The Green Coat School Log Books
The first logbook of the school starts on 1 June 1863, at the time when the keeping of such books became obligatory. From these books we can get some idea of the life of the times, in and out of the school, and of the characters of the three men who were masters in turn during the period.
John William Grove appears as an earnest, conscientious man, firm but with a real concern for the boys in his charge. He seems to have had the full confidence of the Trustees and was on good terms with the Vicar of All Saints’ Church, Rev. J. W. Birch, and with his curate, Rev. T. Lingley, who later became Vicar in 1879. It was during Mr Grove’s mastership that the moves between 1864 and 1868 took place.
Truancy was a problem to Mr Grove (and to those who followed him).
’17th June 1863. Six boys away to go to Hatfield Races, an .irregularity unparalleled in ·my mastership of the school’.
’18th June 1863. Punished Page, Akers, Foster, J. Wren, Savage and Akers for above. All with the exception of J. Wren went with Father, Mother or Sister’.
J. Wren offended on several other occasions, and was eventually taken away by his father to go into employment. Mr Grove was most condemnatory of parents encouraging or condoning truancy, and would send for offenders to reprimand them.
On one point Mr Grove was criticised, and that was his practice of taking boys ‘on his own account’ •’ Mr Grove refers to these boys as ‘Day Boys’, and they were educated in the school on payment by parents.
’26th June 1863. Sent all the Day Boys away except 6 by direction of the Trustees. All who were able – the majority – were willing to increase their fees greatly rather than have them leave’.
H.M.I. also criticised this practice, referring to it as ‘a school within a school’. However, Mr Grove appears to have continued with his private pupils, as there is an entry, upon his retirement, of ‘Day Boys’ leaving and some going to the Cowper School.
Smallpox was a matter of concern:-
’11th October 1864. A gentleman from the Lords of the Privy Council Called and examined the boys’ arms to see the number not vaccinated – found 5 out of 43.’
6th January 1868. Recommenced after the Xmas holidays. Only 34 present owing to the prevalence of small pox. 11 either have it or it is in their families – 1 has inflammation and the rest are afraid to send them’.
‘3rd February 1868. Barclay’s father died last night of small pox.’
‘8th April 1868. One of my boys – Crewe – lost his mother by the small pox’.
There are a number of references to Mr Grove keeping the monitors after school, to give them extra lessons so that they could help him, e.g.:
’19th September 1868. Kept the monitors for a lesson of Geography with the Globe’.
A further selection of entries follows:-
15.6.63. Annual inspection by H.M.I. Rev. C.J. Robinson 8. Half holiday.
13.1.64 A, Warham drowned last night. Gave a special Scripture lesson on Preparation for Death.
29.7.64 Thody absent all week – has the ‘Blister pock’.
5.8.64 Broke up for the Harvest Holidays.
12.9.64 Recommenced school.
1.12.64 On Friday last about 2 a.m. a fire broke out which destroyed part of Palmer’s Brewhouse in Back Street19 and one side of Providence Court. Mansfield lost all his clothes except a shirt, waistcoat and a pair of breeches. Sent him some clothes on Sunday morning before school and the boys commenced a subscription on Sunday afternoon to replace his best shoes.
9.12.64. Horn Beard and Bulley seem at last to take interest in their writing and show a desire to get on.
20.6.65. Half holiday. A cricket match with Christ Church, Ware. Our eleven victorious.
11.1.66. Last night exhibited Dissolving Views to the boys of Cowper and Green. Proceeds to be given to the Schoolmasters’ and Schoolmistresses’ Benevolent Trust. 9
30.10.67. Gave the boys ½ holiday – had promised them one in honour of their good report, and as there is a circus in the town they begged it today•
17.3.68. Men brought the desks from the old school. Half holiday at the suggestion of the Vicar – Sanger’s Circus in the town.
