We still have more to do collating a full history of the Village School; in the meantime though, the Wadkin archives have given us a great starting point.
If you can help us with missing names on the photos that we have, or if you can add more photos and stories for the years that are currently missing, please contact us – thank you!
Until the mid-1800s education had to be paid for and was beyond the scope of many rural families. Some fortunate children would have benefited from help within the community but for many the ability to read and write and to do simple mathematics wasn’t considered important or necessary or the opportunities simply weren’t available.
In the early 1800s a number of charities began to emerge; the largest of these was the National Society for Promoting Religious Education – their schools became known as National Schools. They had a Church of England foundation and provided elementary/primary education to the children of poor families. Working at the same time, the National Society for Promoting Religious Education and the British and Foreign School Society, these two charities formed the foundation for a national system which eventually made education available to all children.
The National Society aimed to establish a school in every parish; these were often sited close to the Church and were often named after it. These schools were gradually absorbed into the State system as it developed, although many of them retained their religious foundation as faith schools. From 1833, the State began to direct funding into these societies and it also began to monitor and regulate their activities – this influence and this funding grew steadily until the Education Act of 1870 established the concept of Board Schools. It was difficult for the National Schools to continue and many either became or were replaced by these State funded Board Schools.
We have very little information about the original foundation of a village school in Hickling; “A National School founded on trust was opened on 29th September 1837” (Scrapbook of Hickling). It isn’t clear whether this school was on the same site as the Board School which replaced it in 1876 – but correspondence from the 1870s makes it seem possible (enquiries are ongoing):
- (Minutes 1874) a meeting of the freeholders and ratepayers [to] be called for the purpose of transferring the land adjoining the present school-room to the Board.
- however, we also know there was a school room built at the Rectory sometime around or after 1837 and that this school room was used as a private school in the late C18th
- this schoolroom may be the original National School which transferred to the newly built school on the Green when it became a Board School in the 1870s
The Village School (now Hickling Village Hall) continued until 1966 when local primary schools were joined together, with pupils going to the enlarged Kinoulton Primary School.
It is likely that this National School foundation is behind the Church ownership of the building when the school closed in 1966. For a few years the building continued to be used as a Church Hall but in 1973 plans to turn the building into a Village Hall began and the building, after some years of leasing from the Church, came under full community ownership in 1985 at a cost of £12,000.
Hickling Board School.
(Extract from the Scrapbook of Hickling by Hazel Wadkin)
On the 3rd December,1873 the Parish made an application to the Board of Education for the building of a new school and the necessary forms containing the regulations to be observed were sent to the Rev. H. W. Edwards. The first meeting of the School Board was held on Thursday 14th May, 1874 and the following notes from the minutes show how the building came to be erected.
- Notes from the minutes 1st June,1874. The present trustees of the Parish School of Hickling agreed to transfer the same to the School Board for the term of 99 years at an annual rent of one shilling. It was resolved to accept the same on above conditions. Proposed by Mr. Wm. Collishaw, seconded by Mr. H. Merriman that a meeting of the freeholders and ratepayers be called for the purpose of transferring the land adjoining the present school-room to the Board.
- Minutes 11th March,1875. It was agreed to accept Mr. Burnetts contract for altering and fitting up the school and fencing around but he was requested to specify more particularly what was to be done. It was also agreed that the clerk should make application to the Educational Department for the borrowing of £300 to complete the work.
- Minutes 23rd March,1875. Some difficulty having arisen out of the National Society claiming certain rights in reference to use of present schoolroom, the Clerk was requested to lay before them conditions of transfer and also the deeds.
- Minutes 12th April,1875. The Clerk received a reply from the National Society imposing certain conditions to which the Board decidedly objected. It was proposed and seconded that the Clerk write to the Education Department that they decline to accept the transfer on these conditions.
- Minutes 24th June, 1875. Certain reasons assigned to be forwarded to the Department in reply to their enquiries ‘Why’ a lease of 99 years.
- Minutes 26th July,1875. The clerk to inform the Education Department that the Managers and School Board agree to modify the proposed terms of arrangement for transfer in accordance with the suggestion contained in their letter of the 20th July, 1875.
- Letter 10th August, 1875. The Education Department returned the plans having been submitted to their architect and reports as follows: there would only be accommodation for about 80 children. Plan should be enlarged to accommodate 14 more children. Classroom should not be a passage room. There should be two external doors to the principle schoolroom.
- Document dated 11th September,1875. Indenture of lease between William Henry Edwards, Samual Howard Marshall and Arthur Price of the one part and the school board of the other part. The transfer of the Parish School of Hickling to the School Board for 99 years at a nominal rent of 1/- (one shilling) per annum to be paid on 25th March reserving to the Managers and their successors i.e. the Rector and Churchwardens for the time being the use of the School on Sundays, Christmas Days and Good Fridays and must make their own arrangements as to providing cost of fuel, light and cleaning.
- Minutes 4th October,1875. It was unanimously agreed that the Clerk write to Mr. Booker of Nottingham, architect authorising him to draw plans of intended enlargement of present schoolroom to meet the government requirements.
