Lady Barham’s ‘Rules of Sunday School’

Rules of Sunday school at Pilton Green Sunday School March 1821

(From the papers of Lady Barham and also applied at Mount Pisgah in 1822)

1. The School is to begin every Sabbath at 2’oclock in the afternoon and to conclude at 4.

2. All that have a desire to learn are welcome to attend without distinction of sex or age, only little children who are not capable of receiving instruction are not to be brought, lest they hinder others to learn – the week school must first be provided for – if the house prove too small.

3. All to bring their own Books and no books of profane and immoral tendency shall be admitted but Testaments and Bibles and such little Books as agree with scripture and Sabbath Solemnity.

4. The Children or adults belonging to the school are strictly requested to avoid all manner of unchristian and un scriptural behaviour in words or actions as highly unbecoming the nature of the Sabbath and destruction to the morals and souls of mankind – whosoever that shall be found guilty of swearing, lying or Sabbath breaking thereafter being first admonished, if he will again persist in the same shall be turned out.

5. None shall be allowed idle in the school but all who attend must engage either in learning themselves or assist to teach others.

6. The teachers ‘who will engage are desired if possible to attend regularly – but if they cannot to consult with each other when they are not able to come, that all may not be absent at the same time.

7. That all the teachers are considered equal masters of the school none below or above the other and all things be carried forward by mutual agreement – and if any bad behaviour occur amongst the children requiring discipline, that must be reported to the master of the week school on the Monday following- when he is not present.

8. That those who read in the Bible and Testament classes are to spend one hour in reading together alternatively from verse to verse the other hour in learning their chapters out of book and in examining the same by their teachers.

9. That the school is to commence and conclude by singing a hymn and prayer – but if none be present that can engage in prayer then by reading a small portion of scripture and singing or hearing one of the scholars repeating a chapter or part of one – the teachers always to see that all the children are perfectly sober and silent during these exercises.