Ruth Clewer's Exercise Books

Ruth Clewer or more correctly Edna Ruth Clewer lived at no 5 The Green in Birchanger. She was born in 1924 and attended the village school between 1929 and 1938.

The Archive has two of her exercise books covering 1935 to 1937 when she would have been aged 11 to 13, they give an insight into the curriculum followed by the school and a glimpse into how it was taught to the pupils of the day.

Exercise books

The headmaster at the School at that time was the much respected HE Lightwood and it is probable that the markings in the books are his.

The exercise books themselves do not cover any particular subject but have been used for compositions in English, History, Current Affairs and "Ruth's apparent favourite subject Geography. There are also some straightforward handwriting exercises.

The compositions cover subjects as diverse as a General election, the death of George V leading on to the Abdication of Edward VIII, exercise letters to friends or relatives and essays about specific countries.

It was the practise then to write out corrections in subsequent exercises after the work had been marked, so there is an emphasis on correct spelling and no questioning of any conclusions she may have drawn for herself.

It is clear from the language used, that the compositions were not cribbed directly from text books but it is obvious that some of the phrasing is borrowed or at least repeated verbatim from the lesson the essay relates to. I have included some scans of the work itself as well as some typed examples to make them easier to read.

Birchanger Oct 15th 1935

Birchanger is situated on a hill two miles from Bishop's Stortford. There is a Lane running through the village and the houses are on both sides. There is the School to which seventy one children go at present.

There is also a little Church not far from the School. This little Church is many years old for it dates back to early Norman days. Two of the doors are of Norman style and one has been filled in.

There is also The Working Men's Club which has a cricket and football ground and bowls pitch so they have plenty of sports. Then in the Club there is a game of billiards, darts and other games at which they can play whenever they like to go there.

There are always plenty of papers there whenever they want to have a quiet read.

There is the new Church hall which has been built just lately, it is very attractive. It has been erected on a piece of ground just a little way from the Church. It was put up by private subscriptions. It has a roof made from cedar shingles which makes it look very nice and the room itself has a firm foundation and the caretaker is Mrs Banks.

On the other end of the village are the nurseries which look very nice.

Charles 1

My School Dec 2nd 1936

The School which I attend is at Birchanger. It is a Church School and has two Classrooms and two Porches. There are two Teachers and a Headmaster.

It is lighted throughout by means of electricity. Before we had electric light we had oil lamps.

Mrs Rainbow takes the infants in the smallest classroom. The big room is divided into two parts by means of a curtain on a rod across the centre. Master teaches on one side and Governess on the other.

Our School was built in 1862. It is not a very big building. We have two playing yards and a field at the back.

We have a good lot of desks, instruments for drill and the infants have a band. We have no gymnasium but we drill inside when it's wet and outside when fine.

1935 Jubillee

The Abdication and Accession Dec 14th 1936

On Friday last King Edward VIII abdicated. He did this because he wanted to marry a certain Mrs Simpson. The British people did not approve of this and they told him so.

"The Ex-King has gone to Austria to stay with Baron Rothschild.

The Duke of York being the next in Succession has been proclaimed King of this mighty Empire.


Water Main March 11th 1937

The Water Main has been laid through Birchanger during the last three months.

On it about thirty men have been employed. The men did not dig the trench, this was done by a mechanical digger. This mechanical digger which cost 1200, does the work of one hundred men and earns for its owners 28 10s per week. It moves along by means of caterpillar wheels and I was informed that it did about 200 yards per day.

The men join two pipes on the surface and then lower them into the trench. They wind round the threads, some tow and screw them together and pour on some lead.

The Main goes as far as Duck End Farm. The men say that we shall have water in three months time.

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