FOR children in the Victorian era, education was not a priority for many, as more often than not children were needed to help support their families by working from a very young age.

Even among people who wanted their children educated, girls would hardly attend school as they were expected to learn traditional wife and mother roles, whereas boys were thought to need be able to learn arithmetic and how to read and write.

Girls and boys from Owl’s class at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Chippenham, turned the clocks back as they travelled back in time to experience how life would be in a Victorian school.

The children went to the original Sevington Victorian School, near the village of Grittleton. Their class teacher, Mrs Warburton, said: “During their visit the girls and boys had to be separated for their tasks. The girls did some polishing in the parlour and made lavender bags whilst the boys made beeswax candles.

“The children were instructed to bring plain packed lunches, which included plain bread, cheese and an apple, no yogurts or chocolate biscuits, and only had water to drink. They were also not allowed to bring plastic lunch boxes and could only wrap their sandwiches in brown paper. They ate these in front of an open fire.

“We also had some fun trying out the finger stocks, a method used to stop fingers from fidgeting. The left-handers among us were shocked to find that they had to use their right hand.

“It was a truly unforgettable experience and wouldn’t be possible without the support of the fantastic families for going above and beyond to provide their children with authentic costumes and lunches.

“As always we were extremely proud of the children and the way they represented the school.”

Sevington Victorian School was set up in 1849, when a young teacher, Miss Squire, only 19 at the time, started a career at the school that lasted for more than 50 years.

A visit to the school will enable visitors from all backgrounds to see the school exactly as she did when she retired, from her desk to the pointer and blackboard she used in class.

The Victorian School has no regular sources of funding so if you would like to find out more about the charity visit: