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Wiltshire Community History

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Donhead St. Mary - Ludwell Community Primary School, Donhead St. Mary

Warburton's Census of 1858 lists a school called 'Charlton, or Ludwell' "50 to 60 scholars, mixed, are taught in a good room (50 feet x 19 feet) for registration. The discipline is good, and the instruction very fair. Master is self-taught. There are also 2 dames' schools which feed the above, numbering together about 25. About 12 tradesmen's children are taught by a young woman, a dissenter; they pay 5 shillings a quarter"

In 1875 the newly built Ludwell elementary school with teacher's residence had 160 pupils on its books, although it was built for 150. It was situated at the junction of Front Horse Hill Lane and Back Horse Hill Lane, and had two rooms. The cost of building both this school and that at Donhead St. Mary was £4,000. In 1893 all the older children in the parish attended the school. There was one teacher for the infants and two teachers for the older children in 1908.

The surviving log books for Ludwell show that in the early 20th century (and also in the Victorian period before this) the core subjects were the same as those today, such as reading, arithmetic, spelling, geography etc.. Religious education and scripture knowledge was essential. In July 1908 the Reverend Short and a vicar from Mere gave an exam in scripture knowledge; this was a common occurrence. These lessons were occasionally set aside for other purposes, though. In December 1908 part of the scripture lessons were devoted to Christmas carols and in March 1909 a visitor gave a temperance lecture in the morning.

Needlework and cookery classes were held for the girls and gardening for the boys. In April 1908 there was good weather for the gardening class and therefore seeds were sown in the school gardens instead of doing the usual lessons. The gardening class also went on trips and had demonstrations, as in April 1909 when they were taken to Donhead to receive a demonstration in grafting from Mr. Sharp, the County Council expert in horticulture. The County Horticultural Inspector gave lessons on propagation and pruning of currant and gooseberry bushes, and plum trees, in February 1912. In April of the same year the boys were manipulating beehives. They removed the bars which were cleaned and replaced. During March 1910 the garden seeds arrived from Miss Toogood, but hey could not be planted as the ground in the school gardens was too wet. Paradise stocks were received from Woking for the school gardens in March 1912.

In October 1908 nine girls were selected to attend a cookery class to be held at Donhead. Their teacher 'reported favourably on the work and conduct of the girls'. Eighteen girls attended cookery classes at Charlton Sunday School with a County Council instructress in December 1909 and in 1911 fifteen attended the Charlton Old National School.

In September 1909 the geography lessons of the upper classes were devoted to Europe rather than the British colonies.

The school received equipment and supplies to help them conduct their lessons. Sixteen chairs and four tables for use in the infants' department were received in September 1909. In November requisitions were received from Arnold and Sons of Leeds. Sixty new dual desks were also brought to the school and the old desks sold. During December 1909 the school received six spades, four dutch hoes and four rakes for the gardening class. The needlework was received from Morgan and Co. in October 1910, and the seeds received from Wheeler and Son of Warminster in March 1911. During December 1911 the children were 'employed in overhauling the reading books'. In June 1917 eight chairs and two tables were dispatched for use in the Broomfield Infants' School.

His Majesty's Inspector visited the school and approved the school timetables (as in December 1909). Examinations in the other subjects also took place every quarter; in April 1908 arithmetic was weak in the fifth standard but fair progress was being made. In June 1909 the younger children were making good progress and the older children in the upper standards were showing 'weakness grasping problems of the arithmetic. Mental arithmetic much better'. In December 1909 the Reverend Harris, Congregational Minister of East Knoyle, was asked by the County Council to examine the children in religious knowledge. He later reported that the school was comfortable and warm too. In July 1911 HM Horticultural Instructor inspected the school gardens. There was another inspection in January 1912; it was suggested a fruit garden be added.

In September 1908 the teacher examined several classes to classify the children for their work in the forthcoming year. During March 1918 the term exam was held and 'fair progress has been made in all classes'.