8.4.68. A. Harvey an old Green Boy called – is a Grocer.
7.9.68. Very bad attendance in the afternoon, a circus being in the town.
10.9.68. Holiday. I took 20 boys to the London Zoological Gardens. Started at 7.20 a.m., returned 9 p.m. The boys defrayed their expenses., having paid in since January last.
11.9.68. Began school at 9.30 a.m.
30.10.68. Page’s father dropped dead last night. Gave a lesson from Isaiah XI, 6 – 8. 10
2.12.68. Found a little boy had been smoking a Woodbine – punished three others to whom he had given some and spoke to all the boys upon the injurious effects of smoking.
7,12.68. Dictation match between 6 boys of the Cowper School and 6 of this – half the piece given out by Mr Blackwell and half by me. The result- Cowper School victors on average.
21.12.68. Return dictation match – Our boys victors.
7.4.69. Trustees accepted my resignation with great regret. ‘I have always performed my duties to the entire satisfaction of the Trustees’.
16.4.69. My boys on the opening of the school, presented me with a very pretty tankard and an address. The boys stopped till 1 o’clock: and I addressed them and wished them ‘Goodbye’. Some were affected to tears.
The Hertfordshire Mercury reported:-
‘The Green Coat School loses an excellent Master by Mr Grove’s promotion, but the town will probably suffer most by losing his services in the evening classes established by him which were of great assistance to young persons, and did good service in preparing students for the examination of the Society of Arts. Mr Grove has been in Hertford for 13 years, and has won the esteem of all who knew him as a laborious and conscientious teacher’. 11
On Mr Grove’s departure, Mr Blackwell, Master of the Cowper School took charge pending the appointment of a successor.
An entry by Mr Blackwell reads:-
29.5.69. Caused Green Coat School to be prepared for a meeting tomorrow when a handsome clock will be presented to Mr Grove by members and friends of the Herts Educational Union in recognition of his valuable services. 12
Andreas Loose took charge of the school on 24 June 1869. The entry in the log book in 1871, that the issue of his certificate was suspended until the state of the school improved, suggests that he was still on probation, in fact that this was his first post. He appears to have been impulsive, to have acted at times without thought of the consequences, but, at the same time, he was hard-working and very keen to make a success of his job.
He found immediate problems with truancy and other misdemeanours, to which he responded with some severity.
25.6.69. I find the discipline in a deplorable condition. I was compelled to make an example of Wm. Taylor. I showed them the need of implicit obedience in kind but authoritative words.
26.6.69. I was forced to inflict severe punishment on Wm. Beard for bad behaviour in Church on Sunday morning and absenting himself in the afternoon.
5.7.69. Attendance very small this afternoon owing to the ‘Cherry Fair’.
7.7.69. James Taylor has been truanting since Thursday, July 1st.
9.7.69. Mr Taylor brought his son to school this morning and desired me to punish him. I kept him without his dinner and at night he promised an amendment.
27.7,70. Punished F. Beard. for truanting; gave him bread and water and made him hold a paper with ‘Truant’ on it.
17.7.72. Edward Marshall absent without leave in the morning, went to see his mother in the Infirmary. Punished him by keeping him 3 hours, 4 till 7 p.m.
Further problems related to the clothes supplied to the boys:-
8.3.70. Punished H. Hart for wearing his Sunday trousers and boots.
2.6.70. Punished two boys (Pateman and Foster) for wearing Sunday trousers without leave.
14.3.71. Had information yesterday after school from Miss Stoddard that Ellis’ parents are constantly in the habit of pledging his Sunday trousers and shoes – sent him home after them – after a delay of more than an hour he brought them. Miss Stoddard again very kindly came up to tell me that the delay was occasioned by his mother having to borrow money to redeem the things – at the same time she most vehemently denied having pledged them either in this instance or at any other time. Under the circumstances I deemed it advisable to wait upon the pawnbroker of the town, who afforded the necessary information 1st. Mrs Ellis pledged the articles in question and also redeemed them yesterday. 2ndly. She has done so before. This affair elucidates the mystery of the boy Ellis’ frequent illness ‘only on Sunday’, but I’ve notes to testify it. Examined the boy, he denies all knowledge of it.
