'Doing History'

As Mary sat in her Needlework class she could hear the Master's middle classes 'doing History'.

Standing with their toes to a chalked semi-circle on the dusty wooden floor, they were performing their chant-by-rote of the sovereigns of England, while senior boys sat, every head industriously bent in the long desks, doing extra arithmetic and mensuration while the senior girls sewed. They were oblivious of the chant:

Willyumthe conkrer Tensixtysixteneightyseven
Willyum roofus Teneightysevenelevenunderd
Henrythfirst Elevenunderdeleventhirfive
Matilnstephen Elevenfiffoureleveneightynine
Henrythsecon Eleveneightynineelevenninetnine
Richarthfirst Elevenninetninetwelvesixteen
John Twelvesixteenwelveseventytwo
Henryththurd Twelveseventitwothirteensevn
Edwardthfurst Thirteenseventhirteentwensix
Edwardthsecon Thirteentwensixthirteenseveny-sevn
... and on ... and on ... and on

Florence Mary McDowell, Roses to Rainbows, Belfast, 1972, p. 92.


  1. What was the Master's objective for his History class on that particular day?


  1. Find out about the achievements of some of the following English monarchs: William the Conqueror; Matilda and Stephen; Henry II; Edward I.
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