Keswick Hall College of Education

College at the start of the 20th Century

From 1890 the College became known as the Norwich and Ely Training College for Schoolmistresses. The new building, costing £14,000, accommodated 60 resident students; it was opened in 1892 by the Bishop of Norwich and Ely. The maintenance of the buildings now assumed great importance and additional financial support was sought. The principal, Rev Archbold, retired in 1895 to be succeeded by the young, 27 year old, Rev J. Addison Hannah, previously the Chaplin and Tutor at St Johns Training College, Battersea. He brought new vigour and enthusiasm to the organisation of the College including: foundation of the  Old Students’ Club (1897), new College Motto (Servire est Regnare) and a chapel completed (1902).

Canon Hannah’s warm hearted approach and friendliness apparently made college a happy place. His was a hands-on approach, teaching Divinity and English Literature; his Sunday evening sermons were inspiring. One popular change was the abolishment of pre-breakfast lectures and a limited degree of free time for the students.

An interesting article written from a student’s perspective at this time can be found on the Articles relating to Keswick Hall pages:  Around 1900: Student Life at Norwich Training College.

In 1896 publication of the College Letter began; this continues annually to this day as the Keswick Hall Old Students’ Magazine.

At this time the students’ day was highly regimented. Students were roused by a bell at 6 am with breakfast at 7 am, followed by a Church Service (everyone attended) at 7.50. Lectures commenced at 8.10 am and continued until lunch at 10.40.  From 11.10 am lectures and drill (P.E) until the 1.15 pm dinner break. Between 2 and 4pm there were further sessions including needlework and with a short tea break, lectures continued until 7.20 pm. There would have been 40 minutes free time until Supper followed by another service at 9.30 am. Contacts with the outside world, apart from teaching practice, was limited. Students were rarely free to leave the grounds and then only accompanied by another student.

In 1910 the Principal wrote: “The difficulty experienced by ex-students of this college, and colleges throughout the country, in obtaining appointments to schools, still presents a serious problem…”

The Great War however saw female teachers much in demand as young able-bodied men were enlisted in the armed forces. In 1916

educational innovation and wartime needs happily combined: “In place of Advanced Botany, a practical course of Gardening has been taken up. This should prove especially useful to those teachers who will work in country schools. The scheme is lending itself to food production in present circumstances”

The First World War saw considerable changes as soldiers regularly drilled in the recreation ground across the road from the college proving a distraction to the cloistered female students. These were dangerous years even in Norwich: during air raids students gathered in the Common Room, where a member of staff read to them; a foretaste of what was to happen in May 1942 perhaps

In 1916 the newly created St Edmundsbury diocese became associated with the college