Heritage Open Days 2021: An Edible Education

For Heritage Open Days 2021, in partnership with the National Trust, we invite you to join us online for an edible education.

From its foundation in 1855 (as the Manchester Warehousemen & Clerks’ Orphan Schools) to the modern day, food and drink have been a key part of life at Cheadle Hulme School. This year we invite you to delve into the Cheadle Hulme School archives and learn more about changing school dinner menus, how food was grown on the School’s playing fields, and even a little about the tipples enjoyed by staff in the 1800s.

Your first lesson takes you to the Dining Hall…

Cookalong with Miss Kight

Find out who Miss Kight was and then don your apron to join her with some baking!

It’s time for your first Heritage Open Days cookery lesson with renowned CHS teacher Miss Kight. You will need quaker oats, margarine, demerara sugar, coconut and syrup!

How to make: Miss Kight’s Firelighters

How to make: Miss Kight’s Dorothy Cake

For our final Heritage Open Days bake try this scrummy Dorothy Cake – named after Miss Kight’s friend Dorothy – and filled with chocolate, cherries and almonds. Share photos of your cakes with us!

Waconian Words

Our Waconian magazine, written by pupils and showcasing CHS life, has been a social history since 1923. The Head at the time, T T R Lockhart, set out his hopes for the publication, “I understand that short-lived attempts have previously been made to establish a School Magazine – the last, under trying war conditions. I hope The Waconian has come to stay. It will establish a means of communicating with old scholars, and will keep alive the interest of present and past in their school – an interest which I hope to see developing into an intense school spirit.” For Heritage Open Days we explore a few foody features from over the years.

What’s on the menu?

Mmm look at this lovely lunch menu from 1973. Quite different to the delicious and varied diet that our pupils enjoy today! Notes made on the menu show the opinion of one Old Waconian at the time, “One way to improve school meals would be to actually heat up the meat before it is put out on the tables. The vegetables are usually so revolting to look at that one is completely repulsed by them, e.g. the carrots are mashed and watered down to the consistency of wet mashed potato. The puddings are not too bad, but one often finds flies which have drowned in the jelly.”

Food during wartime

As a result of WW1 and WW2 CHS pupils had to expand their skill set from algebra and art, to include farming and fire fighting…


Did you know…

🍎🍏 Apples from the apple tree behind Railway Cottage are used in the Autumn to make apple crumble for the Dining Hall (we can’t wait for this delicious pud this term!)

🍅🌶️ Tomatoes and chillis grown in the School’s greenhouses are used as ingredients in the kitchens

🌱And plans are in motion to create a Junior School eco garden around the eco flag which includes the ideas to grown herbs and vegetables – watch this space!

apples from school garden

Food and Festivities

Food and festivities have always been intertwined at CHS. Victorian Christmases saw the Dining Hall in all its finery (pictured below). As early as 1898 pupils enjoyed toffee, parkin and roast potatoes on bonfire night. Mr Board (Head 1884-1906) often recorded over 600 pancakes being made for Shrove Tuesday. And in 1926, an anonymous account tells us about a very special festive treat,

“After tea, the sliding doors of the Dining Hall were thrown back and a deafening shout announced the arrival of Father Christmas – a member of the teaching staff in appropriate costume – followed by an enormous pudding borne aloft on a gigantic plate by two other masters, disguised respectively as a chef and a waiter. Down the long room to the table at the end, went the stately procession, proceeded by two little heralds, acclaimed by a manifestation such as only healthy children can give. After the preliminary announcement by the heralds, Father Christmas taking a large knife from the hands of his chef, proceeded to cut open the three-feet high pudding, from which he drew out bag after bag of presents, one for each of the 18 tables…the pudding, now with a gaping hole in it, was once more raised aloft, and the procession took the return journey amidst deafening cheers.”

Victorian dining room at Christmas scaled

Trouble caused by Tipples in the 1800s!

The image below shows part of the School’s accounts in 1862. As you can see the School used to supply beer and porter to the officers of the Institution. The Matron, who didn’t like these drinks, asked the Executive Committee for an allowance of £5 so she could buy herself wine instead. To the dismay of the other staff the Committee’s reply was “that malt and other spirituous liquors be no longer supplied at the cost of the Institution except medicinally.” Not a popular move by Matron!

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Old Waconian Memories

What a week of food history. Let’s finish off with some of our Old Waconian memories of School Dinners. Do you have any highs or lows from your School Dinner days?