1 June 1919

St. Hilda’s Hall,



My dear Mother,

Very many thanks indeed for the cake, your two letters and the note, which last I was very pleased to see, for the reason I did not send any washing last week was because I simply had no money to send off the parcel, so it is all coming this week.

Last week – being Eights Week (1) – was really most thrilling!  By the Tuesday we had found out that the best view of the races was to be had from a punt on the towing path side of the river between the New Cut and Long Bridges.  We used to see all the bumps from there, always one – and sometimes two – per race.  Bumping races are really most exciting.  Magdalen finished head of the river – it was easily best.  By the fourth day we had nearly distinguished all the colours, and learnt to prophesy what would happen.  During the races there was a boom across the end of the New Cut, opened only at intervals.  Two Thames Conservancy tugs panted up and down – clearing the course for each race and cursing the audience through a megaphone – “Get over to the towing path side, sir – the towing path side …that’s not the towing path side!” – “Look ahead – punt!” – “There now, sir, you’ve quite spoilt that eight!” that eight only being the head of the river doing a little preliminary canter!  Then after it is all over for the day, there is a perfect scrum to get through the boom into the New Cut again, you really could walk right across the Isis from the towing path to the Green Bank  by stepping from punt to punt.  Thereafter a great exhibition of incompetent punting!  But, oh it was fun!  I never had such a glorious time in all my life.  I am so glad I did not go to Cambridge!

I have been elected on to the W.E.A. central committee, so feel rather proud of myself.  Mr Cohen was also elected.  By the way I propose to ask Mr Cohen to a river picnic while you are up, so that you can make his acquaintance before the dance.  I am looking forward to your coming immensely.  Just at the moment I feel I want my brother very badly.  I suppose you could not lend him to me for the day next Saturday?  It would be during his half term.

I go to Swanwick on July 23rd and leave on July 29th, so could be at Heaton Moor on the latter date.  The station for Swanwick is Butterly on the midland Railway, so perhaps Daddie could find out how I could get to Heaton Moor from there.  By the way I must have that Rhodes boy introduced to me while I am up North, for I find the Elsa Lowe, one of our First years, who lives in Manchester, knew the George Rhodes family quite well and says they were all nice, particularly the K.C.  Elsa  is typical Manchester, so they can’t be very sniffy!  Anyway he would be jolly useful, so will you please write to Auntie Nellie and ask her to wangle it?

Could you please time your next cake to arrive on Friday morning like the last, because Tommy and Miss Coate are coming to tea with me on the river on that day, and I want to do them well, so would like a home cake as a foundation.  Isabel is coming to support me, so I think we ought to have some fun.  Tommy arrives here on Wednesday.

I went to cocoa with the B. last Tuesday and talked about my future.  Do you know, I believe I want to teach, after all!  The B. quite approved of the plan and we sketched out a programme of how I could train for an educational expert – for example – one year’s training as continuation school mistress, then two years in an ordinary High School – the B. says this is best as a beginning – then continuation school teaching, and finally, inspections or other expert work under the Education Office.  The B. gave me some addresses, and also instructed me about getting into the Civil Service, but she seemed to think that latter rather a waste of energy!  Still all this is in the air – the Moberly may have something different to suggest, or the Levett.  This is really all the result of my finding out that I can coach.

My best love to Daddie and Max

Your loving daughter


P.S. I am so sorry to hear about Frank Prescott – I should think they ought to be all right though, both Frank and Ada were pretty warm, weren’t they?

P.S.S.  I am so (sorry) to have missed the post, but have been out all day with Doris Coleman.  We sculled down the river to Abingdon lock, past Nuneham Court below where we were that day last summer time.

(1) Eights Week ie 8 oarsmen in a long, narrow boat with a cox, racing one behind the other because the river is so narrow.  Every boat chases the one in front and, if it catches up, bumps into it, – and then starts the next day’s racing ahead of that boat.  If a boat achieves a bump every day (6 days in Margot’s day, 4 more recently), the oarsmen ‘win their oars‘, ie get an old oar painted with the crew names, dates, etc.


(2) The continuation schools were for 14 -17 year olds, in the area of technical and general instruction, taking into account local needs of different trades, together with ‘ training for healthy living and for the duties of citizen ship’ (MS Sadler: ‘Continuation Schools in England and Wales‘, 1907).  Presumably Margot was thinking of teaching in areas of social need.  The Continuation Schools extended to adult evening classes, which were already being promoted by local societies, the Co-operative Society and the Workers Education Association, with a broad curriculum particularly in the arts.

The next letter will be published on 14 June 2016.



One thought on “1 June 1919

  1. Dear Jenny – Talking to Susan and Martin who are our friends and neighbours, the chat veered, as it does, from Rajasthan to Edinburgh to Oxford, and she told me about you and Margot’s letters. I too was at St Hilda’s and was delighted to hear about this blog. What a treasure! Looking forward to reading it all.
    all very best from Kate Brown (1970)

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