memories of yeovil

memories of yeovil

The schoolday memories of Alfred J Milborne


Alfred J Milborne (b1888) recalled his schooldays during the 1890s -

"The earliest recollections of my schooldays was taking lessons in reading from Mrs Monk, the wife of Henry Monk. At that time the Yeovil Grammar School, of which Henry Monk was headmaster, was in a fairly prosperous condition. There was certainly not less than fifty or sixty boys in attendance.

The rival school - Aldridge's, where my father was educated - was then on the downgrade, to be resurrected with the coming of a new master named Budd with more modern ideas. Like so many schools under the English system of private education, these schools last but the lifetime of the proprietor, and by the time I left school, the old school had dropped to but a dozen pupils, the old building in Hendford had been closed and the school was housed in an old building behind St John's church.

I did not recall how old I was when I first went to Monk's school, but I remember the gravelled yard, because it was hard on the knées if one should fall in playing the usual games. Then there was the open space under the school building where we played when the weather was wet, at the end of which was the 'Bog', an awful six-holer, which stank to high heaven. The school was held in one large room, heated by a wood stove on which pans of water were evaporating. Old Monk nearly always had a drop on the end of his nose, and I imagine we all did too, though we boys probably used impolite methods of removing them. Mr Monk's daughter and his son-in-law were the staff, and I think we all got a fair education they are, though the curriculum did not contain so many subjects as are taught in primary schools today. We took French and Latin, and I can still recall snatches of Caesar and Remus and Romulus.

Mr Monk was a grand character, beloved by all his pupils - at least in later life - and I have always had a pang of regret that I once hit him in the face with an over-ripe tomato that was intended for one of my fellow pupils. In those days the cane was an important part of the equipment of a schoolmaster, and old Monk used it with vigour. I got it once or twice, and I think that it is a pity that its use has disappeared. It instilled respect into the boys for their elders and betters, which is non-existent today."