefully bring back some fond memories. Two of the photographs had only just arrived via Facebook from Kent!
Judy started by referring to a very interesting article by Robert Bevan in the Radnorshire Transactions – Radnorshire Schools in 1818. https://journals.library.wales/view/1191402/1196881/43#?xywh=-4029%2C-551%2C10336%2C1872
He refers to the socio-economic situation in Radnorshire in that people were very poor and while families often wanted education the children were needed to work on the land. The impact of the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution meant that many powerful people feared educating the Poor and so investment in education was limited. He describes the situation in 1818 as being ‘sombre’. The Church was largely responsible for such education as did exist and this was probably to ‘golden age of Sunday Schools’.
In 1816 Henry Brougham led a Parliamentary Committee in investigating the state of education in London. The worrying results from this investigation led to the Committee carrying a much wider investigation including Radnorshire. They contacted mainly the Church officials in each Parish to make a return. These returns show differing results in our three Parishes.
In Llanbadarn Fawr Rev. Evan Powell’s return stated: “the working classes are very desirous of education, of which they are totally without means; a Sunday School was established, but has been discontinued; and the curate suggests that if a small quantity of instructive books could be procured, much good would arise.”
The Rev. John Jones at Llandrindod, which in 1818 had a population of just 171 souls, and Cefnllys, both had day schools kept at the expense of the parents. Llandrindod had 15 pupils while Cefnllys had 30 pupils.
Llandegley boasted “a school in which 14 pupils are taught free, the Master of whom has £11 per annum left for that purpose and about the same sum for extra scholars”.
By the 1830s the move for social change had gained momentum. The rapid industrialisation took more and more people off the land and into the cities. The working class started to make more demands for better conditions. The Chartists were demanding the Vote. In the rural areas of Mid and South Wales the Rebecca Riots started in 1839 to complain about injustices of the Tolls and Turnpike Roads but they also protested in relation to the social conditions in these very poor rural areas.
In 1846 William Williams MP, a self-made man from Wales, spoke in the House of Commons about the need for a radical change to education policy for Wales. A further enquiry led to the publication of the Blue Books.
Three Barristers from England had conducted the enquiry. They interviewed people from the churches and described the education available to people in Wales as ‘appalling’. In 1846 there were 23,000 people in 49 Parishes with 719 children attending some form of day education in 43 schools when they were not needed on the farms. The total number of children in Radnorshire were 3183. In Llanbadarn Fawr there were 419 people with 11 boys and 4 girls at day schools and 96 registered for dissenting Sunday School, but none in Church Sunday schools. Just about a quarter of the children in Llanbadarn Fawr were receiving some form of education.
The Blue Books were somewhat controversial, they painted a picture of immoral Wales, particularly in Cardigan and Radnorshire, and they were particularly damning of the Welsh language. Sometimes referred to as the Treachery of the Blue Books:
“The evil of the Welsh Language, as I have stated above, is obviously and fearfully great in Courts of Justice. The evidence given by Mr Hall (No 37) is borne out by every account I have heard on the subject; it distorts the truth, favours fraud, and abets perjury, which is frequently practiced in courts, and escapes detection through the loopholes of interpretation. This public exhibition of successful falsehood has a disastrous effect on the public morals and regard for the truth.” https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/04/Blue_Books_prt_2%2C_no.9%2C_p.66_-_Evils_of_the_Welsh_Language.gif
The 1847 Report stated that:
‘girls..are more imperfectly instructed, if possible, than the boys. The effect is observerable in the gross ignorance of the female peasantry.. especially in Cardiganshire and Radnorshire’
The Rev. Harrison at Builth Wells was more concerned about the immorality of the teachers. He suggested that if you could get no other work, were a drunkard, and could read a bit then you would qualify to be a teacher. The Report said:
‘No person.. Will doom himself to the worst paid labours and ..least appreciated office to be met with in the country’
It went on to refer to a particular incident:
‘I was obliged to send for a constable to remove a drunken fiddler in the street, and he proved to be the headmaster of Aberedw, and some of the bystanders blamed the constable for doing it. Another came and offered himself to me for a schoolmaster whilst apparently under the influence of liquor’.
