Hornsey’s Response to the Treaty of Versailles and to Peace Day

An Armistice had ended the Great War on 11 November 1918. The peace treaty between the Allies and Germany was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly 5 years after Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination triggered the conflict. The other Central Powers signed separate treaties. What was Hornsey’s response to these events and why were the children involved?

On 28 June Hornsey’s church bells rang out in celebration and a special Te Deum was sung at Anglican services of thanksgiving. In the evening, fireworks, crackers and rockets were let off in back gardens and bonfires lit in the streets. Flags and bunting were put up and some houses were decorated with Chinese lanterns and fairy lamps. High streets were full of people after the shops closed.

Saturday 19th July was declared a national Peace Day. Hornsey Town Council set up a special committee to arrange the Peace celebrations in the Borough with £500 expenditure for events. It was realised that most people would be attracted the London celebrations. So the Council decided to focus on Friday events for its children and to illuminate the district on Saturday evening with a display of night flares and rockets fired from the highest points of the Borough.

The focus on Hornsey’s youngsters

As the Hornsey Journal points out (Schools Celebrate Peace, 25 July) the Council focused on providing a Peace Day celebration for its youngsters as, ‘they knew nothing of peace time and had lost four years or more of the innocent pleasures of early life’. Indeed, many children had lost fathers, brothers and cousins in the war and had been brought up in grieving families who had no hope of visiting their loved ones’ graves abroad, particularly if those loved ones had disappeared in the mud of Flanders.

Every school, elementary and secondary, lay on a tea for its pupils with tables heaped with food. Each school was allocated a nearby field on which to carry out a programme of games, pageants and the entertainments which followed.

The Borough of Wood Green focused on the children also. Interestingly, Muswell Hill Elementary School’s pageant, The Insurrection of Boadicea AD 61, was the first item in the Education Committee’s leaflet of events. Later this school was known as the ‘Tin Pot School’ because of its temporary buildings.

A quick guide to which schools used which fields

  • Campsbourne School Redston Road Field
  • Crouch End Boys Hornsey County & Stationers’ School Grounds
  • Crouch End Girls North London Cricket Club
  • Crouch End Infants Hornsey & Britannic Cricket Clubs
  • Highgate Council School (Senior Dept.) Highgate Grammar School Field
  • Highgate Council School (Junior Dept.) Manor Dairy Co. Field, Woodside Avenue
  • North Harringay Boys Alexandra Palace drive & paddock
  • North Harringay Girls & Infants School playgrounds
  • South Harringay Finsbury Park cricket ground
  • Stroud Green Boys Finsbury Park cricket grounds
  • Stroud Green Girls & Infants School playgrounds
  • Muswell Hill Ingersoll Watch Co. Field, Woodside Avenue
  • St Mary’s Boys Alexandra Park cricket ground
  • St Mary’s Girls Hornsey High School Ground
  • St Michael’s Highgate The Vicarage and school grounds
  • St James Muswell hill Ingersoll Watch Co. Grounds
  • Holy Innocents Miss Jameson’s field, Cecile Park, Crouch End

Selection of Entertainments

  • Campsbourne & Crouch End Schools Cinema
  • Highgate Council School Concert
  • North Harringay Girls Marionettes in the school hall
  • North Harringay Infants Punch and Judy Show
  • Stroud Green School Ventriloquist and conjuror
  • St Mary’s School Girls An historical pageant
  • St Mary’s Infants Gramaphone records & ventriloquist
  • Muswell Hill & St James Entertainments at The Athenaeum, Muswell Hill
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