First World War: The Belgian Bazaar

Gymnastics display at the Belgian Bazaar
Gymnastics display at the Belgian Bazaar

In the First World War, many thousands of Belgian refugees came to Britain and relief committees were established to help them. Quakers in York played an important role; several families were housed at the garden village of New Earswick, founded by the York philanthropist Joseph Rowntree, and money was raised both to support them and towards Belgian Relief Funds. It has already been mentioned in earlier blog posts that Bootham school supported a Belgian refugee family See previous posts from September 1914 and January 1915.

By Spring 1916, Bootham School was involved in further fundraising for Belgian relief. From the Annual Report:

“For many weeks the School worked hard in preparation for the Belgian Bazaar. Things were made in the workshop, knitting became popular, voluntary gymnastic classes were held, dramatic scenes were rehearsed, and friends all over the country were importuned to contribute goods and money. ”

The report for Spring Term Jan and Feb 1916, in Bootham magazine tells us:

“THE exceedingly mild weather of January and the prospects of some novel excitement in the shape of a Zeppelin raid have served to reconcile us to some extent to the deficiencies of the average Spring Term, and the work that we are doing in preparation for the great Belgian show has not allowed much time to hang idly on our hands. The knitting operations, in fact, and the generally busy atmosphere of the workshop and other such places, are a constant reminder to us of the determined way in which everybody is setting to work to make this event an unprecedented success.”

The event was a huge success. Bootham magazine reported afterwards:

“On the 25th (March) our great event took place, when the major part of the leisure-hour work of the term found its culmination in the long-awaited Belgian Bazaar. We anticipated an unprecedented success, but even more, if such is possible, was the case. Practically speaking, there was nothing left on the stalls; everyone was at his best, and not a hitch occurred throughout. From the stall-keepers dispensing of their wares to the extra singing-class masquerading as a “wall” all played their parts nobly, and the results exceeded our most sanguine hopes. A sum of well over sixty pounds was realised and has been divided, at the discretion of the Finance Committee, amongst the several Belgian Relief Funds in which we are interested.”



Magazine now available online

Magazine website front page - Copy

Bootham Old Scholars’ Association has very kindly enabled the creation of a website giving access to digitised copies of ‘Bootham’ magazine, back to 1902. You can use the website to browse back issues or search for particular words or phrases. The magazine includes all sorts, for example accounts of trips, photographs, drama productions, Old Scholar news and so on.

Old Scholars can access the magazines via the Old Scholars website. Other enquirers should contact me ( for login details.

Term restarts, and the school decides to support a Belgian family

Term restarted on Tuesday September 29th 1914, rather than the planned date of September 17th.

At the beginning of the term it was decided that the School should “keep” a Belgian family. After a committee had been elected, a house was provided at New Earswick, which was furnished by the Furnishing Committee. Each boy was to give as much as he thought he should, to be paid weekly or in a lump sum.

19th Century Education

Thanks to Claire Hicklin for researching and writing this post, based on a box of 19th century teaching materials and exercise books.

It made very interesting reading… Opening the archive box and finding Differential Calculus as the first topic to explore.

In 1857 – Senior Class Room a variety of working models and examples were available to explore along with detailed calculations relating to “Further Workings on Mechanical Illustrations”.

Differential Calculus

Beautifully written, these workbooks detail the thoughtful and intelligent application of a theory learned. It was interesting and insightful to read about working examples of Differential along with Integral mathematics methodologies.

Integral Differentiation

August 1838 – F.C Clayton wrote an “Expression of Taylor’s Theorem” In calculus, Taylor’s theorem gives an approximation of a k times differentiable function around a given point by ak-th order Taylor polynomial.

Taylors Theory

Another excerpt from F.C Clayton’s work asks the question “a person being in a boat 3 miles from the nearest point of the beach wishes to reach in the shortest time place 6 miles from that point along the shore. He can walk 5 miles an hour, but pull only 4. Where must he land?”

F C Clayton

8th September 1854 – looking at Mr Clayton’s book below was fascinating, I confess, it took a while to work out exactly what was being detailed! A unique way of learning our Times Tables.

Times Tables

Mr Clayton (b1843, d 1928) went on to become a Manufacturing Chemist, Mayor of Birmingham 1889-1891), Pro. Vice Chancellor and Treasurer at Birmingham University, Governor of King Edwards Grammar School and awarded the Honorary Freedom of the City of Birmingham in 1912.

In 1855 Fielden Thorp wrote “generally any equation involving differential co-efficients is a differential equation, but in practice, we restrict the term to equations in which, as compared with the un-differential equations a constant has disappeared”.

FT Equation

It was with interest I also came across the wonderful Hebrew workbook of Fielden Thorp dated 1833 – an excerpt reads:“But not withstanding all this, many of these Jews were found in exceeding trouble on account of the oppression with which the rich has oppressed the poor in the days of famine. There was agreed famine in the land a few years before Nehemiah came into the city and the poor who cultivated their grounds and their vineyards had not the means to buy seed for the year which came after the famine. And in this strait they came to the rich to ask loans from them. It was incumbent upon the rich according to the term of the law of Moses to loan money to their brethren without interest. They disobeyed this command and they oppressed the poor with interest and with usury.”