Not all Mr Loose’s troubles were due to misbehaviour of pupils.
Annual visits by H.M.I. resulted in criticisms of school standards:-
June 1870. ‘Considering the sma11 attendance, I hope the Master will raise the efficiency of this school. Its condition is better than last year, but yet capable of much improvement of tone, order and acquirements’.
June 1871. ‘The order and attainments are fair but a school so exceptionally situated ought to be forwarder. The handwriting and dictation exhibit considerable weakness.
The issue of Mr Loose’s certificate is suspended till the state of the school is improved’.
Mr Loose thought the report unjust, and showed samples of the handwriting to Philip Longmore, who thought them satisfactory. This he reported fully in the log book; then later, at the side of the entry, wrote a complete withdrawal of his comments with an apology: he seems to have realised that his implied criticism of H.M.I. was unwise.
The report for 1872 concludes ‘Mr Loose will shortly receive his certificate’.
In 1872, Mr Loose’s relations with Rev. Thomas Lingley became strained.
Mr Loose wrote in February that Rev. Lingley had requested him not to sing at two sacred concerts at Great Amwell during Lent. Later in the year, Lingley sent for the log book, and having added written comments to Mr Loose’s February entry, further wrote:-
May 1st. ‘The Rev. T. Lingley and Rev. C.H. Hodges consider the moral tone of the Green Coat School very unsatisfactory. The conduct of the boys especially on Sundays on leaving the Church, is in general very unseemly and disorderly. Immediately after Divine Service on Sunday last some of the boys were seen to strike no less than 6 lucifer matches on several tombstones and eventually to light a pipe. Complaints of unruly conduct of the boys have frequently been made by the inhabitants of the Parish.
Mr Lingley hopes for the future that the Master will not only attend Church with the boys but also see them well out of the Churchyard before leaving them. Mr Hodges reports that the boys are sadly deficient in the knowledge of the Scripture ‘. (13)
Mr Loose wrote at some length in the log book in his own defence, refuting the charge of lack of supervision on his part. He also noted the ‘interference’ by Mr Lingley with his February entry. However, he had second thoughts about the wisdom of his words, and again wrote a withdrawal and apology. The last words in this dispute came from H.M.I. in his report on the 1872 inspection:-
‘The attention of the Trustees and the Master is necessary to Art. 36 – 9 of the Code by which entries in the log book are restricted to the Principal Teacher except on receipt of the Annual Report, and are confined to subjects immediately belonging to the school’.
Despite his difficulties, Mr Loose prepared a number of boys for examinations:-
7.2.70, Commenced work with boys for the Society of Arts examinations, 8 for Arithmetic, G. Brown History, A.G. Savage, T. Bulley, L.G. Beard, Graves,
W. Marshall Scripture, Squires and Sapsed History.
16.11.70. Received the result of the March examinations of the Hertford Local Board. G.C. Brown, Higher Grad ,Scripture Prize, Savage, Bulley, Marshall, Sapsed, Squires lower grade certificates – paper Arithmetic.
24.11.70. The boys received their awards at the Shire Hall.
14.3.71, Ten boys went to the Grammar School at 7 o’clock to be examined in Arithmetic by the Local Board of the Society of Arts.
On the following two evenings, boys went for Geography and Scripture examinations. On 8 November, a list of successful candidates is recorded with these figures: average for 3 subjects, Arithmetic, Scripture, Geography – 185.8. Average for Hertford – 164.
Mr Loose records that he, too, took examinations:-
5.5.71, Had boys in school half an hour earlier in order to allow the Master to go to South Kensington to sit for Science Certificate – Animal Physiology.
18.5.71, (Ascension Day). Master sat for Science Certificate – Vegetable Physiology.
A further selection of entries follows:-
1.11.69 An itinerant potter showed the boys the process of moulding his wares for a small charge (½d each). I supplemented the information by a lesson afterwards.
