A story was current too—nearer home this time—of a grand fete given to the children. They marched in procession from one village to another, in which the tea was to take place, under the leadership of an ancient parishioner. Of this person it was said that he had violated every article of the Decalogue, and that had the number been twenty instead of ten he would have treated them with equal indifference! As the children entered the second village with beaming faces and banners waving, as he gave the word of command, they sang in sweet trebles and in perfect innocence, “See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on!”
THE SCHOOL BOARD—RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION—SCHOOL INSPECTIONS—DEAN FARRAR—COMPULSORY EDUCATION.
proud that he has learned so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.”
When I came to Aldington I found that by the energy of the Vicar an elementary school had been built and equipped, and was working well under the voluntary system. I accepted the post of treasurer at his invitation, but as time went on financial difficulties arose, as the Education Department increased their requirements. The large farmers were being gradually ruined by foreign competition, and the small market-gardeners, in occupation of the land as it fell vacant, could not be induced to subscribe, although their own children were the sole beneficiaries. A voluntary rate was suggested, but met with no general response, one old parishioner announcing that she didn’t intend “to pay no voluntary rate until she was obliged”!
Matters were getting desperate when Vicar No. 2 arrived, and it soon became evident that the voluntary system had completely broken down. A School Board was the only alternative, and, as all the old managers refused to become members and no one else would undertake the responsibility, a deadlock ensued. We were threatened by the Education Department that, failing a Board of parishioners, they would appoint for the post any outsiders, non-ratepayers, who could be induced to volunteer. The prospect was not a pleasant one, and on the invitation of a deputation of working men, I agreed to stand (chiefly, perhaps, in my own interests, as the largest ratepayer in the parish, with the exception of the Great Western Railway Company), and others eventually came forward.
The Board was constituted, and we were rather a three-cornered lot: my co-warden; a boot and shoemaker in Evesham, with land in Badsey; a carpenter and small builder; three small market-gardeners and myself. I was elected chairman, and we obtained the services of an excellent clerk, who held the same office for the Evesham Board of Guardians—a capable man, and well up in the forms and idiosyncrasies of the Board of Education. Our designation was “the