at Bow House,
My dear Mother
Many thanks for the stockings, the costume, and the knitting, and also for your letter this morning. I am sending you a few primroses which we gathered this morning. I hope they will travel safely. They are mostly buds, so they ought to last quite a long time in water.
We are quite comfortable here – considering. The food is plain, but quite good, if unvaried. The house is quite a nice old building that might be made very attractive. It is composed of two houses, joined together, one of which has a series of bay windows running up the house, the other a series of bow windows. The dining room and drawing-room have bow windows overlooking the sea, so they are quite nice for sitting in.
The house was full of elderly ladies when we arrived. Now only two remain, and one of those is off tomorrow. They were not so uninteresting as they seemed. One was a Miss Fawcett, B.Sc.1, principal of some London College, but we did not discover which. There were also two rather tiresome girls, aged 17 and 11, who have now departed, much to everyone’s relief. We have left a mother and daughter, both very uninteresting.
We were walking along the front on Monday with a friend of Gwen’s who had come over from Charmouth to see us, when we ran into the Head2, her companion, and Miss Carter, followed by a man bearing three suit cases. Quite a procession, in short. We have christened R.O. and the companion Dr Johnson and Boswell, as Gwen says the latter always blows the great woman’s trumpet, which makes it easier to talk about them in public, as with B.Sc. and things [?] about one can’t be too careful with names. We can’t find a suitable appellation for Miss Carter.
We have done a fair amount of walking, in spite of the weather, which makes field paths pretty impossible, but the roads are so pretty here that we don’t really mind. The Devon and Dorset countries are quite distinct, but both are beautiful; I think perhaps Devon is fairer. The primroses just cover the hill-sides and banks of the road, growing in bunches just as they do at Nonnington. I never saw them so decorative. The bluebells and cowslips are not quite out yet, but the gorse is in full bloom.
We get quite a lively sea here if there is a wind. It is great fun walking along the Cobb at high tide and dodging the spray, which comes right over it.
Please give my best love to Daddie and Max.
Your loving daughter,
PS I have written to Mr Brooker.
1Philippa Fawcett, presumably, whose mother, Dame Millicent, was the campaigner for women’s rights whom Margot had heard speak in her first year at Oxford. As a Newnham College student, Philippa Fawcett caused consternation in the Cambridge Mathematics Tripos by gaining the highest mark at a time when the subject was considered unsuitable for women and women were not members of the university. She was classified as ‘above the Senior Wrangler’. When Margot met her she was working for the London County Council Education Department as assistant Director of Education (remarkably at the same salary as a man would have received), developing secondary schools and training colleges, and she took a particular interest in the London Day Training College which became the London University Institute of Education. What a pity Margot did not realise what an interesting person she had met and perhaps not as old as she took her to be!
2‘The Head’ is the head mistress of her old school, Streatham Hill High School, GPDST, and her name was Reta Oldham. The Girls Public Day School Trust provided affordable academic education for girls at a time when this was not generally available. The Trust has dropped the ‘P’ on going completely private.
3B.Sc and things(?): what this refers to is not known. The word transcribed ‘things’ is one word written over another and difficult to decipher.
The next letter will be posted on 18 April 2017.