In what was referred to as the Pupil-Teacher System, teachers were recruited from the pupils of the school. They would have had some training as a monitor – an older pupil looking after a class of younger pupils. Training for teachers might not amount to any more than 1½ days each week. Grants to schools for funding were based on the number of pupils and the qualification of the teacher.
It is at this point that our hero of many of our sessions makes an appearance. John Percy Severn was a large donator to the establishing of a school at Llanbadarn Fawr, at what is now the Grange, in 1858.
The Voluntary and National schools of the period were generally managed by the Church as was the case in Llanbadarn Fawr. The first teacher in 1861 was a Mr Trinder but the school proved to be too small and when under the Elementary Education Act of 1870 Board Schools were to be set up in every Parish a new and purpose-built school began to take its place in 1875 with John Percy Severn elected as Chair of the Board. Mr Severn had given the land for the school at Cefnprisky Farm, laid on water and supported the building of the Headmaster’s house. The school opened in 1877.
The 1870 Act expected schools to:
- That local education boards should inspect schools to ensure there were sufficient places.
- That elementary education must be provided for children aged between five and 13.
- That schools should be publicly funded.
- That parents had to pay for their children’s education, unless they could not afford to.
- That attendance should be compulsory.
- That religious teaching should be non-denominational, and that parents could withdraw their children from religious education.
- That schools should be regularly inspected to maintain the standard of education
It was the ‘non-denominational’ religious education that proved to be controversial, but it was the compulsory nature of attendance that was left to local discretion. In a rural area like Llanbadarn Fawr the were endless reasons for having a school holiday and John Percy Severn was generous in his interpretation. As well as the usual needs to do with the farm there was the Fairs, the circus, seasonal jobs in Llandrindod, etc.
The system of education as set out within the Act was:
- From Standard 1 to Standard 6
- Reading, Writing, Arithmetic
- Promotion to higher standard by merit
Many children did not complete all the Standards
The school was built by John Speake and Pip Woodcock’s Great Grandfather, Aaron Moseley, Agent for the Castle Vale Estate at Llananno who lived at Criggin, was a signature to the legal Bond in 1877 to have the school built along with Edward Hamer, Lower Esker in the parish of Llanbadarn Fynydd. Pip, who now lives in Canada, sent Judy a transcript of the Bond and mentioned that her Grandfather, Cyril Howard Moseley was born at Brynthomas, Penybont in 1904. He lived there until 1919 but she does not know if he attended Llanbadarn Fawr School. This is an extract from the original Bond and below is the transcript using the original spelling and punctuation used in the Bond document:
“Know all men by these presents that we John Speake of the parish of Llanbadarnfynydd in the County of Radnor, Builder. Aaron Moseley of the parish of Llananno in the said County, Farmer and Edward Hamer, of Lower Esker in the parish of Llanbadarnfynydd in the said county, farmer, are jointly and severally held and firmly bound to the School Board of Llanbadarn Fawr in the County of Radnor their successors and assigns in the p? sum of one thousand pounds for which payment to the well and truly made we bind ourselves and each of us and any two of us and our ? each of our heirs executors and administrators and every of them jointly and severally by these presents Sealed with our seals dated the 17th day of April 1877 (then each has signed at bottom of page and witnessed by a John James
And in such case the above written Bond or Obligation shall become void otherwise the same shall remain? In full force and virtue provided always that it shall be lawful for the said Board and their successor from time to time by writing under their seal to extend the time for fulfilment of the terms and conditions of the said contract for such further period or periods as they shall think expedient or to give time for the payment of money by any of the parties hereto And that not withstanding such extension of time or any Rules of Law or Equity to the contrary this security shall remain and be in full force against the said John Speake Aaron Moseley and Edward Hamer and each of their heirs executor and administrators of each of them and shall be capable of being enforced in the same or like manner as if such extended period or periods had been originally inserted therein.
