WEEKEND: TIME TUNNEL: How Sunday School Came to Coventry; ... A JOURNEY INTO OUR RICH HERITAGE
Byline: DAVID McGRORY
DAVID McGRORY looks at the origins of the Sunday school movement in Coventry and at the long-gone building in Hill Street where it started.
THE Rev George Burder - originally an art student at the Royal Academy - is said to have been the founder of the Sunday schools movement in Coventry in 1785.
In that year the West Orchard Chapel minister wrote a colourful letter published by the Coventry Mercury.
"It is too obvious to need a proof that the education of poor children is frequently neglected. Their parents sometimes cannot (and frequently will not) cause them to learn to read.
"Hence they are incapable of reading the scriptures, which are able to make them wise to salvation. They are ignorant of all true religion.
"They perceive not the dangerous consequences of vice and immorality. They too often spend the Lord's Day in folly ... their manners are more and more depraved.Their love of pleasure and idleness grows upon them, till they become the prey of designing villains, the bane of society, and the disgrace of human nature."
Burder would have maintained that he was not just being fiery, for at this time with more and more people living in cities, many failed to attend church, and Burder had first hand experience of uneducated youths becoming criminals.
He had the unfortunate experience of accompanying some on their last journey to the gallows.
The movement to give some form of education to poor children began nationally with Robert Raikes, and by 1785 had established itself in Manchester, Gloucester and Birmingham.
The movement when it was established in Coventry was organised by a committee of churchmen and Dissenters and was supported by a general subscription.
Because of jealousies from churchmen, later the Dissenting and Anglican congregations took sole control of their own schools.
The first Sunday school in Coventry was based in small rooms at the rear of the West Orchard Congregational Chapel, before moving to Hill Street.
By 1838 15 Sunday Schools had been established in Coventry, nine in Foleshill, and one in Radford, Keresley, Walsgrave and Stoke. A total of 3,500 poor children attended these schools and 3,000 of which were in Dissenters Sunday schools.
IF YOU have anything interesting, memories or photos of old Coventry and Warwickshire write to David McGrory, Time Tunnel, Coventry Evening Telegraph, Coventry CV1 1FP.
A building for weekend worship
THIS picture was taken in May 1930 shows a timbered building at the end of a row of cottages, which once stood in Hill Street by the corner of Bangor Street.
The site is presently just above and opposite the pub at the entrance of Leigh Mills. …