|Crowborough and District Historical Society||
|St John's School by John D. Sharp published December 1992|
|original publication by West Crowborough Society|
The school at St. John's was opened in 1840, with accommodation tor 92 children. During the next 30 years the number of pupils increased and in 1875 it had to be enlarged, Although there is not much documented history of the school, the early log books yield much interesting information. It is of particular interest to read the reasons for pupils' absence; 'Hop-picking', 'assisting parents getting in the potatoes', 'gathering acorns', 'carrying garlands' (May Day). Other occupations included 'Hay-making' and 'Swede Hoeing'. There are mentions of 'Dissenters' Tea Party(!)' and 'Bark-Scraping'. It may be assumed that this latter refers to Hop-pole shaving, Of course, in those days illness took a heavy toil; in 1876 during an outbreak of 'the Fever' three pupils are reported to have died on April 28, We also read that Alice Crattal, aged 10 has 'gone to service'; (she returned to school on October 2). In 1880 it, is recorded that. Reuben Porter has 'gone to work' - age 8 years.
1881 began with very severe weather and many children were unable to reach the school. On January 24 roost children were absent - attending Mrs. DeLannoy's soup kitchen. Later that year "Mr Turner had his head severely cut by a stone, thrown by a lad who doesn't attend school." A Policeman administered six stripes with a birch rod!! The winter of 1880/81 also saw severe and prolonged snowstorms. On Nov, 27 not one child turned up at school and on March 10 the roads were completely blocked. The Master reached school with difficulty, and found only one boy had braved the storm - he lived nearby,
On December 12 1882 an awful tragedy occurred; little Alice Hemsley, aged 7 was warming herself by the classroom fire shortly after 1pm, when her clothes caught fire. Despite efforts to save her, she died the following day. Her funeral took place on the following Sunday; her little headstone can be seen on the north side of the church-yard, not far from the west door, We may read its poignant inscription "Thy Will be done". For many years the grave was almost hidden with shrubs, but the area has now been cleared.
Coming a bit more up-to-date, on May 25, 1910 we read that 66 Senior pupils were entertained in the New Hail with 'Living Pictures', illustrating scenes in the life of King Edward VII and his funeral procession.