The Circus

The Circus

Pp 272-275

18th C

Back to the 18th C school girls where we find Susan Sibbald approving of the menu offered in the dining room at Belvedere House on Lansdown hill, Bath. Apparently everyone ate well at this school: on Monday roast beef was served. Tuesday and Friday: roast shoulder of mutton. Wednesday: a round of beef. Thursday: boiled leg of mutton. Saturday: stewed beef and picled walnuts, a great favourite of the girls.

Twice a week "choke dogs" were on the menu. These were currant dumplings. On other days rice pudding followed the meat course. A few of the wealthy girls, including Susan and her new best friend, Sophy Templer, remained at table to enjoy a glass of port wine, an extra cost to their parents, while the rest of the pupils returned to the schoolroom.

In summer they remained there after the mid-day meal doing needlework until 4 p.m. when everyone donned walking shoes, bonnets, spencers or tippets and with three teachers supervising, left the school, walking in crocodile formation, two by two, up the hill and into the adjacent countryside above Landsdown, an area much frequented by Thomas Gainsborough who frequently rode his favourite horse up the hill and stayed to sketch the landscape.

Leaving the town behind them the girls were free to walk in small groups, the adults following some distance behind. They were all due back at school by 6 p.m for tea, although not everyone took the fashionable Chinese treat presumably, like port wine, it involved an additional cost. At 6.30 p.m. lessons had to be learned for the following day and when that was done, the girls were free to amuse themselves until suppertime.