Each month we produce a magazine, "The Over Alderley and Birtles Monthly Messsenger", this being the title used for the first parish magazine produced from 1892 to 1908 by the second Vicar of Birtles, The Revd Henry Waldron Bradley.
Here are some snippets ...
More than 100 years ago ...
Mr Bradley starts the 1902 New Year with a lengthy piece (too long to include in full) about the issue of finding a replacement headmaster for the school following the untimely death of the much loved Mr Kellett.
It was recognised that such a small school could not afford to match the stipend offered in larger schools and that as a headmistress would be paid less (!) then that was the course to be followed. The mover of this idea was Mr Bradley himself who reasoned that a mistress was more appropriate for a small school and it was held that they usually maintained high standards and were better at maintaining discipline in a mixed school. Initially it gained approval only to be overturned at a meeting of the managers.
Mr Bradley sums it all up by saying ...
"However the dream seems over - unless of course a good master fails us. But an advert has gone forth for the best we can get, and we can only hope and pray that another Mr Kellett may be sent us! It is of course not impossible; although locally (and we have tried) none such has been forthcoming. Certainly it will be a pleasant post, whoever gets it."
Reading this account it occurred to your editor (who has followed writings of our former vicar for some twenty years) that there may have been another mover behind the idea of a headmistress, and that being none other than the Hon. Mrs Bradley. Parishioners, sadly long gone from our midst, told of how indomitable a lady she was, even to the extent of insisting she always be addressed by her full title - she was the granddaughter of Edward Burtenshaw Sugden, 1st Baron St Leonards, a former Lord Chancellor, and it seems that people were not allowed to forget that!
Returning to the death of Mr Kellett, Mr Bradley writes a touching eulogy - we have seen before that they were good friends apart from their vicar and headmaster relationship. He concluded ...
"... in his church life he was an example to all of us of a God-fearing consistent worshipper. It grieved him to see whole families sunk into utter churchlessness; and he did his best to stem the tide of indifference, letting his own light shine ... the leading notes of his life were kindliness, humbleness, reverence and thoughtfulness for others."