25 May 1918

S. Hilda’s Hall,



                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter and parcel.  Everything travelled quite safely, including the tea and the corals.  The key does belong to my bag.  I remember now that I hung it under the latch key on the dresser so that it might be quite safe, and then promptly forgot all about it.  The cake will be invaluable, as Ethel is coming this week end, and I shall want plenty of grub.  I am sorry you had such a bad time on Sunday night.  Was any damage done near us?  I am glad you were home, though for the kid’s sake.  I wish that beggar Jack Stanton could contrive to come home during the vac.  I rather want to see him.  I am glad to hear that Laurie Bunce has been exchanged.  I hope he is not a hopeless case.  If all goes well I shouldn’t wonder if we hear of an engagement soon.

I cannot get any certain news of the Pensions Office yet.  I have pledged myself to go for a month either before or after the Bank Holiday week.  The man who is arranging wants to stick out for 35/- per week, and wants to bag one of the training colleges as hostel.  That would, of course, only be possible in August.  At present he just wants to know the probable numbers.  So I am afraid I cannot say anything more definite at present2.

I got a pair of white canvass slippers, with instep strap, for 4/11½ on my way home on Saturday.  They had laced shoes at the same price, but with toe-caps, which I was afraid would hurt, so I chose the others instead.  My white jumper came back from the wash with the blue stripe trimming almost exactly the same colour as the shirt, so now they are quite satisfactory together.

Hughie says I may try for my punt whole at the end of next week!  I feel very bucked.  Todd also says I can try for my boat half before the end of term.  I am going to row during the rest of the term, having decided I can get there all right.  Isabel and I are going to canoe to the Long Bridges bathing place on Tuesday, and bathe there before breakfast.  This afternoon I am taking Ethel in a punt  with Edith, and in a canoe with Muriel this evening.

I mustn’t write any more now, as I am just off to do some shopping before I meet Ethel.  Please give my dearest love to Daddie and Max, and also to the Faulkner family.  Please tell Mrs Faulkner I practised 2½ hrs on Thursday afternoon.  Don’t worry about Grandma, she will settle down in time.

Your loving daughter


1Jack and Laurie – are these friends called up to fight in the war?  There is surprisingly little about the terrible death toll of Margot’s contemporaries in the killing fields of World War I.

2She’s very enterprising to be earning money in her vacation.  It would be very interesting to know how many of her contemporaries did the same.  She later refers to one or two people she meets at work.

3Margot’s practising may have been either violin or piano or both.  It sounds as if Mrs Faulkner has taught her

Next letter to be posted on 4 June 2015.


5May 1918

S. Hilda’s Hall,



                My dear Mother

Many thanks for the little parcel and all it’s [sic] contents.  I am so glad you found the little buckle off my slipper – it makes just all the difference to them.  The two keys do belong to my case.  I am awfully glad you found them.  Where were they?  I hope to get time to tackle the collar to-day, if possible, Sundays being absolutely the only chance for needlework!

I am delighted to hear that you have settled things with the “Golden Cross”, and am already looking forward to next Saturday.  I now have Saturday, Sunday, and Monday quite free, and Tuesday after 10.45 a.m., so we must chose [sic] one of those days for our trip up the river.  How is Daddie coming up, after all?  Are you coming by the 1.30 from Paddington?  I have since had a brain wave about luggage.  If Daddie does not arrive too late you can leave both packages to be brought alone by the carrier.  They will only cost you 8d each that way.

Will you please bring up my bathing cloak with you, if you have room?  I think it may be quite possible to bathe later on when the weather is warmer.  But don’t bother if you haven’t room, it is not a vital matter.  Also please may I have the corals, and your big butterfly brooch, unless you want the latter.  Ever since I lost that priceless silver bar of mine, I have had nothing to fasten my ties.  Will you please also put in that old silk blouse of mine, my old camisole, my scarves – blue, pink, and orange, which I left behind in my linen drawer, and another coat hanger, if you can spare one.  At present my pink coat has to hang over my green dress, which is rather awkward, as the sleeves of the coat are rather smaller than those of the dress.  Also I left behind both my pretty afternoon tea cloths, yours and Mrs Faulkner’s, and have only that little plain one with the hemstitched edge, which is quite nice, but is showing signs of dirt, having been in use ever since the beginning of the term.  So if you want to come and have tea with me, you must please bring me a table-cloth.