- Minutes 7th February,1876. It was unanimously resolved to accept Mr. Burnett’s tender for enlarging and completing the school subject to approval of Education Department ••••• £442 fittings etc. to be £30 extra.
- The School Log Book for the 20th November, 1876 states “This school was opened this morning when 72 children were present and in the afternoon 78 were present. The headmaster was Mr. B.Wilkinson, headmistress Mrs. Wilkinson”.
From the Wadkin Archives:
Reflections of Yesteryear:
(pp37-38) Hickling School:
For many children attending school meant a long walk from outlying farms and lodges and from Hickling Pastures. During the Summer months often they would take a short cut by walking across the fields but when the land was wet this was not possible. As these children could not go home for dinner they brought sandwiches. The infants used one of the small classrooms, older children being taught in the ‘big room’ where there was a piano. All the children joined together
in the morning to start the day with prayers and hymns. During lessons pupils were required to sit at their desks, the teacher at a high desk and sitting on a high chair with a blackboard and easel nearby. A small wooden shelf with a groove ran around the walls, this was used for pencils, chalk and displaying cards and books. The two bottom rows of window panes were frosted to stop children looking out. The school bell, with the rope hanging through into the classroom was used twice daily. Each room was heated by a coal fire around which stood a metal fire guard. The caretaker filled the large coal buckets early in the morning before school commenced.read more
A cloakroom with pegs round the walls stood at each end of the school, the South end being for the boys, North end for girls in which there was a wooden bar. On wet days this provided scope for climbing and swinging. Should any visitor call at the school, the pupils immediately stood and said “good morning Sir” or “good afternoon Sir”. Any child misbehaving was caned. It was useless looking for sympathy by telling their parents as they were told that they must have deserved it. A favourite lesson of many was ‘nature’, when the class would be taken walking two by two along the pavement then either up one of the lanes or over the hills. The following day a composition of all flowers, grasses, birds etc. seen during the walk would have to be written, with of course all correct spelling.
During the hunting season if the sound of the huntsman’s horn or the crying of the hounds was heard in the dinner hour many of the children ran to follow over the fields quite forgetting the time. Eventually on arrival back at school, late and dirty they were met with the cane but the next time they would do it all over again, the enjoyment outweighing the disadvantages. The children who had remained at school sat at their desks tittering.
Before Christmas all the children took part in a concert. A platform was erected and heavy curtains hung from a beam. ‘A midsummer night’s dream’, ‘The Cratchel’s Christmas dinner’ and ‘The waterbabies ‘ were some of the plays performed in front of a packed audience on two alternate evenings. In the Autumn children were given a week’s holiday from school to go potato picking.
(p.57) Mrs. Nixon died aged 77 years and her husband 86 years. Their son Billy was a waggoner at Burnetts and later in his life, during the 1940’s, the school caretaker. On wet mornings he would not let the children in school until 9 a.m. on account of their feet paddling on his clean floor. Mr. Billy Nixon lived in the roadside cottage of what is now one house, ‘White Cottage ‘ on Clawson Lane.
Scrapbook of Hickling:
(p. 16) Will and inventory – Robert Mann: In the Name of God Amen. The fifth day of September in the Year of our Lord 1728. I Robert Mann of Hickling in the County of Nottingham Currier being very sick and weak of Body but of sound and perfect Mind and Memory, Praise be given to Almighty God therefore, do make and constitute this my present last Will and Testament in manner and form following (…) Item I give to the School of Hickling the Sum of Five pounds being now in the Hands of Widow Hopkinson Relick of John Hopkinson late deceas’d and the Interest thereof to be payd Yearly to the Schoolmaster forever.
February 1917 An Ice Carnival was held on Hickling Basin, refreshments were arranged by a small committee. Fancy skating was given by experts of the Art. A sum of £1.7s was collected to provide funds to buy wool for the Council School girls to make comforts for village soldier lads.
July 1927 A very fine 4 valve wireless set with loud speaker has been fitted in the Council School . It was given by Mrs. Marsh of Chestnut House in memory of her husband. A suitable tablet with an inscription will be put up in the school.
May 1933 A successful concert arranged by Miss. Proudman in aid of the children’s outing fund was held in the Council School – realised £3. 7s. 2d
July: The scholars outing accompanied by parents and friends numbered 69. They proceeded to Skegness by King’s motor buses of Long Clawson.
(p.37) Village Feast November 1914 The Feast was celebrated in a quiet way. The school children had a half-day holiday on Monday. In the paddock at the ‘Plough Inn’ Palmer’s provided a skittle alley and a stall.
(p.50) Dan Wright from Keyworth – Hardware. This is now the ‘bus company’ which operates taking the senior children to school at Keyworth . Wrights used to take the senior children to school in Melton during the late 1940’s and 1950’s.
