Education 1851

A school’s abacus
A school's abacus ©MEAL
There was no school in Stowupland at this time. There was a school in the neighbouring town of Stowmarket that opened in 1849 but the children of Stowupland were unlikely to have attended as their parents would have not been able to afford the fee. Schooling was not free until 1891.

Better off families would have employed tutors or governesses and they may have chosen to send their children away to school or even university. Poor children would have had little or no education. 83 are listed as scholars on the census but this does not mean that they attended school and they would have had little to no chance of going to university.

There is one teacher listed on the 1851 census. Her name is Sarah Wilden age 23. She probably ran the school from her own home as her father was an Agricultural Labourer. These schools were known as Dame Schools and were frowned upon by many as they were run in a rather relaxed manner. A Dame School or a Sunday School were often the only ways a child could learn to read and write as education was not compulsory and many children were expected to work the rest of the week. On the 1851 census six children are listed as Sunday scholars. Those children who did go to school learnt in an atmosphere of harsh discipline that was reinforced with punishments such as the cane, finger stocks and the dunces' cap. Children were to be seen but not heard!


This exhibition is part of a wider sustainability project delivered through the Rural Museums East Partnership. It is funded by Renaissance East of England.

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