St Nicholas C of E Cottesmore

School Log

We are very lucky that St Nicholas school has copies of the school logbooks dating back to the middle of the 19th century. Every day the head teacher would make an entry which has provided us with a picture of school life for over 150 years and how it interacted with the social and economic life of the village.

Most of the entries relate to what was taught that day which invariably included scripture lessons and hardly a week goes by without a visit from the local rector. However the more interesting entries relate to the children, who they were, their illnesses and their need to work on the farms.

Attendance at school seemed more variable with numerous absences for illnesses from ring worm to pneumonia. The weather was a frequent reason for non-attendance particularly for those who came in from Barrow. When there was heavy rain or snow 5 or 6 children would not turn up and in very bad snowfalls the school would close down sometimes for a whole week.

Other interesting entries relate to frequent visits by the school inspector, whose main interest appeared to be the attendance record. Other frequent visitors included the doctor and the nurse and often a few children would have been sent home for having some contagious disease or 'nits'.

Few of the teachers are mentioned which is a pity, with one exception a, Mrs Rimington who appeared to fall fowl of minor illnesses during the term. There was also the occasional mention of exams and the results which gave an idea of the curriculum, which seemed quite narrow with the emphasis on the scriptures, spelling maths and geography.

Entries from the Logbooks

Aug 12 1863 Harriet and Louise Hutchings, Emma Watkin and John Hutchins absent “gleaning”. Broke up for ‘Harvest holidays’.
Sep 21 1863: Returned after five week ‘Harvest holiday’. Received from Rectory the following school material:- 1 doz bibles, 1doz Hard books, 2 doz second books, 1copy Barnard Smith’s “School Arithmetic”, 4 class registers, 2 doz slates 2 bottles and 1 box of prepared chalk.
Sep 22 1863: Cautioned Emma Watkin against ‘copying’
Oct 2 1863: Several children still absent “gleaning”.
March 22 1865: John Christian absent scaring birds.
March 24 1865: Henry Christian absent all week, ill. Several children absent too, “scaring birds”
April 12 1865: Altogether there are about 15 children absent, 2 from illness the rest are at field work.
July31 1865: Half holiday Mr Stuart (rector) gave the children their annual treat. Mr Noel exhibited his magic lantern in the evening, which the children enjoyed very much.
April 23 1868: Gave the 1st class leave of absence this afternoon to witness the review of cavalry in Burley Park.
April 27 1868: Louisa Hutchings absent ‘cowkeeping’, J Hollis also absent to assist his brother at home.
March 15-17: The Competitive Examinations commenced to-day.  Subjects of the examination being Scripture History, Scripture Geography, St Mark’s Gospel, Acts of the Apostles,  Ch. I to VII inclusive, the Prayer Book, and the Catechism. Number of candidates 16, 8 over 12, 8 under. Continued with Eng. History, Geography, and English Grammar also Dictation and Mathematics.
March 22 1871: On Thursday afternoon a half holiday was given, the children going to Exton to a treat given by the Earl of Gainsborough  to celebrate  the majesty of Lord Viscount Campden ( his son?)

Inspectors Report May 1872

Notwithstanding serious drawbacks in the matter of ventilation and desks Mr Cattell carries on the school with unusual vigour and excellent results. The addition of shillings in an improvement. It is proposed to amend faults of the introduction of air from without, beneath the stove so as to substitutes an upward current of warm air in cold weather for the alternative of cold down drafts or unwelcome stagnation and it maybe well to replace some of the desks. It appears from the balance sheet that the Rector bears, unaided by subscribers, the burden of maintaining the school. As he can at any time decline to continue his magnificence and throw the burden on the ratepayer, who are now bound by the new law to support efficient schools, the latter may fairly be called upon to improve the present room or( which would be far better) to erect a new schoolroom altogether. The master complains of the unhealthiness of the present room and feels on his account that he must look out for employment elsewhere. The needlework is not on par with the excellence of the other work.

A G Stuart Inspector

Inspectors Report 1880

Mixed School :- as before the discipline and attainment of the children are excellent, and their work reflects the highest praise on Mr Cattell’s  management of the School. The Grammar and Geography were as usual most intelligently known, and the girls needlework was good.

