Sunday Schools

The world's first Sunday Schools were established in the 16th century. In the 1770s the Unitarian minister Theophilus Lindsey provided free lessons on Sunday at his Essex Street Chapel in London. However, it is Robert Raikes, the owner of the Gloucester Journal who started a Sunday School at St. Mary le Crypt Church in Gloucester, who usually gets the credit for starting the movement. Although not the first person to organize a school in a church, Raikes was able to use his position as a newspaper publisher to give maximum publicity for his educational ideas.

The bishops of Chester and Salisbury gave support to Raikes and in 1875 a London Society for the Establishment of Sunday Schools was established. In July 1784 John Wesley recorded in his journal that Sunday Schools were "springing up everywhere". Two years later it was claimed by Samuel Glasse that there were over 200,000 children in England attending Sunday schools.

In 1801 there were 2,290 Sunday schools and by 1851 this had grown to 23,135. It was estimated that by the middle of the 19th century, around two-thirds of all working class children aged between 5 and 15 were attending Sunday Schools.