Recollections of Winwick Grammar School 1859-1862

Philip Jeffs continues his Glazebrook-Rylands family archives blog…

The document I want to share with you today is a fascinating manuscript recounting John Paul Ryland’s time at Winwick Grammar School. We had a brief mention of John Paul (1846 – 1923)  in the previous post on this blog. It was John Paul who, in later life, preserved so much of this collection for future generations. In this instance John Paul is preserving his own memories to add to the family’s history. This account of his childhood was written in 1919, when John Paul was an old man, but his memories of the school, its staff, his friends, and their daily lives, offer a vivid description of life at this small village Grammar School, a description which cannot be found anywhere else.

Below is a transcription of one of the entries in the memoirs. It refers to an undated incident between John Paul and the Master of the School Samuel Burnell:

I once tried an impertinent joke on Mr. B., being in a mischievous humour & having been adjudged a caning on the hand for some misdemeanour. Mr. B. told me to go out and cut a small switch, the supply of canes being exhausted. I brought in, as demurely as possible, a switch very thin & about a foot long, holding it on the palms of both hands. Mr. B. was naturally annoyed, especially as all the other boys were tittering and trying to smother laughter. He called me a “donkey Boy” and told me to go at once & get a much larger stick. Near the pond I found a small tree with extending branches which had been grubbed up & had projecting roots; this I dragged into the school-room. The boys could contain themselves no longer and roared with laughter.

John Paul does get a thrashing for this, to his hands and shoulders, but throughout the volume you get the impression that he does have great affection for Mr. Burnell and often describes him as a good and kind man.

A child testing the boundaries of their teachers is apparently nothing new.

A sketch of Winwick Grammar School as it was in 1859, by John Paul Rylands




The School Crest