Where you are: Schools & Youth - School History - The Misses Godwin's School
  The Misses Goodwin's School

Memories from 1920-1922 or 3

The following is an account written by Mrs Betty Hill who is sister to Mrs Joan Wilcox. Their father was the Mr Rawson who was the local builder responsible for the houses in Rawson Road.

I started school after Easter 1920 at Misses Goodwin's School, which at that time was held in the Parish Room. (It had been going for some time but I don't know how long.) My cousin Edna Jarvis went from 1907-1914. Miss Nellie would have been about 29 in 1907 and Miss Grace, I think about 5 years younger.

They had both been to the National School in Tickhill (the Big School). Latin and Algebra were taught by Mr Dixon to those intending to be teachers and Mr Greenhough taught Elementary Science, but French was not taught so Miss Nellie must have been to some after school classes for she taught French to some 8+ pupils. Miss Grace had been on a short course to learn to teach small children.

I well remember being taken on the first day by my brother Roger and given a seat on the platform next to a sweet looking little boy in a sailor suit called Peter. He was even shyer than I was so we both stayed silent. This changed when Mollie started later in the term and from then on we were inseparable. Often we were called by each others names and we answered to either.

Phyllis and Beryl Kirkland followed each other as assistants and helped with the younger ones. Zillah Crossland, the photographer's daughter, came to play the piano for exercises and singing. We mainly sang hymns from Golden Bells, which was a hymn book the Wesleyan Chapel had finished with.

We started with slates (I still remember the screech the slate pencils made) and copy books. These were double lined with a pot hook or other curve or a stroke at the beginning of each line. The slates were usually used for sums.

Miss Nellie was only at school for the first part of both the morning and the afternoon. She was Governess to Barbara Brooksbank in the morning and Jean Cayley in the afternoon. At school she taught the older children up to 14 or 15 English, Arithmetic, Scripture and French plus Geography and History. She left work for them to do for the rest of the time. She taught Grammar to a very high standard : when one boy went to Doncaster Grammar School, Mr. Caxton told his parents that he was always pleased to get boys from the Miss Goodwin's School as they were always thoroughly grounded in Grammar and so were able to pick up Latin much more easily.

We always looked forward to 3p.m. when Miss Grace settled us down to Sewing, including the boys, though they occasionally did simple Craft Work, and then read to us. The books were alternately chosen by her and by anyone who brought a suitable book. I remember being enthralled at 7 years old by ' The Old Oak Staircase ', a Cavalier and Roundhead adventure, and when I was 10 by 'Cranford'. No small children's books were read. Miss Grace read really well, breaking off occasionally to attend to a sewing problem.

Poetry and Painting were also popular. Again the choice of poems was also alternate. For our choice the bookshelves contained the works of Tennyson and Longfellow and various small collections. We learned anything from Milton (top class) to 'The Village Blacksmith'. Painting included producing Christmas Cards for several weeks before Christmas.

The platform was very much used, partly for extra desks when the school was full, for Singing and Exercises and usually twice a year for concerts; Mothering Sunday plays and concerts in aid of Missionary Societies were the most frequent. The best acted was Mrs. Jarley's Waxworks with Anice Clarke as Mrs. Jarley, Jack Willoughby as her assistant and my brother enjoying himself whipping up customers. Jack was very tall and could move the living-but-very-stiff waxworks about. Most of the rest of us were rather wooden actors, but we never forgot our lines. Learning from memory was very well practised. The only homework we had was learning by heart. We had Spellings to learn by heart several times a week, a summary of the History or Geography we had been doing and at weekends we had from 2 to 12 verses of the Bible to learn according to age. I once got 6d (a fortune) for reciting The Sermon on the Mount without a mistake and Eileen Kitchen and I tied 1st for finding most names for God in both the Old and New Testaments.

Scripture was an important part of the day. It started with prayers, then a Bible reading for the older ones and Bible stories for the rest. On Monday Miss Nellie gave a lesson on the Reading and explained it in a surprisingly undogmatic way. I think we all enjoyed that lesson. There was Grace at Dinner time and a short prayer at hometime.

