17 October 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,



                My dear Mother,

Ever so many thanks for your two packages, which both arrived quite safely.  Joyce was very pleased to see the shortbread.  Thanks also for the buckle which is now sewn on my slipper, though how long it will stop there is quite another matter.

I find that I have left all the notes I made in the vac. carefully behind on the said green note book where you found the letters.  Would you mind collecting them and including them in your next parcel?

We are getting along quite comfortably with the housekeeping.  Batey proves a very efficient cook.  Her pastry is quite nice, and she can even cook a potato to a turn.  The whole family is most anxious to do us well.  Mr Bates is a florist, and supplies us well with flowers.  Also our potatoes and other vegetables come off his allotment.

The two Miss Gurneys at my house are rather dears, and are most considerate.  They had no latch key for me, and at first it was rather awkward, as I had to trouble them every time I left my handkerchief behind.  However, on Monday the younger sister solemnly presented me with a button-hook, and shewed me how to pick the lock with it!  So now we are all quite happy, and I am in training for a house-breaker!

I have done no practical work this week at all.  Demonstration lessons begin this next week, and I put in a fortnight at Milham Ford the following week.  Miss Talbot has also promised to arrange for me to put in another fortnight after the end of this term in a school near home.

Nevertheless I have been reading hard, for Dr Keatinge has presented us with a comprehensive scheme of essays for the term, which mean rather stiff reading.  The Essay class begins on Saturday and continues on Monday.  Yesterday Dr K. heard three essays read, all from the men, which was considerate of him!  The subject was Helen Keller, the deaf and blind girl in whom you know Mrs Robinson is so interested.  Men must have funny minds, judging by these essays!  Doris comes to all my lectures, which is nice, and also to the essay class and seminar., though she has no time to write essays.

It was perfect weather up till Thursday, when a thunderstorm broke up the fine spell.  I have been on the river every afternoon this week, and Joyce says I look much better, taking the credit to herself.

It is really horrid weather for Auntie Hilda, still we have done a good bit.  On Friday evening I took her all over the Hall and we had a little walk round the town.  Yesterday Joyce in cap and gown took her round the Bodleian and the Divinity Schools while I was at my essay class.  We met at 11.30 at the Cookery School, after which J. went to a lecture and I took Auntie Hilda into Blackwell’s, through All Souls, and round Adders.  In the afternoon it was fine enough for us to go on the river so I punted Auntie Hilda down to the New Cut and thence up above Magdalen Bridge.  Doris came to tea and afterwards Auntie Hilda and I went to Evensong at Magdalen, which was very beautiful and soothing.  After supper we told Auntie Hilda something about the S.C.M. and discussed the scheme for today’s Study Circle.  Auntie Hilda and J. get on very well together.  J. has been quite herself and not a bit shy, a habit I think she is growing out of.

Please give my love to Daddie and tell him I will send him a statement of accounts next week.  Also much love to Max – I hope Thucy. and Eurip2. and Cicero and co are getting along all right, also Ronnie’s French.  I am sorry to hear about Auntie Bell.  I hope she will be all right.

We are going to have a Social with dancing in the last half of term, so must hurry up and finish my vest.  Will you send me a bone crotchet hook to do the top with?  Also I would like a little lace to put on the cammy I want to make out of that crêpe de chine blouse.  Could you send me some of that in Grandma’s cap box?

Auntie Hilda sends her love and says she is having a very good time.  At the moment she is immersed in an S.C.M. book.

Your loving daughter,


1Adders:  Oxford slang for Addison’s Walk in Magdalen College Gardens.

2Thucydides and Euripedes.


Next letter to be posted on 24 October 2-17.


10 October 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,



                My dear Mother,

I arrived down quite safely – quite comfortably too, for the people got out at the first stops.  We had room to breathe at Taplow, and there were only three of us from Reading.  I found Joyce

with one of her men paying a call, so we had a tea-party on our very first day.

My little room is very clean and dainty and comfy and convenient, and there is plenty of room for my things.  This afternoon we have moved all the furniture in our sitting room and have made a great difference in its appearance.  We are getting rid of the superfluities by degrees.  All the table cloths and antimacassars1 went today – other things to follow in due course!

They have mapped out quite a nice programme for us;  Dr Keating2 takes a class for which we do essays, and a seminar, weekly.  Miss Talbot has arranged some practising for me – she has already made a great change in Cherwell Hall3.  Words fail her to express what she thought of the place when she came.

