15 April 1920

at Bow House,

Lyme Regis,

Dorset.

15.4.20

 

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,

Margot.

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.

11April 1920

at Bow House,

Lyme Regis,

Dorset.

11.4.20

My dear Daddie,

Very many thanks for the telegram and your letter this morning, and also for the purse and money, etc, all of which arrived quite safely.  The sum of money is quite correct – the odd 10/- is the one you gave me.  I am so thankful the purse turned up all right.  I will certainly write to Mr Brooker.  I suppose he picked it up at Clapham Junction Station.  It is lucky the food forms were in it.

We have had some very nice walks, in spite of the weather, which has been distinctly on the damp side, but with fair intervals.  Yesterday afternoon and evening were, however, beautifully fine.  We have been to Uplyme and Charmouth.  The country is glorious – covered with primroses – the bluebells are not quite out yet, but the cowslips are.  I will send Mother some as soon as they are dry enough to pack.

We get a lovely view of the coast from here, when it is not shrouded in cloud.  We can see Portland Bill quite clearly in the fine intervals.  Our favourite walk is along the Cobb – a quaint kind of harbour which serves the same purpose as a pier, without being so  banal.  There is very little sand here, I shouldn’t call it a good children’s place, except for an Easter holiday.

I haven’t done much work up to date.  Gwen won’t let me.  Also we have to take the fine weather when it comes, and walk while we can.  Still I hope to do some more this week.

Please give my love to Mother and thank her for the parcel.  I will write to her tonight, if I can, or if not – tomorrow.  Much love to Max.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

The next letter will be posted on 15 April 2017.

14 March 1920

St Hilda’s Hall

Oxon.

14.3.20

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for the shortbread, which has been greatly appreciated by all of us.  The little Quaker Oats cakes arrived quite safely, owing to their excellent packing.

I am going to take the 3.10 p.m. train from here tomorrow, arriving at Paddington at 4.10.  It is a very good train – non-stop.  I hope it will be all right for either you or Daddie to meet.

I have applied for the loan, which Miss Winslow has promised me before I go, so shall be able to use it to get home with.  It will be necessary, for my “Battles” 1  have been rather heavy, as they adopted a wicked plan of paying washing bills by the half term.

I am going to coach with Mr Woodward next term – Gwen’s brother Llewellyn, you know.  He was awfully nice, and strikes me as a rather good coach.  I have not heard recently from Gwen, but at the beginning of the week she sent me particulars of a boarding house which could take us.  I wrote back and gave her “carte blanche” to accept unless she found anything better.

Joyce has got through her Chemistry Prelim. – much to everyone’s relief.  Of course Evelyn and I take all the credit, and it really is largely due to our good management!

Much love till tomorrow!  I hope this will arrive by the first post.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1 Battles:  the accumulated term’s sum of money owed to the college for various expenses incurred.

The next letter will be posted on 11 April 2017.

7 March 1920

S.H.H.

Oxon.

7.3.20

My dear Daddie,

Very many thanks for your two letters and the cheque.  I decided to pay the latter straight into the  funds , as I wasn’t sure that I could make on it, and didn’t want to lose any of it.

I am so sorry not to have written before, but the bazaar made me frightfully busy, as I was senior member of the Hall committee.  I hear they made about £60 – rather a poor sum for such an affair, I think.  Of course, they did not get a great number of outsiders, not so many as a school could.  Also they got rather unsuitable things, and priced them too high to find buyers among a student population.

Miss Levett is firmly of opinion that I ought to have a fortnight’s holiday this vac, for the sake of my work.  She says I could probably have £2 or £3 out of the A.E.W. grant either this term or next, and in any case I could have £5 loan out of Hall funds straight away.  Will you please let me know as soon as possible what you think would be the best thing to do?

I have heard from Gwen.  She wants to know definitely whether I am coming with her, and I propose to write back and say that I will come, in view of the Levett’s decree.  The question of ways and means can be settled later.  Gwen has not yet fixed up rooms, but is busy negotiating.  She said last year it cost her and Olive £2/5/0 a week.  The fare is 37/- return to Lyme Regis.

