Audio Archive: Oral History - Schooldays in Ewyas Lacy
Extracts from a DVD published by the Longtown and District Historical Society in 2007 entitled “In the Shadow of the Black Mountains: Memories of Rural Life in South West Herefordshire”. The audio recordings are reproduced here with their kind permission, after adaptation by the Ewyas Lacy Study Group for website presentation.
The material consists of interviews with local residents designed to record an oral history of the parishes of Ewyas Lacy. The work was carried out by members of the LDHS Oral History Group between 2004 and 2006 as part of a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The memories in this clip relate to the history of schooldays in Ewyas Lacy. Life in village schools at Longtown, Newton, Michaelchurch Escley, Rowlestone and Walterstone in the early to mid twentieth century is recalled vividly by many local people. An almost universal theme is the long walk to get there and back from remote farms, though one lucky lady recalls being picked up each day and taken to school in ‘the first car I ever saw’.
Perhaps on reflection she was not so lucky, at least on the sunny days. The tales of sometimes quite large groups of children making their way through the lanes and fields larking about and liberating the odd apple from orchards along the way suggest that the travel may have been more fun than the destination. Arrival at Newton, for example, was greeted with prayers, a bible reading and a hymn to start the day.
By modern standards the schooling was far from ‘politically correct’. The cane was applied to both boys and girls when deemed necessary to maintain discipline, and while the girls were taught sewing the boys had woodworking classes. Decades later, however, the memories seem to be happy ones.