Sometimes Miss Grace would take us for a Spring walk. One day the boys saw a ladder against a stack in Wilsic Lane and climbed up. When told to come down they all did except Roger who resisted all attempts to get him down. At last Miss Grace sent me up. No problem; I went up and said 'If you don't come down I shall tell Daddy'. He came. We were 5 and 7 at the time.

I think people expected children who went to a Private School to be well-behaved. We were not always. One day the big ones, mostly boys, but some girls put the 7-10 years old in the cellar which was very dark, locked the door and told them of the blood-curdling things that would happen to them. Loud screams alerted Miss Grace who rushed down, jacket flying behind her, to let them out. The culprits wished they had never done it, when she had finished with them.

Usually for punishment it was generally a tap on the knuckles or only for bad behaviour, the cane; mostly for boys but occasionally for girls. For really persistent talking we were kept in.

Molly, Myra and I were kept in for talking one day. After ten minutes, Miss Grace said we could go when we had said we were sorry for talking. Myra immediately did as she was told and went home. Molly and I sat mute. Miss Nellie came back then and she tried to persuade us without success. Eventually they had to let us go as we were due at a painting class in Doncaster. Once outside we turned to each other and said, 'Wasn't Myra awful telling a lie like that, we've had a lovely afternoon talking. How can we be sorry'. Well they had always taught us to tell the truth and children always think of their point of view. If Miss Gace had told us to say sorry for being a nuisance to her we would have done.

Punishment at the big school in Mr Dixon's time was generally more severe. Miss Nellie had to hold a big pile of slates above her head for saying one word. After a short time she fainted and of course many of the slates smashed (my father was in her class and he told me this).

The small yard was our playground; for 40 children much too small and there was always fighting for space or girls against boys and we little ones had to look after our selves. Sometimes we had someone from the big school come for a term because they had been ill, or like Lenny Longhorn, who came when he had a leg temporarily in irons. I don't think they were any safer in the playground. On wet days we were given The Children's Newspaper to read.

In the corner was the bucket lavatory with newspaper squares on a string for toilet paper. I don't remember anyone washing their hands at the stone sink after a visit. There was no outbreak of an infectious disease while I was at the Parish Room, although there were two epidemics of Scarlet Fever after we moved, which affected all three schools and one of Diphtheria which we escaped (both killing diseases in those days).

In those days there were three crossing places. I think they were originally laid down and kept swept to enable people to avoid the mud and animal droppings. They were made of a single row of York stone flags. One was in the Market Place almost opposite St. Mary's Gate, the second was across Sunderland Street from the end of the Infant School lane and last, there was one crossing Northgate opposite Weardale gates which was just right for The Parish Room. There was no need for any children from any of the schools to cross the road anywhere else. It was impressed on us to use them.

I think that most of us were happy at our little school, except perhaps my cousin Dorothy who was left-handed. In those days children were made to use their right hand and as often happens this started her stammering badly, an impediment she never got rid of until she was involved in running the pensioners club.

Miss Nellie was a born teacher. She had no difficulty in controlling her class, mainly by assuming we were all well-mannered and wanted to learn and by treating us almost as grown-ups. I was appalled to find, at the High School, we had to put our hands up and ask to leave the room as if we were small children. In Miss Nellie's class we just said, 'Excuse me' and went.

Miss Grace was a very good story-teller and reader, though we thought she was too fond of death-bed scenes and when I read Dickens later, I was pleasantly surprised that he wasn't always discribing scenes like the death of Little Nell and Paul Dombey. She was generally patient and perservering with slow readers.

I remember when we moved to the newly built wooden building, in the Misses Goodwin's garden. Everyone carried something. Our group was given books to carry. I think the older ones carried chairs and tables, but probably help was needed for the desks. All was in the new school by the end of the day. I think we were sorry to leave the historic building: every pupil knew it's date and uses it had been put to, but the excitement of the new made us soon forget it.

Pupils of the Misses Goodwin’s School
Pupils of the Misses Goodwin’s School

Pupils of the Misses Goodwin’s School. Miss Grace and Miss Nellie are shown in the lower photograph.

Sharing Our Heritage