Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Art of Being a Student...

All the items in today's post are creations by various girls, from different generations, during their time at Godolphin School.
But before showing those, below is the record of one particular student's creating, learning and studying in the form of her school reports. The archive holds all the reports from Edith Mary Read's 5 years at Godolphin.
Edith began Godolphin School in 1905. Students received  report every term.
To begin with it seems she was an average student...
This is one of her final reports from Godolphin
Miss Douglas makes a point of reminding her to work very hard in her last year at Godolphin as this one is often more valuable than the earlier years. One gets a sense from reading these reports that at the beginning Miss Douglas was commenting on the work of a little lost girl. But by the end of the reports, she has built up a strong relationship with this flourishing student and she even comments on how she will miss Edith greatly.

One of the most beautiful treasures in the Godolphin archive, in my opinion, is the collection of botany books. These are the work of students who took nature and botany classes. In the early 20th century this was Miss Isaacson's subject. 
 Many of the students were very talented drawers and as well as showing this in their lessons and homework, they also practised these skills outside classes....
This is one of the many 'good-luck' cards sent to School House. This one was for the lacrosse team. There is an entire book of 'good-luck' cards drawn by School House girls for eachother, dating from the early 20th century.

These cards show the talents of the girls but also how each girl seemed aware of everything going on in her 'house' (each student belonged to a house, whether they boarded or not). One can detect a definite community spirit among the girls.
Each house kept a diary of the daily events happening around the school. Students were responsible for these entries. I came across some of them from School House which are now kept in the archive collection. The entries vary from being very short to long. These diaries date all the way from 1920s to the 1980s. One writer whose entries I particularly enjoyed reading chose to elaborate her's with the occassional sketch.
Thursday 27th May 1976: The diarist depicts the girls in their boaters walking to communion at St Martin's
Many people may remember the hot summer of 1976. Here the diarist comments on the effect that had on the girls at Godolphin in an amusing way. Her sketch shows 'Costa Godolphin School - Milford Riviera!'
One of the other amusing things I've found in the archive that truly reflects the creative minds of the students is this joke book.
Set up by the students, this little club enabled students to write their own amusing ditties or jokes and have them written into this book each term. All pieces were annonymous. For this to occur a little 'pigeon hole' was named the dedicated place poems could be left by writers and received by the editors. The pigeon hole was a napkin hole in the side of one of the dining room tables!
Many of the written pieces are a satirical commentary on school tradition, staff and students. I spent a long time curled up in a corner of the library, distracted by reading this book. I found it utterly gripping and rather amusing, even 60 odd years later. I was so impressed by the wit and charm of the writing by such young girls!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

An Inspector Calls...

I have now catalogued over 560 items in Godolphin archive. At some point I will dedicate one of my posts to displaying how one might search for something using the record in excel and then find it in its correct location. But first I’d like to show you what I found today...

This is a School Certificate (the equivalent of the GCSE or O-Level certificate) awarded to Margery Thomas in 1934

It shows some of the typical subjects studied by the students at the time: English, Modern European History, Latin, French and Biology. Other subjects also available to study at Godolphin at the time included: religious knowledge, arithmetic, mathematics, chemistry, physics, botany, art, music, handicraft and needlework.
I spent a lot of today cataloguing the school inspection and examination reports. Some of these in the collection date right back to the 1890s.
This is an in-depth report from the Board of Examinations about the results of some examinations taken in 1890 by students at Godolphin. It is so in-depth that it even mentions particular students with comments such as ‘Hannah Morrice deserves praise’ and ‘the papers of Ethel Bowle... were excellent’. 
This examination report mentions ex Godolphin student Dorothy L. Sayers’ achievements in the French exam: ‘D.L. Sayers has sent up the best translation from French into English that I have ever had from any school.’
As well as examination reports there are a  number of inspection reports in the collection.
'I arrived at the school in the evening of Saturday July 25th & I stayed till the morning of Friday July 31st.'
This inspector in 1904 stayed almost an entire week to assess the school! Ofsted inspections are a daunting time for most staff today, but be thankful, teachers among you, that Ofsted inspectors don’t insist on staying so long nowdays!
As the inspector mentions, it gave her enough time to really get to feel the atmosphere of the school and her account makes for interesting reading. She comments a lot on the contented manner of the girls and their close relationship to the mistresses.

