It is frequently the case that the less attractive samplers receive less attention than they should. Cases in point are the somewhat plain samplers stitched by literary giants, Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters (and you will be able to see close up the Jane Austen sampler in Volume 2 of the Micheal and Elizabeth Feller Needlework Collection.) The sampler pictured above may not be the prettiest I have seen, but it has unlocked a fascinating world for me. First I should say that the sampler is for sale on 20 July. It is lot 353 in a sale at Abbotts Auctions with an estimate of £80-£120. Click here for more details. You might just be able to see that it was stitched by Sarah Ann Ling of Campsea Ashe school when she was 14 years old and is dated July 12th 1850.
Campsea Ashe is a small place in Suffolk - not really near anywhere and I just wanted to see if the school was still in existence. Well - the bad news is that it was closed in the 1970s - the terrific news is that we can read the school records almost in their entirety. School log books going back to 1860 are available to download on-line and it makes fascinating history.
And thinking back to my school days and inspections, to read the changing emphasis on exactly what is recorded in the books and see the end of year report on the teacher is quite an insight. Poor teacher - could have done better! The files are quite large to download - but are just wonderful. Here you can see the opening pages where it is recorded that the school has been reopened after being closed for some time and so the children are very backward.Click here for the links.
We have long 6 week summer holidays in the UK which originally accommodated the need for children to be on the land to help with the harvesting. Here the school closes for the Harvest Holidays - and when it reopens, children are still not in school since they are gleaning in the mornings.