Memories from the Archives – Part 4

In January I did a talk as part of the Thursday lunchtime recital room series. It was entitled ‘Memories from the Archives’ and I talked about a number of memories from Old Scholars. I’ll share the photographs and text from the talk in several parts on the blog. Read Part 1 herePart 2 here and Part 3 here.

Photograph of Joshua Rowntree (1844-1915; Bootham 1856-60).
Joshua Rowntree (1844-1915; Bootham 1856-60)

Joshua Rowntree also attended Bootham at around the same time as Edward R. Allen (see Part 3). His entry in the 1914 Register includes some memories. “I started life at Bootham as a ‘brat’, subject, with eleven others, to a weekly foot washing by “Pea on a Broomstick”, as a tall housemaid with a small head was known amongst us.” We know very little about the non-teaching staff at the school from earlier years – often the only clues you have are brief mentions such as this.

Joshua goes on to talk about what he learned at school: “One thing I learned fairly well – to make fires. We might volunteer for stoking, receiving, I think, 6d. a week in recompense. It was a longish way from No. 2 bedroom to the schoolroom grates on cold, dark mornings, but a boy ought to know how to build up a fire quickly, and I never regretted the work.”

He also mentions games: “It was the pre-scientific period for games. Cricket was rather haphazard, and the junior club often resolved itself into discussions in the high key. Football had not come. Stag a rag was one of the best playground games with the rare exceptions of a big slide in time of frost, and Run-across was naturally enjoyable to a fair sized fellow. Boys who had sisters at the Girls’ school got a good run each week to accomplish their ‘visit’ in the half-hour after breakfast at Castlegate; and in after years in the hour before dinner at the Mount. The latter time was seriously curtailed when Mr. Hill and the old ferryman happened to be at the wrong side of the river with both boats together.”

It wasn’t until 1862 that the first football match was played, and Lendal Bridge wouldn’t open until 1863. As far as I can find out, Stag a rag appears to have been a version of tag.

In Memoriam: Hans Frederick Hundt

Photograph of Hans Frederick Hundt.
Hans Frederick Hundt

Hans Frederick Hundt was killed in action, May 25th 1915. He served in the 1/23rd London Regiment. He was born in London in 1894 and attended Bootham between 1908 and 1910.

Mrs. Hundt sent some extracts from her son’s letters to ‘Bootham’ magazine:—

Somewhere in France, March 22nd.

We have moved twice since I last wrote. We had to march about 15 miles over dreadful roads, uneven cobbles, to a small village about 12 miles behind the firing line. We were billeted in a large farm, 38 of us, and had some excitement with the rats.

France, April 2nd.

Have done very well on this most unique birthday (21st). It is one I am not likely to forget in a hurry. Had heaps of parcels and good things. Yesterday we were medically examined after having a glorious shower bath. I passed through all right. We marched four miles, and used the baths for the miners.

France, April 8th, 1915.

We moved again yesterday about 4 miles nearer the firing line, and expect to be in the reserve trenches next week. I am in a large loft over a cowshed, have plenty of straw, and am quite comfortable. Can get plenty of eggs (cooked) at the Farm House, coffee, bread and butter, so am living like a lord.

April 12th.

It is very quiet here, and if it were not for the sound of the firing one would not realise that anything was on. Last night mounted sentry with one of the Regulars, did three spells; it was rather an experience. The German trenches are some 300 yards away, and the whole space between, is a mass of barbed wire entanglements. The fellows we are with are a very decent lot.

France, May 12th. (Last letter received.)

The next night we were relieved and marched back about 5 miles to a very pretty little place where we were billeted in a large hall place. There was a canal running through, so we managed to get a bathe. It was a treat, and we made the most of it. We marched some 6 miles further back yesterday to the same piece we were last before leaving for the trenches. I am in the same billet, and quite comfortable, have plenty of clean straw. Isn’t it dreadful about the Lusitania? They are simply barbarians! We had some of those pipes, through which they pump their poisonous gas, opposite our trenches last time, but am thankful to say they did not use it. We each had a piece of gauze and some bicarbonate of soda handy to dip it into should they have used it. I believe we are going to have twelve days’ rest; I hope so, for we can do with it. Terrific bombardments are going on, and there is no doubt big moves are being made.

First World War: Old Scholars’ Association AGM 1915

The Old Scholars’ Association met for their AGM on Saturday May 22nd 1915. T. Edmund Harvey, chairing the meeting, started off by saying:  “If we had been gathering together for a social function I think we should all have felt that it would be better that the Old York Scholars’ Association should not have met at all at such a time, but I think all of us feel, and we are glad to feel, that our annual gathering is something infinitely more than a social function; it is a time of inspiration and of fellowship, where friends meet together to help each other, to share in the sense of comradeship and of unity and to get inspiration from the ideals that have been lit for us in our youth in the two schools. And so all the more because of the great cloud that is upon us do we feel that it is worth while making an effort to be gathered together to feel the strength that this comradeship gives.” He went on to pay tribute to the Old Scholars who were giving service in many different ways: “There are very many who have gone forth to different services : to the wonderful service of the Ambulance Unit, to help the war victims, to what seems much simpler work at home, and there are a great many who have felt it their duty to stick to what is perhaps the hardest task of all, the service which they have been doing or which lies ready to hand where they are and that does not involve any apparent act of great sacrifice, and yet is essential to the true well-being of the country, and is, it may be, the highest fulfilling of duty.”

Ivy Weston then talked about her work with Belgian refugees at Folkestone, where a local War Refugee Committee was formed. She talked about how they fed as many as five thousand people in a day at the harbour, meeting the boats as they arrived.

Florence Barlow talked about the work of the Emergency Committee for the assistance of distressed Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians in Great Britain, and how she had visited two camps on the Isle of Man.

Philip Baker discussed the Friends Ambulance Unit, and the motives which brought the unit together.

T. Edmund Harvey mentioned the Friends War Victims Relief Committee work, including medical, agricultural and other relief work, such as building shelters and temporary housing for the populations of areas affected by the conflict.

A summary from the AGM report in ‘Bootham’ magazine, December 1915. Both Bootham and Mount Old Scholars were at the meeting. Longer excerpts from the accounts of the various types of work done will follow in later posts.