In July 1908 an inspector visited and sent off specimens of the girls' needlework. The 'dowager' Lady Wynford also showed a huge interest in the girls' work. She inspected in on a regular basis, as in February 1909. She must have been impressed on that occasion as the following week she came back and brought a visitor with her! She also gave out prizes which were awarded at least once a year for sewing and knitting. In January 1909 prizes were given out for sewing, knitting and samplers. She mentioned that two prizes were to be given out next year for the 'best darned stockings'! In November of the same year she gave out the prizes again and complimented the girls on their work. Lady Wynford also invited all the 'mixed school girls' to tea in the afternoon of July 1910. She commended them on the excellent work they had done and gave out the prizes. In September 1911 all the scholars and teachers were invited to tea at 4 p.m.

Other pupils did well at their schoolwork and took exams to get scholarship places at other schools. In September 1908 a boy won a scholarship to Shaftesbury Grammar School. Two scholars attended Shaftesbury School for a 'free scholarship examination' in September 1909. One passed. During December 1909 three girls took a two hour exam in domestic subjects to compete for a County Council Scholarship for a one year course in Trowbridge.

At this time children could leave school at fourteen (or sometimes earlier) if they passed the 'total exemption examination'. The majority went to agricultural work.

School holidays were similar to our own, with two weeks at Christmas, one week at Easter, but only one month for the harvest, or summer holidays. Children also got all the bank holiday Mondays off too. There was an exception in June 1916 when the school was closed for three weeks during haymaking. This may well have been due to the lack of manpower at home during the First World War. In fact the children spent time each autumn during 1916-18 collecting horse chestnuts and blackberries for 'Government purposes' to help the war effort. They collected 5 hundredweight (560lbs) of horse chestnuts to be forwarded and collected and 172lbs of blackberries in one afternoon! This was done again for two afternoons, collecting 372.5 lbs and again for one afternoon, collecting 160lbs. The school was also closed for a full day or a half day for certain occasions, such as for the annual Empire Day. The children heard an address by the school chairman on "The British Empire", sang patriotic songs and then they were dismissed for the day. The flag was also saluted.

The school managers' also granted a half day holiday in July 1908 for the Juvenile Odfellow's Fete. The following year it was noted that so many of the school boys belonged to the society that a whole day was given! During July 1909 more than half of the scholar's attended the Congregational Sunday School Treat on Wyn Green; the school was not opened in the afternoon. A holiday was given for the Donhead Hall Park Fete in July 1910 and in June 1911 the school was closed for the 'Coronation Holidays' (of George V). There was a one week holiday 'at His Majesty's Wish'. There was a half day for the Birdbush Sunday School Treat on Wyn Green in July 1912, and in July 1913 there was a day's holiday due to a choir outing. In October 1919 'His Majesty the King, wished all the children to have an entire week's holiday this year'.

The school was also closed for more mundane purposes; a half day was given to prepare the school for use as a polling station in January 1910. In February 1910 there was a half day holiday because three assistant teachers were attending a needlework lecture at Tisbury. The harvest time holidays were extended for another week in September 1910 as the school renovations were not completed in time, and the school was closed again the same month due to military manoeuvres taking place in the vicinity. A man from the County Council Surveyor's Office came to see what repairs were required in March 1912. A half day holiday was always given after examinations in religious knowledge; as in April 1911.

Children also took holidays of their own which were not sanctioned, but they did not seem to do it often at this school, and indeed it only seems to have been for worthwhile purposes! There was a sale of work in aid of Dr Barnardo's Homes at Donhead Hall in July 1908 which many of the children attended. Many were away for haymaking in June 1909, and again in July 1913. Over half the children attended the jumble sale at Charlton House in aid of the Belgian Refugee Fund in July 1915. In July 1919 school attendance was low in the afternoon due to the Young Helper's meeting at Donhead St. Andrew in aid of the 'Barnardo's Houses', although in July 1908 one parent was prosecuted and fined for the irregular attendance of his boy.

Illness was commonplace in the Victorian period, especially amongst children and this continued into the 20th century. In October 1907 there were lots of cases of bad colds and one of scarlet fever. In December 1907 there was one fatal case of diphtheria and more very bad colds. In January 1908 scarlet fever had returned. A teacher was ill and the needlework and gardening lessons could not be taken. In February influenza and colds meant that 98 of 137 pupils attended school; this declined to 79 and then in March there was a further scarlet fever case. In May 1908 attendance was so poor due to colds that the Attendance Officer was called. The Medical Inspector of the County Council visited to look at the children the following month.

