I was absolutely convinced that I had previously shared with you the tale of the bluecoats following our fascinating walk beside the River Thames, however searching back through my walk posts it seems I was distracted by Captain Kidd, the despicable Judge Jefferys and a super yacht! Still it means I get to tell the tale today.

The school is located on Scandrett Street, just off Wapping High Street, in east London and was founded in the late 17th century by St John’s Church. London clergy and layman at the time were actively encouraging parishes to provide education for paupers and orphans, you can read more about some of the societies here.

Before you get too impressed by the fact both boys and girls were admitted to this one; the children were segregated, there were always fewer places for girls and the teaching was quite different. Teaching for boys focused on religious reading and writing, and also practical skills to enable them to seek apprenticeships. Girls, on the other hand, received far less academic teaching as the emphasis for them was on sewing and spinning, and being trained for domestic service.

The statutes highlight how as with many charity schools there was a uniform for both boys and girls attending the school, a way of distinguishing them from their peers. I haven’t been able to find out when the school closed, but as these London Picture Archive photographs show it was derelict for at least 30 years in the 20th century. These days it looks rather splendid, as thankfully it was saved rather than knocked down. There was a complete refurbishment in the late 1990s, and the building was transformed into two homes. One – not the one with the golden retriever looking out – is currently for sale. They are looking for offers in excess of £2.5 million for three bedrooms of which two are in the basement and there’s no toilet on ground floor or 1st floor. You have to go to basement or second floor for that. You’d think for £2.5 million you would get more! Check out the brochure.

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  1. My 4-greats-grandfather grew up near London and had several jobs as a kid, including sheep herder and working in a mine. He was always interested in learning, however, and was self-taught. In doing research about him, I found out about the Sunday School movement – your post reminds me of this. The kids who worked in mines and other places generally worked Monday through Saturday. Their only day off was Sunday and apparently many got into mischief. In order to give them something to occupy their Sundays, Sunday School was invented. In Sunday School they learned how to read and write, all using the Bible as their textbook. My 4-greats-grandpa attended one of these schools and apparently caught the attention of a visitor who became his benefactor. This benefactor paid the boy’s tuition to go to a school that trained ministers for the Independent Church (who later became known as Congregationalists). By this time, my ancestor was a young man, and although he had tried to learn to read and write with any materials he could get his hands on, he was somewhat embarrassed at starting formal school in his early 20s, and only barely being able to write his name! He trained for the ministry and was ordained in the Independent Church. He married and had a family, but became dissatisfied with the state of politics and social norms in England at that time, so he and his family emigrated to the United States. His son became somewhat well known as a Presbyterian preacher and abolitionist in the 1860s, in southern Ohio, where abolitionists were controversial, seeing as Ohio bordered a slave state, Kentucky, to the south. There was a split in the Presbyterian Church at the time, between pro-slavery and anti-slavery congregations, as well as over other church-related issues, and he purposely went to preach at a pro-slavery congregation, hoping to show them that God and the Bible were against slavery. He seemed to enjoy controversy and became a prolific speaker in the Cincinnati area.

    I started writing a book about these ancestors down to my own grandmother, but put it aside and got busy with other things. I may have to take a hiatus from blogging to start working on it again!

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      1. PS meant to add if you want any assistance with researching English records, including newspapers let me know. I can access the genealogical sites

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  2. Well, we’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go for equality. I thought of Bright Future too, but I haven’t come up with the right image. Still trying to figure it out. After losing my SD card on Wednesday, my brain is fried because I’m beside myself. Lost 1500-2000 images. Distraught is a better description. I’ll brightly get out of this funk in a few days. 🙂

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      1. Yeah, thank you Becky! I’m still reeling over it, but I got two new SD cards yesterday. It’s not even about that….it’s all my photos and memories. Now they are just memories! I won’t be doing that again…I can tell ya! 🙂

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