The Charity school movement in the eighteenth century, writes L.W. Cowie, was the first attempt to provide for the education of the children of the poor in England.
‘Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two and two in red and blue and green,
Grey-headed beadles walked before with wands as white as snow
Till into the high dome of Paul’s they like Thames waters flow.
O what a multitude they seem’d, those flowers of London town
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands.
Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor.
Then cherish pity; lest you drive an angel from your door.