Community History

A ‘Ragged School’ Christmas in Clerkenwell

Year 6 pupils from Hugh Myddleton school experience a recreation of a Victorian Ragged School Christmas party.

By Penny Dampier and Clare Paul

Several school children dressed in Victorian clothing being served plum pudding
The children are served plum pudding. Photo: Penny Dampier

Ever wondered what it would have been like to experience a Victorian school day?

Sixty-six lucky Year 6 pupils from Hugh Myddleton school got to do just that earlier this week!  

The inspiration for this came from an article in the Illustrated London News about a Ragged School Christmas party in the Lamb and Flag school on Clerkenwell Green, which took place on the 2nd of January 1849.

A young boy with a bowl of plum pudding. A second photo of a young boy in a cap with a small scroll of paper in a silk bag.
A Year 6 pupil enjoying some plum pudding, and another pupil with their ‘Christmas Box’. Photos: Penny Dampier

The recreation of the Lamb and Flag Ragged School Christmas party was organised by Clare Paul, Islington Heritage’s Community Engagement Officer for Clerkenwell Green, in partnership with Hugh Myddleton School.  It was part of a wider programme, fostering community engagement through local heritage. 

A number of the Year 6 pupils who attended the event, had been involved in researching and painting the Clerkenwell heritage mural which was on display on Clerkenwell Green from December 2022 until October 2023, and which has since been distributed to local project partners. 

A group of primary school children in a classroom, some in Victorian dress.
Some of the Year 6 pupils in Victorian dress in their classroom. Photo: Penny Dampier

Children attending the recreation of the Lamb and Flag Ragged School Christmas party, received a strict Victorian lesson from costumed actors, learned about life for Victorian children, recited God Save the Queen, ate roast dinner and plum pudding, watched a magical magic lantern show and were each presented with a Christmas box containing the newspaper article which inspired the event and an original Victorian penny. All of which actually took place on that cold winter’s day in 1849.

two photos of magic lantern slides being projected on a screen
Magic lantern images. Photo: Penny Dampier

The magic lantern show was put on by Jeremy and Carolyn Brooker. They then kindly showed the children how their amazing machine works.

A woman and a man standing in front of a tall Victorian machine with 3 gold coloured lenses
Carolyn and Jeremy Brooker with their Magic Lantern. Photo: Penny Dampier

An inspiring, educational and fun day for all!

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