Mr Thomas Cattell certificated Teacher of the 1st class ( joined as a pupil teacher)

A G Stuart  Inspector

Oct 29 1886: Several children still absent who might be at school. Received instruction from Local Attendance Area Officer to report the worst cases to Committee.
Nov 5 1886: Forwarded Refuses of Absentees to Local Attendance Officer, who therefore served the Parents of two of the worst cases with a ‘Caution’. One of the delinquents in consequence came to school this week regularly.


Logbook 1910 – 1921

It is interesting to note the difference to the earlier period and how the school reacted to the Great War. In general there seemed to be less reference to the children staying away to help on the farms although it still occurred. There are references to the War, but they are less frequent than might have imagined. Also of interest was the large number of influenza cases in 1919. Did this reflect the pandemic that crossed the world in that year causing millions of deaths, or was it a coincidence. The weather still looms large in the attendance rate and in one year there was snow on the ground right through to May.

Jan.6 1912: Re opened the school after five weeks holiday. Re-admitted Gwendoline Berridge and admitted Robert Bond aged four years. Edith Nicholson has been appointed Monitress and commenced duty today.
Jan. 13 1912 There are only 13 children present today on account of the snowstorm. Only the village children are able to come.
Nov 10 1913: Dr Rolleston came in at 2 pm to examine some children so lessons were discontinued for ¾ hour. Nellie Parker and Elizabeth Munford were excluded for ten days. Commenced toothbrush drill, 17 children have brought ½ penny each  for toothbrush.
Jan 29 1915: The attendance has been very poor this week as many of the children have influenza.
Feb. 23 1915 Received a Doctor’s Certificate for Gwendoline Berridge stating that she must be exempt from school for two months owing to epileptic fits.
March 22 1915 As the school room is required for confirmation candidates at 10:30, there will be no Scripture lesson and registers will be closed at 9:00 am.
May 10 1915 All the children pox (chicken) cases (10) better and returned to school. All present except Bertie Wilson who is not well.
May21 1915 Each child has brought a penny for Empire day to assist in providing comforts for soldiers

In July nearly all the school is absent with measles and various feverous colds.

Oct 26 1915 Mrs Walker came to ask if Rosetta might go home to drive with her sailor brother to the Station. Have withdrawn her mark.


For much of February and March 1916 there is heavy snow so attendance is very poor, often in single figures and sometimes none at all.

May 24 1916 Empire Day – The children assembled at 9:am – had an Empire Map given them and saw which lands composed our Empire – sang songs about sailors, and soldiers and saluted the flag – Recitation about the union Jack – Sang God Save the King and were granted the remainder of the day as a holiday.
July 13 1916 The last lesson was interrupted by an aeroplane passing over the school. The children went out to see it and as it came down in an adjoining field we all went to see it.
Jan 10 1917 Received notice from Dr Rolleston to close the school for three weeks on account of epidemic of mumps.
May 24 1917 Empire Day – Assembled as usual –had lessons, songs recitations, and a game connected with Empire – drew a Union Jack Three cheers for the King; Soldiers, sailors, Airmen
Aug. 16 1917 Ronald Mathews returned after two weks exclusion for Impertigo. Lady Knox has kindly sent a nice collection of toys for school use.
Oct. 15 1917 At the request of the Education Committee the school is closed this afternoon to permit children to gather blackberries for army use.  (91/2 lbs. were collected 45lbs for both schools)
May 14 1918 Mr Phillips, Organising Secretary to the Rutland War Savings Committee came to see the books etc and how the Scheme was worked. The children’s contribution towards the Overseas Tobacco fund is completed instead of on Empire day which comes in the holidays. 6/- has been collected.
Sep 23 1918  Re-opened school after the Harvest holidyas 31 present. As the weather has been unsettled during the holidays, the harvest is not quite in so several children have stayed from school to glean.
Nov 12 1918 Am leaving school fo 20 minutes this morning to go to a Thanksgiving Communion for peace.
March 3 1919 Received notice from the school Medical Officer this morning to close the school from March 1st to March8th. Only one child arrived. (influenza)
Jan 1920 Many cases of pleurisy during this month. Children are invited to the Post Office for tea.
Dec 17 1920 Omitting Scripture lesson and beginning secular work in order to be ready for a practise of songs and games from 2;30 to 4;30. Held a little entertainment of songs and games to which most of the mothers of the village attended. Mrs Noel gave each child a toy, bog of sweets an orange and cakes. Mrs Ellwood sent each a bag of sweets and Mrs Collard each a xmas stocking and Mrs Bond brought each a packet of sweets an orange and a book.
March 23 1921 E M Snowdon resigns school