Whereas by a Contract or Articles of Agreement and a Specification and writings therein referred to bearing evendate with these presents the said John Speake, Builder has contracted to build a certain School and teachers residence at Llanbadarn Fawr in the county of Radnor and the whole of the works to be done in relation thereto with the appurtenances? And for other the purposes and agreements therein mentioned. And whereas ? ? treaty ? for such contract it was stipulated and agreed that the said John Speake Builder and the said Aaron Moseley and the said Edward Hamer should enter into the above mentioned Bond or obligation for the due performance of the said Contract Now the Condition of the above written Bond or obligation is such that if the above founder John Speake his executors or assigns? shall and do well and truly in all respects observe perform fulfil and keep the term and conditions of and the matters and things contained in the said contract on the part of the said John Speake then ?”
The school however was not very well built and there was continuous flooding throughout its history:
Judy described the toilets as appalling. For 50 years the main comments about the school referred to the state of the buildings. There was quite a high rate of teacher turnover and this may have been one of the reasons. Neil was able to tell us that he had been involved in the demolition of part of the Teacher’s house.
In trying to track down the life of the school Judy has tried to gain access to the school logs that were kept by the Teacher in Charge. The detail provided has been very variable. Often teachers referred to ‘usual things’ as their entry. During the 1st World War women were in charge of the school and they did give a more comprehensive picture of the life of the school. After 1919 there is very little access to records due to the 100 year limitation on access to information within the County Archives system.
As mentioned before ‘absenteeism’ was a major concern. When Percy Severn was the Chair of the Board he turned a blind-eye to it as he knew that his tenant s needed the children to help out on the land. . In the School Log, the teacher notes the high incidence of absenteeism and that reporting this to the Board ‘serves no purpose’ as no action is taken.
When the school opened in 1878 there were 67 children enrolled whose ages were between 6 years and 13 years. Numbers rose quickly and in the next year there were 141 children. The Correspondent to the School Board comments on the state of the buildings. The Log notes that some of the children are, ‘not at all particular about damaging the fixtures’.
The early years were dominated by:
- Regular days off to attend local events, these could be many and varied and would include the local Fairs, of which Penybont would be a very big event, circuses, shows, and farming activities.
- In the build up to war there was a focus on singing patriotic songs and even choruses of “Hooray for England!”
- Teachers had an interest in showing unusual objects to the children, these objects seemed to have little or no connection with Radnorshire.
- There was a serious shortage of supplies: – paper, books and when these were asked for, they would often not be forthcoming.
- Sickness amongst the children and outbreaks of measles and other childhood illnesses affecting the whole school, which would close when badly affected.
- Then of course there were the usual concerns over poor drainage, poor lavatories, poor heating, and poor cleaning. Getting and keeping cleaners was a significant problem. Heating would be on but it would often be just above freezing in school. A comment on the times was that ‘button holing’ was very weak.
- Then in 1898 there was the serious disturbance when a boy was caught chasing girls and kissing them, even though he had been strictly told not to. He got 2 slaps on the hand for this misdemeanour.
At the beginning of the 1st World War the Head Teacher, Mr Jones, was called up on the 23rd September and had to be ready to board the train by 28th September. Rev. Jordan took all of the children from the school to the station to waive him off. A poignant time albeit the expectation was that the war would be over in a few months.
Mrs Jones took over the running of the school and went through a very steep learning curve. In October Belgian refugees whose homes had been bombed arrived by train were welcomed by the scholars. Meanwhile Mrs Jones was rapidly learning woodwork skills and how to work with raffia. An innovation during this period was the arrival, for 2 weeks, of a van from which cookery lessons were delivered by Miss Randle to the 22 young scholars.
