29 April 1918

S. Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford,

29.4.18

                My dear Mother

Many thanks for sending on the diary – it arrived quite safely this morning.  I have been to the Golden Cross, and seen the manageress.  She says it is possible to allow for meals à la carte, but it would make the charge for the rooms more.  She presented me with a tariff, which I enclose. I went over some of the rooms, but she could not tell me which you would be able to have.  It is a most quaint and rambling old place.  I said you would let her know as soon as possible.

My things arrived this morning from Mrs Christian.  I am very pleased with them, and particularly with the coat.  It is most smart.  I enclose the bill.  I will write and thank her for them – she really has been awfully quick.  By the way will you send me the rest of the paisley.  I have an idea of making a collar for my costume coat to match my hat.  Will you also send me any coloured silks you have that would match any of the shades in the paisley, for I see the collar on my dress is edged with three different coloured silks in a most ingenious way which I am sure I could copy.  I have nearly finished trimming my pink hat – it is getting done by instalments.  Now only half the inner edge remains to be sewn down.  Will you please also send, or bring with you when you come, my little pincushion, which is, I believe, reposing on the second shelf in the sideboard cupboard.  Also I have left behind my little nail brush with the white handle, which I expect is still on my washstand.

That round cake I brought up is a beauty, and was much appreciated at a tea party we had yesterday comprising Joyce, Bronwen, Evelyn Ellis and myself.  We had a bumper tea, and then played “Nothing but the truth” till it was time to go to New College.  We had great sport.  Joyce was the only one who managed to escape telling a lie;  Evelyn and I told three each, and Bronwen two!  In the evening we had a First Year Cocoa as a sort of farewell to West, the theological student, who is going down because all the books she wants are in London.  We decided not to do the Greek stunt until this time next year, when she hopes to be up again – I can’t make out at all what on earth the woman is at! – and when we shall be second years with no exams immediately before us.

I went all round the town this morning, seeing coaches and things, and have been sculling this afternoon.  We came in at 4.0., since when I have had tea, and done a brutal Latin Unseen – very badly, as I had to hurry in order to catch the 6.0 messenger, which I did by the skin of my teeth, and by sacrificing the last sentence of the Unseen.  In twenty minutes’ time I must go down to early dinner and thence on to Bach Choir.  What a life! The Bursar thinks we can comply with the Lighting Order1 without affecting our use of the lights in our rooms, which is a blessing.  They have been reduced by 2/3.

I really must stop, or I shall never get changed for dinner.  Please give my love to Daddie and the kid,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1More war-time restrictions, this time on lighting;  the college windows would have to be well-screened by curtains to obscure the town from enemy aircraft.

Next letter to be posted on 5 May 2015

28 April 1918

S. Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford,

28.4.18

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for sending on the watch – it arrived quite safely this morning – as we did yesterday afternoon.  We collected Jacynth out of the carriage next door at Reading, so there were four of us after that.  We portered most of our own luggage at Oxford, there were such a crowd, but finally a man came to our aid with the big boxes, and we arrived at the Hall about 3.30 p.m.  My box had already arrived quite safe and sound, but have not yet seen the bill.  I managed to get everything unpacked before 10.0 p.m. in spite of various interruptions, and several excursions into town.

I find I have not got the key of my bag with me at all. I have some faint recollection of handing it over to you to keep, so will you see if you have it?  I am sure it is not among my possessions at home.  I have not got my diary, so I expect it is lying about somewhere in the dining room.

It was absolutely stifling yesterday when we arrived.  Today is much cooler and showery.  The river has been out during the vac. And only went down a few days ago.  I hope it will be all right for May morning.  Joyce and I are to go in the First Year Sculler.  They are arranging for everyone to go on, but we shall have the best of it, as the rest of our year will have to go either in canoes – most uncomfortable – or with Todd1 or Hughie2.  We shall be an entirely First Year crowd.  Todd always takes the non-swimmers which is really rather decent of her.

I haven’t yet had time to go to the Golden Cross3, but will go on Monday and will write to you again immediately.  I hear from the Levett and Miss Coate4 that Tommy5 is coming up this Whitsun for three weeks!  Miss Coate met her in town this vac., and had to answer no end of questions about me, so she says.  The whole of Miss Coate’s and Tommy’s year are coming up for Whitsun, and are going to hire two punts from Saturday morning till Monday night.

We have got Mrs B.6 quartered on us in the new wing – in Muriel’s room.  There are awful rumours that the B. will succeed Mrs. B when the latter goes, so no more midnight rapsodies [sic]!  Muriel has got Anker’s room, a much bigger one in the oldest part of the building.  Everyone loathes the change, particularly Muriel, although she was a party to the arrangement.  Joyce is in a blue funk already, for she usually manages to attract all the noise to her room.

I am probably to coach with Dr Carlyle for Economics. By myself!  We, Jerry and I, are also to have two coachings on Rousseau and I am to go to some lectures the Levett is giving on English History from 1660.  I understand I am to finish up English History up to 1901 in the Long Vac.!

I did not tell you about the Library Books –

Histoire de France – Lavisse – 2 Vols)                Dr Williams Library.7

Joseph II                                                )

Mill – Political Economy                                      )

History of Germany – Henderson                      )               Streatham Library

Lectures on Modern History – Acton               )

“          “ the Reformation – Beard  )

The Economic Outlook – Canman –   )

Compromise – Morley –                       )               belong to Ethel.

Richard Teverel                                    )

Ethel said she would call for her books, so will you give her those three when she does?  Did I tell you I met Miss Young in Streatham on Friday morning?  She had not yet gone  away, because the weather was so uncertain.  She promised to come and see me when she came to Berkshire.

Much love to you, Daddie, and Maxted,

Your loving daughter

Margot

1Louisa Todd was the English Tutor.

2‘Hughie’ is Helen Campbell Hughes (1914-18).  Her 1944 obituary refers to her as ‘Hugh’ with many references to her skills on the river.

3The Golden Cross is a local hotel where she is arranging for her mother to stay.

4Miss Coate is Tutor in History .

5Tommy – Miss Coates’ contemporary at St Hilda’s and the author of the first document in this collection, Miss Dorothea Thompson, Margot’s former history teacher.

6Mrs B is the Principal’s mother who preceded her as Principal.

7Dr Williams Library, established by the leading nonconformist minister of his day, Dr Daniel Williams who died in 1715, and greatly added to over the years.  In 1890, it took over the building in Gordon St, London, which it had shared with Manchester College until the college’s removal to Oxford.

Next letter to be posted on 29 April 1918