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Medieval Period


There is no evidence for formal educational provision in medieval Dartford, other than the fact that the Dominican nuns of Dartford ran a school at Dartford Priory. Several leading Dominican monks claimed to have been taught by the nuns at Dartford. The nuns at Dartford Priory were highly educated. Those nuns who did not know Latin on entering the nunnery were taught by tutors specially appointed for the task.

Precisely what was taught in nunnery schools is difficult to determine, though it would seem that boys and girls were taught together. Education would have been very limited, usually reading, singing and religious instruction. Those boys wishing eventually to enter the Church as a profession would need to be instructed in Latin. There was much hostility towards the education of women. Clerics believed that women who had been taught to read and write would use their acquired skills writing love letters and reading heretical literature.



Medieval education

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The main obstacle to education was money. Even many clerics were relatively uneducated, and since books were costly, most learning had to be by word of mouth and by rote learning. The increasing use of paper in the later middle ages meant that books gradually became cheaper since much of the cost traditionally lay in the price of vellum.

The fact remains that the majority of ordinary people in medieval Dartford could not read or write (other than to sign their name), neither could they understand church sermons that were invariably preached in Latin. Colourful life-like images, highly decorated altars and Bible stories depicted in stained glass windows relied on strong visual imagery to impart their message to the illiterate mass of society.



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