Mary was able to see her mother, Myfanwy Thomas, amongst the children. This was just part of the ‘patriotic activities’ that would lead to a ‘War Saving Certificate’.
The following photograph was taken around 1920 and includes Eric and Emily Philips from Guidfa Farm. Eric famously lost all his hair by the age of 17 years!
During this year the school was closed for 2 weeks due to an epidemic of mumps. Also taken in 1922 was this photograph:
This photo includes: Eleanor Hamer, her sister Freda Hamer (later Goodwin) and Mary Goodwin (later Thomas)
Front row, extreme right sitting is Eric Phillips of Guidfa Farm.
The next photograph, taken in 1925, Judy only received yesterday.
This photo also includes Eleanor Hamer and her sister Freda. Mary Goodwin ? mother-in-law and Joy’s mum who is the child on the extreme left of the front row.
During the 20th Century there was an increasing interest in the health of the children now attending school. The Boer War had raised concerns about the general health of the new city dwellers and the peasantry. In 1905 the Board of Education said:
‟opportunity should be found in connection with the curriculum in elementary schools, for imparting to the children who are to become mothers and fathers of the race, the broad principles of healthy living‟
There were lectures to both teachers and children on healthy living, regular health checks, there is a reference, in 1936, to the Dentist being at the school all day checking on teeth, also regular eye tests. In 1937 the Government introduced 1/3 pint of milk each day, which for the first few months was pasteurised in the school by the teachers using two gas burners to heat the milk. Mild s was not free until 1944. Dr Johnson came in regularly to test for TB (known as consumption) and Miss Thornley would give lectures on health, hygiene, and Temperance.
The picture above, taken in the late 20s shows Mr Jones as the Head Teacher on the right.
The 1920s and 30s was a period of social change. There was an annual Music Festival in Llandrindod and the pupils were given music lessons and encouragement to participate in these activities. When Sir Walford Davies, musician and composer, gave a talk in Llandrindod the school was given a half day off school to go and listen to his talk on music.
There would be an annual talk for the boys on ‘citizenship’. The same talk was repeated each year. Before the 2nd World War there was no place for gardening within the curriculum. The thing that did remain the same were the days off as documented above.
The picture below was taken in the period 1930/2 and has:
Back row left to right: ?, Alan Gough, Clifford Smout, ?, ?, ?, Jimmy Watson, Bill Worthing, Ted Faulkner, Les Evans: Front row left to right: Derwen Pinches, Annie Richards, Gladys Goodwin, Margaret Hammonds, Gwen Lloyd, Mary Goodwin, Betty Worthing
During the 1930s there were a number of factors that highlighted the changing world that children were witnessing. Today we would not be aware or interested in a teacher who was taking a driving test. This was a big event for the school children. The driving test had been introduced in 1935 and by 1937 the teacher was required to take her test before being able to drive by herself. We don’t know if she passed or not! She probably did as I am sure we would know if s failed.
The WI was gaining momentum as an organisation and they were becoming quite adventurous, they arranged trips to London, Bourneville and Chester.
A new Headmaster was appointed who upset the teaching staff. He was a disciplinarian and was unhappy with the day to day practice in the school. Against this Teachers were becoming more professional and set higher standards for the children, A Supply teacher, Miss Eadie would come to school in an Austin 7. She was a good teacher and was described as a lovely woman.
Attempts were made to improve the conditions at the school. A new water supply was installed but the lead pipes were a problem, prior to this water was drawn from a well in the wood.
In 1938 the football team had their photograph taken:
Names shown on the photograph are:
Back Row left to right: Mervyn Davies, Fred Williams, Fred Brick, David Smout, and Head Teacher Mr Hayward
Front row left to right: Austin Jones, Bob Williams, Reg Bufton, Dennis Brick, Alan Davies, Jim Goodwin, Telford Williams
The beginning of War in 1945 heralded in many changes to life in Llanbadarn Fawr. The wireless suddenly became very important in the home and in school. The wireless helped people keeping in touch with what was going on with the war, but they became important sources of information in schools. Members reminisced about the joy of making a crystal wireless.
