A Year in the Life of a School

School log book entries for the National School from 1863

School log books are a day-to-day record of events at a school kept by the head teacher, and date back to 1862, when the Government first required schools in receipt of state grants to maintain a log of daily activities. They include information on activities outside the normal timetable, official visits and inspections, outings, special closures, incidents of misbehaviour, staff appointments and absences, reorganisation of classes, and reasons for low attendance.

The following is a selection from the school log book of the National School at Hadleigh. These entries were recorded by the mistress and later the first master of the school  - William Batchelor Kingswood - in 1863.  (Spelling and punctuation as in the original.)   

January 1863


Miss Mitchell entered the school as Assistant Teacher.

February 1863


On enquiring the cause of the absence of about a dozen boys this afternoon was told they had gone pigeon shooting.


Miss Mitchell kept at home this afternoon by a sick headache.


A dog belonging to Sarah Harvey followed her to school and proved a great nuisance by running in and out all afternoon.


Thomas Choppen punished for coming to School at 5 minutes before 3.


Holiday in the afternoon being Shrove Tuesday.


Children went to Church in the morning being Ash Wednesday.


George Sewell and Thos. Jermyn came in the School and blacked the faces of several children before 2 o’clock. Sent for Mr. Tyrrell to put a stop to their mischievous behaviour.


During dinner hour Eliza Dolby tumbled into the ditch – put her boots too near the fire and burnt them.

March 1863


Ellen Brewer spent her school money in nuts.


Children regaled with buns and coffee in honour of the Prince of Wales marriage.


Miss Mitchell unable to come to school, suffering with pain in the chest.


Eliza Griggs left at 3.30 to nurse her mother’s baby.

April 1863


Holiday tomorrow (Good Friday) and Easter Week.


Mary A. Smith pushed a pencil up her nose, which with some little difficulty was removed.


John Gilman threw a stone and cut Amy Chignell’s forehead. Cautioned children never to throw stones.


Very cold day – unable to open coal house door, consequently could have no fire.

May 1863


Children very tiresome, felt the want of an assistant in the School.


Phebe Adams very impudent – gave her a good caning.


Missed a half penny from the table – on searching found it in John Green’s pocket – punished him for the theft.


Mr. Godson [curate] examined 1st and 2nd classes in Scripture History.

June 1863


Several children absented themselves afraid of Mr. Bias vaccinating them.


School very thin all week owing to Fair and Circus at Rayleigh.


Mr. Godson cautioned children against using bad words and also about destroying shrubs in School yard.


Three Gillmans absent because Cornelius Pepper yesterday threw the eldest boy’s cap in the ditch.


Half a holiday – Hadleigh Fair day.

July 1863


Mr. Godson examined the children in the Church Catechism – found them rather deficient.

September 1863


H.B.Kingswood acted as master for the School for the first time. Mrs. Kingswood took girls in needlework in the Afternoon.


Practised singing the National Anthem and gave general hints as to their behaviour. Holiday in afternoon. AnnualSchool treat and Choral Service at the Church.


Gave the 1st and 2nd classes (boys) extra time in arithmetic in afternoon: only 1 out of 14 being able to put down 37 and add 4, from dictation.


Several stayed away this week “Potato Picking”.


Gave children home lessons [homework] for the first time today.


Gave the whole school a lesson on the Church Catechism from 9.15 to 10.15 am.

October 1863


Phoebe Adams was kept in for insubordination and idleness.


Kept Eliza Griggs in for Truant playing and WalterHills for neglecting to learn his home lesson.


Found the 1st Class Boys exceedingly stupid in Arithmetic, not being able to work the simplest sums in either simple or compound Subtraction.


Service in the Church in the Morning and greater part of the Afternoon was occupied in getting the Statistics for the Government Reports.


Kept Geo. Thorringtom in for spending part of his schoolpence and telling a falsehood.


Government Inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspector. The Rev. Mitchell, Mr. Godson and Mr. Tyrrell were also present. There were 83 children present, and a dull wet morning.

November 1863


Girls did needlework in the morning.


Several of the third class began to write in Copy Book for the first time.

December 1863


Scarcely any school on account of wet weather.


A beautifully fine day yet a great many Children absent, several from sickness and others I find running the roads, with the consent of the Parents.


Broke up according to the wish of the Rev. Godson.



Comments about this page

Add your own comment

  • Mary Smith was a direct ancestor ….  I remember reading the school book some years ago and seeing the quote about the pencil up nose!

    {Ed: The relevant book, Tales out of School, written by Chris Worpole, is shown at: http://www.hadleighhistory.org.uk/page.aspx?id=528 }

    By Jayne Knowles (29/07/2016)
  • Do you know which Sarah Harvey the dog belonged to? My great great grandmother would have been nine or ten at the time … It could have been her dog!!

    Can the log be viewed anywhere?


    By Jacqui Watson (15/04/2014)
  • Interesting to read the comment from Alan Faux. I came across this family name when looking into who lived in Park Farm. John and Eliza Faux moved into Park Farm (1901 census) and subsequently raised a family of 8 children. The 1939 Hadleigh Directory lists Eliza Faux as living at 2 Lynton Villas and six other people called Faux listed also living in Hadleigh. There may be an interesting family history here for the H&TCA.

    By Graham Cook (06/03/2012)
  • Thanks for your comment Maggie. Parents did complain about their children being disciplined. On 1st February 1864 William Batchelor Kingswood wrote: “I had to visit two parents at noon to-day in order to quiet them respecting their children who had to stay in at noon a few minutes for bad behaviour. This is the way The Teachers generally are thanked for their exertions.” (Spelling as in original.)

    By Chris Worpole (25/02/2012)
  • I was amused to read that Eliza Dolby had tumbled into the ditch and burnt her shoes trying to dry them. Eliza was my great grandmother and I remember her well.  She would have been eight years old at the time. Eleven years later, in 1874, she married my great grandfather, John Gregory Faux, who was to become chairman of Hadleigh Parish Council for many years.

    By Alan Faux (24/02/2012)
  • Love it! I’m surprised that there’s no mention of parents coming into school to complain about their children being disciplined!!!!!!

    By Maggie (23/02/2012)
  • What a joy to see that parents let children run in the roads all those years ago!!

    By Ann Clarke-Overy (23/02/2012)
  • What a wonderful insight into village life in the 1860s

    By Val Jackson (22/02/2012)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *