Victorian Sunday School Rewards

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This week’s object is a pair of porcelain money boxes given to children for regular attendance at Sunday Schools. These particular money boxes were awarded to a Romsey girl in the 1870s or ‘80s and have been given to King John’s House by her grandson.

Sunday schools were set up in the Victorian period to provide basic reading, writing and arithmetic lessons as well as Religious Education. At the time, when many children worked to support their families, Sunday Schools provided the only opportunity for some education. Sunday schools were very popular all over Britain and by 1831 around 1,250,000 children (almost 25% of the young population) regularly attended weekly classes.

In order to encourage regular attendance, children would be rewarded for reaching certain milestones. In many schools, children would be given a brown paper book and a stamp for each week’s attendance. Once the book was filled with stamps, a prize would be given to the child. These prizes were often simple items aimed to promote the Victorian values of work and thrift. The money box was one such item given as a suitable reward.

The set of money boxes in the collection shows two young seated girls carrying a box with a slot on the top for coins. The items are very crudely made and would have been mass produced. They were not meant to be durable, as the boxes would have to be broken in order to get the money out.  These Victorian money boxes were probably manufactured in the 1870s.

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