Index  (i)  (ii)  (iii)  (iv)  (v)  Preface.  (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (11)  (12)  (13)  (14)  (15)  (16)  (17)  (18)  (19)  (20)  (21) 

CHAPTER 11.

Sewell's Philosophy.

Alfred had not been long in his new post when old Philip asked him to consider the boys and discuss with him "their needs and wants, their fears and their longings." This was in connection with planning the school expansion and an increase in staff. Food, clothing, health and conduct were all reviewed, but Sewell laid even more stress on removal of fears, on friendship and having something to look forward to. He advised the new Governor not to dwell only on the problems of the boys but to reflect " on the fine acts of the staff and all the helpers". The school diary is full of little incidents which shine out from the pages and give us a happy feeling about the staff.

Feeding was no great problem on a Farm School and prices in the shops had hardly increased in the past thirty years. The accounts for 1901 include 100 herrings for 4/- and eggs at 20 for 8d. A pail of breakfast dripping for the breakfast bread - no charge! Coal was still 20/- a ton at Buxton station.

The school received a case of oranges twice each year from Mrs Ransome of Marsham Hall and gifts of fruit from other neighbours. When it cam to selling surplus farm produce the prices were even lower; potatoes fetched 6d a stone; the school garden produced one weighing 3 1/2 pounds and won a prize.

The boys were well clothed; outer garments, shirts and boots had all been made at the Red House up to this time. The diary for Sunday 17th November says " The boys looked well and comfortable with their woollen scarves and gloves on their way to church this morning." This came after a long hot summer; in July the boys had been putting cabbage leaves under their caps when working in the fields. On 9th July Alfred writes, " I am giving each boy a rush sun-hat for field and garden work. The little cloth caps afford so little protection from the sun. The boys are highly pleased". 6th August: " We began wheat harvest this morning with the usual Thanksgiving Service in the field. The boys in their rush sun-hats looked very workmanlike".

The boys bathed in the river each week in warm weather, but what really excited them were their visits to the sea. On 26th July: "All stirring betimes this morning in order to start early for the seaside at Bacton. The five wagons got off by 7.30. Six old boys went with us. I gave each boy two bottles of ginger beer. Full justice was done to the good food provided. We had a good view of the Channel fleet - a sight to be remembered! At 5 oclock we prepared for the journey home, arriving safely at 8.30. I am thankful the day has been such a happy one for all." Many other occasions were found for having a party, the Governors birthday was one. The following June a great dinner was prepared for the boys to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII. The King was taken ill only two days before and the Coronation postponed, but the boys went ahead. "Dinner was served at 1 oclock; Plum Pudding, Roast and Salt Beef and Roast Mutton. Mr Sewell drove over in time for dinner. Boys enjoyed the oranges given by Mrs Ransome".

There were several events of a "scientific" nature which interested the boys. In 1899 Mr Ray, who was living on Mr Sewell's estate over the road, had the first car in the district. In the following year a boy named Lawson had a needle broken off in his finger during sock darning. At the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital he "was subjected to X-rays and the piece of needle clearly seen." This is of interest because it was one of the earliest X-rays done in Norwich. It was only in December 1895 that Professor Roentgen, working in Bavaria, presented his paper on his discovery of x-rays and the medical use to which this might be put. Mr Eustace Gurney who had so recently joined the Red House Committee, took an interest in this work; he gave 1000 so that the hospital could have the latest equipment and a full time X-ray staff instead of using the museum curator to assist the surgeon who had installed the first plant. Another scientific thing and one which was responsible for much enjoyment at the school was a large Magic Lantern which Mr Sewell presented on 31st October 1901. He also brought slides which included photographs of tea estates in Ceylon. From this time on, people were frequently borrowing the lantern, particularly the local clergy. At the time of writing (1975) this fine magic lantern is still in the possession of Red house.

Christmas provided nearly a week of excitement. The Governor's diary tells the story. "December 21st; boys making mottoes for the decorations in the dining room, looking forward to the Christmas fun and frolics with much joy. Mr Sewell here today suggested wire netting over the new play-shed windows. 22nd: Went to Aylsham for 50 yards of sheep netting. 23rd: All hard at work getting ready the good things for the Christmas feast; 51lbs of rolled ribs of beef, 22lbs sirloin, 24lbs salt beef, 32lbs of leg of mutton, 7lbs of rump steak, 6lbs sausages, 28lbs suet. Plum puddings are ready. Mr Ling sent a pair of ducks (wild), Mr Browne a turkey and Mr Buxton sent the boys sweets, nuts, oranges and raisins. December 25th: Christmas Day. A beautiful day, bright and clear. As many as could be spared went to Church. Dinner was served about 1.30. Mr Sewell like Santa Claus, came loaded with presents. 5 old boys dined with us. A new scarlet ensign was run up to the mast-head this morning. We used the play-shed for the first time today. December 26th; It being Boxing Day I gave the lads a half holiday, also two of the officers."