12 and 13 November 1917

2 letters in an envelope addressed to W H Collinson, Esq.

St. Hilda’s Hall,



                My dear Mother,

Thank you very much for your parcel, and for the letter and enclosure.  The scones were very welcome, and made a nice addition to our dinner on Saturday night, when we went to the last performance of the D’Oyley Carte.  They were also very useful for our lunch walk on Sunday.  Many thanks for the kimonos, Miss Todd is highly delighted with them, also with the sandals.  The wool will be extremely useful when I can find time to stuff the cushion.

I like the mauve pyjamas very much, thank you, and am glad you have another pair on the list.  Mrs Harris continues to do my things beautifully.  I gave her my blue striped blouse and the silk pyjamas last week, and they both look too nice to wear.  This week I have given her the green embroidered cloth.

The play is getting quite amusing.  The heroine is Miss Faulkner, the prettiest girl and the best actress in the Hall.  She and Ella make a charming couple as mistress and maid.  Miss Faulkner can be so thoroughly fascinating that I shall really be head over heels in love with her before I have done.

Miss James, the author of the play, sent us a most fascinating box of properties and dresses.  My dress is a proper man’s garment, and is indeed a fearful and wonderful affair – it is in five parts, and consists of an undershirt whose only importance lies in the black collar, a pair of blue hakemana (trousers), a long black silk kimono, and a short black crepe coat.  It really looks awfully nice when on, and I provide a splendid foil for Ella and Miss Faulkner, who wear most gorgeous flowered kimonos.

Tonight Ella gave a very interesting lecture on Chinese architecture – tomorrow I have a free afternoon and intend to wash my hair – also a formal cocoa in the evening after a rehearsal.  Thursday is General Meeting and a first year cocoa.  Friday, another rehearsal.  Saturday, Dr Allen is coming to inaugurate our new Musical Society by playing to us.  So you see how much time hangs heavily on our hands.

Your loving daughter,


P.S.  Please thank Maxted for his nice letter.

St. Hilda’s Hall,



                My dear Daddie,

Thank you very much indeed for your letter.  I am glad to see by Mother’s postscript to Maxted’s  that you got home from the North all right.  How did you find all the people there, particularly Auntie Nellie?  I had a letter from her last week, in which she said she had been over to Heaton Moor the previous Saturday, expecting to see you then, so evidently she had mistaken the date of your coming.

13.11.17 First mention of the river.  Margot is the tallest.

13.11.17 First mention of the river. Margot is the tallest.

I have discovered that the swimming test is not 80 yds, as I thought, but 80 ft.  Don’t you think you have seen me swim that much?  If you have, please say so in writing, and then I can go on the river.  People row, scull, punt and canoe here, and they are very particular how you do it, as we have a reputation for style, and have to keep it up.  It is therefore not at all a bad thing never to have punted before, as they are most particular as to how you do that.  I am just aching to go on the river, so, if you can do so without perjuring yourself, please send me a certificate as soon as possible.

I do get out as much as possible – in fact I do quite a lot of walking.  That’s where a bicycle would be useful, of course – walking to lectures and coachings is all very well as a form of exercise, but it takes time.  For instance, on Tuesday I have a coaching at L.M.H. at 5. p.m.  It takes me half an hour to walk there, so the whole affair takes two hours, which for an hour’s coaching in Latin Unseens is absurd.  I get absolutely nothing done that evening.  Also one is liable to have a coaching which ends at 11.0 and a lecture which begins at 11.5 at the other end of the town.  I am alright for this term – the one time that was awkward was changed.  All Oxford moves on wheels.  You should see the High at 1.0. p.m. – it positively swarms with bicycles – it’s quite a tricky business getting across it.

I hardly ever work in the afternoon.  If I am not playing hockey or occasionally tennis, I try to get a stiff walk.  You can get up to Headington, which is the nearest height, in about 15 minutes.  It’s nice and high up there, but there’s rather too much of Headington Village.  We went a ripping walk on Sunday – we went 9 or 10 miles, and took from 10. a.m. -3. p.m. over it.  We climbed up on to Boar’s Hill, and found ourselves in a perfectly glorious wood.  Of course we got off the road, and followed a perfectly charming path which led up and down, through the wood, and finally into a carriage drive.  Scenting that there was something wrong we climbed through some wire into a lane, which led us back to the point from which we started.  After that we stuck to the public path, which led us home by quite a pretty track across some fields, and we arrived in about 3.0. p.m., leaving us just time enough to have a bath and get dressed for tea with Miss Burrows in the drawing room.  At least that was my fate.

I shan’t be able to walk much now in the afternoons, as we are at present rehearsing for all we are worth.  However, there is always hockey.  We played a most exciting match against L.M.H. on Saturday, which ended in a draw – 3 all.  We have two Cheltenham children among the freshers who are splendid at hockey and lacrosse, and have been asked to play for the United – a rare honour for St. Hilda’s.  One of them, Marjorie Comins, whose brothers were and are at D.C., is a perfect marvel.  Our practices are rather apt to become a solo concerto for Marjorie’s powers of shooting, the rest of the players acting as orchestra.  She can shoot, too, as multi-coloured bruises on various parts of my lower limbs bear eloquent witness – the opposing goal rather acts as a kind of Aunt Sally.  On Monday we had a practice at 7.15 a.m., and had to climb the fence into the bargain!

The Bach Choir continues to go with a swing.  We are doing the first part of the Messiah for a concert at the end of the term.  It is lovely music, but takes a deal of breath!  The Sunday before last Dr Allen held a hymn-singing in the Sheldonian Theatre, with the general public as his choir, and the Bach Choir as an object lesson.  He taught people new tunes in that way.  It was quite interesting and very amusing.

I must stop writing now, as it is getting late – the 10.30 bell has just tinkled.

Your loving daughter


Next letter to be posted on19 November 2014