Two Page Hebrew

Hebrew and text

Fielden Thorp (b 1832 d 1921) was born in Halifax, received BA (Hons) Classics in 1855 and was a Fellow of the University College of London in 1856. Probably best known as Bootham School Headmaster 1865-1875.

A small undated green covered book produced some very interesting notes and education regarding land surveying.  It appears to be instructions about how to survey and measure land accurately with detailed mathematical calculations. “To measure a mere or wood. Position cross at Station A and let your assistant fix the marks B and D so that the angle at A mat be a right angle, and measure the line AB taking insets to the fence as you proceed.”

land survey

I somewhat fell in love with a little book entitled “A treatise on pneumatics” written and illustrated by Henry Seebohm who was around 10 years of age at the time of writing this fascinating account (in1842). He later became a steel manufacturer at Seebohm and Dieckstahl Crucible Steel Makers. He travelled widely and loved to study birds, doing so in Lower Petchora, Russia in 1875 and the Valley of Yenesei, Siberia in 1877.

“Treats of the nature, weight, pressure and spring of the air which we breathe, and of the several effects dependent upon these properties – figure 1 air pump”.


seebohm 2

There were a great many beautifully written “Specimens of Writing” from June 1848. It was difficult to determine just a few to publish, however, the messages written in these handwriting practice sessions should hold true now as much as they did then…

Imitate virtuous characters, imitate good actions, gaming is dishonest, keep your promise, keep from vicious company, knowledge promotes and improves virtue, censure no person hastily, cancel animosities, honour the humane, fear accompanies deceit, envy is tormenting, do nothing rashly, civility is an indispensable qualification.

joseph rowntree

Joseph Rowntree June 1848

In 1826 Robert Foster worked on Greek Grammar and it was a delight to see his hard work in writing throughout this comprehensive workbook.

greek grammar

A useful book for use in schools – Chief Dates of History

chief dates in history

Throughout such solid examples of academia it was enlightening to see religious documents and textbooks, nature studies and musical performances/theoretical studies.


This publication demonstrates the nature of sound and the manner in which they are magnified, or rather multiplied by the Tuba Stentoro-Phonica.

A wonderful note to end on was the discovery of this little gem – Observations De Salsedine Maris by Robert Boyle – Geneva 1686



Bootham as a Hospital – Ellen Rowntree’s perspective

In the December 1914 edition of ‘Bootham’ magazine, Ellen Rowntree (wife of Arthur Rowntree, Headmaster), described the events of the summer.

Mrs Rowntree - Copy

The summer term ended with its usual cheerful doings, picnics and examinations, triumphs of scholarships and swimming medals, river parties and cricket matches, and preparations for camp and holidays, with no suspicion of the great cloud hanging over us. Painters, carpenters, and charwomen were let loose upon the School, and the Head was finishing off the last of his papers, when the cloud burst over us and the shout of the war news rang down Bootham. We shared with the nation those first days of breathless tension and uncertainty, when all ordinary work and plans fell into the background and all that mattered was what should be done at once. This demand was speedily met for us as, consequent upon the rumour of a terrible disaster in the North Sea, the School was asked for as a hospital. Available members of the committee were consulted, and after hurried meetings with military and Red Cross authorities, the Headmaster arranged, greatly to their satisfaction, that fifty beds should be ready by noon next day on the ground floor of the school. Workmen were turned out, and a large body of willing helpers set to work to turn out cupboards and desks, sweep and scrub, beat mattresses on the masters’ grass, and carry beds down from the top landing. Old boys passing through from camp reversed waistcoats in time-honoured fashion and laboured with twice the zeal of packing-days. In a day the whole place was bare and spotless, the classrooms, gymnasium, and dining-room fully equipped wards. A continuous stream of motors brought medical extras, spare blankets, surgical furniture, county ladies, hard-worked officers and busy doctors to inspect and advise, and St. John Ambulance nurses, who made the beds, covered tables and desks with white oilcloth, set up charts, and arranged bandages and splints. The art room was transformed into an operating theatre. Gas was brought in through the window and well-protected sterilizers set up on the platform. Powerful lights were focussed over the operating-table in the centre, and in a corner stood a large sink with taps. The Reeves’ studies were for the use of nurses, and the masters’ common room was turned into a consulting-room. By degrees bedrooms, too, were made ready, and when we left for a fitful holiday Bootham was fully prepared for 106 patients. It was with mingled relief and disappointment that, as time went on, it was found unnecessary to retain the School as a hospital. The Government wished educational institutions to remain undisturbed, and as ample accommodation had been provided elsewhere for immediate needs the St. John Ambulance reluctantly withdrew and Bootham resumed its normal state. E. H. R.