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History Snippets

“That Precious Stone”

Kitty Foster wrote in the 1927 Iris magazine about her journey around England, Scotland and Wales. She had lived in Australia for 14 years and in a month she drove 2,673 miles! For many of us who have stayed at home this year, I hope her account will make us appreciate what this island has to offer.

"That Precious Stone." 

I am renewing acquaintance with this "tight little island," and in spite of missing the warmth, sunshine and blue skies which make the Australian men and women such a cheerful, light-hearted race, England still holds her own for sheer loveliness and lovableness; she is so winsome, so soft, so human. 

We started round the South coast visiting various places, among them Arundel. We stayed a night at this quaint old town: the hotel was credited with being three hundred years old, and I vow my chambermaid was born the year it was built.  

On we went through Chichester, Winchester, Hursley (a village of two men and a cow), to Salisbury and Bournemouth. Here we turned inland and ran up to Blandford through a pretty country where the buttercup fields were cloth of gold, and so out of Dorset, into Somerset and then into Devon. There is quite a lot of this little England when one starts round her, and some of the panoramas are like Dame Nature's huge patchwork quilts laid out to air, the various coloured crops and odd shaped fields being feather-stitched together with hawthorn or wild-rose hedges. 

Then there were the wild flowers! Devon and part of Cornwall were most prolific with tremendous fox-gloves, blue-bells, billy-button, and others whose names I do not know, and the leafy tunnels with woods on either side, making daylight nearly dusk, were quite intriguing. 

An amusing incident occurred outside Exminster. A circus had passed through the village, and just as we arrived, the elephant was being gently but firmly persuaded to follow; men left off smoking, and the women making their Sunday puddings came to the doors with floury hands to watch the tuskie beastie's progress-and ours, as there was barely room to pass in the narrow street. 

There were many other places before Clovelly, but that piece of solidified romance kept us two days before we could leave it, its cobbled, step-like streets, the quaint houses on either side, the donkeys hauling up luggage and large

ladies, the bread, fruit and meat run down on wooden sledges. The house at which we stayed had a narrow box-like staircase, and the bed in my room must have been planted there young and grown up, for it was of the huge four-post, canopied variety, and I can imagine no other means by which it could have arrived. 

One farm-house kept bees, and the honey was the most fragrant ever made, it positively smelled of the flowers as well as tasting of them. 

Welsh names hurt rather badly; to say them really well, one needs to have a bad cold in the head and try to swear at the same time. (Juniors, do not go to Wales!) Apart from trying to pronounce the names, we found Wales interesting, but we must have been a quarrelsome crowd years ago, to judge from the numerous castles, mainly in ruins; there was one in every other village in Wales, and the mid-west of England is as bad. 

Leaving Chester and wanting to reach the Lakes, we took the manufacturing district as far as Preston at a bolt, one evening. Dusk softened it a little, though the wealth-producing parts of England are necessarily grimy with smoke. 

Edinburgh is a most beautiful city, and provided us with the only fine day we had in Scotland; quite possibly that is why I extol it, for we were heartily tired of having not only rivers running beside us, but all over us as well; the grand old Castle standing sentinel, the wide streets, gardens and fine monuments make it all the Scots boast it to be. 

One needs to be away from England a few years to appreciate her to the full, and one of her daughters is returning to her beautiful adopted land to boast that the little Mother of large nations retains her beauty through war and peace. 

Ms Kelly

LRC

Music Trip to Chislehurst Caves 

Here is a well written and atmospheric piece from the Iris December 1957, about a music trip to  Chislehurst Caves, in south-east London. The caves were used as an air-raid shelter during World War II and in the 1960's on a Friday night bands like The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and local boy David Bowie played there.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

A Visit to Chislehurst Caves 

 From the exterior of the caves the effect was cacophonous but as we entered the maze of chalk-walled tunnels it was resolved into its component parts: the throbbing of double basses, the strumming of innumerable guitars, the wail of a lone saxophone or  clarinet, the blare of trumpets and the harsh sound of the voices of male vocalists. At intervals, in the wall, there were hollows, in which a jazz band or a skiffle group had set itself up; candles placed on the chalk walls cast an eerie, mellow light, and all around the group shadowy figures jived, their lithe bodies beating out the rhythm. 