Will you please send along my birth certificate?  It has to go in to the government with the application for the grant.  Could you also please send me a letter from Ethel behind the left hand jar on the dining-room mantelpiece, and another from Mr Bower among those on top of my large green loosed leaved note book on the bottom shelf of the book case in the dining room.

Joyce’s cap and gown are most effective – she has already matriculated4.  It seems to be a killing proceeding.

We had a lovely ride up to the Cumnor hills this morning.  We got off our bikes, climbed Hurst Hill, and gathered blackberries – large ones!

Much love to Daddie and Max.

Your loving daughter,


1Antimacassars are cloths draped over the backs of  high-backed chairs to protect the upholstery from the oil used in keeping men’s hair smoothed down.

2Dr Keating – Dr Maurice Keatinge, Reader in Education and a pioneer in the use of  source material in the teaching of history.

3Cherwell Hall was offered to St Hilda’s in November 1920 and became South Building of the college.  It was built by Augustus Vernon Harcourt in 1887-8 for his growing family.  He and his wife were actively involved in the promotion of women’s education at Oxford.  On the Harcourts’ removal to an inherited property on the Isle of Wight, the lease went in 1902 to Lord and Lady Wimbourne who founded Cherwell Hall as a women’s teacher training college which it remained until 1920.  Miss Talbot had very recently become Principal of Cherwell Hall.

4Matriculation is the business of being enrolled as a member of the university, by means of meeting the required standard., which women students had achieved before coming up to Oxford, but only now could have this recognised.

Next letter to be posted on 17 October 1917.

28 July 1920

C/o Captain Callaghan




                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for the sugar, which arrived this morning.  We had enough to begin with, as Ethel got some extra in Leicester.  The letter was from the Moberly, very nice and cordial.  She is staying in High Savoy.

I don’t think I sent off the money for Parker’s bill.  If not, both bill and P.O. are on the mantelpiece.  Would you mind sending them off?

This is quite an interesting house.  It has endless attics, cellars, and lofts attached.  We have already decided that it would make an excellent haunt for Mary Rose1.  I hope you got to the latter, by the way.

The weather has been pretty unpleasant.  We got a lunch walk on Sunday, but on Monday it poured with rain, so we lighted the kitchen range, and did some cooking, at least the others did, the only thing I cooked was potatoes.  Ethel made some lemon cheese and a baked pudding, Phyllis some pastry, buns and cake.  Yesterday “Lil” came to see us.  We got caught in a slight thunder storm coming home from seeing her off, and spent the evening reading Milne’s2 plays out loud!  Today we are waiting for visitors who don’t appear to be coming, on account of the weather.  Phyllis is reading out “Mrs Beeton” 3 on social matters.  It’s fortunate “Jack’s” library is so large.

Much love to Daddie and Max.  I enclose stamps for the latter.  Your loving Margot.

(Set out like this for lack of space at the foot of the page.)

1Mary Rose:   possibly a reference to J M Barrie’s play which first appeared in 1920.

2Milne is A A Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh books, who wrote a number of drawing-room comedies.

‘Mrs Beeton’s Cookery and Household Management’.

Now comes the long vacation and the next letter will be posted n 10 October 2017.

23 July 1920

C/o Mrs Salter

5 Morley Road



                My dear Mother,

Phyllis and I arrived very comfortably yesterday.  We were only five in the carriage to being with, and two got out at Bedford.  Ethel and Lil met us at Leicester, and we had a taxi hither.

My address at Keyham, in case Daddie lost it, is C/o Captain Callaghan                                                                    Keyham                                                                                                  Leic.

Please add the things under the bed to my luggage – also a piece of sheeting.

Yours with love,


The next letter to be posted on 28 July 2017.

20 June 1920

St Hilda’s Hall



                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter and the cheque.  I am now endeavouring to clear up my belongings and my bills.

I arrive at Paddington at 3.50 p.m. on Monday, and should be charmed if Daddie can meet me.

My Viva is not until 9.30 a.m. on July 14th, so I am arranging to come up the day before.

Your loving daughter,


The next letter to be posted on 23 July 2017.

