Page forty

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII

Return to History

“Well, from various causes, and through various influences, a partial transformation has been brought about, and the Ayton of to-day is not that exactly of fifty years ago. So also, as regards the institution, in which our chief interest just now centres, this period has been one of growth and expanding influence.

”Isaac Sharp, in his address at the general meeting of 1890, refers to the great interest taken in the school by Thomas Richardson, Joseph Pease, Edward Pease, and others. Of these Thomas Richardson was the most prominent. Indeed, one almost regarded him as its parent. Previous to Cleveland Lodge being built he frequently came and made the school his abode, sometimes for a few days and at other times for a few weeks, so that the inmates saw a good deal of him, and knew him well. The geniality and urbanity of his manners made his presence among us pleasant, and, I doubt not, many who were then at the school will remember his remarks and be aide to relate many anecdotes of this benevolent man and benefactor of the institution.

”After he came to reside at Cleveland Lodge, with his niece Caroline Richardson, and Priscilla Brown, he frequently invited the governess, or housekeeper to tea or sometimes, on a first day, to dinner. These occasions were very enjoyable, and agreeably diversified the monotony of one’s life. Little parties of the girls were now and again asked up to his house. He displayed great interest in many of the girls and their training in domestic matters, especially in the Cumberland girls. About this time Mrs. Ellis published her Women of England,’ as also her Daughters of England,’ which seemed to arouse the spirit of domesticity throughout the country in opposition to that of fine ladyism then somewhat in vogue.

“Of those Friends who interested themselves in the purely domestic concerns of the school, and the girls generally, I may mention Anna Pease, of Feethams, Sophia Pease, Eliza Barclay, Anne Richardson, of Newcastle, &c.

“The first of these frequently visited the school and remained a few days, or a week occasionally. This loveable and admirable woman was an earnest educationist. She had at Feethams a large infant school, and also a school for girls under her own management, and had been in early life associated with her uncle, William Allen, in his educational undertakings. Botany, and natural science were favourite pursuits with her, in which she took great pleasure. Plain needlework has always been an art carefully cultivated in most of the Friends’ Public Schools. At the time I am writing about, linen buttons had not been introduced, and it just occurs to my mind how she showed the girls to make them neatly. Thread buttons were then in use, a ring was, as it seems now to me, curiously covered with threads all meeting in the centre. A small square of fine linen was cut out a little larger than the button itself. Then placing it in the square, with a needle and thread the opposite sides of the straight edges were drawn together, then the corners, and with another, or without another stitch a nice durable button was formed.

”Sophia Pease was another kind and deeply interested friend of the school. In connection with her, I may say that quills only were used for pens a few years before this time. Steel pens were now, however, beginning to come into use. I suppose it must have been discussed in committee as to their being intro­duced instead of the quill. Permission, however, was granted that the steel might supersede the quill, but it was desired that each scholar before leaving school should be taught the art of making a pen out of a quill. How carefully this request was attended to I have no recollection, only I presume when the necessity ceased to make these as well as to mend, the implement required to perform the operation would be found either out of order or wanting altogether.

“Eliza Barclay was another valued friend of the institution, who occasionally came and remained a few days together; she was interested in the moral and religious instruction of the girls. We esteemed and valued her kindness and helpfulness.

“Anna Church Backhouse was another who frequently came, but chiefly on committee days, and there was about her something indescribably lovely and attractive.

“I remember Joseph John Gurney and his wife Eliza Gurney paying us a visit. After questioning the girls on scriptural and other subjects, Eliza Gurney, by way of giving the girls an amusing puzzle, asked who could spell the name Maher-shal al-hash-baz.

“Anne Richardson, of Newcastle, was kindly helpful and interested in the well-being of the school, Other kind helpers of the institution in those its youthful days might be spoken of; only there is danger of wearying the reader.

“The labours of those valued and admirable women, and that of their fellow workers, has had a far-reaching and beneficial influence, and their memory is blest.

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