Tuesday, 10 June 2008

St Andrew's Middle Class School, Litchurch, Derby

The carte de visite featured in this article is one from my own family archives. When I inherited it, it was - and still is - in an old envelope, inscribed on the front: "Photograph (C.V.P.) (Middle Class School) (Geo. Sutherland)."


Charles Vincent Payne (1868-1941) was my great-grandfather. He was the eldest son of Henry Payne (1842-1907) and Henrietta Christina Payne née Benfield (1843-1914) - see cabinet card featured in a previous article here) - and was born when the family were living at 29 Douglas Street in Litchurch. His father is shown on the birth certificate as a provision dealer.

Image © Derbyshire County Records Office & courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

On 20th June 1876, when he was eight years old, Charles Vincent was enrolled at St. Andrew's Middle Class School, located on London Road [Source: St Andrew’s Middle Class School Admission Register, Derbyshire County Records Office, Matlock, Courtesy of Nigel Aspdin]. By this time, the family had moved to St. James' Road, New Normanton, where Henry was building houses.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The carte de visite inside the envelope is a school or class photograph showing 31 boys and two male teachers, seated, standing and kneeling in front of a large brick building. Mr George Sutherland was head master of the school, and I suspect that he is the bearded man standing at the right hand side. All of the boys have mortar board hats, although a few are holding them in their hands. Unfortunately, I don't know which boy is my great-grandfather Charles Vincent Payne. There is no indication on the photo itself, and I don't have any other photos of him from this era with which to compare it. It is possible that he is seated at the extreme right, with his mortar board in his lap, but I can't be sure.

Image © and courtesy of the University of Leicester's Historical Directories

The school was situated immediately adjacent to St Andrew's Church, on the corner of London road and Hulland street, and adjacent to the London & North Western Railway Goods Offices, as described in the extract from Wright's 1874 trade directory shown above [Source: University of Leicester's Historical Directories].

Image © British Library and courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Database

On 21 December 1876 Charlie was awarded the Form 1 examination prize at St Andrews, as reported in The Derby Mercury of 27 December 1876 [Source: 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Gale CENGAGE Database]. He remained at the school until February 1880, apart from a spell of just over ten months from 8 October 1877 until 27 August 1878, which the Payne family spent living at Ash House near Turnditch, north of Derby.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

On 20 December 1878, George Sutherland wrote a letter to Charlie's father about an incident that had happened at school, obviously in response to a letter from Henry Payne, attesting to his belief that Charlie was innocent in the matter:
My Dear Sir,
I should have replied to yours before, but my time has been so engaged. I had asked Charles somewhat closely about the skates, as he appears to be the last boy seen with them. I never could believe that he could have taken them; for, as I told Mr. Cope (the father of the boy who had lost them) I had always found your son the very soul of truthfulness. I assure you I do not by any means consider him guilty. I regret very much about the over coat being lost and am at a loss to account for it - I hope, however, I may yet hear of it.
I am truly yrs, George Sutherland
On 12 February 1880, he was presented with a copy of "Episodes of Discovery" (published by Blackie & Son Ltd. in 1880) inscribed, "Presented to Charles Vincent Payne on his leaving the Middle Class School Derby. With best wishes for his future life Feb:12:1880." Two weeks earlier he had turned twelve and was about to set off on an exciting adventure with his father, but the story of that adventure will have to wait for a future article.

The boys in the photograph appear to me to be aged around nine or ten years old. If I am right, then the photograph was probably taken in mid-1877, before the Payne family's sojourn in Turnditch.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The card mount shows details of the photographer George W. Holden of 12A William Street, Windsor. Holden developed a country-wide photographic business, specialising in scholastic portraits, and would have travelled to Derby, probably to take a series of class photographs at the school. Further school photographs by Holden will be featured in a future Photo-Sleuth article.

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