Sport and the war years at Kendal’s Stramongate School
Our Curatorial Assistant, Francesca, is digitising the Stramongate School Magazine and it provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the students in the early 20th century. A Quaker school between 1698 to 1939, today its name belongs to one of Kendal’s primary schools.
Just two months after the First World War broke out, a very dejected post-match cricket report appeared in the September issue (1914). The undercurrent of anxiety about the war is palpable as you read it. According to the report, the school team played terribly, losing every match in the tournament, bar those against Kendal Grammar School. The reason, says the report, was ‘ill-luck and bad judgment’ as well as ‘poor fielding and careless batting’. It’s tempting to speculate, however, that perhaps the boys’ minds were simply elsewhere.
From the magazine, it’s evident that group sports continued at the school during the war. As well as cricket there are reports of football, swimming and athletics. The Quaker Tapestry Museum now has two of the School’s cups awarded for athletics – the Junior Cup and the base of the Bantam Cup.
Entertaining tales of other sporting activities also pepper the pages of the magazines, sat amongst notices and membership lists. A treatise on golf has the author explaining: ‘One would expect the greatest enjoyment to be derived from hitting the ball often, but this is not so’ he says sagely, ‘the players are most pleased when they manage to ‘hole out’ in the fewest possible shots.’
Other routes into sports and exercise included extra-curricular clubs. A Scouting troop started up in the Autumn Term of 1915 with the name ‘Kendal Troup II’. They formed a cyclist patrol to ‘enable work to be undertaken further afield’. A reminder that cycling was not just a sport, but also a key form of transportation. They worked towards activity-based badges that included – Ambulance, Carpenter, Cyclist, Gardener, Gymnast, Naturalist, Pathfinder, Rescuer, Signaller, Surveyor, and Swimmer.
Sport for wellbeing
Today there’s an emphasis on and awareness of the role of sport in wellbeing and good mental health. At Stramongate School, sport appears to have been a vital tool in managing pupil’s anxieties around the war.
Quakers have long valued wellbeing, including in the work environment. Provisions at various industrial firms involved nursing care, part-time further education and sporting facilities, including for cricket. You can see this on the Industrial Welfare panel of the Quaker Tapestry, where a group of cricketers are batting on the green (see main image)
Check out these blog posts to find out more:
Supporting the Quaker Tapestry
We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog and gained an insight into Stramongate School during WWI. There will be more insights into the war years as we continue to digitise the Stramongate School Magazine.
We couldn’t accept and care for these wonderful artefacts without our dedicated Care and Conservation team. However we need your help to…
– Create an improved database of the extensive Quaker Tapestry collection of supplementary items
– Develop best practice of the Care and Conservation volunteers through further training
Your donation will help us achieve our goals and ensure the longevity of the exhibition and collection. Please consider making a donation
Quaker Tapestry Facts
The colourful tapestry panels measure 63.5cm x 53.3cm and are made using a mix of five ancient stiches and a new one, invented for the project. Embroiderers around the world now use the ‘Quaker Stitch’.
World traveller and writer Alexander McCall Smith, says they’re one of the ‘six best tapestries’ to see in the world.
The panels help you find out about famous scientists, engineers, bankers, botanists and non-conformists who pioneered industrial welfare, fair trade, prison reform, peace work and anti-slavery initiatives. Many were Cumbrians.
Begun in 1981 and completed in 1996, they’re the work of 4,000 men, women and children from around the world. Some of the panels made journeys of thousands of miles as they passed from one group of people to another.