Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Knighton and district
Victorian school days
  Scarlet fever, whooping cough, ringworm...  
Drawing by
Rob Davies

Apart from the absences already mentioned on other pages due to farmwork, fairs and markets, the other important reason for being away from school in Victorian times was sickness.
Living conditions were bad for many families, with cold and damp houses and poor diets due to lack of money. In country districts children came to school from a wide area, so if one child had an infectious disease it could quickly spread around the whole community. The Log Book of Heyope National School in October 1893 recorded that "Within the last two days the Measles has rapidly increased, almost every family in the parish being attacked".
These examples are from the Log Book of Knighton Infants School.

Sick child
7th October
  This entry from 1881 reads -
7th October - "4 children absent with whooping cough. Willie Williams also absent his sisters (3) having scarlet fever".
6th December

And this one is from 1889 -
6th December - "10 children have been absent this week with whooping-cough, and 7 with ringworm".

Ringworm was a very unpleasant skin disease which produced round patches of infection on the top of children's heads, and it spread very easily to others.
Modern medicines and much better living conditions and food have since made illnesses like diptheria, scarlet fever and typhoid very rare. But many diseases that are almost unknown today caused many deaths in these times, as you can see on the next page...

When school could be a dangerous place...


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