I am so relieved to hear about the Faulkners’ change of plan.  It is just like them!

Your loving daughter

Margot.

7.3.20

Waac- WAAC – Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps

AEW fund:  The Association for promoting Higher Education of Women in Oxford

7 March 1920

 

S.H.H.

Oxon.

7.3.20

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter, the note, and the cake.  I shall be glad of some more money, as I spent very penny I possessed at the S.C.M. bazaar yesterday, and am absolutely stoney!  I am very relieved to hear about the Faulkners’ change of plans.  The first proposal really did worry me.  Where is the week to be?

I am sending off a parcel of washing but do not want any of it back except the pair of brown stockings.

On Thursday we performed “Everyman” at the Masonic Hall just up the High.  It was a very good show, thanks to the Moberly, who stage managed, and her Waac1 officer friend, Mrs Kilroy Kenyon, who acted Everyman and did most of the dressing.  She was superb, and really made the thing go.  None of us would have had time for such a big part, or the power to carry it through.  I don’t think they have counted up the proceeds yet.  We took part in the performance as a chorus of angels behind the scenes in the last act.

The new music we are singing at Bach is very interesting, but quite impossible to sing.  Most of it is in 5 time and written on the tone scale.  The effect is appalling!  Added (to) this the words are sometimes positively ludicrous.  They are taken from the Apocryphal Acts of St John, whatever that may be, and consist of “Come Holy 12 and dance with us”, and similar absurdities.

The Historical Society had quite a keen discussion on Burke and the party system last Wednesday.  There were a large number of men there.

Please give my best love to Max.  I am glad he can come with me to the boat race.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

P.S.  I went to tea with Mr and Mrs Moore on Sunday.  They are taking a cottage at Kingsdown near St Margaret’s Bay for 3 months, as their daughter has had a breakdown.

S.H.H.

Oxon.

7.3.20

                My dear Daddie,

Very many thanks for your two letters and the cheque.  I decided to pay the latter straight into the  funds , as I wasn’t sure that I could make on it, and didn’t want to lose any of it.

I am so sorry not to have written before, but the bazaar made me frightfully busy, as I was senior member of the Hall committee.  I hear they made about £60 – rather a poor sum for such an affair, I think.  Of course, they did not get a great number of outsiders, not so many as a school could.  Also they got rather unsuitable things, and priced them too high to find buyers among a student population.

Miss Levett is firmly of opinion that I ought to have a fortnight’s holiday this vac, for the sake of my work.  She says I could probably have £2 or £3 out of the A.E.W2. grant either this term or next, and in any case I could have £5 loan out of Hall funds straight away.  Will you please let me know as soon as possible what you think would be the best thing to do?

I have heard from Gwen.  She wants to know definitely whether I am coming with her, and I propose to write back and say that I will come, in view of the Levett’s decree.  The question of ways and means can be settled later.  Gwen has not yet fixed up rooms, but is busy negotiating.  She said last year it cost her and Olive £2/5/0 a week.  The fare is 37/- return to Lyme Regis.

I am so relieved to hear about the Faulkners’ change of plan.  It is just like them!

Your loving daughter

Margot.

1 Waac- WAAC – Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps

12AEW fund:  The Association for promoting Higher Education of Women in Oxford

The next letter will be posted on 14 March 2017.

29 February 1920

St Hilda’s Hall,

Oxon.

29.2.20

                My dear Mother,

Very many thanks for your letter, the note, and the parcel.  The shortbread was delicious, and much appreciated.  Quite half of it is already in the past tense.

I really do think Betty and the Major are the limit.  It was different during the war.  What on earth do they want to go to Algiers for now?  Really, people shouldn’t have children if they have no more sense of responsibility than that!  I really am fed up about it.

Daddie and I had a very nice time at the beginning of this week.  He arrived here on Monday at about 9.0 p.m.  We had lunch and dinner together on the Tuesday, which was rather a terrible day for me, as I had to squeeze a time paper somehow in between Daddie, and Toggers1, and shooting.

