So it goes on, day after day, Each contributor with something to say. They leave their mark and are gone And so it goes on. (Tennyson) Kinky schoolteachers (Dirk Bogarde)

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February 1 2004 at 8:20 PM
Kate Embling 

All reformatory schools were entitled to give corporal punishment both to males and females. So far as I know there were no "mixed" reformatories: they existed specifically for boys or girls.

I do not know of any scandal in 1948 but there was a riot there in the 1920's in which some girls were given corporal punishment. I have the details of the riot from the Public Records Office at Kew. These are Home Office documents and you can find them listed if you search for Kenilworth.

Amid the fantasy and fiction could I make the point that public corporal punishment "before the school" was a common punishment for both male and female reformatory inmates who had absconded, mostly performed without the dignity of underwear.

It continued, so far as I know, well into the 1960's (and possibly beyond for all I know). Elizabeth Arden recounts her own personal experience of this in her book "A child of our time" and her personal experience was (I think) in the 1940s in Liverpool.

In 1913, the then Secretary of State for the Home Office declined to outlaw the practice on the grounds that absconding was a major problem and it might deter others from doing so (Also Public Records Office in his own writing).

The short answer is that it did happen, mostly to boys but also to girls, but probably not as much as the "fantasist" element would like.

I would think it extremely rare in a fee paying school as late as 1948 and probably rare long before that.

Girls were never as "troublesome" as boys. The Home Office statistics for the three months ended September 1917, for example, show 82 boys birched in Reformatory Schools and 178 in "Industrial Schools". In the same quarter only four girls were birched in Reformatory Schools and 29 in Industrial Schools.

Those statistics are also available from the Public Records Office.

Kenilworth was, however, a major riot by girls and caused questions in Parliament. Much written about corporal punishment is fantasy or wishful thinking but there is some fact.

Kate Embling

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Re: Kenilworth

February 1 2004, 10:14 PM 

Dear Kate,

Thank you very much indeed for your most informative message. Our original enquiry (see ‘Information needed’ thread) concerned a school in Leamington Spa and from this one of our highly valued contributors, 47david, suggested that we might try to look into the doings at an approved school in Kenilworth. Your information, therefore, is very valuable.

I believe the book to which you refer is ‘A Child of the System’ by Noele Arden. (Elizabeth Arden is a company that manufactures cosmetics and ‘A Child of our Time’ is an oratorio by Sir Michael Tippett). For those who have not seen the book, Noele Arden was a pupil who, with another girl, absconded from a reform school. On their return, they were taken in front of the whole school and stripped to their vests and knickers and made to bend over a chair. Their knickers were pulled down and they were caned. I think this took place in the 1920s.

I am delighted that you have re-opened your Yahoo group and send you my very best wishes for its continued success. You may have noticed that we have one or two cynics here at our Happy Circle, including one appalling man who doubted the veracity of your account of the corporal punishment that you received at school, but I do hope that will not deter you from visiting, and hopefully, contributing again.


Kate Embling

Re Kenilworth

February 2 2004, 12:02 AM 

No one can challenge my own personal experience. If they want the documents I have photocopied they should be prepared to expend in excess of £4000 with tbe Public Record Office.

I do not think I shall be visiting again. There again, you lot didn't spend £4000 did you?

Kate Embling


What a rip-off!

February 2 2004, 6:53 PM 

£4000 for photocopying?

If she’d have gone to Mr. Patel’s he would have done her a sackful for under a tenner.

Proud Member

Trembling in Worthing

February 15 2004, 3:22 PM 

I cannot get enough of the writing of Mrs. Knee-Trembler, but very few contributions are being made to her group. I was, therefore, thrilled to bits to find a piece that she sent to the WORTHING message board in May 2002.


Re: Trembling in Worthing

February 15 2004, 4:42 PM 

In the letter referred to above, Mrs Embling gives her address as Thrapston Road, Oundle, Northants.

Strangely, there is no Thrapston Road in Oundle, Northants (Thrapston Road is some 10 - 15 miles away between the villages of Woodford and Finedon).

There is however an Embling living in Oundle, Northants . . . but the name isn't Kate.

It's Robert.

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Re: Trembling in Worthing

February 15 2004, 4:44 PM 

The above posting isn't from Anonymous - it's from me.

I forgot to add my name before posting.

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