A Historical Greenwich Bookmark

Why do we never find ourselves using that lovely hand-tooled leather affair that Auntie Joan got us for Christmas when we need bookmarks? I always end up using a bit of torn-off envelope, a till receipt or, if I’m really feeling swanky, the swing-ticket from some long-ago purchased garment. It’s not that I don’t have some really great bookmarks, given to me by lovely people who know I like to read; they’re just never to hand when I need one.

And thus was it ever so, thank God. Whilst reading one of my older volumes last night, I discovered that some unnamed Greenwich individual had done exactly the same thing as me, using a slip of paper to mark the beginning of the chapter they’d got up to just shy of two hundred years ago.

It looks like some kind of diary entry or memo. I can’t make it all out – so any handwriting experts here – please tell me the bits I can’t work out or if I’ve transcribed wrongly –  it appears to say the following (bits I can’t read in Xs) :

Sunday 13 Nov 1825

Notice given in the Old Church that in consquence of the increased funds of Roan’s Charity the Vicar and (Pm – permanent?) Officer to meet on Sunday next to elect 75 boys to be on the Establishment & 40 XXXXX to be elected – 25 each Sunday  for the following Sundays.

And that’s it. Nothing on the back, but neatly torn, perhaps with a ruler, to make a bookmark.

I don’t really get it, to be honest. I’m not very in-the-know about church ‘establishments’ and what (presumably) extra-well-behaved Roan School boys would gain from ‘being on the establishment.’ Of course, John Roan still lives on today, in the school and the street name just behind St Alfege’s church – Roan owned much of the land around there, if memory serves. But I’m guessing there aren’t many pupils ‘on the establishment’ these days,  even if it exists.

Can anyone who knows about such church-type things explain this memo to me?

I have decided never to use a proper bookmark again. From now on I will use cryptic cyphers that will intrigue future Phantoms. I have been known to occasionally leave the odd fortune-cookie motto in library books, for the kick of it, but little messages from the past about everyday things, just slipped between the pages, is far more fun…


the attachments to this post:

bookmark 1825 low
bookmark 1825 low


13 Comments to “A Historical Greenwich Bookmark”

  1. Harriet says:

    I think that the word following 40 is Supernumaries. Other than that I can offer no more enligthenment as to what the Establishment is – was the school being set up around then?

  2. Yes – ‘supernumaries’ fits, but the school was already pretty old by that point. On the school website it says that the revenue was going up by 1814 so they were adding boys, and they evertually built a girls school. Maybe this was a last gasp for boys before they decided that girls could come in…

  3. Richard says:

    Probably P. officer (Parish Officer) rather than Pm Officer.

    Hope this helps

  4. Nick Martin says:

    The Roan charity paid 40 shillings a year towards the clothing of poorer children until the age of 15, and the Roan coat of arms had to be worn on the upper garment. Presumably the foundation found some extra cash, and was able to support 75 more boys. The girls’ school didn’t open until the 1870s.

  5. Nick Martin says:

    Maybe the ‘bookmark’ was written down to be posted in the local press ? Maybe it might be worth a trip to the Greenwich Heritage Centre to see if it made it into print in the Nov 1825 copy of the local paper (the Mercury, wasn’t it) ?

  6. That’s odd. On the Roan school website, it says that by the 1850s there were a certain number of girls attending…

  7. I believe it was the Gazette – but it didn’t open until 1833. Cor. This is exciting…

  8. Harriet says:

    Some info from the LMA archives. It looks as though the scrap of paper could relate directly to the intake of the new boys.

    “The Charities Commissioners agreed in 1677 that funds from the Roan Estate (including the leasing of property) would be used maintain the new Grey Coat School and that the Vicar, the Churchwardens and the Overseers of the poor of Saint Alfege, Greenwich as the Trustees of John Roan’s will were to manage the Estate. They formed part of the Feoffees of the Roan Charity who were later renamed the Governors of the Roan Schools Foundation. During the 18th century revenues of the Roan Estate rose dramatically. In the thirty years after 1775, the rentals trebled and by 1814 the Estate could afford to educate and clothe 100 boys”.

    The Richardson premises (Printers/Bookseller/Stationer) on Church Street formed part of the Roan Estate and there are papers in the LMA about damage sustained during WW2.

  9. Harriet says:

    I’ve thought about the phrase “on the establishment” and possibly in this instance it is not referring to the church but to the school and that they were being put on the school books as it were as opposed to being physically on the establishment. Just a thought…..

  10. OldChina says:

    On a similar “note” (ah ha..) I noticed this on the retronauts site today-

    http://www.howtobearetronaut.com/2011/03/200-year-old-love-letter-found-in-chair/

  11. Ah, yes l’amour…

    Rather more romantic than my Roan School find, but I was still pretty chuffed to come across it.

  12. cerletone says:

    What a nice find GP.

    My current bookmark is a one dollar bill (It’s cheaper to use the currency than to buy a bookmark, one pound and five pound notes are also lost amongst the pages of by bookshelves). This particular dollar bill has seen service in To Kill a Mockingbird; performed the duty nobly in Wait for Me, (the charming memoirs of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire) and I’m sure Washington winces as he currently endures the squalid and sordid musings of Tom Driberg between the pages of Ruling Passions.

    Instead, or in addition, I might start leaving copperplate script provocative notes in my books for future bookworms.

  13. Peter Ashby says:

    many years ago I had a similar revelation to yourself, I had bought a second hand book at a jumble sale and inside found a folded sheet of paper, that I can only presume was written down by a missionary or a visitor to the Americas – the words of a song – entitled
    ‘Ders one more Ribber for to cross’