(pp.73-74) Mr. & Mrs. Wilkinson stayed until their retirement in 1902. Mr. Harry Sleighthome of London was then appointed headmaster but he only stayed 15 months and left in 1903. The school then became a Council School. Mr. & Mrs. J.L. Laws followed as headmaster and mistress in July 1903 until 1911. Mr. Charles Taborn of Carlton came in November 1911 until 1913, he was followed by Mr. John G. Pepper who joined the army in 1917, was discharged and moved away in January 1918. Mrs. Scott came as a temporary headmistress for a few weeks and lodged with Mrs. Albert Burnett at Yew Tree House until the arrival of Miss. Violet Lydia Hilliard in March 1918 who stayed until January 1921. Her friend Miss. Francis Jane Hinge was then appointed headmistress until leaving in 1924. Next in line was Miss. Hart who came in June 1924 until 1926 when a supply teacher took charge until the arrival of Miss. E.A.Proudman in September 1926 who stayed until her retirement in 1963. Miss. Halford – a relief teacher – followed for a short while then came Miss.B.E. Hatton who stayed until the closure of the school in 1966.
Over the years there were a number of assistant teachers some of whom are listed below:- Miss. Hilda Mary Brooks who came from Ilkeston (and later married Mr.Harold Burnett) was mainly an infant teacher during the period 1911 – 1919 along with Miss. Maud Camm from Widnerpool. Miss. Amy Croft – February 1923 until August 1924 when she left to get married. Miss. Hart lodged at Mrs. Harriman’s at ‘The Wharf’ – 1924. Miss. Dorothy Power – October 1924 until April 1935 – lived at ‘The Wheel’. Miss. D. Wakerly from Willoughby came in 1935.
Two teachers came with the evacuees from Yarmouth during the early 1940’s. Miss. Howe stayed at Mr. & Mrs. Whittaker’s, Beech House. Miss. Singleton at Hartshorn’s, Chestnut Farm then to Miss. Daisy Wakelin. Miss. Croster from Nottingham also stayed at Beech House. Miss. Oven stayed with Mrs. Albert Rose, Chapel Lane during the war. Through the late 1940’s and until Harles Acres was
built in 1966 the number of the school register stood around 12 pupils. In view of this the Board of Education decided to enlarge Kinoulton school to take the children (and also Upper Broughton).
In March 1963 the Women’s Institute sent a letter of protest to the Ministry of Education on the subject of the closure of the school. A petition was drawn up, taken round the village and signed by almost all the inhabitants, but although new families had moved to the village and the register now stood at around 33 pupils the school was closed in December, 1966, the headmistress being Miss. B.E.Hatton.
Mid and late 1940’s:- Milk was brought in 1/3 pint bottles to be drunk at midmorning and cost 1/2 penny a bottle. During the frosty weather the crate was left outside and the pupils would ‘eat’ their frozen milk with teaspoons. Hot dinners were brought from Ruddington by van the meals kept hot in canisters. The small classroom at the back of the school on the south side was used as a dining room. As Hickling was the last drop Mr. Howard the ‘Dinner Man’ stayed to have his dinner here taking the empty and clean canisters away with him. Sylvia Smith who lived down the Green came to help in the kitchen later helped by Mrs. Margaret Richardson. Cost of the dinners was around 2/- (two shillings) per week.
Miss. Proudman came in 1926 as the new young head-mistress and stayed until her retirement in 1963. She was presented with a tea-service by Mr.W. Parr chairman of the school managers. Before the school broke up for the summer holidays Christine Parkes and Richard Collishaw gave her a gift voucher and a retirement greetings card signed by all the pupils. In September, 1964, Miss. Proudman married a local retired farmer, Mr. Robert Spencer, and was still living in the old school house in 1979. Due to ill nealth Mrs. Spencer retired from her work as clerk to the Parish Council, a post she had held for nine years. She worked voluntarily during this time saying that she was ‘doing her bit for the village’. She had also been a member of the council for five years.
(p.88) It is interesting to note that in 1947 the total number of pupils on the register numbered 12 as against 78 when the school opened in 1876.
(pp.23-30) SCHOOL DAYS
The first Headmaster I remember when I started going to the Hickling Council School when I was five, was Mr. Tayborn and soon after he introduced a new Headmaster, Mr. John William Pepper of Sutton in Ashfield. I don’t remember much of the first year or so but I have a School photograph in one of my scrap books showing we ‘babies’ as we were called, on the front row, and the older children at the back (where the rest of the school was I don’t know), also on the photo is Infant Teacher, Miss Brooks and Pupil Teacher Miss Elsie Copley, several on the photograph are no longer living, and it is sad to think of them, but we must remember the happy days when attending school altogether.
We infants had one of the small class rooms, and in winter there was a coal fire, and oil lamps for lighting (central heating was unheard of). The Teacher sat in a high chair with a high wooden desk and lid, a blackboard and easil, one large window and a small sky window. A fireguard was always used. We had small desks for about four children, and along the wall was a grooved shelf to hold pencils etc. The piano was kept in the ‘Big Room’ and we infants joined the older children each morning for prayers and to sing hymns.