24.1.70. No registers this afternoon. I took the school to Juvenile Missionary meeting in Abel Smith School; Mr Kirby gave reminiscences of Rupert’s Land, boys highly delighted,
21.2.70. Boys went at 3.30 to Cowper School to see model of Giant’s Causeway.
27.4.70. Mr Stokes, churchwarden of St Andrew’s came for boys to walk the boundary of that parish – referred him to p. Longmore Esq.
28.4.70. 5 boys on leave to go with Mr Stokes.
17.5,70. Let the boys out 20 minutes in the afternoon to see H-.R.H. the Prince of Wales pass to Balls Hall.
Boys out earlier, took them to Cowper School to a lecture on Ventriloquism by Professor Overton.
4.8.70. Boys home 11.15. Reassembled 2 for their annual treat in Balls Park. Afterwards broke up for annual Harvest Holiday Aug ,5 – Sept.5,
5,9.70. Special lesson on Preparation for Death. Abraham Squires one of my most promising boys, was buried last Saturday. I and 12 of the boys followed and sang his favourite hymn ‘Abide with me’ over the grave.
9.12.70. A deep fall of snow this morning. Mrs Gear brought over a horsewhip to one of the boys for snowballing her little girl. Enquired into the matter and punished the delinquent.
14.3.71. E. Waller taken off – boy to Dr Evans.
8..5. 71. Jas Jos Parker taken off – errand boy at Mr G. Hawkes.
25.5.71. · Had boys in 8..50 dismissed them 11.10 and gave them until 2.5. on purpose to see the Annual Inspection of the Herts Militia.
An entry for 1 July 1870 is a reminder of the importance of that year in the history of education in this country:-
‘The annual meeting of the ‘Herts Educational Union’ was held in this school. Rev. T.Woodward M.A. presided. All the members (including Mr J. Grove) were present together with many others belonging to the scholastic profession. Resolutions in favour of the Government Bill and 1ini – fu111,j ty of inspection were 11na.nimously passed. The meeting was a very harmonious and pleasant one.’
The effect of the Element Education Act of 1870 on the Green Coat School is shown in an extract from the report by H.M.I. for 1872:-
‘I am directed to enquire whether for the future the school will be conducted as a Public Elementary School (Article 6). If not, it will be removed from the list of schools under inspection’.
The Act was, perhaps, the main factor which led to the ultimate closing of the school, more than twenty years later.
4.8.73. Sent in my resignation as Master of this School. Attended meeting of the Trustees when the following resolution was entered in the minute book:-
‘The Trustees accept Mr Loose’s resignation with regret as he has given them every satisfaction’.
James Flack took charge of the school from Mr Loose on 26 September 1873. Mr Flack, in view of his previous appointment, must have been experienced enough to run the Green Coat School efficiently, which he appears to have done for many years. His falling off in the final few years must have been rightly due to the knowledge that the school was ‘dying under him’. At the meeting of the Trustees which confirmed his appointment, he was granted use of the schoolroom for Night School for four evenings a week. The minutes of this meeting stipulated that the Night School was to be for: boys 14 to 20 and men and that the charge should not be more than 4d. per week.·
As the school did not function as a public elementary school, inspections by H.M.I. were not carried out:-
27.6.74. Saw H.M.I. Rev. J.R. Robinson at Girls’ School relative to examining the school. Said ‘The Department had quite ignored the school and removed it from the list of Government Schools’.
In some later years, Mr Flack reported that the school was inspected on behalf of the Trustees by Rev. C.J. Richardson arid later by Rev. J.T. Bell, Head Master of Christ’s Hospital. Later still H.M. Inspectors of Schools resumed visits and in 1889 one reported the school to be ‘in an efficient condition’.
The question of taking private pupils, discontinued in Mr Loose’s time, was again raised. In October 1874 Mr Flack was granted £5 in lieu of taking them, but in July 1875 the Trustees agreed to allow him to take up to twelve such pupils. When school reopened after the Harvest Holidays in September that year nine private pupils were admitted.