13 June 1920

                                St Hilda’s Hall



My dearest Mother,

Very many thanks for your letters and parcel.  The frock travelled beautifully and looks thoroughly nice.  It has been invaluable this term.  I forget whether I told you that the hat was a great success.

I missed the parcel post on Saturday because it was raining so hard after I got home from the Schools at 5.0. p.m. that I decided not to get drenched, but I will send you a parcel of washing sometime during the week in order to relieve my luggage.

Evelyn and I had a topping time at Ascott, thoroughly quiet and lazy.  The weather was glorious.  Mrs Ashby and her daughter were most kind.  They fed us scrumptiously – real butter all the time – asparagus two days running for dinner, and potatoes mashed with butter.  We did a little walking.  The Cotswolds make glorious walking country, and although we were above the wooded region, the lanes and meadows were very pretty.  We also borrowed a boat from the Mill, which was our nearest neighbour, and paddled about on the Evenlode, in which we bathed one afternoon.

So far our papers have been boring in the extreme, though quite fair and possible1.  I do not feel as though I have done a single a question!  Of course I felt very fuddle-headed on the morning of the Pol. Sci. Paper –  Saturday and a Thunder Storm in the afternoon did not improve matters.  However, I have spent most of today in bed, and am glad to be alright for the foreign and special papers this week.

We have been very carefully looked after.  Doris took us to tea on the river on Thursday, Joyce gave us tea with strawberries and cream, the former from Evelyn’s own garden, on Friday, and on Saturday Evelyn gave me tea as she had no afternoon paper.

My Viva does not begin until July 7, so I shall come down on Monday, June 21st, as usual, probably by an afternoon train, if that will suit you.  I shall have to come up again for a night for my Viva.

We have settled up with the lady in William Street for the room opposite Doris – 25/- per week for the rooms.  I have to find a bedroom out, as we decided we would rather sleep separately.  Doris has done all the negotiation for us.

My dearest love to Daddie and Max.

Your loving daughter,


1An enviable sang-froid about the exams!

The next letter will be posted on 20 June 2017.

5 June 1920

C/o Mrs Ashby,

Coldstones Farm,

Ascott under Wychwood,



                My dear Mother,

Very many thanks for the parcel.  The shortbread is delicious, and I was very grateful for the washing, likewise for the money.  By the way, I don’t know whether I ought to have the latter, as Daddie left me £1.  I will hold it over for the following week if you like.

I sent you off a parcel of washing just before we left Oxford, including my yellow and white frock which has got very dirty, as I have worn it a lot this term.  Could you let me have it back as soon as possible, as I may want it next week-end. May I also have back the silk pyjamas, as I don’t think the nightgown which I am wearing at present will last more than one week.

I enjoyed having Daddie in Oxford immensely, and I think he liked the sunset from my window, which he saw every evening.

5.6.20The crew and cox, Margot far left.5.6.20The crew and cox, Margot far left.

5.6.20The crew and cox, Margot far left.

We had a very nice eight this morning – the real eight.  Even Best was pleased with us!  We met the Kingston steamer on our way up, and it rather spoilt our time, but we came up from Iffley in 12 min. 45 sec.  Evelyn and I also had a very nice swim this morning.

I think we have got rooms for next year, just opposite Doris.  In fact it was Doris who got them for us.  We shall have either to share a bedroom or have one out.  There is quite a nice little sitting room.  We come to a final decision on Tuesday.

We had quite a jolly tennis party yesterday with our two friends from Worcester.  We were not outshone this time, in fact we played distinctly better than our partners, for Mr Ady is having to learn to play left handed, owing to a wound in his right elbow, while Mr Brand is really a rowing man.

This is a very quiet little village.  The farm house is old and rambling, with quaint old fire places.  Our bedroom has oak beams and latched doors, and the room where we have our meals has a round open hearth and two  chimney seats, all of which was accidently [sic] unearthed from behind a comparatively modern grate.

Mrs Ashby is well known to Miss Levett and Miss Coate.  She seems to have educated her children well, for one is an authority on agriculture at the school of rural Economy in Oxford, one daughter is teaching, and another was at Milham Ford School.

Gwen came to tea with us on Thursday.  She is only in Oxford for a week.  She looked very  well.

Much love to Daddie and Max.  I am glad we are fixed up all right for Buxton, but hope it will not prove a tiring holiday for you.

Your loving daughter,


The next letter to be posted on 13 June 2017.