Measles arrived in November 1908 and there was chicken pox in January 1909. In March of that year a boy became ill with St. Vitus' Dance and was unfit to attend school. A weighing machine was forwarded to the school by the County Council in April and a notice issued to parents about it. During May there was influenza and one girl injured her spine in an accident - it wasn't known when she'd be able to return to school. During November a girl could not attend school as she was suffering from scalp ringworm. Another girl was absent for a long time in April 1910 with eczema. In May of the same year the Medical Officer came to inspect the children. He 'expressed satisfaction with their cleanliness'.
Influenza appeared to be a problem in January 1911 and in May six cases of two kinds of ringworm had appeared. Parents were warned about giving early and constant treatment; attendance suffered. In November 1913 there were four cases of ringworm, and again in October 1914. One boy broke his right arm by falling from the top of a sand pit in September 1911, and in September 1912 another case of scarlet fever occurred.

There were twenty one cases of mumps in January 1914 and the school was closed for one month by the Medical Officer of Health. During March 1915 a girl had TB and was 'not expected to live very long and therefore cannot attend school' - she was struck off the register. In July 1915 whooping cough cases kept occurring. The school closed early for the Harvest holidays and opened in September but many children were still coughing badly. The teacher wired the County Medical officer and the school was closed for a further week. It was then realised that the epidemic had reached the whole parish and the school was closed until October. German measles arrived in April 1917. As well as in 1917, influenza also occurred in the parish in October 1918 when the school was at first closed for three weeks, then a further week. A teacher became ill in October 1910 when she fell ill with 'acute sciatica'. Later in the month she got rheumatic fever and was taken to Shaftesbury Hospital.

There was a heavy snow storm in January 1912; the following week many children were away with heavy colds. In February 1917 several children were away with broken chilblains, the infants had colds, and a few days later 'no fuel was procurable and no fires lit, and the temperature is 38 degrees. No school was held'. The school was closed the following day for the same reason. The day after that a notice came from the School Medical Officer to close the school due to the prevalent influenza for two weeks. Three days after it reopened it was closed again by a snow storm! This goes to show that the weather also plays an important part in the children's health and their ability to attend school.

There was a very wet week which caused low attendance in October 1907, and again in November the wet weather meant that many infants did not attend school. In March 1908 and 1913 snow storms closed the school. During July 1908 pouring rain prevented afternoon attendance. There was stormy weather in December 1908 and torrential rain and flooding for one week in October 1909 with many children away. One entry in December 1909 reads 'Very stormy morning, pouring rain, blocked roads has caused the absence of many children. Only 55 present out of a total of 149. Wet children sent home'. The entry was very similar for December 1911 when the children were sent home, 'wet through' and the roads were very slippy (slippery). In March 1910 the ground in the school gardens could not be dug due to the effects of the wet weather. In June 1910 there were several thunderstorms and torrential rain, and in January 1918 snow closed the school for two days.

In April 1910 the Attendance Officer visited to look at the registers. He said the school was well ventilated and the children orderly and attentive.

The number of children attending the school at Ludwell rose to 139 in 1907. There were 110 on the books in January 1915. Children from the Donhead St. Mary School were transferred to Ludwell when their school closed in 1922, but numbers fell to 73 in 1938. In 1955 there were 72 pupils attending this county school. Three teachers taught 45 pupils there in 1985. By 1999 the school had become known as the Ludwell County First School, and 42 children attended, from both Wiltshire and Dorset. Since the return to the two tier system of primary and secondary education in this part of Wiltshire the school has been renamed Ludwell Community Primary School. In 2008 there were 61 children attending the school.
Web Site : http://www.ludwell.wilts.sch.uk

Note: School Still Open - Current Details:

Telephone No.01747 828519
Age Range4 to 11
District Council Area
Special Facilities AvailableNo
Web Sitewww.ludwell.wilts.sch.uk

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Ludwell Community Primary School, Donhead St. Mary
Ludwell Community Primary School, Donhead St. MaryImage Date: 2009
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
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Ludwell Community Primary School, Donhead St. Mary
Ludwell Community Primary School, Donhead St. MaryImage Date: 2009
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
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