Friday 20 January 2012

Great Ayton Friends School

Great Ayton, a charming North Yorkshire village in the shadow of Roseberry Topping (which is not a pudding but a beacon hill) and boasting a Post Office run by Worthy Pearson, preserves still the old school house where Captain Cook was a scholar in his youth. And sometimes while searching out this small building, the large handsome buildings on the triangle by the stream are completely overlooked. And that is a grave pity, since here was Great Ayton Friends' School from 1841-1997. Founded by Thomas Richardson, born in Darlington, the school inherited a fine kinship of the Quaker Pease, Backhouse, Mouncey and Gurney families.
Above is Anna Pease, just one of the many Pease women who would exert their influence on the school and its teaching methods. To quote from a journal at the school: Of those Friends who interested themselves in the purely domestic concerns of the school, and the girls generally, I may mention Anna Pease, of Feethams, Sophia Pease, Eliza Barclay, Anne Richardson, of Newcastle, &c.
The first of these frequently visited the school and remained a few days, or a week occasionally. This loveable and admirable woman was an earnest educationist. She had at Feethams a large infant school, and also a school for girls under her own management, and had been in early life associated with her uncle, William Allen, in his educational undertakings. Botany, and natural science were favourite pursuits with her, in which she took great pleasure. Plain needlework has always been an art carefully cultivated in most of the Friends’ Public Schools. At the time I am writing about, linen buttons had not been introduced, and it just occurs to my mind how she showed the girls to make them neatly. Thread buttons were then in use, a ring was, as it seems now to me, curiously covered with threads all meeting in the centre. A small square of fine linen was cut out a little larger than the button itself. Then placing it in the square, with a needle and thread the opposite sides of the straight edges were drawn together, then the corners, and with another, or without another stitch a nice durable button was formed. Sophia Pease was another kind and deeply interested friend of the school. In connection with her, I may say that quills only were used for pens a few years before this time. Steel pens were now, however, beginning to come into use. I suppose it must have been discussed in committee as to their being intro­duced instead of the quill. Permission, however, was granted that the steel might supersede the quill, but it was desired that each scholar before leaving school should be taught the art of making a pen out of a quill. How carefully this request was attended to I have no recollection, only I presume when the necessity ceased to make these as well as to mend, the implement required to perform the operation would be found either out of order or wanting altogether. To continue reading, just click here.

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