The Punishment Book

Unlike today, corporal punishment was once a normal part of daily school life, even for younger children. In the early 1900s, schools were obliged to maintain a Punishment Book, which kept a record of every case of corporal punishment inflicted on pupils in the school. At Wickhambreaux School, the records date from 1900 through to 1930, and the offences are many and varied. Punishment seems to have been handed out not only for bad language and rough behaviour, but also for poor classwork, inattention and carelessness, and usually took the form of one or more strokes on the hand with a cane or ruler.

There are numerous references to swearing, disobedience, insubordination, insolence, impertinence, carelessness, idleness, inattention and playing truant, but there are some offences that stand out as being more amusing than the rest, and deserve special mention. For example, Ellen Taylor was punished for "writing a grossly obscene letter", Walter Woodcock for "stealing food from Edith Beer's basket", William Addley for "spitting on the floor and refusing to desist when ordered by his teacher", John Bright for "stealing fruit from garden adjoining the school" and Fred Tucker for "throwing stones at a cat and hitting it". But maybe 1st Prize should go to Henry Hines for "telling Stodmarsh children that there was a holiday on 21st July 1919", for which he received two strokes on the hand!

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