‘Just a button’ is how Joe Tilt described one of his recent finds when writing on a detecting forum. In a way he was apologising to the members for ‘only’ finding a button. There was no need. His find was much more interesting than a hammered coin or Roman brooch where information is sparse or non-existent. The humble button spoke volumes and told us a lot about our recent social history.
Today we have Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOS) but in the middle 1800’s we had reformatory schools, a way to provide care for children involved in criminal or anti-social behaviour. In later times these young people were referred to as ‘juvenile delinquents’. It was a humble die-stamped two-piece copper-alloy button from an item of reformatory clothing that Joe had unearthed.
Bedford Reformatory School, a penal institution for young offenders, was opened in 1857, with room for 30 boys. Its purpose was to provide an alternative to prison. The inscription BEDFORD REFORMATORY is surrounded around a beehive (called a skep) surrounded by flying bees and has a simple looped wire shank, not back-marked. Similar depictions of bees flying around the skep – symbolising industry, diligence and effort and the concept that work is rewarding, can be found on many late 18th century tokens.
Indeed, detectorist Dave Derby found a similar button in Northamptonshire, which I have mentioned before, but it is worth a reprise. He calls it his ‘Bad Boys’ Button. I find it ironic that the back plate should bear the legend EXTRA RICH QUALITY.
Tiffield reformatory was founded in 1855 … or 1856, depending upon which research items you pin your faith, and is a good example of a Reform School that received boys from all over the country, and for various misdemeanours. The length of sentence was harsh – such as three years for stealing boots, the same for a chicken, and five years for stealing eight eggs.
In around 1925, the institution was renamed St John’s School and In 1933, St John’s became an Approved School, one of the new institutions introduced by the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act to replace the existing system of Reformatories and Industrial Schools. It accommodated up to 100 Intermediate Boys aged between their 13th and 15th birthdays at their time of admission. The industrial training at the School was now largely confined to gardening and carpentry.
An early example of re-cycling – how those buttons came to be found in fields. See an excellent explanation HERE.
I owe my subscribers an apology for the recent ‘outage’. Yup, I know the jargon! Because of my concern about the NOT SECURE notice in all post headings, I sort help to rectify and have a locked padlock showing. My reasoning was that phrase ‘not secure’ was having a negative effect on the trustworthiness of my blog.
What SSL does ( Secure Sockets Layer)
An SSL certificate encrypts all information transmitted to and from a website, ensuring it is protected from third parties attempting to access it. If you have an SSL certificate, your site’s URL will start with the prefix ‘https’ and a padlock icon will be displayed in the browser bar showing visitors your site is secure and their data is safe.
It is only because of the sterling efforts of Young John and the Guys (and Gal) at TSOHost that, metaphorically speaking, I am ‘up and running’ again. Thank you. There are still one or two problems to sort and we will try and deal with those as they occur. Unfortunately, unless I visit every post made in the last three years and change the link to the new server, you may not be able to gain access. Please let me know if you experience any other problems, and I shall try (with the help of my friends) to put them right.