The Home Front in Lemsford Parish - St Johns School 1914-1918

St Johns School Lemsford 1914-1918

Headmaster - Mr William C. Ladbury 1902 – 1936.

The village school during WW1 many pupils had fathers at the front. Watch our slide show and click on image to enlarge

    St Johns School Lemsford 1914-1918

    1914 was a memorable year. At Lemsford, the first school badges were worn by children of the top class. The decision to have a distinctive badge was made unanimously by the children after a debate. They designed their own badge, using the symbol of St John - a spread eagle in red on a black background.

    The soldiers who were in France during 1914-18 were constantly remembered. The girls made many shirts for them and in November 1915 the older children unanimously decided to forgo all prizes that year and donate the money instead to Christmas parcels for ‘our boys at the front’ In 1917 seven children from London were temporarily admitted having been sent to the country for a rest because of air raids. Four of them had not undressed for eight days before they arrived at Lemsford.

    Lemsford News September 1915

    Sale of Work – On Friday, July 10th, a very successful Sale of Work was held in the School in aid of the Cripple's Branch of the Waifs and Strays Society. The stalls included plain needlework (made chiefly at the evening classes held during the winter for the girls, and also work made by them in the school during the year)., fancy stall, pound and sweet stall, boys stall, including mats, dishcloths, garden tables, writing pads and glove boxes etc

    Lemsford News November 1915

    Children's Union – The Children's Union Classes will be commences (D.V.) in the Dining Hall on Monday, November 8th, at a quarter to six for the girls. Boys class will be held every alternate week. We shall be pleased to welcome any new members or associates.

    Lemsford News December 1915

    Soup – For the convenience of the school-children who come a long distance, soup will be made for them this year on Tuesdays and Fridays, commencing December 7th. The charge will be one half-penny each child. This will provide each purchaser with a pint of soup. Lady Mount Stephen has kindly given a hamper of vegetables towards the fund.

    Prizes – This year, instead of the usual day school prizes being given, the money thus subscribed will be devoted towards the purchase of Christmas parcels for each of our boys at the Front. Lady Mount Stephen, who usually gave, books, dolls, work-baskets. has contributed a cheque instead towards the parcels. Mrs Holdsworth, who each year gave a prize for the best school gardener and the neatest and best behaved girl, has sent instead a donation to the parcel fund. Other subscribers have also generously promised their subscriptions: these will be acknowledged next month.

    Lemsford News January 1916

    Children's Tea – On Wednesday, Decembers 22nd, Lady Mount Stephen gave her annual tea to the children attending Lemsford School, and gave away the gifts of clothing. Afterwards the children gave a short entertainment.

    Christmas Parcels for the Boys at the Front – As announced last month, the subscriptions for the school prizes would this year be devoted to parcels for our old boys, the present scholars took up the cause with great zest. On Thursday, 9th December, 27 boxes and the necessary contents were taken into school, and the children were very busy packing the individual contents into the several boxes. These consisted of sweets, chocolates, tobacco, cigarettes, cocoa, soap, candles, apples, oranges, cakes, magazines or papers, and a sprig of holly. Then the boxes were tied and afterwards sewn up in canvas. On Tuesday, December 21st, our first reply came. To show how the boys appreciated the contents I have quoted an extract from on of the letters received. “. . . Just a few lines to thank you and the children for the splendid parcel received on December, 15th, in excellent condition. Some of the contents are luxuries and some are just what we want for we cannot get anything here just behind the trenches, where we are now resting before going up again. It seems nice to think we are not forgotten and anything from home is always appreciated. “ Our thanks are due to the following ladies and gentlemen for kindly subscribing to our prize fund this year – Mrs Holdsworth, Colonel Fellows, Mrs Sear, Mr Horn. Ten letters have already been received full of grateful thanks.

    Lemsford News March 1918

    School Treat – As no Christmas tea could be given to the children this year, an Entertainment consisting of a ventriloquist and conjuring performance was given on the afternoon of Saturday, February 2nd, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all present. After the performance each child was given a cracker and some cake. Best thanks are due to Mrs Moore for so kindly making the arrangements.