House I ended up Head of the River in great style, having never had its position threatened during the whole week.  They usually ended up a few lengths to the good.  Our chances in the Varsity race seem to be rather few.  I would love to see it.  I wonder whether Max will be free on the 27th?  I would like him to cycle over to Barnes Bridge with me.

We had quite a bright meeting of the Historical Society last Wednesday.  Carter of Queen’s read a most amusing paper on “Witchcraft” – he really succeeded in being funny, chiefly at the expense of James I.

On Tuesday evening we had a killing little artist here called Webb, who talked to us about the third dimension until our brains reeled.  We expected a rather dull art lecture, and came in for a very deep philosophical discussion.

My best love to Daddie and Max.  I am glad his arm is out of the sling, and hope it is not too troublesome while it is getting better.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1Toggers – oh dear! Oxford slang for Torpids.

S.H.H.

Oxon.

29.2.20

My dear Daddie,

Would you please send that stuff you promised me for our bazaar to –

The C.U. Secretary

Somerville College.

Please send it off early, so that it arrives before Saturday.  I will write to her about it.

I went and sat on the top of the dining room stairs on Tuesday after you had left, and heard the end of the debate, which seemed to be quite a good one.  Anyway the Twenty Club looked very nice all in evening dress – a very rare sight now in Oxford.

I am very fed up about the Faulkners.  I wish they would look after their own children.  It is really much too great a burden for Mother.  Couldn’t we have a maid now, Daddie, instead of when I come down?  Mother really ought not to have all those children in the house without help.  Couldn’t it be done if I didn’t go to Lyme Regis?

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

The next 2 letters will be posted on 7 March 1920

22 February 1920

St Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

22.2.20

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter and parcel, and the note.  The cake is delicious.  I grieve to say we have made it look very silly during the last three days!  I will get the spoon with the note.  I presume the increase was meant for that.  I did write to Ethel last Sunday – I hope she has got my letter.

We have just polished off the “Requiem” at the Back Choir Concert today.  We had a complete orchestra, with only six outsiders to make up.  We ended up with our Swanwick hymn – Vaughan Williams’ setting of “For all the saints” 1, in which the audience took part.

Monday

I am so sorry not to have got this off yesterday, but just where I broke off the Chapel gong went, and after that I had absolutely no peace right up to bed-time.  Now I am in Joyce’s Study Circle, and have to take a prominent part in all the proceedings.  I sent off the parcel today.  It simply would not get posted last week.  I am just now waiting for Daddie, – having sent word to him that I shall be in, and be pleased to give him cocoa.

Torpids2 began on Thursday.  So far House has been triumphant all along the line.  Magdalen is nowhere.  Magd. I has never come anywhere near House I, which is Head of the River, and which yesterday gained three lengths on its own place.  House II has today bumped Magd. II, much to everyone’s delight.  It has done a bump every day except the first.  House III is notorious for its bumps.  It doesn’t mind what it bumps.  If it can’t find a boat it bumps a tree, or the bank or any old thing!  On Saturday it held up the river by not removing itself after doing its bump, and there was a nasty mush of four eights in the Gut.  They counted 2 bumps too, which was rather hard on the one behind Ch. Ch. II.  We know someone in House III – at least Evelyn does – so we follow its fortunes with interest.

We had an eight of our own last Wednesday, but it was a wash-out, as one of our people fell out, at the last moment, and we had to put in an O.S.  She practically insisted on stroking but was quite unequal to the job, and collapsed every ten minutes!  Evidently, she was quite out of training.

We had a very nice little dance on Tuesday – quite among ourselves.  I asked Doris, and much enjoyed dancing with her.  Little Marsden was quite right, she would make a stick dance!

I am glad Max’s arm is now unbandaged.  Please give him my love.  I must not write any more now, or shall miss the post.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1 ‘For all the saints’ – presumably the tune by Vaughan Williams called ‘Sine Nomine’.  Amazing that they had breath for that after the Brahms Requiem:  it’s a huge sing and the choir is on its feet for hours.

2Torpids are bumping rowing races in Hilary Term.

The next 2 letters will be posted on 28 February 2017.