On a number of occasions between 1875 and 1889, Mr Flack took the boys out for a day during their Harvest Holiday. Among the places visited were Hunstanton (three times), Hastings (twice) and Brighton.
In May 1874 there is the first mention of the boys attending St Andrew’s Church. This would have been shortly after the main rebuilding but before the completion of the tower and spire.
More entries from the log book:-
22.10.74. Constable came to the school to warn boys about ‘Nutting and trundling hoops in the street’. Punished 4 boys for nutting in Balls Park.
28.11,74. Holiday. Today the Prince and Princess of Wales passed through Hertford.
1. 12.74. Attended meeting at Shire Hall. Distribution of prizes and certificates by A.J. Balfour Esq. 14
7. 1. 75. The Trustees kindly paid for all the boys to attend Corn Exchange to see Magic Lanthorn by Mr Redman, London. Subject – Livingstone’s Travels.
8 .11. 75. Parker threw a stone at a horse in Fore Street, which reared and threw Skeggs ( who was holding it) violently to the ground, badly bruising his face and arm. Punished Parker.
7, 7, 76. Bank holiday. Gave ½ holiday and accompanied major part of boys to the Heath to compete in a friendly game of cricket. Beaten by 100. 15
17.7, 76. Took the boys to the Zoological Gardens, Regents Park in the morning and to M. Tussaud’s in the afternoon. Enjoyed the trip immensely.
9, 4. 77, E. Beck’s father having died, he and his sister obliged to go into the Union House.20
13.4. 77, Jasper Gripper to nominate a boy in Beck’s place.
23.6. 77. M.S. Longmore Esq. came and gave me 100 tickets for the ‘Bath’ 21 at 1d each, the boys to pay half.
27.6. 77, Took 18 boys to the Bath.
5.9.78. Dr J. Evans visited the school. J. Harwood reported by him ‘For flinging his cap before a horse on which a Gentleman was riding in the Ware Road and nearly causing a serious accident’.
9. 9. 78. Punished Harwood.
12. 9. 78. Some people going past the school at 12.30 threw some coppers for the boys to scramble for, Ebbs getting his shoulder dislocated. Gone to the Infirmary.
4.11.79. Myer’s Circus visited the town. Gave the boys ¼ hour extra time to see the procession
10.11.79. Mr R. Cocks elected Mayor of Hertford for the second time, he being also an old Green Boy and A Trustee of the School since 1866.
1. 4. 80. School room used as a Polling Station for the election of the Borough Member, A.J. Balfour Con. elected 164 majority. Mr Bowen Liberal 400 votes. (1st by ballot). 16
15.10.80. Ginnell’s Circus in the town today. Very few boys at school.
23, 5,81. ‘Court Minstrels’ visited the town and induced three boys, Ebbs, Shadbolt and Harwood, to remain from school to parade the streets etc. by promising them a free ticket of admission each. Punished the boys and wrote to the papers.
1. 10.83. Herbert Winch (an old pupil) called – ‘Footman Russian Embassy’
21. 6.87. ‘The Queen’s Jubilee’. Attended Church with the boys 10.30. Joined procession through the town to Hartham for tea, sports, etc. at 2 o’clock. About 1300 children present. The Green Coat School as the oldest taking the lead en route.
7.12.87. Missionary Box broken open in woodshed. Punished Walls, Tottingham and Browne for lying and Walls for getting out of the classroom window. Mrs Walls came to school, was very violent and impudent.
8. 12.67. Rev. T. Lingley called relative to the above.
13.12.87. Meeting of the Trustees relative to above. Walls acquitted. Master censured for undue flogging.
( The minutes of the Trustees’ meeting record that the boy Walls was awarded two shillings compensation).
After this incident there are frequent reports in the log Book of impudence and misbehaviour by Walls, and it must have been with great relief that Mr Flack made the entry:-
10. 3.91. Arthur Bertie Walls left the school.