English with 6th form - ‘...I set a short essay to its members so as to test their power of expression and the result was very satisfactory.’
Assessing a school didn’t just mean observing the staff and students... This inspector set her own tasks for the students to see just how well they were taught.

Not all the reports were hand-written. However the change to printed reports is not a chronological one, as there are reports from 1898 that are printed whilst some from the 1920s are still hand-written.
In the above report Miss Gruner uses the word vigour to describe the students 3 times! She wasn’t the only one, lots of the inspectors seem to pick up on this and use the word extensively in their reports.
Inspections were sometimes carried out by 1 person and at other times by up to 7 people. As we progress further into the 20th century, the inspections go from being once a year to every ten years. Below are some of the conclusions different inspectors come to about the Godolphin School...
As an outsider observer myself, making my own impression of Godolphin School, I think many of these comments still ring true today.
‘To an unusual extent the girls give an impression of happiness and abundant vitality, and their tone and discipline are all that can be desired.’

‘In the first place, broad sympathy is shown with the needs and tastes of different minds.’ ‘Every girl is encouraged to develop her own nature and powers with the aim of future usefulness and happiness.’
This extract of an inspection report comes from Miss Ash’s (headmistress at the time) copy of the report. She had annotated right through her copy. Her lines next to this extract might suggest she was particularly pleased with this comment!
This inspection report above contained an account of every part of the school, including the museum!

Another thing I found today, which isn’t part of the school inspection reports, I thought I would share as it brought me great amusement! This is a 5 year old boy’s school report from kindergarten (which took boys and girls) dating from 1913.
'Walter is a good little boy and will do better in everything when he is less distracted by the novelty of being in school.'

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A little prayer for you...

The Godolphin prayer book is something that all Godolphins (teachers and pupils) had in their possession. Today, the same is true, though they are referred to as hymn books and students are expected to bring them to Prayers 3 times a week, so I am reliably informed.
The girls do still attend church at the beginning and end of term, however, though the roots of the school are in Church of England practise, prospective students of all and no faiths are welcomed.
Anyway, to return to the prayer book... Lots have found their way back to Godolphin School and are kept in the archive. They have not altered much over the years, save for perhaps getting a tad thinner. 

Many of the older copies belonged to teachers, one to Miss Ivy Phillips who was a teacher and a pupil at the school, another to Miss Evelyn-Smith. Miss E-S’ copy was given to her by the headmistress Miss Ash, presumably when she joined the school in 1925.
The first section of the book contained Psalms and prayers for every school occasion, followed by a section for notes and then hymns.Often the notes section was full of more hymns and prayers written out by hand.

In the 1970s a craze emerged for signing people’s prayer books on coming to the end of one’s time at Godolphin. This was quite a sweet idea as a student still at school could be reminded of her friends who’d left when using her prayer book. However, the chance of having a book inspection, or needing to use a hymn which some well meaning friend had written across, made it risky business!
A thoughtful message from Katy to Julie that could be perused whilst singing....
Margaret’s note ensured Julie probably struggled to sing Away in a Manger forevermore... And being a popular hymn, the likelihood of it cropping up over and over each Yuletide was probably pretty high! Perhaps Margaret knew this!?
‘Dear Julie I hope you don’t have a hymn book check!!’

One girl commented, that she’d written in so many prayer books she couldn’t think of anything to write anymore...

