Sulgrave’s own Village Advent Calendar – No 19 – Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies at the School House + Decorating the Village with the traditional Christmas Wreaths


19th December 2014. The nineteenth contribution to the Village Advent Calendar Windows, at The School House.

More pictures on the next page.





On a rather windy evening, a little angel loses her halo and mum retrieves it….



….better to hold on to it carefully!













The original village shop, with the school house on the right, in the early 1900s.



The headmaster, Albert Smith, outside the school house in 1913, with his wife Ellen (seated) and four daughters, Helen Jessie, Dora Amy, Edith Abigail and Lilian.



Albert Smith, standing on the right, with his charges in 1911. Presumably somewhere in this photograph is a certain Frank Chapman, mentioned all too frequently in the Punishment Book for 1908, as follows:



“May 25 – Chapman Frank – disobedience – one stroke. July 23 – Chapman Frank – disobedient and impudent – two strokes. Jan 14 – Chapman Frank – gross impudence – sound thrashing“! Clearly Frank finally exhausted the headmaster’s patience. Frank’s brother Will received “…several strokes on nature’s place”. A very few years after his “two strokes” my uncle, Lewis Wootton, was going “over the top” in one of those awful attacks on the Somme during the First World War. He told me that at the end of the first day there wasn’t a single person left alive that he knew.



By the time of this photograph in 1946, a much kindlier regime prevailed at the school. The excellent Head Teacher, Victoria Cave (later Victoria Stirrat) is standing on the left. As can be seen from the extracts from the School Log set out below, she had endured six very difficult years during the Second World War. From 1940 onwards, the numbers of children on the school roll increased considerably from the usual 25 or 30, owing to the influx of evacuees from London and Birmingham. She meticulously noted the overall attendance records, in two groups i.e. “natives” (from Sulgrave) and “immigrants” (from London or Birmingham)! With the passage of time there is a nostalgic tendency to imagine the lonely city children being universally loved and cared for, as indeed, many of them were. However, this was not always the case, as can be seen in these extracts from the School Log Book



“Peggy and Dorothy Pope (children evacuated from London) admitted on Monday morning. They have been moved 6 times during the last two or three months and are in an ill-nourished and neglected condition. Peggy’s shoes are in such a state that the toes and heels are on the ground without protection. I have written to the Billeting Authority.” I attended the school from 1943 to 1948 and one of my best friends was a boy evacuated from London. He seemed happy enough to roam the countryside with the rest of us but he was painfully thin and wore plimsolls (trainers!) full of holes, without socks, both summer and winter. Like most houses in Sulgrave at that time, his cottage had no internal running water, either hot or cold and the state of his feet can be imagined. He didn’t possess a handkerchief, merely a sleeve….. It will be noted that both native and immigrant children were required to help with the potato harvest, during which the school was closed. On the following page, the log records that “….infants unable to help collected….Rose Hips, Horse Chestnuts and Walnuts.”

I have very happy memories of the School House when occupied by Victoria Cave. We were allowed into her private sanctuary at Christmas, when it was a veritable Alladin’s Cave of wonderful decorations and costumes for the nativity play. However, she was also kind enough to use her own limited washing facilities for the good of the evacuee children, as can be seen in the School Log extract below.


The full text from the top of the page is: “Two boys evacuated from Croydon were admitted. Nurse Greene inspected all the children and found these boys and two girls with traces of vermin. I saw that the boys had a bath and washed their heads. I visited the parents of the girls concerned and hope to regain our record for cleanliness.”

Through the village website I have established contact with two former evacuees from London. We exchange emails regularly and share happy memories of sledging on Castle Hill….

The school closed in 1991.

Colin Wootton



Collecting holly and ivy from the churchyard







Making the wreaths in the Church Hall

















The full team!

Placing the wreaths










Read about the origins of the village Christmas Wreaths.


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