Memories of an Easterton schoolgirl

Joy Sheppard’s oral history recording not only sheds light on her father’s Tip Top Bakery business, but informs us about what it was like to be a schoolgirl in Easterton village in the 1930s.

We have seen this photo in Easterton School children in 1934 and Joy named the pupils for us in Easterton School Children in 1934 – update.

This was Joy when she would have been about eight years old.

The school had two classrooms – the infants and the big room – which were divided by a removable partition. When the school doctor or the dentist made their annual visits to the school, or when the district nurse came to check for head lice, all the children had to crowd into one room for their lessons. Before the village hall was built, the only large buildings for public gatherings were the church and the school, which was used for socials, meetings, dances and concerts out of school hours.

Children were taught at Easterton School until the age of eleven, when they might move on to finish their schooling (at fourteen) in Market Lavington School or, if they passed an exam, at Dauntsey’s School in West Lavington or Devizes Secondary School.

Out of school, Joy remembered playing in the road with her friends. A B road runs through the centre of the village and it would not be a safe place for children to play nowadays, but Joy said a child would just announce, ‘Car coming!’ if it was necessary to move to one side for it to pass. The games they played were seasonal and included whip and top, hoops, skipping, marbles and ball games. Balls were thrown at and caught from the gable end of 24 High Street until the lady who lived there came out and told the children to go home.

(For more information and photographs of the school, see At Easterton School, Easterton School, Easterton School – 1928, Christmas at Easterton School, Easterton schoolboys in about 1906 and Easterton School – Then and Now.)

Other childhood activities involved going for long walks down to The Folly or up the hill to the edge of Salisbury Plain. The girls would collect snowdrops, primroses, cowslips and other wild flowers in season and also enjoyed gathering firewood to take home.

Thanks to Joy for all these memories. We will include more from her lovely recording on another occasion.

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