Local History Notes – by David Cliff
Part 84 – Schoolboys….and a Dog.
This story concerns St. Bartholomew’s Church at Ripponden in the 1860s, not the present church but the one before it which was taken down in 1868.
In those days, it was the custom for pupils attending local schools to attend the Sunday service under the supervision of their masters. Nearly two hundred boys were marched down from the Making Place Academy at Soyland accompanied by their masters. In addition the scholars from Barkisland Old Endowed School also attended with their headmaster, his family, his assistant and the servants; and from Rishworth School went nearly one hundred pupils, masters and staff. In addition there were the scholars from the National School and of course the regular congregation.
One can imagine the rivalry that existed between these various schools and the bad behaviour that took place. We are told that the verger who was very strict with the boys was not averse to giving boys a ‘nobbing’ with his wand when they misbehaved. Also, a ‘drillmaster’ from one of the schools was appointed to walk up and down the aisles during the service to supervise the boys and confiscate any literature they were found to be reading.
On one occasion, the cook from Barkisland Endowed School was followed down to the church by the school dog, who no doubt regarded her as a source of tit-bits from the kitchen. She attempted to turn him back which made her late arriving at the church so she left him outside and closed the door. Unfortunately, someone was even later and when the door was opened the dog ran in. The dog ran around the church evading attempts to catch him by the sexton, the clerk and the parson and eventually ran up the steps of the pulpit and rearing up on his hind legs he peered over the rail looking for the cook. When he spotted her, he bounded down again, jumped over the pews and sat down beside her. One can imagine the boys in stitches at this performance.