The infants and girls used one of the porches and the boys the other one, the boys also had their own playground. The porch had rows of pegs for coats etc. and in the centre of the porch was a wooden cross bar. If it was raining at playtime we stayed in the porch and would swing on the bar. Miss Brooks (from Ilkeston) was the first infant teacher I remember (she married Mr. Harold Burnett of Hickling and died several years ago). The next infant teacher was Miss Maud Camm of Widmerpool and she cycled to school. In the winter when the weather was bad, roads snow bound, Miss Camm never missed school, she has walked from Widmerpool on occasions. The ‘big’ girls as we infants called the top class children, wore white open worked pinafores in school and some boys velvet suites with lace collars, knicker-bockers with breeches that buttoned below the knee, thick woollen stockings and boots, in fact all the children wore boots. When we moved into the big room we sat in long desks with seats attached and shelves (no lids) for books, and what we young ones thought wonderful was the inkwell. There weren’t any backs to the seats so we were forced to sit up straight, there was just the one fireplace in the centre of one wall, with fireguard and children who sat at the back of the room always felt so cold in the wintertime. Bible texts were painted around the walls, there was ‘Waste not and Want not’, ‘Thou shalt not steal’ ‘Honour thy Father and thy Mother’ and could have been others which I do not remember. Also hanging on the walls were large pictures of King George V and Queen Mary, a coloured picture of ‘The Light of the World’ and the monthly programme of lessons etc. was in a frame on the wall. The Head Teachers desk was a knee hole, flat top with drawers on the one side and in this room the blackboard was strung to turn round, not an easel and pegs to secure the board which was used in the Infant room. Thick heavy beams hung from the ceiling and painted brown or drab (the beams are still in the now Village Hall and painted white) when concerts were held the stage curtains were attached to a rail or cord on one of the beams, and in those days oil lamps were used for lighting. The school bell had a wooden belfry with a weather vane on to (and is still intact). The bell rope coming through a hole in the ceiling, there were five large windows around the room, the three on the roadside still in place, but the windows at either end, North and South have gone, the two bottom rows of panes of glass on the front of the school windows were frosted to keep the children from seeing what was happening outside. There was a small garden in front and the boys were responsible for keeping it in order. During the war small plants for salad were grown and sold to parents. A flag pole was erected in the garden and the school had their own ‘Union Jack’, (Keith presented a new flag pole for the Village Hall in 1975). The flag was flown at all National events and during the 1914 – 18 war at half-mast when a soldier from Hickling was killed, and there were seven, and on the anniversary of these seven lads dying on Active Service the Flag was again flown at half-mast. On Empire Day 24th May the whole school marched outside in the yard, we sang Empire Songs, saluted the flag and sang the National Anthem, then it was a half day holiday. On Shrove Tuesday at 11 a.m. the school bell rang, this was to remind ‘mother’s to start preparing batter for the traditional pancakes and Miss Hopkinson who lived at ‘Malt House’ sent a basket of oranges to school to be distributed among the children, then a half days holiday and this was the day when ‘whips and tops’ came out, both boys and girls played, it was a grand game. One days holiday was always given on ‘Goose Fair’ Friday when I went to school at Hickling, the Fair began at midday on the first Thursday in October, continued on Friday and ended at Midnight on Saturday, was then held in the Market Square (now on the Forest), special buses were put on and Friday was always aclaimed Children’s Day, most people brought a ‘Fairing’ from Goose Fair, some small trinket and always a bag of Grantham Ginger Bread and one of Brandy Snap (was Nottingham Goose Fair). We would have a weeks ‘holiday’ from school to go potato picking in the Autumn, some children never saw a potato. I loved every minute of my schooldays, although I was a duffer at arithmetic and knitting, but never had any trouble with reading, spelling, composition or dictation. I remember Owen Shelton and I were often called out in reading lesson to stand in front of the class and read to them, I even won a prize, was a special prize for the ‘most useful girl and boy in the school’ mine was a book “Terry the Girl Guide” and Donald Luker won a book for the boys prize, and Miss F.l Hinge was Head Mistress. Hickling School was a council School when I first attended, then it became the County School and was finally closed in December 1966 after trying twice by written petition to keep the school open. It is now a Village Hall after spending thousands of pounds to modernise etc. There were School Managers in my young days with the Rector, Canon Ashmall Chairman and every few weeks he would attend school to sign the register, and when he or any other visitor entered the school, we children stood up and said “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon Sir” and if we met Canon Ashmall or the Head Master in the village we spoke in the same manner. Headmaster Mr. Pepper was called up on active service and the Infant Teacher Miss Brooks deputised, we also had Mrs. Scott who was Head Mistress then until War ended, she was a middle aged person with white hair. Mrs. Scott had a peculiar way of punishment, we were made to stand inside the fire guard (no fire in the grate) our backs to the other children with hands on our heads, we did wonder if this was a way to make us feel prisoners.
During the War many knitted garments were sent to the Red Cross from schools throughout the country and Hickling was no exception, all I produced was one khaki scarf, I was hopeless with knitting, and still am. During Mr. Peers headship this incident remains so clear, he had one son called Billy who had red hair (was older than I was) anyway we all called him ‘Carrots’ and tormented him, to such an extent he told his father, that meant trouble, we were each in turn made to stand in front of the class, hold out our hand and were caned, but we still called young Billy Pepper ‘Carrots’ if we had half a chance. Mr. Pepper would walk round the class with his cane pushed up his coat sleeve and woe betide any child who misbehaved for the cane would be used, he also would play games out in the play ground, but we girls thought him rather rough when there was a fall of snow we were not allowed to stay inside at playtime and Mr. Pepper would snowball us all, and he loved pushing snow down our necks and we hated it. Mr. Pepper was very musical and organised excellent school concerts.