Monday, 13 August 2012

Photographs and Memoirs

On Wednesday I spent much of my day cataloguing the photo albums in Godolphin archive. They have come mainly from O.Gs' collections. The albums often follow friendship groups right through school years. A girl called M. Virtue (a pupil in the early 1920s) left behind many albums showing her friends at Godolphin. Some photos are solemn and serious whilst others show the playful spirit of the girls and their teachers...
A bit before M. Virtue's time this picture of the Lacrosse team features the beautiful and stern Miss Westlake the sports teacher. The school building backdrop remains architecturally unchanged in the last hundred years

This picture of Miss M. A. Douglas and the upper sixth formers in 1913 show how the sixth formers' dress differed from that of the younger girls, as it does today
Miss Ash and Miss Noakes (headmistress and second headmistress) captured on a summer's day by one of the students

Miss Evelyn-Smith
The mistresses too partook in many activities, such as tennis and play productions. The above image shows Misses Suffield, Taylor, Ashford, Phillips, Penny and Keer in their sporting attire. Below an image of Miss Evelyn-Smith shows her dressed as the part of nurse in Pride and Predjudice.
This collection of 4 images shows school girls outside one of the boarding houses, taking it in turns to hold a kitten. One of the things I particularly liked going through these albums is how often pets were captured as part of Godolphin everyday life. 
The photograph below is one of the best examples of the mistresses of Godolphin. All these ladies worked at Godolphin at the turn of the century and many of them are mentioned in the memoirs of Kitty Kenyon (which are in the archive).
Miss M.A. Douglas and her collegues in the early 20th century 
The memoirs of O.Gs tell interesting tales of what it was like to be at Godolphin, highlighting the differences and similarities between the generations.
Jilly Cooper an O.G describes (above) how her experience of Godolphin was a little different to that of today...
Looking at these photos we notice one thing that has obviously changed: the uniform the girls wear... However they are not beyond recognition. Margaret Sinclair was a pupil at Godolphin School from 1913 to 1917. Her account of the uniforms is informative as well as amusing.
'We all wore pinafores in school...the pinafores began life a bright blue, but the more faded they became the better pleased one was, for the status that it gave. We wore traditional straw-hats, dead straight, as always, with the eyebrows.'
Godolphin girls with their straw boaters Autumn 1920
The boaters are still a feature of the Godolphin School uniform and will continue to be so after the uniform changes of September 2012. The pinafore, so loved by the students will also remain as part of the girls' outfits.

The pinny is not for formal occassions, but a useful item as Margaret Sinclair's account expresses. Having been part of the uniform for decades it has become something of a tradition, as the newspaper extract below explains....
'blue cotton pinafores, which nothing would induce them to discard...' - It appears that the Godolphin students have always been fond of the pinny!
After the current headmistress (Mrs Price) completed her first year as head of Godolphin, the head girl and deputy - representing the students - took it upon themselves to present Mrs Price with a pinny - a sign that she was a true Godolphin in their eyes!

This final image shows a list of clothes required by each student. Though it is undated, the items on the list perhaps suggest the age of it. The girls were required to wear Godolphin collars in the time of Miss M.A. Douglas.

I would hazard a guess that not many uniform lists today contain items like warm frocks and pocket handkerchiefs...

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A Tribute to Miss Evelyn-Smith and her colleagues...

Miss Evelyn-Smith arrived at Godolphin School in 1925. Of all the teachers at Godolphin, the archive paints the clearest picture of Miss E-S. Among some documents I found this CV which at first didn’t seem to be identifiable. Miss E-S’s name doesn’t appear anywhere. 