I have just lived on the river this week,  three times I went out before breakfast, twice in the sculler1, and once in a punt.  May morning was great fun.  We were all knocked up at 5.0 a.m., and were on the river by 5.45.  After some trouble we got ourselves fixed by the bank.  I was in the sculler with four other first years.  The whole Hall was on the river, with the exception of the B. and Miss Coate, who were on top of Magdalen Tower itself.  Even the non-swimmers were in a punt with Todd.  It was a very grey morning, a little misty and more than a little chilly, but quite fine.  The river on either side of Magdalen Bridge was packed with craft of every kind.  At about 5 minutes to six we began to see little bits of white and red appearing between the masonry as the choir got into position.  Then the bells chimed six and when they had died away the chant began.  It sounded superb.  The chant is the most beautiful I have ever heard, and the tone of the voices was exquisite from the height of the tower coming across the water.  There was one beautiful boy’s voice in the choir, and the basses were glorious, coming in in the second line of the chant.  When the chant was ended the bells began to ring and the crowd to move.  We, being a sculler, and the river narrow, decided to stay where we were for the moment, as there were many inexperienced – (or apparently so) – punters about.  There’s nothing like a punt for getting in the way.  So we had our breakfast there and then, hard boiled eggs, anchovy sandwiches, and coffee in a thermos – getting first-rate amusement out of the dissolving crowd of boats, which got themselves rather entangled in trying to get away.  At 6.30 we got ship shape, and rowed down to Iffley and back before Hall breakfast at 8.15.

We have still got the sculler at the bottom of the garden by special permission until next Thursday.  It goes out very morning before breakfast, and every afternoon.  I am improving the shining hour.  I am quite getting the feel of the oars, and can feather quite nicely.   I am also learning to cox.  My putting in is a joy to behold.  I have done it without a bump everytime [sic] I have tried.  Meanwhile my punting proceeds apace.  Gibbie says that if my coaching is satisfactory when I go out with her on Monday, I may try  for my half at once!  Unfortunately the current is so strong that I have not yet succeeded in threading Magdalen bridge without a bump once this term, and I did it beautifully ever so many times at the end of last term!  I now want to learn to canoe, and Muriel is going to take me out for a first try on Tuesday morning before breakfast.  In the meanwhile I am tanning fast.

We have got an awfully nice tennis court this term at the Holywell Courts – grass.  On Tuesday afternoon Joyce, Bronwen, Evelyn, and I had a ripping game there, in spite of the wind.

I am to be coached  for half a term in Economics by Dr Carlyle2, the “tip-top” Economics man here, whom Miss Young met, if you remember.  Therefore I am in luck’s way.  We are going to a new set of lectures this term on Rousseau by Johnson, a perfectly killing old man with a fascinatingly wrinkled face, and a shock of white hair like a fleece of wool in its natural state, only not quite so dirty.

I have been nominated for Library Representative for History, practically by the B., though nominally by the S.S., and returned unopposed.  The office is really 2nd year, but our present poor Second Year is so overworked that the B. thought I might undertake the job.  The functions are merely to represent the History school on the Library Committee and to put away the history books at the beginning and end of term.

I enclose the receipt for my fees.  Please give my love to Daddie and Maxted, and blow a kiss to the milkman for me!  Tell him I often think of him!!

Your loving daughter,


1The sculler.  Sculling is normally one person with 2 oars, a double scull being 2 people, both with 2 oars.  However she may mean a tub pair or four which is often used for beginners.

2Dr Carlyle, 1861-1943, at this time rector of St Martin and All Saints, who taught in several colleges including the women’s, in history, economics, politics and modern languages.

Next letter to be posted on 25 May2015.