After the War and when Mr. Pepper moved away Miss Violet Lydia Hilliard came in 1918 as Head Mistress and after a few years her friend Miss Frances Jane Hinge 1921, became Head, and was so at the time I left school. We gave some wonderful concerts during my schooldays, and around Christmas we gave two alternate evenings and the school was packed each time, even sitting in the windows, the scenery was made by the senior boys, the curtains attached to a beam on the ceiling, the piano stood on the floor with the pianist sitting on the edge of the platform and behind a curtain, every child in the school helped in some way and most of us loved every minute of rehearsing and the actual concert, and parents and friends enjoyed the evening. I remember so well, Fred Wiles (now gone) saying a recitation about a clock, he had a cardboard clock face hanging from his neck, he was a very small boy and rather short tongued, and of course the rest of us made fun of him (we were unkind). We did The Cratchets Christmas Dinner from ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. I was Mrs. Crachet, Frank Crump (now gone) Bob Cratchet, Kathleen Parr our daughter and Shelton Walker, tiny Tim. One of the boys made a turkey using sawdust and plastercine but we had a real hot Christmas pudding (can’t remember if we ate it). Another time we did ‘The Waterbabies’ I was the little girl in bed where Tom the boy chimney sweep came down the wrong chimney and Tom was played by WaIter Risley (never heard of him since he left school). Another was ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ Frank Crump was King Oberon, I was Queen Tittania, Katie Spencer was ‘Puck’ and Ted Parnham ‘Bottom’ and nearly all the children took part. These concerts were worth all the worry, hard work and sleepless nights by Teachers and Scholars, and I cannot remember one being a flop either. It is encouraging to know that Kinoulton Primary School, where the Hickling children now attend, think the same and put on an excellent concert each Christmas.
Nature Walk was one of my favourite lessons, we would set off from School, walking two by two on the pavement, we would go up the Hills, on Green Lane, Broughton Lane, etc. And the next day had to write a composition on what Nature wise we saw. Monday was the day the Quorn Hunt were hunting in this area, and during the Hunting Season if, during the school dinner hour the Huntsman’s Horn or hounds were heard it was fatal, off we would go boys and girls galloping over fields and through hedges, needless of the time, consequently arriving back at school late, and filthy, we all filed in front of the teacher and out came the cane. The ‘Good’ children sitting back in their desks tittering but we didn’t mind, we felt it was all worthwhile and followed the hounds the next time we heard them. Every child walked to school and I can’t ever remember a parent taking a child either, the hours were 9 a.m. to 12 midday, then 1.15 p.m. until 3.30 p.m. going home for dinner with the exception of the ‘lodge’ children who brought sandwiches, these children set an example to the rest of us, they were never late and turned up whatever the weather, they would have to walk one mile or more and some a good two miles, they came from Hickling Pastures, The Ward family would be the furthest away, the Crump family, Woolley, Keyworth, Cross, Harrison, Paget, all lived at lodges, and I may have missed some of them. Another school memory, when the Parish Church roof needed re-leading the Teachers took our class to watch the workmen. I remember a workshop was erected in the Churchyard, and after our visit we had to write down everything we remembered. Canon Ashmall was always present when we made our visit and several of we older ones would go again at night to watch, it was fascinating. We girls wore boots in the winter and sometimes in the summer as well and we wore ‘bloomers’ that was where our handkerchief was kept and an apple or pear, ones bloomer leg made a jolly good pocket. In those days one never saw a car on the roads, there would be an occasional horse and cart so we children played games on the road as we went to and from school, games such as whip and top, marbles, hoops, which were mostly made by the local blacksmith, the wooden ones were bought from a hardware shop. ‘Staggie, Staggie Roany’ was fun, we all held hands across the road and chased ‘My Blue Pony’ this was a quick way of getting to school. Another game we loved was ‘Lurky’ we put an empty treacle tin outside the ‘Beer Off’ hedge next to Mr. Parkes gate and every one hid excepting one standing with his foot on the tin, and after counting out loud up to twenty he would try and find everyone and if anyone could run out and kick the tin shouting ‘Lurky’ 1.2.3. he won, and the game started all over again. Lots of games we played in the school playground and I loved ‘Hopscotch’ we played two kinds. Another ball game ‘Sunday, Monday’. The boys played cricket and football in their yard and for ‘Drill’ lessons in the Summer we often all played rounders in one yard. Many times when playing in our yard with a ball it would get thrown into Mr. Edgson’s garden (Mr. Barnes garden now) over the school wall and over the Big Green into the garden and it was very seldom we were allowed our ball back again, you can imagine the names Mr. Edgson was called. During the 1914-18 War men who were not on active service did some kind of drilling (don’t know if it was similar to the Home Guard in the 1939 war) a notice board was fixed on the old tailor’s shop shutters, now demolished, with instructions of times to meet etc. written in white chalk, for devilment a number of we schoolchildren would rub the instructions off the board and eventually were found out and reported to the deputy Head, Miss Brooks, she made each one of us stand before her and ‘Whack’ a stroke of the cane, when she had caned the last child she went into the small class room and burst into years and the caning didn’t do us any harm, would do some of the hooligans good today. Hickling School never had any more Head Masters after Mr. Pepper left. During the time Miss Hilliard was Head, the older children spent a days outing going to her sisters school at Kimberly, where she too was Head Mistress. We walked to Widmerpool Station and caught a train to Nottingham then by either Tram or Trolley Bus to Kimberly when we arrived at the school we were each paired off with a girl or boy from Kimberly School and taken to look round and we from Hickling thought it such a huge place compared to our school, everyone took sandwiches for dinner which we shared with our companion, we were given a tea before travelling home by train and then walking from Widmerpool Station, (how many would do it today).
