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Letters of Introduction

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Students’ Letters and Stories

The students’ letters of introduction are important preparation for their participation in
the role-play experience. Ideally, we like to receive and read these before your visit.

In order to maximise the costumed school experience, we ask students to each write an imaginative letter or story based on answers to the questions below. Additions relevant to the 1850s Ballarat theme are welcome!

This task is good preparation for the role-play style of teaching. We will use some of the information provided in these letters to enhance our engagement with the students during the program.

They should use their real names and be conscious that they are writing from the perspective of a child of the 1850s. Careful and pleasing presentation of work is important and appreciated.

These letters or stories should be sent at least one week prior to your visit. They can be posted or scanned and emailed to sovereign.hill.sch@edumail.vic.gov.au

Please note that the basic information to be supplied in each letter or story varies for different schools.

Red Hill National and St Peter’s Denominational Schools

Your letter or story needs to include:

Father’s name and occupation.
Mother’s name and occupation.
Your name and age.
How did your family travel to the Colony of Victoria?
From which country did you come?
How did you travel from Melbourne or Geelong to Ballarat?
Why did your family come to Ballarat?
Describe your dwelling in Ballarat. (Tent in the early 1850s. Possibly a bark, slab/mud hut. Cottage in later 1850s/60s.)
Individual information of a personal nature that is appropriate.




St Alipius’ Diggings School

Your letter should answer the questions above, but you should come from Ireland. Name your Irish home town and county eg., Ennis in County Clare. You need to know about the potato famine and its effects on the Irish people.




Ragged School

This is charity education for very poor families. You might be an orphan through tragic circumstances. Describe these in your letter or story. Your father might have died or abandoned your family. Your writing should reflect the poverty faced by your family.



Wesleyan Day School

The Wesleyan Day School at Sovereign Hill is based on the Mount Pleasant Wesleyan Day School which operated from 1853 until it became the Mount Pleasant State School on 3 August, 1874.

Up until 1853 Ballarat centred on Main Road which had developed into a wild roistering community quickly becoming over-crowded, undrained, smelly and unhealthy. Such an environment of drinking, gambling and riotous living was not to the liking of the pious Cornish and Welsh followers of John Wesley.

The hilly unspoilt country south of Golden Point appealed to the Cornishmen in particular so they moved in a group to a gentle rise on the western side of the White Horse Ranges and called the area Pleasant Mount, soon to become known as Mount Pleasant. Here they created Ballarat’s first residential suburb and formed a strong Wesleyan congregation led by the Reverend Theophilus Taylor.

The first Wesleyan Church in Mount Pleasant was a canvas tent erected on the corner of Barkly and Morton Streets used as a church, Sunday School and Day School.

As the congregation steadily grew the tent was replaced by a wooden slab building with canvas roof relocated from Clayton’s Hill. This building served as Church, Sunday School and Day School.

The slab building with canvas roof was replaced in 1857 by a woodern building which operated as Church, Sunday School and Day School. By 1858, enrolments in both Day and Sunday Schools had passed 200 so there must have been great relief when a new stone church opened nearby in 1865.

The wooden building continued to be used as a school until 1862 Common Schools Act passed control of the school to the Board Education and it became the Mount Pleasant State School.

The building is the model for our Weselyan Day School at Sovereign Hill which will be set in 1858.


Suggested Possible Occupations


Straw Bonnet-maker
Laundry Maid
Scullery Maid


Carriage Builder