Peter Morgan was a pupil of King Edward VI School between 1888 and 1890, and in 1976 - aged 98 - he recorded his memories of school life at the end of the nineteenth century.


Staff and pupils, c1890 Staff and pupils, c1890
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I first went to the Grammar School in January '88. But before that I was at the preparatory school. Mr Laffan started up a preparatory school in Church Street about half-way down the street, just beyond the almshouses. And that was the Reverend, or W.E.T. Cary of whom I was very very fond ... he was the master there, and he brought the boys on splendidly, we were all very fond of him and when he brought us on far enough then we were transferred to the Grammar School.

Peter Morgan, speaking in 1976

Church Street, 1892
Church Street, 1892
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The headmaster during Peter's time at the school was Robert Laffan. When he was appointed in 1885 the school consisted of under forty boys and just two assistant masters. He used his own funds to employ further staff and as a result additional subjects were added to the curriculum and better examination results were achieved.

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Big School, the upper floor of the Guildhall, 1892
Big School, 1892
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At the far end of the Big School there was a tiny room. We had to go there every so often to collect stationery and that sort. One day a week we went, to collect blotting paper or pens.

The textbooks were supplied by my father. The subjects were Latin, French, Euclid, English, geography, arithmetic but, nothing like music or science. The boys each term, or each session, brought a list of the books they wanted, gave them in and my father had to get them, supply them and the boys had to pay my father - no free books.

Peter Morgan, speaking in 1976

Peter's family lived in the town's High Street, where his father ran a bookshop and private lending library, so in the morning Peter had only a short walk to the Guildhall in Church Street where the school was housed.

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In class, writing predominated most, there was a good bit of writing. A good bit of chalk on blackboard too. Completed exercises weren't handed in to the master very often: they came around and saw what you were doing. At the end of it all there was only the school examination. It was enough after leaving the school to say that you had received education at the Grammar School, Stratford-upon-Avon.

My elder brother was far far more successful than I was. I only won one prize at school which made an impression upon me both bodily and psychologically. It was for doing so badly in a Latin examination!

Peter Morgan, speaking in 1976

The Guildhall, Church Street, 1892
The Guildhall, 1892
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Our playground game was prisoners base, when being small I was usually the prisoner to be rescued from a corner by members of my side. [Another game] was played by a team trying to get from one side of the ground to the other without being caught. Not being strong enough to hold a big popular boy, 'Socker' Wiltshire, I suddenly sat on his foot and clasped his leg, to the amusement of others.

Peter Morgan, writing in 1966

For several centuries the school had shared accommodation in the half-timbered Guildhall with the town council. During Peter's time at school the council used part of these buildings to house the town's fire-engine.

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The rugby field was behind the East and West Junction station, about the first field beyond there, along the river bank. ... the cricket field adjoined the Boat House ... part of the Recreation Ground was divided off for the cricket field.

But I never had an organised game in my life. My parents would not pay the extra fees of 2/6d each term for us to join in organised games in the playing fields, there being three of us. Though Mrs Laffan said she saw my elder brother kicking a ball about once and wanted my mother to pay the extra fees!

Peter Morgan, speaking in 1976

Boys at play, in front of the courtyard, late 1880s
Boys at play, late 1880s
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My great regret is having to leave the Grammar School when only eleven years old owing to an action by those who ought to have known better. [ Mr Laffan and my father had a disagreement ], the privilege of supplying the boys with books ceased and my younger brothers and I were sent to the Commercial School. Study of Latin and French ceased except for private lessons later in life and little progress was made in other subjects. The place was disliked, especially after the Head made sarcastic remarks before the whole school about my inability to sing a correct note.

Peter Morgan, writing in 1966

Other resources on the Victorian School

Schools inspector's report, 1867

"This I believe to be the source of a certain reputation for roughness which the boys have acquired in the neighbourhood"
Find out what the schools inspector thought was the cause of the boys' poor behaviour from Mr Green's report of 1867


Robert Laffan, headmaster 1885-1895


The ten years that Robert Laffan was headmaster at Stratford was a period of great development for the school
Find out more about Robert Laffan and his work

Or return to the Victorian School contents page

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