Catholics, Baptists and Methodists also set up their own schools.
Children might also be taught in Dame schools, so-called because many of their teachers were old women.
Charles Dickens introduces us to one such establishment which ‘Pip’ attends in ‘Great Expectations;
“Mr. Wopsle’s great-aunt kept an evening school in the village; that is to say, she was a ridiculous old woman of limited means and unlimited infirmity, who used to go to sleep from six to seven every evening, in the society of youth who paid twopence per week each, for the improving opportunity of seeing her do it. She rented a small cottage … (where), besides keeping this Educational Institution, (she) kept – in the same room – a little general shop. She had no idea what stock she had, or what the price of anything in it was; but there was a little greasy memorandum-book kept in a drawer, which served as a Catalogue of Prices, and by this oracle Biddy arranged all the shop transactions.
“Much of my unassisted self, and more by the help of Biddy than of Mr. Wopsle’s great-aunt, I struggled through the alphabet as if it had been a bramble-bush; getting considerably worried and scratched by every letter”.
From the Minutes of the Committee of the Council on Education 1839-1840:
“In one of these dame schools I found 31 children from 2 to 7 years of age. The room was a cellar, about 10 feet square and 7 feet high. The only window was less than 18 inches square and not made to open. Although it was a warm day … there was a fire burning; and the door, through which alone any air could be admitted, was shut. Of course, therefore, the room was close and hot; but there was no remedy. The damp subterraneous walls required, as the old dame assured us, a fire throughout the year. If she had opened the door the children would have rushed out to light and liberty, while the cold blast rushing in would torment her aged bones with rheumatism.
“…. she had crammed the children as closely as possible into a dark corner at the foot of her bed. Here they sat in the pestiferous obscurity totally destitute of books of books, and without light enough to enable them to read, had books been placed in their hands.
“Six children of the 30 had bought some twopenny books, but these also, having been made to circulate through 60 little hands were now well soiled and tattered. The only remaining instruments of instruction possessed by the dame … were a glass full of sugar-plums and a cane by its side … “
Let’s now wander into the Market Place