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British Sunday School
Page 139

Robert Raikes

Child paintingBeginning in a small way, Robert Raikes (1736-1811) opened two Sunday Schools, one in the parish of Ashbury in Oxford shire, under a concerned clergyman, The Rev. Thomas Stock, (1749-1805) and another in Sooty Alley in Gloucester. Thomas Stock was described in a memorial plaque from his time in Gloucester Anglican Cathedral as "diligent, learned and pious" and with Robert Raikes "is justly attributed the honor of having planned and instituted the first Sunday School in the Kingdom." About the same time, a Mrs. Meredith opened her home in Gloucester to a group of boys and two years later girls also began to attend. Like so many great movements of God, success did not come easily. Robert Raikes school closed after only six months because of "discipline problems." Raikes however continued to put his ideas into print in the Gloucester Journal and this caught the attention of the magnetic and popular preacher of the day, The Rev John Wesley (1703-1791.)

Great Methodist Leader

Wesley was greatly impressed with the whole concept of Sunday school and called it "one of the noblest specimens of charity which have been set on foot in England since the times of William the Conqueror." The great Methodist leader advertised the Sunday school model and soon schools were springing up all over England and in Wales, Scotland and in Belfast, Northern Ireland too. Sunday schools predated the first state funding of schools for the general population and were widely regarded as the forerunners of the British school system.

"British Sunday School"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2019

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