North Elmham School Logbook Scraps July 2014

Posted in School

Doing research on the soldiers who died during the two World Wars and hoping I could glean snippets about some of the men, I browsed through a few pages of the school Log Book which is now at the Records Office at County Hall.

Living in a rural area the school is closely tied to the seasons and the land, which is the chief provider of employment for the local workforce.
The school didn't break up for the Summer holidays until mid August (always known as the Harvest holidays) and on a number of occasions the Head Master and the Vicar could give extra holidays for various agricultural activities.

For instance in 1913

an extra week was given because of the harvest not being gathered. This holiday was so that the children could help on the farms in the district. In October 1913 the school was closed to allow the children to go blackberry picking. The diet then was quite limited so a free harvest of fruit was not to be passed up.

Children are regularly absent from school because they were crow scaring, acorn and stick collecting and stone picking. Children a hundred years ago were an asset able to contribute to family finances on a regular basis. If a job came along during term time, then absence from school could be guaranteed. The Attendance Officer seemed to come to the school frequently and went to see the parents of absent children and read them the riot act!! (to no avail I suspect.)

The older boys had regular gardening lessons, both practical and theory and the older girls were taught how to sew and do the laundry- they went to the Kings Head for instruction on washing and ironing. In 1912 there was a serious outbreak of Scarlet Fever and Diphtheria and in December 1914 the school was closed for nearly a month because of Scarlet Fever.

The Attendance Officer visited the children's homes if he thought they had too much time recuperating. Nits were another problem! One child was often found to have a head full of them and was sent home on a fairly regular basis.(Not surprising really. Long unkempt hair, living in cottages with scant water for washing I'm surprised that only a few at a time had lice in their hair.) In August 1915 the school was taken into the Park to watch an inspection of the troops by the General commanding the 1st Army. ( I don't know who he was.)
Many soldiers during the First World War were sent to Elmham by train, complete with horses, for Rest and Recuperation on the Park.

Officers were billeted in the village (the Vicar would go around asking for suitable billets) and the men were living under canvas in the Park. Very sadly, Mr Edward J. Catchpole who joined the school staff in September 1913,left on the outbreak of war and died on the 12 August 1916. He was treated for shell shock at a Field Hospital in July 1916 but reported missing and presumed dead on the 12th August. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme where 72192 names are listed as " Missing".

Janet Woodhouse