Eename 1665 – the school

From the middle of the 11th century to the end of the 18th century, Ename was ruled by the Benedictine abbey, located between the village centre and the river Scheldt.  So this abbey was organising the life in the village in most of its aspects.  Hence, the Ename abbey buys in 1628 a parcel of land at the central square, to organise a school for the village at the home of the churchwarden.  In other words, this person not only organised the practical aspects of the services at the Saint Laurentius parish church but provided also teaching for the children of the village.  We could identify this school on the detailed map of the village made in 1661 by surveyor Jan Bale.

Location of the school on the 1661 map by Jan Bale (Huis Beaucarne)

From 1628 until today, the location of the school hasn’t changed, although the abbey rule was suspended in 1795 and the school was transferred to the French Republic and in 1830 to the new country Belgium.  In 1984, school activities were suspended and the building is waiting to get a new function.

The Ename school at the beginning of the 20th century (image: Didier Descamps)
The school building today (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

Historical research shows that nearly all rural schools in the 17th century were situated in an annexe of a house or public building.  This is exactly what we see on the 1661 map above, so we have reconstructed the building as a normal dwelling with a one-room annexe.  Both have an entrance to the street as suggested by the 1661 map.

school outside
The 17th-century school is located on the same spot in the village centre and has its own access (image: Visual Dimension)
the house of the sacristan
The school is an annexe to the house of the churchwarden (image: Visual Dimension)
school inside
The classroom is one single room adjacent to the house (image Visual Dimension)
Mother and two children at the school, by Christina Chalon (Rijksmuseum)
The schoolmaster by Bernardus van Schijndel, 1670 – 1709 (Rijksmuseum)
Teacher and 3 pupils
Teacher and three pupils in a 17th-century school by Adriaen van Ostade, 1671 – 1679 (Rijksmuseum)

In such a school, there was only one common room for boys and girls of all ages.  The teacher was sitting at his desk, helping out the children with their tasks.  Children who were performing or behaving badly were punished by a hit on the flat of the hand with a ferule.

The classroom with the desk and chair of the schoolmaster on the left (image: Visual Dimension)
The Village School by Jan Steen, 1650-1660 (Europeana) showing a satchel in the foreground

The major tool for education from the second half of the 17th century onwards were printed schoolbooks. One of the people who was instrumental in creating schoolbooks was the father of educational sciences: Jan Amos Comenius. His Orbis Sensualium Pictus (The Visible World) was groundbreaking and multilingual. After establishing the educational programmes in several countries, he lived in Amsterdam from 1657 to 1670, when he died there.

A page of the Orbis Sensualium Pictus on clouds
Portrait of Jan Amos Comenius, Jürgen Ovens, 1650 – 1670 (Rijksmuseum)

One thought on “Eename 1665 – the school

  1. Pingback: Ename in 1665, de school – Ename, mijn dorp.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s