Victorian teaching – so much different

No 14 Hanover Square home of Mr Charles Felix Trown Dancing Master, in 1856 it was the  John Sutton Academy
No 14 Hanover Square home of Mr Charles Felix Trown Dancing Master, in 1856 it was the John Sutton Academy

The well worn front door step which can be seen on page three can be found at the door of 14 Hanover Square and in 1849 number 14 was the work-place of John Trown, who was a dancing master.  

Research seems to indicate that John Trown also gave dancing lessons at the Bath Saloon. The Baths Saloon venue may have been in the Glossop Road Baths, as it was serving the people of the town from its opening in 1836.

Victorian classroom punishment

Victorian classroom punishment

It was built following the Cholera epidemic in 1832. A number of years later John Trown is recorded as living somewhere in Spring Vale in 1849 and by 1852 a Miss Elizabeth Dawson seems to have acquired the property in Hanover Square, as she is listed at the time as a Professor of Music at the address. Also lodging at the address at the time was a Mr Henry Foster, a clerk.

By 1856 the property had changed hands again, as it was now listed as the John Sutton Hall Academy. Also at the time John Trown and his son Charles Felix Trown had returned to the former address and both were now listed as dancing professors.

I believe that the professor name was self awarded, but despite the self award, both John Trown and Charles Felix Trown did very well for themselves, as by 1879 Charles Felix had opened a dancing academy on Tapton Lane and besides the Hanover Square address both him and his father also had a dancing academy in Chesterfield.

Havelock Square, which was now named Holberry Gardens, is situated close to Hanover Square and at number 32 Mrs Martha Trown lets out apartments in 1879 – the question is could she be John’s wife and Charles’s mother? I think that she must be, simply because of the rare surname.

Victorian school

Victorian school

By the turn of the century in 1901 Charles is seen to be living at number four Hanover Square. And just four years later his mother, Martha, is now residing at 67 Bute Street, Crookes.

It is seen that by 1911 Charles’s mother Martha had moved again to 11 Durham Road.

Charles Felix had a son named Felix Peter Trown and in 1911 he is living with his father at number four Hanover Square and he is listed as a motor engineer plus he’s in partnership with a Mr Pickford trading as Pickford, Trown & Co, Ltd.

Operating out of 264 -266 Ecclesall Road, their telephone number was 2192, it is still engaged!

His father Charles Felix dies at the age of 78 at 50 Brincliffe Edge Road on September 23, 1925. He is laid to rest in the Roman Catholic ground of Abbey Lane cemetery, grave number 502, section A. I couldn’t find anything else about Martha or Felix Peter sadly so their last years go untold unless someone gets in touch.

In Victorian schools there were more female teachers than there were male teachers, with women occupying the majority of teaching roles in schools.

These women were often very strict and very scary. The majority of the female teachers were unmarried ladies and they were to be called ‘Miss’ at all times. The reason teaching consisted of mostly ladies was due to the pay scale at the time. The salaries at the time were poor and men could be earning more money elsewhere so teaching jobs were left to women.

The rationale behind the teaching profession consisting mainly of unmarried women was that once married a woman was expected to take care of the family.

The large majority of teachers did not have a college education. The role of teaching was something they picked up while on the job and every new lesson would be a challenge for them too.

The teaching was also passed on to some of the brightest children in some schools known as monitors where they would be taught by the headmaster and would then pass this onto small groups of children as another way of educating. The Victorian teaching system was much different to the one we have today.

Discipline was huge in the Victorian times and this was no different in schools. It wasn’t uncommon for children to be beaten with canes made from birch wood. Boys were typically caned on their backsides whereas Girls would take the punishment on their legs or hands.

The reasons ranged from truancy right through to laziness in the classroom. The punishments were usually harsh and painful for children aged  between five and 10. Children who were slower than the rest within lessons were made to wear the shameful dunce hats and sit in the corner for over an hour.

This was not only humiliating for the child, but also not helping them get up to speed with the rest of the class. At the time there was no concept of children with learning difficulties and the uneducated classroom teachers would assume it was purely down to the laziness or lack of effort.

Amazingly children were reprimanded for using their left hand to write. This was seen as a punishable offence and they were made write with their right hand.

Unlike today school equipment was very different in Victorian times. The most universally known fact from these times was how children were expected to write on slate instead of paper. The reason for this was simple, paper was expensive so children used slates with slate pencils to complete their work.

The letters were scratched into the slate with the pencil. This could be easily removed and usually was at the end of each lesson. It was standard procedure for the teacher to walk around the classroom checking the work of the pupils.

Before using slate boards the youngest children would practice writing letters in sand trays. The mainstay of any lesson was for children to copy information from the chalkboard onto slate board. The older children would begin to write in a book using a dip pen with black ink from an inkwell. There was a designated Ink monitor whose job was to fill the inkwells each and every morning.