How many people do you know that have bee-keeping on their CV?!
However, on finding the document below, it became apparent that the two belong to each other. Domestic science training and training at Swanley Horticulture College appear on both papers with the same dates. So, although the CV has no name, the presence of this second document allows us to assume it belongs to Margery Evelyn-Smith!
Miss Evelyn-Smith's examination certificate
This 3rd document further cements our assumption that the CV is Miss E-S’ and what is more, if we’d wondered what subject Miss E-S  taught, the Teachers’ Registration Council certificate of membership states her teacher training was in domestic science. I think we can safely assume that Miss E-S was a domestic science teacher. However, as you’ll know from reading my previous blog, she was very involved in Godolphin School’s drama productions as well as other aspects of school life. In some of the memoirs I have been perusing lately, the bond between teachers and students is clearly very strong. These mistresses devoted their entire lives to the development of the girls.
Many girls were sent here because Godolphin had a reputation for providing a broad education where young women were encouraged to think for themselves and shine. Mary Cartwright, one of the first female mathematicians, began her study of mathematics at Godolphin, in a time when elsewhere girls were not ordinarily taught such subjects.  
A Godolphin history mistress was quoted in The Graphic (15th July 1922): ‘now that women have votes we have no time to waste over military campaigns. Future citizenesses must be prepared for the intelligent discharge of their civic duties.’ This was all part of a broad education that set the girls up to face the world. I believe it was teachers like Miss E-S who devoted so much of their time not only to teaching but to extra-curricular activities that made Godolphin such a fertile ground for learning. The harmony between work and play enabled the students to flourish.
I have just begun to catalogue the photo albums in the collection and this harmony can be felt very strongly here. In my next post I will be sure to include some of these images. Many a tea party, a sports match and a teacher have been captured in the girls’ school snaps. Including a tiny one of Miss E-S herself...
A lacrosse match of the 1920s – a sport at which the current students still excel

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

All the world’s a stage...

Godolphin plays

As I’ve mentioned before, drama performances have been a huge part of Godolphin School right through its history, and remain so today. As I organised the items to do with plays - programmes, manuscripts, tickets, posters, costume designs, producers notes etc - I came across a lot of material surrounding the two plays written especially for the 200th and 250th anniversary of the school.
1926 Bicentenary Play
1976 Anniversary play
One of the plays was simply known as The Bicentenary Play by Molly Harrower (an Old Godolphin). And the other written by Richard Shepherd and Jennifer Curry was called ‘Where There’s A Will’ – a rather clever pun playing on the fact that it was Elizabeth Godolphin’s will that allowed for the founding of the school. And also of course it’s a  title that highlights the school’s historical emphasis on striving to do one’s best and reach for one’s goals –something that has resulted in so many girls going on to be very successful. 
The programme for the 1926 production
The 1956 revival of the Bicentenary play
The Bicentenary Play had a revival in the 1940s and in 1956 too. Each time the programme was of course remade. The play follows the seeds of the institution sowed by the Godolphin family ending with actual events from the early years of the life of the established school. 

In 1926 Miss Evelyn-Smith was a teacher at Godolphin School. The archive holds lots of items that belonged to Miss E-S. One of the most fascinating I think, is this ‘Play book'.
Miss E-S was responsible for all costumes for the Bicentenary Play – as the programme will tell you! Inside this book she kept all sorts of notes about who needed what, where it was coming from and even more importantly where it needed to be returned! 

Citizen House that Miss E-S mentions a lot here was a costume hire shop and an advert for their services still survives in the archive collection.
This piece of paper is a cast list, found inside Miss E-S’ ‘play book’. She has annotated it with places that will provide the relevant costumes.

Where There’s A Will...

The original manuscript for this play (and the music to go with it) is contained in the Godolphin collection. This is of particular interest because all of Richard Shepherd’ original annotations to the script can be seen.
All the songs have been recorded onto a tape which is also held in the archives... I haven’t yet got around to playing it. Finding a tape player is easier said than done!

This play, unlike the older one, focuses more on events  at Godolphin School rather than how it came to be founded. Perhaps the reason it was felt a new play should be created was because there were many events since 1926 that shaped Godolphin. Including the WWII, which moulded many girls’ lives at Godolphin. 
 Elizabeth Godolphin still plays an important role in this play, as with the earlier one. Whereas the 1926 play closed after the very early events of the school, the 1976 play features other legends of Godolphin history such as headmistress Mary Alice Douglas (known as the second founder of the school).
The success of Where There’s A Will was celebrated in the local press...
There is such a range of material in the archive surrounding these plays. It gives us a great idea of the hustle and bustle of organisation and excitement that surrounded these productions. I wonder if Godolphin will ever revive the 1976 anniversary play?!