One of the big changes in school was the new interest in gardening and growing food.
Once again, the school received evacuees, this time from Bootle. Children were between 3 and 9 years old. One family, a mother with two children, a boy and a girl, wrote about the very happy time they spent in the area. Nan Thomas put them up initially but they later moved to Woodside Cottage.
Socially the big change saw women in increasing roles and responsibilities.
In 1944 there was a new Education Act which established the Primary and Secondary Education System. Llanbadarn Fawr Elementary School, taking children up to 13 years became Llanbadarn Fawr School taking children to 11+. Schooling would go up until 15 years.
Photograph taken 1944/45:
Mr Breeze (Head Teacher) and on extreme right the teachers are Miss Bufton (the older person) and Miss Jones
Back Row left to right:
Fred G (don’t know what G stands for), Peter Smout, Ralph Oakley, Lyn Williams, Fred Morris, Glenville D (?), Roy Davies, Stuart ?, Brian Oakley, Charlie Phillips, Brian Richards, Michael Lloyd, Cecil Phillips, Hilton Jones (note that there are 15 children in the back row, but only 13 names??) So who is unnamed?
2nd row from back left to right: Miah Lewis, Bill Griffiths, Russel Davies, Glenys Jones, Elizabeth Williams, Margaret Evans, Norma Moorhouse, Dily Smouth, Lilian Bishop, Caroline Morgan, Vera Lewis, Vanessa Brown, Gerald Hope, David Davies, Gwynne Stephens
3rd Row from back (2nd row from front): Irene Lewis, Barbara Jones, Netta Evans, Diana Lee, Josie Collins, Barbara Evans, Jean Hammons, Sheila Lawrence, Jackie Collins, Bunty Lewis, Sylvia Abberley, Helen Jones, Kath Williams
Front Row from left to right: Basil Lewis, Ken Middleton, ?,?, Ralph Williams, Derek Halford, Ray Middleton, Jonathan Morgan, George Griffiths, Vincent Lloyd, John Owens, ?,?.
Teacher on extreme right is Miss Jones (later Mrs Harry Brown)
Middle Row includes: Derek Halford, Austin Jones, Violet Price
Teachers are Miss Jones and Mr Breeze
Back Row: ?, ?, ? Derek Halford, somewhere on this photo is Dai Davies, John Owens, Dough Winwood, and Vincent Lloyd
Middle Row: includes Basil Lewis, George Griffiths (4th from left), Ken Middleton (on extreme right)
Front row: Kath Williams (on extreme right), ? Lewis, Sylvia Abberley (3rd from left) also Pauline Lucas,
Miss Jones is the teacher
Back Row from left to right: Derek Halford, Dai Davies, John Owens, ?, Ken Middleton, ?, Ralph Williams
Front row: ?, George Griffiths, Irene Lewis, Katherine Williams, Sylvia Abberley, Pauline Lucas, Vincent Lloyd
Photograph Early 1950s
Teacher is Mrs Walters
Teacher is Mrs Walters:
Back row left to right: Anthony Jones, ? Evans, Valerie Mills, Sheila Brooks, Leslie Whitehead, Julie Middleton, Nancy Williams, ?, ?, ?
Middle Row: Delia Evans, Douglas Bayliss, Elizabeth Bayliss, Haydn Bufton, Marlene Campbell, Gwyn Phillips, Rosemary Morgan, Leonard Weale, Christine Heppel
Front Row left to right: Jackie Reynolds, David Morgan, David Green, Bryndley Jones, ?, John Phillips, ?
