David Lewis posted this (below) on the Beehive School thread , about the Windsor Ragged School in Clewer Lane. This has turned up a couple of times when we've been discussing Oxford Road and Clewer Fields and it seemed worth creating a whole thread to the subject.
In case anyone is interested, there is some research work on the Ragged School on Oxford Road in the Windsor library. In a Victorian biography of Dickens it was said that the ragged school movement was started by a chimney sweep in Windsor, and this research in the 1950s by the then librarian, concluded there was no evidence to support this claim... well, at least the chimney sweep bit.
Slums, crowded with starving and neglected children, were as commonplace in Windsor as they were nationally; but that doesn't mean that the efforts of those who fought to improve the lives of the most vulnerable can be ignored as routine. Like St. Mary's School in Bier Lane, facts about the Ragged School are elusive – though hopefully those with information might share it here.
For a start it would be interesting to know the details of the research David describes. I had not heard of the chimney-sweep tale before although a quick search shows that the “poor chimney-sweep of Windsor” is mentioned more than once as the founder of the school. It's interesting that the other name mentioned alongside him is John Pounds, a Portsmouth shoe-mender who set up a ragged school in his workshop in Eastbury and who is actually well documented as one of the true originators in the Movement. Without having read the fifties research I can't say of course, but one wonders if although strictly inaccurate the sweep story isn't totally unlikely because it seems that it was just such working class men and women who did set up initiatives anywhere they could secure accommodation. The Ragged Schools seem to have been organised initially in ways most useful to the locality – some were day schools, some nightschools (after children had been to work in the day) some provided food and a hymn or prayer and some just a bed for the night. I can't seem to find out how Windsor's ragged school was run, and the only description of it is that it was in a shed with an earth floor. I don't if it was for both girls and boys. As for location it's address is usually given as Clewer Lane (Oxford Road) a lthough Clewer Fields is mentioned – which seems not unlikely, it was certainly in that area (which is the OS map the school is on?)
I came across this account by a relative on Rootsweb. of a Sr. Emma Waring, who was connected to the St. Stephen's Mission and then to St. Augustine's. There may be other resources to back up the account itself.
St. Augustine's of course was a Boys' Home not a school (the boys I think went to the local National Schools* when they went at all) and there was a charge for upkeep. But they seem to have provided support to the boys in the same neighbourhood as the Ragged School, that is at the end of Clewer Lane in the Clewer Fields area, or “Back Alley” as it seems to have been known locally. One of Sr. Emma's earliest boys lived at “The Napoleon” beerhouse; which if I remember was run by Venus...? The Home – initially leased in Grove Road - seems to have been in Clewer, at one time though the address given on the link is three small cottages in “Bexley, Clewer”. (Is this Clewer Fields, behind Bexley Street?) Eventually a purpose built Home was funded in1883 in Clarence Road at the Three Elms. There's a photo somewhere on the forum. It's interesting that a Mr. and Mrs. Webb of Victoria Cottages along at the other end of Clewer Lane were employed as Master and Mistress for St. Augustine's but were dismissed because of Mr. Webb's cruelty with the boys. I have a note that the pair were in the Cottages in the 1881 census, but I'm not sure of the address. What is also interesting is that when the Mayor and Corporation were approached for support in establishing accommodation for St. Augustine's they declined. Course they did.
All this however, is decades after Dickens is reported as describing the poor chimney sweep's founding (or not) of the Windsor Ragged School around 1850, by which time the Ragged School Movement and its off-shoots were underway. It seems unlikely that the sisters of St.Stephen's Mission will have actually founded a “school” at that time for such boys because their efforts seem to have been in other areas - and besides the Rev. Davenport disapproved of the efforts for the St. Augustine's Home. Was the School literally an ad hoc arrangement begun on ragged school principles for the local children by a unknown neighbour?