Skip to content ↓

Old Warwickians

Women teachers at Warwick School

Finding out who taught at Warwick School, apart from a long list of headmasters stretching back hundreds of years (often they were the only teacher) poses particular problems.  Sources of information before 1906 are threefold – early issues of Portcullis magazine (which started in 1888), the first school history, completed by A. F. Leach in 1906, and certain wooden panels in the school dining room.  It is certain, though, that only men were employed up to this point.  The headmasters were always Anglican clergymen; women were employed at the school, but only in domestic roles. 

The 1881 census for Warwick School (then called the King’s School, Warwick), shows that the headmaster, Rev William Grundy (aged 30) and his teenage wife Margaret (aged 18) employed his unmarried sister Charlotte (aged 26), as well as a matron, two cooks and a housemaid – all for 14 boarders.

By 1891 the successful headmastership of Rev John Pearce Way was in full swing, and the Junior House (which Way had paid for) had been open for a couple of years, too.  Like Grundy before him, Way had married a very young woman, Gertrude Leach, in 1890 and they hadn’t had any children by 1891.  The number of servants had increased dramatically, in line with the number of boarders (and day pupils).  So, too, had the number of resident bachelor masters.  The headmaster and his wife seem to have had three servants of their own, and there were 13 more (some very young!) for the boarders.  The Junior House had seven servants, and one resident bachelor master.  In this Census, taken on 5th April, there were 65 boarders resident in the Senior House (including 12-year-old John Masefield), and 27 in the Junior House.

In 1901 the headmastership of Rev Robert Percival Brown at Warwick School was nearing its unfortunate end, and at the same time the headmaster of the King’s Middle School in The Butts,

H. S. Pyne, was keeping his eye on what was going on over the river.  The Census was taken during term-time on 31st March 1901, and it is particularly interesting to see from it that Brown’s rival, H. S. Pyne, was taking boarders into his own house, completely against regulations.  His 12-year-old daughter, Mona Grace Pyne, unfortunately died shortly after the census was taken.  At Warwick School we see an astonishing number of servants – and it is not at all clear where they lived.  Together with the Junior House, there were five resident schoolmasters, two resident male servants – and 16 resident female domestics, aged between 18 and 55, serving 46 boarders.

In 1906 the defunct King’s Middle School and the newly (but unofficially) named Warwick School merged, and a steeply rising number of pupils on the Myton Road site caused the headmaster, H. S. Pyne, to cast his eyes around for additional teaching staff.  Our knowledge of who was employed comes from a series of hand-written volumes which were started in the same year – the Staff Registers.  Just as it was revolutionary for the school to have a physicist as a headmaster, rather than a clergyman, Pyne saw fit to employ the first woman on the teaching staff, Miss Eva Walker, born in 1876, to be Form Mistress of Form II, and to teach English, arithmetic, French and drawing – and to do “secretarial work” – from 1907 to 1909.  What is especially interesting that Pyne, when he first employed women, chose those who had either been pupils of, or staff at, King’s High School for Girls in Warwick.  Indeed, Eva Walker had been a pupil there from 1886 to 1894.  She was paid £70 per year, at a time when male teaching staff were paid between £100 and £160 per year.

Pyne next employed another King’s High ex-pupil, Miss Winifred Rance, for the first half of 1908 to teach “reading, writing and repetition.”  Two years later, Miss Rose Lloyd-Evans, King’s High 1895 – 1904, was the first woman graduate (Durham University) to teach at the Junior School, which she did from 1910 to 1915.  Also between those years, Miss Olive Baly, who taught at King’s High from 1889 to 1895, was employed to teach general subjects in the Junior School “for half a day on each day of the week”, for £50 per year.

In September 1915, Pyne employed Miss Ruth Robinson, also a Durham graduate, to be “Senior Mistress of the Junior School.”  She was paid £140 per year at first, rising to £384 by 1921, when we lose sight of her – the Staff Register does not record when she left.

Pyne was not averse to employing family members, either.  His son Arthur Huxley Pyne taught engineering subjects at the school from 1914 to 1915 – apparently after dropping out of a course at Birmingham University – and a year later he hired Miss Eva Scarr, step-daughter of Junior Housemaster A. D. Hainworth, to teach “Music (piano) and form subjects to 2nd Form”.  Arthur and Eva were married in 1922, but the union does not seem to have lasted.  Pyne’s successor, G. A. Riding, subsequently employed the now Mrs Eva Pyne to teach “raffia work and piano” between 1929 and 1931, and so Eva can be credited with being the first married woman teacher at Warwick School.  This was very much against the tradition of only employing unmarried women, who previously had been required to resign if they got married.

Miss Dorothy Mann, a King’s High School pupil from 1896 to 1909, taught “form subjects” in Warwick Junior School in the summer term of 1916, having been a private governess in Brussels and Warwick for some years previously.  Also in 1916, a Leeds University graduate, Miss Alice Martin, became the first female teacher in the Senior School, being employed to teach “the 2nd sets in English subjects” at a salary of £140 per year.  Male teachers at the time were earning around £170 per year.

Next, Miss Wilhelmina Green, a Leamington woman, taught English and English history throughout the senior school in 1921.  The following year she married Rev H. E. Cullis’ brother Leonard.  Rev Cullis donated the candlesticks on the chapel altar, still in use today, when she died, in 1954.  Then another ex-King’s pupil (1910 – 17) joined the Junior School staff from 1921 to 1924 – Miss Mary Tibbits, who was employed to teach drawing to forms II and III.  Pyne’s last appointment of a woman was to Miss Eleanor Roberts, 1927 – 1930, to teach piano and singing to junior forms.  She had previously taught at King’s High School from 1896 to 1906.  A rather stinging note appears in the Staff Register: “Singing duties ceased July 1929”, when she was 61 years of age.

Three more women were employed before the end of the Second World War: Miss Gwendolen Blenkinsop, another ex-KHS pupil (1908 – 1913), to teach drawing and painting from 1940 to 1941, Mrs Mary German to teach Latin from 1942 to 1946, and finally Miss Mary Yockney, fresh out of Durham University, to teach English, French and Latin from 1943 to 1945.  These appointees were paid on the Burnham Scale, which presumably allowed them, at last, to be paid the same as the men.

G. N. Frykman, February 2020