Teacher is Mr Breeze
Back Row left to right: Roger Watson, Dennis Davies, Barbara Harris, Sylvia Watling, Maureen Robinson, Leslie Powell, ?, Desmond Powell, Neil Richards, Andrew Stephens, Gaynor Lewis and standing on extreme right is Ivor Goodwin
Front row left to right: next to Roger Watson is Stephen Warren, Jackie Pemberton, Joy Harris, Susan Goodwin, Janet Morgan, Pamela Faulkner, Toni Pemberton, Ann ?, Helen Hughes, Nigel Robinson
Please note: Neil Richards makes his first appearance!
Back row left to right: Dennis Davies, Roger Watson, Christine Morgan, Movita Reynolds, Caroline Lawrence, Christopher Lewis, Judith Stephens, Leslie Powell, Diane Robinson, Laurie Pemberton, Gregory Warren, Gaynor Lewis
Front row left to right: Sylvia Watling, Desi Powell, Ivor Goodwin, Neil Richards, Anne ?, Andrew Stephens, Maureen Robinson, Joy Harris, Barbara Harris, Toni Pemberton, Anne ?, Pamela Faulkner
Please note that we now have both Judy and Neil in this photo.
Photograph Late 1960s
Back row left to right: Joy Harris, Linda McDermot, Maureen Robinson, Gaynor Lewis, Rowan Collins, Ivor Goodwin, Neil Richards
Middle Row left to right: Tony Stephens, Janet Morgan, Pam Faulkner, Helen Hughes, Diana Davies, Stephen Warren
Front row left to right: Nigel Robinson, Graham Clark, ? Powell, Clive Green, ?
Photograph Late 1960s
The group had obtained their cycle proficiency – including Neil!
Photograph Early 1970s
On extreme left: Mrs Joyce Mills and on her left Mrs Dot Green and extreme right is Mrs May Phillips, all members of the school cook team Mrs Phillips was the chief School Cook.
The teachers in the middle in second row from the front are Mrs Matcher, Mr Thomas and Miss Sue Davies
Some of the teachers include:
John Howat 1878-9
Henry & Helena Davies 1880-92
John and Alice Jones 1900-1930
Mr Hayward 1931 to 1940 (or later?)
Mr Breeze died very suddenly
Mr Warren 1959
Judy commented particularly favourably on Mr Warren who had been a navigator during the War. He died at the age of just 50 years and is buried at Rock Chapel.
When the school bell rope rotted away a letter was sent to the Secretary of Education. The solution was to use a whistle.
Mrs Matcher was something of a celebrity as she was godmother to Cliff Richard. She was a lovely lady, and she wore gold bands.
Judy’s sources included:
Sylvia and Ray Price
Llanbadarn Fawr School Logs
Lingen, Symons, Vaughan Johnson (1847) Reports of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales
Oliver, RCB (1971) The Squires of Penybont Hall
Bevan, R (1990), The State of Education in Radnorshire in 1818, Radnorshire Society Transactions 1990
There were no log books after 1940. The HMI Reports could be very informative and have gems like: “More Hat Pegs Needs”.
Comments after the talk:
A general comment was made about how different the value of education was seen for different families living in quite different circumstances.
Books were often given to the children as prizes but these had very little relevance to life in Radnorshire. E.g. ‘Brave Soldiers of the Empire’.
Good attendance at school was bizarrely often rewarded with time off school.
Judith mentioned that Geraint has been trying to persuade her to write a booklet on the school. Colin Hughes is due to give a talk to the Radnor Society on Radnorshire Schools.
Geriant went back to the Treachery of the Blue Books and congratulated Bob Dennison on receiving an award at the National Eisteddfod for a category in the Welsh Language.
Llanbadarn Fawr School was not the only school to get strange comments from the Inspectors. At Nantmel they commented on the pig in the classroom and in another school, there was a cow.
Geraint thanked Judy for her brilliant talk.
Our next meeting will be on the 7th October when Joe Botting will talk on ‘The Geological Basis of Local History’