Making a Nation

What were Victorian schools like during the 18th century?

What were schools likes during the late 1800's?


Schools during the 1800's were mostly very small and had no electricity. The children would use quill pens to write, which were dipped into ink wells to produce the text. Education was also not mainstream and not available to everyone, meaning that not all children, especially the poorer ones, would learn to read or write. Teachers would teach key subjects such as maths and English and these were the focus of the schooling.


Punishments at schools were very cruel during the 1800's. Children received a different amount of lashes for various reasons, depending on what they did. Some reasons the children received lashings were:

For going about the barn or doing any mischief about the place - 7 lashes

For going and playing about the mill or creek - 6 lashes

For wrestling at school - 4 lashes

Coming to school with dirty faces and hands - 2 lashes

For having long fingernails - 2 lashes

Making swings and swinging on them - 7 lashes

For misbehaving to girls - 10 lashes

Playing cards at school - 10 lashes







What was Toorak College like during the late 1800's?


"We had to find ourselves; our feet rang strangely on the red brick floor of the cloisters, as we marched for the first time along them to prayers in the Elephant"

Wrote Joan Duffield in 1928


Toorak College was opened on Wednesday the 21st of January as an only boys school. The first and founding principal of Toorak College was John Stevens Miller who was principal between 1874 and 1895. All classes were initially held in the brick hall of St Johns Perspiration Church in Toorak. In 1895 Margaret Oliver Tripp was leased the school by John Thomas Craig, an associate of Toorak College. Mrs Tripp then took over the school on the 4th of February that year, and converted it from a boys school to a girls only school. Shortly after Ellen Blundell Pye took over in 1899. During her time at Toorak College Mrs Pye created sport teams in tennis, basketball, cricket and rowing. She then retired in 1907. Taking over from Mrs Pye were Isabella and Robina Hamilton, who became co-pricipals, along with their sister Barbara, who became in charge of the boarding house. During 1919, the school moved to Mayfield Avenue, where the 230 students found their new school "A very paradise of model classrooms, a playing field such as we never dreamt of, and a real chapel with stone walls and stained glass windows.


During late 1926 on speech night Toorak College was proposed to close. A committee of parents was established for the purpose of continuing Toorak College as a private company. The school, with the help of the committee, moved into temporary premises which were known as the towers in Lansell Road, Toorak. During late 1928 the school moved to its now site of Mt Eliza, which was when the house system was established. The first houses in this system were Douglas, Mayfield and Hamilton. Tripp was then added for the day girls in 1948, but as day student numbers grew the new house Pye, in honor of Mrs Ellen Blundell Pye, was established in 1955. Cerutty was added to the house list, in honor of Mrs Dorothea Cerutty, who led the school between 1967 and 1976, and established the swimming pool, a new boarding house and a chapel.


Due to the gifts of Sir Reginald Ansett and Sir Norman Carson, who were two benefactors of the school, a separate junior school as built in 1957, later named Wardle House after Mrs Wardle.