I once bought a random piece of Sunday School crockery as a curiosity. It was a side plate, part of a mass produced set of ‘vitrified hotel ware’ manufactured by a firm in the Potteries. In the same way that any basic cafe, club or train buffet would have had its own badged crockery, so ‘The Good Shepherd Sunday Schools of Leeds Parish Church’ (in this case) had what we would now call its logo on its crockery.
I am newly in what is now the diocese of Leeds and I can begin to see that I was wrong to have been surprised that the pupils in a Sunday School should have warranted distinctive crockery of their own. Some Sunday Schools round here (and, I assume, elsewhere) turn out not to have been a group of individuals but rather substantial institutions in huge buildings.
Our new house is a short distance from a Primitive Methodist Chapel disused in the 1960s and the only modern housing development amidst the local terraced houses is one which has been built on the large site of its former Sunday School. Nearby, the Brontë Parsonage Car Park next to St Michael’s, Haworth also occupies a large cleared site on which the Parish Church’s substantial late-Victorian Sunday School used to stand.
And this all came home to me when I was served refreshments at ‘my’ other Parish Church the other day – on a plate badged for ‘St James’ Sunday School’ with the letters ‘CR’ entwined as a logo to represent the name of the village Cross Roads. The new housing on the south of the church (on the right in the photograph) was, I’m now told, built on part of the Sunday School site, the sale of which raised a lot of the money needed to build the hall now attached to the church (in the middle of the photograph) – in which surviving pieces of the Sunday School’s crockery are not treated as curiosities but are still being used to serve refreshments.