After the Schools Enquiry Commission (Taunton Commission) had published its 20-volume report and recommendations for the secondary education of the middle classes in 1868, attention was duly turned to the elementary education of the working classes.
Today, Girton College is well known as a constituent college of the University of Cambridge – but did you know that it was originally sited miles away from the East Anglian city, in Hitchin, Hertfordshire? It was here, on 15 October 1869, that an ambitious plan for a college for women was realised, when Benslow House became home to some ambitious Victorian women. This establishment was the brainchild of two women – Emily Davies and Barbara Bodichon, who had been involved with the Society for the Employment of Women and who wanted women to be able to attend university, and for girls to go to Oxford and Cambridge to sit the Local Examinations in those places. In 1865, 91 young women entered the Cambridge Local Examination, but the push was continued to enable women to proceed further with their education. Four years later, entrance examinations for the College for Women at Benslow House were held in London, which 16 women passed. The first term at Benslow duly started in October 1869, with Charlotte Manning as college mistress, and five girls as students.
Visiting the really successful Discover Your Ancestors Family History Show – London this year allowed me a chance to explore the surrounding area before the show. It was hot that summer day and so I decided that a walk down by the River Thames on the bank opposite Twickenham would be a suitable thing to do. Within a few minutes I became aware that I was now opposite the fascinating Eel Pie Island where once had stood the hotel that had been the home of the Eel Pie Island Jazz Club. In recent history it was where just about everyone who was anyone in the British 1960s rock music field from the Rolling Stones to Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton to Pete Townshend played to audiences before they went on to achieve stardom. In the fifties it had been jazz music that attracted the audiences with the likes of George Melly, Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk. Before that in the twenties and thirties the venue had hosted tea dances in its ballroom.
Newspapers today often carry stories about school life – a pupil banned for an inappropriate hairstyle or earring; parents protesting about school decisions and fines. Other examples of school stories focus on discipline, however: a teacher accused of being verbally abusive, or even of seeking to control a recalcitrant child by tying him or her to a chair, or locking them in a room.
Keeping law and order on Georgian streets was entrusted to watchmen and constables, who typically wore long caped great coats, breeches, stockings and boots, or shoes and gaiters, with low-crowned slouch hats, carrying a lantern, staff or cudgel and a rattle. In 1800 the Glasgow Police Act established Britain’s first organised police force, its watchmen wearing brown coats with personal numbers painted on their backs. In England in 1805 members of the famous London watch, the Bow Street Horse Patrole, adopted standard blue coats and red waistcoats, followed by similar uniforms for the Foot Patrole in 1822.
This book offers a unique, illustrated insight into the experiences of women worldwide during World War Two and its aftermath. The history of ten tumultuous years is reflected in clothes, fashion, accessories and uniforms. As housewives, fighters, fashion designers or spies, women dressed the part when they took up their wartime roles.
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