Another memory of Miss Hilliard we never once heard her sing, not even when taking our singing lesson, and she played the piano for our lesson too. Miss Hilliard had a brother in the Navy, and one year when we were rehearsing on the platform or stage, it was for the Christmas concert, the school door opened and in walked a Sailor in uniform, Miss Hilliard gave one scream raced across the room and they were in one another’s arms, the rehearsal ended, and afterwards he brought a huge tin of toffees and shared with the whole school. During the 1914-18 War a family of Belgium refugees came to live at Hickling, they lived in one of the cottages behind the Penson’s House, a mother and three children. Josef, Gustave and Jan the baby girl and their mother, their Sir name was Dennisse. The two boys came to school and learnt to speak quite good English. Josefwas around my age, the two brothers
gave a little sketch at our Christmas concert and recited, and many ‘Mums’ in the audience were in tears. The Health Nurse called periodically at School to examine our ‘heads’ and a tooth comb was used every week at home, and also a steel comb for general combing. I think every child at some time had those horrible head lice. A school medical examination wasn’t very often, we were weighed, height measured, eyes and ears tested in the class room (mothers expected to attend) it was one of these eye examinations which decided my eyes needed further tests and off the Shire Hall I went. I was put into a tiny room with no lighting and a lady examined my eyes and decided I should wear glasses which I have done ever since. I was 12 at the time and the education sent me to the optician “Rowley” which was then on Wheeler Gate, Nottingham.
May 29th was a day we tried to remember, it was ‘Oak Day’ the day King Charles hid in an Oak Tree. We school children just dare not leave home in the morning without a sprig of Oak leaves pinned on our clothes, if by chance anyone did forget they would be stung with a nettle on bare legs, and it wasn’t only the boys with stinging nettles, the girls were just as bad, after midday one was safe. Children collected rats tails and took them to Mr. William Hill, we were paid Id (one penny) per tail. Mr. Hill lived in the old empty house down The Green belonging to Mr. Stacey. This was one way of keeping the rat menace down. We also collected horse chestnuts for the war effort. I think they were ground down for something.
The same caretaker was employed at School the whole of the time I attended, from five to fourteen years old. She was Nellie Carrington, the work was hard and badly paid. As I have mentioned before their were coal fires in school one in each of the three rooms and in the Wintertime all three would need lighting every school day, that meant the caretaker would be cleaning up the ashes (if she had not done it the previous night) around 6.30 a.m. there would be three great buckets of coal to carry from the back of the boys playground, the school itself to sweep and dust, the pan toilets to clean, and windows extra, and she never grumbled. There is more to write about Nellie in ‘Hickling’. There was hardly any part of the year when children did not take something to school to put in the windows. Frogs spawn in the Spring and we were fascinated to see the spawn develop into tiny frogs. Sticklebacks in jam jars. Sticky Buds. The first wild rose, Violets, Celandines, Buttercups, Mayblobs, Cowslips, Lords & Ladies, the first blackberry. Sometimes the windows would be full to overflowing, but what a lovely thought.
Dinner Hour at School. Often the boys would be missing during dinner time and sometimes late back for lessons, they would be either brook jumping or sheep wash jumping and would return to school absolutely spattered with muck, if we girls had half a chance we would be there as well. We always went with the boys when playing ‘Fox & Hounds’ but a boy always played at being the fox, he would set off first and after several minutes we would all follow, but naturally there was always one or two boys and girls who refused to play, said it was too rough.
Navy Blue Linen Blinds were fixed at each window and lasted before I went to school and until after I left, since becoming a Village Hall the windows are fitted with curtains. The stage I have mentioned we used at Concerts was stored at the ‘Parish Room’ the Rectory as it was Parish property, and was collected when needed by horse and cart. Later years the stage was stored on Norman Marriotts property, but what has happened to it now goodness only knows.
(p.50) The Bowling Green We are told that many years ago there was a public house on The Green, behind the present Village Hall, it is now the oldest house in the village and owned by Mr. Stacey who lives next door, the house has been empty for a number of years, the last family living there was Mr. & Mrs. William Hill, the house then being called ‘The Rosary’. The village school was built on ‘The Green’ I understand, hence the name of the pub ‘Bowling Green’ unless it is just a fairy story.