    Entertainment – on Friday, February 1st, the school -children gave an excellent entertainment, the success of which must well have repaid Mr & Mrs Ladbury for their trouble in drilling their young performers. The first part consisted of action songs, and recitations by the younger children, and the second part was carried out by the elder boys and girls. Every item on the programme was thoroughly appreciated by the large audience, especially the song entitles “Toys,” in which a really excellent Punch and Judy Show was interpolated. The proceeds, which amounted to over £8. were added to a fund for sending parcels to Lemsford men at the Front. Since the concert eighteen parcels have been packed and sent off by the children, each containing tobacco and cigarettes, biscuits, sweets, chewing gum, apples, candles, writing paper and a magazine. More will be sent shortly

    Lemsford News March 1919 informs us of a play “The Enchanted Rose” performed by St Johns school. We have an image of the cast and a cast list. Recent emails from Ruth & Brian Wordsworth sent an image of the school Stoolball team from 1921 , they were related to a girl called Millie Chapman. This girl was the daughter of Thomas Chapman who is on the list of servicemen who went to war from Lemsford. This reminded me of a play performed in 1919, all the children went through the Great War and some had fathers who served. Details of play below with full cast list. Images above including the 1921Stoolball team(Millie is front row 3rd from the left)

    Lemsford News March 1919

    School Entertainment – A charming and successful operetta entitled “The Enchanted Rose” was given by the school children on the evenings of February 13th and 14th, to crowded audiences. The three acts of the play were splendidly staged; the gorgeous costumes of the king, queen and princesses were shown to great advantage before the background of soldiers in brilliant uniforms, and the white robed chorus singers; while the dainty fairy queen with her train of sweet little fairies in white, adorned with red roses on their hair and wands, made a realistic fairy scene. The wicked fairy was a vividly picturesque figure in her red and black costumes and the court jester was admirably dressed in green and red to suit his part. Seldom ha a school entertainment so charmed its audiences, and the children are to be congratulated on the perfect rendering of solos and chorus. Not a hitch occurred during the intricate court dances of the chorus, the charming fairy steps of the baby elves, and the elaborate and eccentric antics of the jester. On each occasion the dances brought the house down and at the close of each act there were loud calls for the jester. Mr & Mrs Ladbury are to be heartily congratulated on the success of their work; the former for the training of the children and the latter for the making of the costumes, etc. Many thanks are due to Master Keith Ladbury for the able and sympathetic manner in which he accompanied the whole performance, and for the difficult and charmingly rendered solos he played during the intervals. Mr Harrison deserves our thanks for the part he took in the enjoyable duet with Master K. Ladbury and is to be congratulated on so apt a pupil.

    In 1918 the school had a half day holiday when peace was declared on November 11th. This was also the year that the Fisher Education Act was passed raising the school leaving age to fourteen.

    National Facts

    Some schools were mixed, others not. An elementary school, which provided free education and was mostly attended by working class children, would be mixed, but boys and girls sometimes had separate entrances to the school. Elementary schools taught children up to the age of twelve, when most working class children would leave school to go to work. A few of the brighter ones might gain a scholarship to a grammar school. The school leaving age was raised to fourteen in 1918. The great 'Public Schools' of England continued to educate the nation's elite. Schools such as Eton, Harrow, and Winchester taught the 'Classics' to the sons of the landowning aristocracy and wealthy upper middle classes. Links with the universities of Cambridge and Oxford ensured a virtual monopoly in the preparation of future leaders for politics, the armed forces and the major professions. Many schools developed Cadet or Officer Training Corps which, after Haldane's Reforms in 1908, became an integral part of Britain's military establishment. The 'Public School Ethos', with its doctrine of duty and self-sacrifice, prepared generations of schoolboys for their roles as colonial administrators or, as in 1914-1918, subalterns in the armed forces.

    Church Of England

    The 1902 Education Act (18 December 1902) abolished the school boards and created local education authorities (LEAs), based on the county councils and county borough councils which the 1888 Local Government Act had established. The new LEAs had authority over the secular curriculum of voluntary (church) schools. They provided grants for school maintenance, but if a school wanted to provide denominational teaching the buildings had to be paid for by the church.

    Church of England schools generally heeded the rule that no pupil or teacher should be required to conform to religious belief or ritual. Roman Catholic schools were less enthusiastic about obeying the rule. They enforced religious observance more strictly and in 1917 the church issued a canon expressly forbidding Catholic parents from sending their children to non-Catholic schools on pain of excommunication.


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Parish magazine 1914 Home Front - News from the War - Church News
Parish magazine 1915 Home Front - News from the War - Church News
Parish magazine 1916 Home Front - News from the War - Church News
Parish magazine 1917 Home Front - News from the War - Church News
Parish magazine 1918 Home Front - News from the War - Church News

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