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The history of Sunday school is a bit confusing. We are told that Robert Raikes (1735-1811) was the first person to set up an actual Sunday school in 1780 in Gloucester. He even has a statue in London on the Embankment commemorating that fact. But it is also written that a lady started a Sunday school earlier than Raikes. Her name was Hannah Moore and she began the school in her own home in 1769. Although she herself was a Methodist, she joined up with the local Parish Church and the children were taken there after they had finished having lessons at her house. They were taught religious instruction as well as being taught how to read and write. There is a window in the Town Hall in High Wycombe to commemorate her.
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Raikes idea behind Sunday school was the fact that the young children (most of who worked in the factories) could be stopped from turning into criminals if they were given a basic and religious education. Seeing as Sunday was the only day they did not work then that became the day that they went to school.
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Robert Raikes (Click on photo to enlarge it)
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Modern day Sunday school is very different from Robert Raikes times. Now the emphasis is on learning through fun, and the atmosphere is a lot more friendly.