(p.51) School House Built alongside the Methodist Church. After Headmaster Mr. J.W.Pepper and family left Hickling, the School house was not needed, as the next two “Heads” were spinsters and went into lodgings (at Mr. F. Shelton’s the Tailors) so the house was let to Mr. Ted Woolley and family, and after the Woolley family moved to another house in Hickling, the Head Mistress Miss E.A.Proudman and her mother moved in she eventually married and is still living in the house, when the School closed and the house no longer needed by the Education Mrs. Spencer nee Miss Proudman was able to purchase the property.
(p.61) General Elections I have written earlier that the Liberal Party Committee Room was at Rose Cottage in Granny Simpson’s time, so naturally I was brought up with the firm belief to always vote Liberal, and in these times there was only the two parties in this constituency to vote for, and I have never known the M.P. to be other than a Conservative, and when I was a child this was the Newark Division. Voting took place in the village school (now the V. Hall) we children had a holiday, and electors had to come from Kinoulton and I think Upper Broughton as well. Anyone owning land in another parish were allowed two votes, for example Granny Simpson owned fields in Kinoulton Parish and she was able to vote twice, this practise has been ended a long while. When the result of the poll came through for this Division W. Bumett blew their Engine Whistle, (I wonder if the other side were elected if the whistle would have been heard. Doubtful). This was the days before radio and TV. Mr. F. Carte of Hickling was the residing Officer, Mr. John Frederick Shelton Poll Clerk and also Mr. Edgar Bumett Poll Clerk for one election and Mr. Fred. Granville Woolley for one election their fee £1.7s.6d, Mr. H. Swanwick acted as Policeman; he had retired from the service.
(p.66) Dramatic Society I remember excellent adult concerts being given in the School by the Dramatic Society, and after leaving School I was able to join, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed all the practises, we gave concerts at other villages, and remember so well visiting one of the Cropwells, can’t remember which, and the concert was being held in the Chapel Sunday School we had a good time but the audience was very small and afterwards someone came to us and asked if we girls would go in our costumes to see her mother who was bedridden, so we trailed into the road and to the house where the old lady lay in bed up stairs, and she was so pleased and asked our names and was so grateful to us for visiting her, I have often thought that we didn’t know the old lady’s name, but we brought a few minutes of happiness to her. We wore red dresses with black ruffles round the neck (made of paper) and black shoes and stockings. The men wore a red ruffle. The name now in 1976 is Drama Group, and there has been a Group on and off over the years. I understand one is rehearsing at the present time for a Concert during the spring.
(p.71) Every child would go violeting in the Spring, directly after School change into old clothes, then off round the fields, we knew which field and we knew which hedge side and where the blue ones would grow, and the white ones, on the high banks by the stone bridge near the Grange by the canal was a good spot for violets, and in a couple of fields down Clawson Lane or Chapel Lane, we simply loved violating time, then later we went up the hills to the spinney and picked blue bells and the white wild anemone, we would go down one of the lanes for wild roses and the cream tea rose, the pink and white sweet clover, the lovely yellow lambs toes, the lady smock, pink campion, buttercups and celandines, the dog daises, the red knob which grew in meadows. I always think the wild flowers are just as beautiful as cultivated. One flower we were never allowed to take indoors was the white May Blossom, a superstition that it brought bad luck and was believed in those days, so, if we picked the Mayor Hawthorn it was put in a jam jar and left outside on the yard. Always for Palm Sunday we kids found some ‘Pussy Willow’ and took to school, and if ever we managed to find any Bull Rushes by the Canal or the Brook we were highly delighted. We used to see that beautiful Kingfisher bird fly by near the canal and the large Dragon fly, and the little voles in the water, and hundreds of minnows swimming around, the Skylark would sing its little heart out high in the sky and its nest built (…).
(p.72) Conker Time Late Summer the horse chestnuts would be ripe, and if they didn’t fall to the ground naturally we kids made sure they fell by knocking them down with long sticks, we had several horse chestnut trees in Hickling & children visited all of them. We would fill our pockets (and the girls their knickers) we would hourd them at home for no reason at all. The older boys at school played Conkers’ with one conker fastened to a piece of string. Picking up ‘conkers’ was a must in my school days and still is with the children today.
(p.74) Miscellaneous When I was little no one stayed up late, we didn’t have Radio or TV or a car to take one to the pictures, I should think everyone went to bed around nine oclock, and most people would be up at 5.30 to 6 AM, breakfast early, dinner prompt at 12 o’clock, tea 3.30 to 4 o’clock and supper at 7 p.m. nearly everyone drank cocoa for supper, never coffee, and my trick at bedtime was to say that my cocoa was too hot, just to stay up a few more minutes. We children were expected to eat what was put before us, it wasn’t any good saying we didn’t like it, and we never were asked what we would like, in my childhood, one did as one was told, or woe betide any child who did not, a spanking never did any harm, and if any of us were punished at school we never told the family, or we were walloped again, there isn’t enough discipline these days, too much talking and not enough action. New babies always wore long gowns and they were long, but so beautiful some hand embroidered, some silk with lace, some openwork, under the gown would be a long petticoat of white material, and under that a long flannel petticoat that wrapped round the poor little mite and then fastened with tapes, these gowns would be quite l l/2yards long, what a waste of material and what of the washing, starching and ironing every week and oftener, NO Washing Machine, No Spindryer, just plain back aching WORK. The new baby never went outside with his little face or head uncovered, bonnet for a girl, silly little hat for a boy, and most important a veil to cover the whole of the face, then a head shawl and a large carrying shawl, and they were not allowed outside until a month old and wore those long gowns until they were three months old, it is a wonder all of them survived. A babies high chair had no tray attached, placed directly up to the table, made of wood with a step so one can imagine the mess, with sticky fingers touching everything.
