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Tithing and SchoolingParish History

The following is an extract from Peter McKergow's "Twineham Recollections". The Parish Council is very grateful to Peter McKergow who has spent many hours researching the history of Twineham and its former residents. We hope, in the future, to make more of his work available on the website and we are interested in collecting further information about the parish.
Please contact the Parish Clerk for further information.

Tithing And Schooling

A tithe was the tenth part of possessions given to God. It was very ancient but still carried forward by Jesus and the New Testament writers as part of Jewish history. In relatively modern times it was a nightmare to administer. Each farm in a Parish had a tax to pay to the Rector which was converted to produce. In other words wheat, oats and barley had their own value as did hay and straw. Even fruit and vegetables such as potatoes could be included. It must have been a great relief when the Tithe Commutation Act became law in 1836 so that it meant a straight forward cash tax in favour of the Rector by the landowner. It was still unpopular!

The Rector needed a barn to store the produce he received and this is where the School comes in.The 19th century saw the rapid expansion of mechanisation and the need for a much larger work force that could read and write. In early years of Victorian reign the massive task of providing schools in every village became the responsibility of the Church of England. In Twineham their luck was really in. A nice flint barn, part of the Glebe but with no restrictions on its use, could be adapted as a school with little expenses.

In 1864 the rector, the Reverend William Molyneux, signed the transfer of his barn and a small piece of Glebe land without charge to the Archdeacon of Lewes for the purpose or providing a school for the education of children of the labouring, manufacturing or other poorer classes in the Parish. The incumbents of Shermanbury, Woodmancote and Albourne also signed as did John Botting, churchwarden. The Church Road end was shown as being walled off to provide a house for the teacher. No one can remember it being used in that way, but it shows the potential for having little care for the comfort of the teacher.

Mr McKergow took up residence in Twineham Grange in December 1893 and seems to become involved with Parish affairs soon afterwards. He wrote ‘I think the schools are most abominably mismanaged in this parish, a perfect nonentity for a school mistress not qualified at all for such a post. I expect I shall get sat on, but I will have my say.’ He need not have worried. The school inspector visited and came up with a most disastrous report. He could find absolutely nothing to commend. Subsequent visits were good so not doubt the guilty teacher moved on and out.

The worry for the Head Teacher centred on poor attendance figures to which the Attendance Office would be drawing attention. The children walked to school. Fortunately most of them lived within a mile, but there were a few, such as the children living at Grovelands Farm who had a long walk, almost every inch of the way by footpaths. The river meadow had a raised wooden walk way called ‘clappers’ and a handrail. This would be used for days after heavy rain. The brook had vegetation and trees growing round it so that the floods lasted a much longer period.

27th May 1904: Heavy rain and thunderstorms between 8am and 10am. Not one child came to school that morning. In afternoon 24 came. The usual numbers at that period was 48, which sounds incredible these days.

The biggest contribution to poor attendance came from infectious diseases which are summarised below:

May 1883 – German measles school closed; November 1885 – Measles school closed for 6 weeks; May 1891 – Influenza; June 1893 – Small Pox – School Closed; Other infections Whooping Cough and Scarlet Fever also called for school closures; 1907 Boys reprimanded for injuring a ewe with a catapult. The catapult was part of the armour of men and boys. It was easy to make – just a forked stitch, strong elastic and a stone. Very useful for shooting black birds in fruit cages – and anything else that was in range.

1905 the Head Teacher really blows her top! She received a notice from the Attendance Officer of examinations for certificates of proficiency to be held at Hassocks County School and those taking the Labour exam (whatever that was) at Portslade. Taking a deep breath she continued ‘Portslade is quite inaccessible for children of this school. It can only be reached by a walk of nearly 5 miles to the station at Hassocks, followed by a train journey of 8 miles to Brighton and change to another train and then a walk from the station to the place of the exam. Any child would be too exhausted to justify itself in any exam.’We are not told the outcome of this blunder by the authorities. The school was evidently well organised as the Inspector gave a favourable report in 1905.

December 21st 1905 - The Christmas party. All the mothers came. Mrs McKergow sent a parcel of toys and blue jerseys for the boys and scarlet cloaks for the girls. The boys all wrote a letter of thanks to Mrs. McKergow for the gifts. The best was chosen, copied and signed by all the children. This incident has quite a modern feel to it. In the 1920’s the Christmas party was still being held and the toys given out. They cost a shilling or one and six pence each from a toy shop in Preston Street, Brighton.