Who’s for pud?

Before looking forward with relish to choosing from the dessert menu, it should be clarified that this particular pud is not some tasty morsel as popular as the Dime Bar Special that is a hit with modern pupils but is actually an acronym: P.U.D.D. Furthermore, it is not even an official acronym but just my shorthand for the Prize for Usefulness in Domestic Duties.

From the inception of the School there had been a concern that girls should be skilled in needlework and domestic tasks. The advertisement in 1788 for the Matron asked for someone who was “capable of instructing the Children in Reading, Writing, Housewifery and every necessary use of the Needle.” Presumably the necessary use of the needle did not include fine embroidery but related more to hemming handkerchiefs or darning stockings: prosaic and practical rather than fancy work.

At various times in the School’s history, girls were awarded prizes for domestic skills. The Minute Book for 1834 records the award of a prize for household work and in 1876, we encounter this prize for proficiency in domestic duties with a not insubstantial monetary value.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph 10 May 1876, accessed via FindMyPast
Sheffield Daily Telegraph 10 May 1876, accessed via FindMyPast

The question is – what exactly is usefulness in domestic duties? As there were prizes for cookery and for needlework given at the same time as P.U.D.D., it must have involved something different. Unfortunately, there appears to be no extant curriculum from this time to know what was taught, assuming that it was a part of lessons.

I would be interested in opinions about what this might have included. Is the emphasis on usefulness or domestic or duties? Are there other schools who awarded similar prizes? Any family historians whose ancestor won a prize similar to this? How might it be decided whether someone was worthy of a prize in it?

Answers on the back of a duster, mayhap.

But no prizes.