The earliest memories of Helmdon come from Mrs Holloway, aged 91 years. She remembers her husband’s grandfather telling her about the dame school which existed in the village before the present school was built in 1872. The dame school stood in the place now occupied by the war memorial. It cost a penny a week to go to the school and old Mrs Humphrey had six daughters. She could only afford to send the girls, her son had to stay at home and help do the work. He never went to school and couldn’t read or write. When the dame school was knocked down, the site was used to break up stones to go on the road.
Miss Barnes seems to be the head teacher remembered by most people. She was head from 1918 – 1947. People remembered how red her face and neck went when she used her cane. They remember George Turnham pulling his hand away so her cane knocked over the big ink well. Subsequent generations of children remembered the big ink stain on teacher’s desk. Miss Barnes told Mrs Holloway that during the war she wanted a vegetable garden at school to teach the children gardening. When she requested a plot of land for this purpose from school governor Sidney Bartlett he said that gardening was nothing to do with the school, “let their dads larn ‘em.”
During the war the evacuees came and brought their own teacher. The children boarded with village families and the teacher lived at Falcutt.
Every year the children had a party given by Mrs Lees of Falcutt House. There was a Christmas tree and every child had a present and an orange.
When the hunt met in the village, the children had time off from school to go and watch. Canon Bartlett, with his dog Bingo, used to pay the occasional visit to check the register and Mr Viccars (sic) was the school attendance officer who kept an eye on the truants.
From Northamptonshire – Within Living Memory
Northamptonshire Federation of Women’s Institutes 1992
Reprinted by permission of Countrywide Books www.countrysidebooks.co.uk