Two entries show the severity with which juvenile treated by the courts in the late nineteenth century : –
22. 9.90. Henry Morris sent to St Albans for 21 days (prison) and three years in a Reformatory. (Stealing including two pairs of socks and 30s from Mr Flack’s house.)
17, 9,91. C. Bailey convicted at P(etty) S(essions) of P(etty) Lar(ceny) and sentenced to 21 days imprisonment and 3 years in an Industrial School. A sharp clever boy working for 6th. Standard. Fair to add that parents are greatly to blame in the matter.
One happening recorded must have caused great shock and sorrow in the town:-
21.12.91. The dear old venerable Church of All Saints burnt completely out.
8. The Rev. C.J. Robinson was a tough and uncompromising inspector. J.S. Hurt in ‘Bringing Literacy to Rural England The Hertfordshire Example’ (Hertfordshire Local History Council/Phillimore, 1972) describes him as ‘not being prepared to stand any nonsense from even the most eminent school managers’. Even Lord Salisbury was not spared strong (and justified) criticism.
9. In the middle of the last century, the ‘Magic Lanter’n was much used for both education and entertainment. Various methods were devised to produce special effects, of which ‘Dissolving Views’ was one. In this, one picture faded from the screen as the next one brightened: this was achieved by placing two (sometimes three) magic lanterns side by side with a rotatable disc with a crescent-shaped slot in it in front of the lenses. Modern audio-visual presentations make use of the same effect, but nowadays the change between projectors is achieved by electronic means.
It is not clear if the Schoolmasters’ and Schoolmistresses’ Benevolent Trust was just a local organisation or part of a national one – probably the former. There was doubtless a need of help for teachers who became ill or too old to work, pensions being virtually non-existent. In 1877 the National Union of Teachers established its Benevolent and Orphan Fund, depending on voluntary contributions in 1878 the Teachers’ Provident Society was set up to enable teachers to make provision for illness by paying regular contributions.
10. Isaiah XI, vs. 6 – 8: ‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together and a little child shall lead them etc.’ In the circumstances, it seems a strange choice of text.
11. The Society of Arts (now the Royal Society of Arts) was founded in 1754 and developed its examination system about a hundred years later. This was a result of the Society’s interest in the Mechanics’ Institutes; the first examinations were meant for those attending such institutes and similar establishments which were in union with the Society. By 1858 examinations were being held in a number of places, local administration being the responsibility of a local secretary. It is likely that, in Hertford, the Headmaster of the Grammar School carried out these duties. In later years, the Society concentrated on examinations in commercial subjects while technical examinations related to specific industries were undertaken by the City and Guilds of London Institute.
12. It has not been possible to find any information about the Herts Educational Union. It probably consisted of a number of teachers concerned with the improvement of educational provisions and of their own conditions of working. The National Union of Elementary Teachers (later the National Union of Teachers) was formed in 1870, and doubtless there were a number of local associations of this union in the County. The County Association of the N.U.T. was not formed until 1904, after the Balfour Education Act put all the elementary schools in Hertfordshire under one authority, to provide a link between teachers and the authority.
13. Lingley and Rev. C.H. Hodgeswere both curates at All Saint’s. At this date Rev. Birch (see p.6) was Vicar. Lingley became Vicar in 1879 and held the living until 1902.
14. Arthur James Balfour (1848 – 1930). Nephew of Robert Cecil, third Marquess of Salisbury, Conservative M.P. for Hertford 1874 – 1885. Later Chief Secretary for Ireland, Prime Minister 1903 – 06 and Foreign Secretary 1916 – 19.
15. The first Bank Holidays Act was passed in 1871. Both the number of such days (which have since become public holidays) and the dates have, of course, been varied since.
16. The Ballot Act was passed in 1872. Balfour was returned unopposed in 1874.
19. Now called Railway Street
20. The Hertford Union Workhouse in Ware Road, where the Police Station was in 1989 but in 2022 a small housing estate stands.
21. This was the swimming bath on Hartham which had recently been opened and which remained in use until 1936.