Memories of Sunday School

MEMORIES OF SUNDAY SCHOOL — 1930–2009

The schoolroom was furnished quite differently in those early days. We had a few seats like those in Chapel and the rest were bench seats. There was a table at the top, a harmonium in the alcove by the partition and a cupboard for the hymn books and Bibles. The room was heated by a “Go-slow” stove.

Many children attended Sunday School, which was held in the morning and again in the early afternoon. They were aged between five and fourteen years. A number of very dedicated teachers lead each week under the guidance of Mr. J. Fox, the Superintendant; Mr. Rouse, Mr. Tom Westbury, (a young man in his twenties who taught every Sunday morning until he was called up into the R.A.F.) and Mr. Robert Hitchman. These all worked at the morning session. In the afternoons Mrs.Robbins, Mrs. Wade, Mrs.Westbury and Mrs. Reeve were in charge. Sunday school followed the same pattern as the Chapel services—hymn, prayer, hymn, Bible reading around the class, the Lesson, hymn, prayer.

With the visit into the village of a young man named Stephen English (about 1955-1960) the children were taught many action choruses, with lively sessions including Bible quizzes, flannelgraphs etc. The large tent which Stephen erected in the field opposite Chapel was a great attraction, as was the caravan in which Stephen and his wife lived. All through the years Stephen was a great help and encouragement to us, leading special missions and also making himself available for preaching at services and leading worship at Anniversaries, Christmas and other special events in the life of the Chapel.

We had several special dates in our Sunday school year—The Christmas Party, Sunday School Prize Giving, the Sunday School Outing. We didn’t go on many long journeys and so a trip to Barry Island, on a special Sunday school train, picking us up at Aynho station, was very exciting. There were coach trips to the Zoo, Billing Aquadrome and our very favourite—Wicksteed Park.

The high-light of the year was the Anniversary. Each year a special song sheet, containing 10 hymns was purchased. We met one night in the week so that Mr. Fox could teach us the new tunes. Almost all the children had a recitation, and each one brought a bunch of flowers. Mrs.Wade decorated two little baskets with flowers and the children took it in turns to take up the offering in them. The girls all had a new dress for the occasion, together with a new straw hat. The boys looked equally smart.
The pulpit was pushed over beside the organ and the partition was removed.
The children’s benches just fitted into the space.
The older children also sang some of the special songs during the evening service. The special day always ended with the singing of the hymn, “Now the day is over ” as a vesper.

The schoolroom looks quite different now and our pattern for the hour has changed. After opening with prayer we sing choruses or songs from “Come and sing” or “Junior Praise”, some weeks there is a quiz, Bible texts to find, making a text from numbers, story time with worksheets to fill in, or something to make. We close our session with prayer. The time passes so quickly.

Yes, the pattern has changed, but the message of God’s love, and of Jesus, Saviour and friend of children, is the same message as the one of that first Sunday school 140 years ago.

Audrey Westbury, Sunday school Superintendant, 2009.