British Sunday Schools
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Robert Raikes 139

Effective Means of Reform

Child paintingBeginning in a small way, Robert Raikes (1736-1811) opened two Sunday Schools, one in the parish of Ashbury in Oxfordshire, under a concerned clergyman, The Rev. Thomas Stock, (1749-1805) and another in Sooty Alley in Gloucester. Thomas Stock is described in a memorial plaque from the 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." 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 them "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 too. Sunday schools predate the first state funding of schools for the general population and are widely regarded as the forerunners of the British school system.✞

"British Sunday Schools"
by Ron Meacock © 1982 - 2017

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