(p.75) Almost everyone kept a few hens when I went to school and all free range, some had wire runs, and it was a regular thing to see a cockeral & several hens on the roadside. At Rose Cottage it was my job to look after the hens, that was before going to School letting them out and feeding, preparing a warm mash in the winter, also boiled all the small ‘pig’ potatoes in their jackets & mixed them with the mash, these potatoes were jolly good to eat. I have picked umpteen from the hens mash. I would collect the eggs when coming home from school, and there would always be one or two hens lay away, (not in the hen hut) either in the stick heap, or under the haystack, in the hedge bottom.
(p.76) Boys and girls went to school in boots, and sometimes clogs, always black, but the Sunday best boots for girls were brown and softer leather and always buttoned, we had to learn to use a button hook to fasten up our boots, and so many people today in 1976 would not have a clue what a button hook looked like.
(p.82) Mr. Frederick Jarvis Cart. Was Prudential Ins. Agent until his retirement and don’t think I remember him only as retired. Was Methodist Local Preacher, and we girls in the choir didn’t care for his preaching, he had a most sing-song monotonous voice, twiddled a piece of paper in his fingers while giving his sermon and stood sideways in the pulpit with his eyes glued to the clock hanging on the wall. His pew in Chapel was at the back and he fixed a small drawer under the seat which he always kept locked, inside was his hymn book, a bible and odds and ends, and
very often he would be fiddling with the key in the lock much to the annoyance of the congregation. Although having some peculiar ways, Mr. Cart was genuine, and a useful man in the village, he would repair spectacles for the older folk, he was Clerk to the Parish Council for years, also Education Correspondent for the School and the Grantham Journal Correspondent until the time of his death. We children were very unkind to Mr. Cart, he suffered with severe rhumatism in his knees and we called him ‘Daddie Wadlum’. Many people in Hickling asked Mr. Cart’s advice when filling in personal forms etc.
Miss Nellie Carrington She lived in a small cottage at the corner of Clawson Lane, (which has now been demolished and a modern cottage built in its place). The original cottage where Nellie lived, with her Grandmother, Mother and two daughters, had one bedroom and top of the stairs and one room downstairs. Nellie took in washing especially at confinements and deaths, she would arrive at the particular house to collect the laundry, fasten it inside a sheet and sling the whole lot on her back, it would be returned clean and ironed, her wash house was a dark tumbledown place across her yard which was in the winter nearly always up to the neck in sludge, how she ever dried all the washing each week goodness knows, there wasn’t any water laid on, and only a flat iron, a copper heated with coal & wood was all the means for heating water, dolly tub & pegs & an iron mangle. Nellie was also the village school caretaker and during the winter months it was a tough job, up early to light three fires, get in the coal etc. keep all the oil lamps filled & trimmed for use, in the winter when I was a girl there was a whist drive and dance every Friday or Sat. night, and Nellie was present most of the time, when whist had finished she brought out her sweeping brush & dustpan & one or two men would help clear the room & Nellie would then sweep the floor and sprinkle with a powder ready for dancing, some of the men folk would make fun of her but good humouredly, Nellie would wash the crockery used for refreshments, the water hotted in large kettles on the open fire, often one or two helping dry up, she would stay to lock up, and would always be given some refreshments to take home, all this and would be paid 2/6 to 3/6 for the evening. Anyone needing the Doctor would leave a message at Nellie’s house, the Doctors from both Clawson and Colston Bassett calling each visiting day for the list. Dr. Windley lived at Colston Bassett and every Monday after the Doctors visit to Hickling, Nellie would take her basket and walk (often over the fields) to the surgery for all the medicine, and it was all medicine in bottles, no tablets at all, she would then walk back to Hickling & deliver the medicine to the patients, receiving 2d or 3d (three pence in old money) per bottle, she would wear a long full skirt to the ground, a blouse, boots, a large shawl over her shoulders and an old wool hat or even a man’s cap. Nellies eldest daughter Emma was a young pupil teacher when I was at school leaving age, she then went on to College and became Head Mistress of Thrussington School in Leicestershire, until retiring a few years ago, there was great credit indeed to Emma.
(p.90) Miss Hopkinson. A spinster, lived at Malt House, had such a high pitched voice and peculiar eyes, wore glasses. We children were inclined to be afraid of her, always sent basket of oranges for school children on Shrove Tuesday, and has sent apples on other occasions.
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