When you go into the St. Nicholas Church School House, it’s not immediately obvious that there’s any access to the upper rooms. There are four doors in the ground floor room: one leads out into the churchyard, one opens into the church and the third one reveals the space that used to be a toilet although it’s full of brooms and cleaning stuff now. But it’s probably worth a mention because as well as being a toilet that was used for…well…toilet business, it was also the school ‘Naughty Step’. The story goes that wicked children were shut in the toilet and the round hole in the door, which was the only source of light in an otherwise pitch black cubicle, was closed, leaving the miscreant to contemplate their sins in utter darkness.
Next to the toilet is another door and behind that, as if in a cupboard, you can find the stairs leading up to the first and second floors.
I have never in my life been on such a difficult staircase! It turns quite sharply and becomes narrower, the more it climbs. Furthermore, the steps are of varying sizes and shapes and if that isn’t enough, you have to watch your head for protruding parts which gives the whole staircase the feeling you’re in one of those crazy houses you find in fairgrounds.
Half way up, you step off the stairs, straight into the middle room, which used to comprise the living quarters of the last schoolmaster, Mr. Hornsby, and whichever of his three wives was living at the time. But keep going (remembering to duck and do a certain amount of body swerving) and you arrive at the top room, where the school children slept during the week. Many of the children were from farming families and they attended school as and when their parents didn’t need them to work. Some of them lived quite a distance from the school and so they often boarded.
I love going up to the top and as I am quite small, I have so far managed to arrive safely in the upper room without tripping or injury to my head each time I have the opportunity. It’s like being in a different world up there so it’s no surprise that it is the place where I decided Daffodil would slip from the present into the Victorian Times.
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