‘Spelling bees’ or spelling contests are a great American tradition, however, as early as 1876 there were newspaper reports of ‘spelling bees’ across towns and villages in the United Kingdom.
In the 1890s regular ‘spelling bee’ competitions were held in the village of Broadway in Worcestershire. One such competition took place on Saturday 12th January 1892 during a meeting of the village’s Congregational Guild. Held in the British Schoolroom, Reverend S. Clarke, conducted the ‘spelling bee’ and members of the Guild were divided in to two classes. In class 1, eleven entered the competition and they were given 20 words that had appeared in a recent copy of the ‘The Daily News’1. Miss Ida Morris spelled the most words correctly and was awarded first prize. In class 2, there were five competitors and the words were selected from the opening chapter of ‘Genesis’. The prize for that class was awarded to the winner, Mr Arthur William Folkes2.
Broadway History Society
- The Daily News, founded in 1846, is famous for its founding editor, Charles Dickens, who remained in the post for only 20 days but continued to write occasional columns for the paper.
- Arthur William Folkes (1871-1905) was born in Broadway, son of William Smith Folkes and Alice Folkes (nee Parker). He married Rosina Ellen Frances in 1897 and died. aged 33, in 1905. His brother died in the First World War and is commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial (see Broadway Remembers).