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The first village schoolmaster in Vršovice was appointed in the 17th century, and we know that in 1797 Matouš Holub was running a small school from his family cottage near the Botič stream. But the parish had to wait until the 1890s for its first purpose-built institutions, constructed alongside the park named after the mayor of Vršovice Josef Herold.

Two of the buildings still function as business and management colleges, but the adjacent girls’ establishment dating from 1898 is no longer in use as a school. Even so, the improving sentiment of Victorian-era educational values remains in the imposing inscriptions.

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The one at the top reads ‘School is the Foundation of Life’ and below it are the names of the two women most associated with the Bohemian cultural scene in the second half of the nineteenth century, the writers Božena Němcová and Karolina Světla. Between the two names appears an abbreviated version of the coat of arms of Vršovice: the Bohemian lion and the fishing basket called a vrš (from which folk etymologists like to derive the neighbourhood’s name).

This article first appeared in my Vršovice Diary in October 2010, and is reproduced here to celebrate International Women’s Day