35 Elms Road
My dear Mother,
Many thanks for your letter and the enclosed note, which arrived quite safely at the Hayes. I arrived here yesterday after a very exciting, if rather tiring, week, and with many adventures by the way, which I will relate in due course.
It is quite impossible to describe Swanwick – it is unique. There must have been 600 or 700 students there, men and women, beside a large number of visitors. I knew all the Oxford women, of course. Little Marsden only stayed till Saturday, and then departed to St Anne’s, where his brother was swimming in a championship. We had one or two very jolly conversations – he is a friendly little soul. I faithfully delivered your message and Doris’. He spoke very charmingly about her. He seemed a little sorry that I was not going to stay in Manchester, for of course I intended to have that piece of information handed on. I was quite sorry when he went.
One of the women in my carriage at St Pancras, a student at St. Mary’s Training College, Lancaster Gate, proved to be exceptionally nice. Her name is Nellie Insley, and she lives in France, at St. Malo, although both she and her parents are English. She and I went about a good deal together, and also with a college friend of hers. There were also a large contingent of Irish girls, some of whom were very jolly. I had a long conversation with a Trinity College, Dublin, girl who is reading Modern History and is a year from her degree, just like me. We had a very interesting talk about the ‘varsities, history and the Irish Problem. Altogether they were a very nice collection of girls – all except the Girton people, who regularly got themselves into bad odour. They just would not mix. They were frightfully exclusive and were rude and patronising to the rest of the world. The Newnham people were only a shade better, but I met one quite nice Scotswoman, who was at school with Edith Cowan. There was also a very interesting older woman from New College, Hampstead, who was reading theology with the intention of entering the Congregational Ministry.
We also met some quite amusing men – in particular a youth from Bristol with very clear ideas, and one or two from University College, London. On Sunday we made up a joint walking party, which included two quite nice Oxford men, a boy from B.N.C. and another man whom I know very well by sight. Of course, we got along very well together.
There were a fine lot of visitors and speakers. Most of the male speakers were clergy or ministers, but as they all wore mufti, you only discovered it by accident, and were usually surprised. There were two fine C. of E. ministers there – Edward Woods2 of Cambridge and Charlie Matthews3 of St. Peter’s in Thanet. Woods was a great sport, and immensely popular with everybody. He also played tennis extremely well. But Matthews was the marvel. I think it would have been worthwhile to go to Swanwick only to hear a minister of the C. of E. say that the Pursuit of Truth was a duty and must be put before adherence to the creeds! Some man, is Charlie! There were also present the Dean of Carlisle, Dr. Rashdall4, known to Oxford as “the Rasher”, a perfectly comic little figure in gaiters, and Canon Streeter, otherwise “Stroggins”, a familiar figure to us Oxonians. I have at last discovered the secret of that man’s popularity. He is a regular figure of fun, looks a perfect “cake” and is rather awkward with women. But with undergrads he doesn’t mind how big a fool he makes of himself. You should have seen him at the Sports in shirt sleeves and braces, spurring on the tug-of-war by opening and shutting his umbrella as if it were a pair of bellows! He was in all the “rags”, and there were many.
Yesterday I had a killing time coming here from Swanwick. I discovered a Cambridge man who was also coming to Stockport, so we came along together. We made enquiries and thought we ought to change Ambergate, but when we got there they told us to go on to Derby, and assured us that none of the luggage for the Manchester line had been taken out. At Derby we found my luggage, but my byke and his suit case were nowhere to be found! However they were both labelled, so we decided to wait till we got to Stockport before we began to worry. So we got into the 11.16 train for Manchester, from which we had to change at Chinley. When we got out at Chinley at 12.30, we were told there was no train to Stockport until 3.5! Accordingly we cursed the station-master at Ambergate, booked the luggage, and went to have some lunch. We found a charming little café in Chinley, where we had lunch, and then departed to look at the beauties of the neighbour hood. It was quite a pretty little place, but I am afraid that we were more interested in philosophy and the ‘varsities than in the scenery! I rather wished that my little Irish friend, who seemed to think that there was “feeling” between Oxford and Cambridge, could have seen us. We caught the 3.5 to Stockport and found Mr Bower’s suit case on the train, and my byke in the Booking Office at Stockport, which is really one up to the Midland Railway! I then took a cab hither, and arrived just before Auntie Lucy came in the tea. So that’s the tale of my adventures on the M.R.
We go to Buxton on Friday. I will send you the address later. Would you please send me a pair of coloured knickers5? I forgot to bring a pair with me, and may want them. Gwen is coming over this evening.
Your loving daughter,
P.S. Much love to Daddie and Max.
1Heaton Moor is where a bunch of the Collinson family lived.
2Edward Woods of Cambridge, 1877-1953, was at this time Vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, and eventually became Bishop of Lichfield
3Charlie Matthews of St. Peter’s in Thanet: he had been a Bush Brother ( a High Church Anglican semi-monastic order of priests who worked in the Australian outback) and remained a parish priest all his life.
‘While remaining English in outlook and habit, Matthews appreciated and, to an unusual extent, understood the problems and habits of the outback. He brought to them a dry humour and a practical spirituality and was quite devoid of the patronizing attitude so often adopted by English clergymen in Australia.’ (Australian Dictionary of Biography)
4Dr. Hastings Rashdall (1858-1924) was `a leader of the liberal school of Anglicanism’.
5 It would be interesting to discover the significance of coloured knickers.
The next letter to be posted on 10 August 1919.