The whole atmosphere was one of carefreeness and unity in the enjoyment of the music, an atmosphere which seemed to belong to another world; and as we left the caves we seemed to be going from one world to another; the individual sounds merged together and reverberated like tube-trains passing through a tunnel until all became silent as we passed from the world of teenage enjoyment to the world of strife outside. 

Marilyn Hatch, VI

 

The Blue Stamp Addict 

Do you  remember Green Shield Stamps?

Green Shield Stamps was a British sales promotion scheme that rewarded shoppers with stamps that could be used to buy gifts from a catalogue or from any affiliated retailer. The scheme was introduced in 1958 by Richard Tompkins, who had noticed the success of the long-established Sperry & Hutchinson Green  stamps in America.  The scheme was withdrawn in 2019. 

From the School Iris 1960

THE BLUE STAMP ADDICT  

Mrs. Brown was frantic. The cost of living was up again, she was heartily sick of trying to make ends meet, and no amount of complaining seemed to help. Whilst shopping one day in the High Street, however, she was excited to discover a new grocery store; on closer inspection, she was pleased to note that they had cut their prices, and for every sixpence spent, a blue stamp was given to the purchaser. She immediately went in and bought some articles to the value of three shillings, whereupon the smiling shop-keeper promptly handed over six blue stamps, a collecting book and a coloured brochure illustrating the many and varied objects to be gained on the completion of several books. 

This opened up a new interest for her, as the next time she went shopping, several other shops had followed suit, including a chemist, confectioner and a clothing store. Time passed and greater grew her yearning for a type-writer, for she missed her old occupation as a typist. This required forty books of blue stamps. At first, her husband and children thought it was just a phase, but, to their cost, they found they were wrong. The children were reprimanded if they showed any preference for sweets bought at any shop other than the "blue stamp" confectioner's, and they were encouraged to buy sweets there, if only for one or two stamps. The husband, having seen a rather attractive tie, was told to be sure to buy one at the "blue stamp" shop, which rather upset his nerves - thus giving his wife the opportunity of buying him some nerve-settling pills at the "blue stamp" chemist. 

This process went on for some time (indirectly being responsible for the daughter's failing her examinations, because she lived on settling pills) until at last Mrs, Brown attained her goal, or so she thought. She packed up her last piece of washing for the day, dressed her youngest son for the occasion, put on her newest hat (already two years old) and walked to the bus stop. 

She and Colin were soon at the nearest suitable shop and she began to wonder how she would take her prize home if it were not portable. She was quickly brought back to the present by noticing her son fingering the models on show. Having awarded him an affectionate clip, she next noticed a rather harassed clerk calling to her from over a counter. Steadily and skilfully he had counted every page of every book and then, looking at her over the top of his National Health spectacles, he informed her that she was one book short and that this was the last day of the blue stamp offer. Obviously in her haste at home, she had overcounted, but it was no use now rushing out to buy up what she could at the "blue stamp" shops. It was nearly closing day, and, in any case, she had no money. It was hopeless. Her dream was shattered. Nothing would console her, not any one of the other goods offered, and she turned to go home almost forgetting small Colin who was now climbing into a display window. 

Susan Adlard, Form IV 1960

A selection of  goods available from Green Shield stamps. 

Item 21: Pye black and white TV - 100 books!

 

Sports Day 

This is the time of year when our school usually celebrates sports, by holding Sports Day and Interform competitions. With this in mind, I thought we should also celebrate the achievement of a former student who excelled in the world of netball. Rose Harris attended the school from 1915-1921, achieved a Sports Diploma in 1925, and then went on to teach. She wrote a poem in the Iris magazine about painting scenery for a school play, in which she performed as an angel in 1921. Whilst at training college, she also sent in a piece about the school netball dance. 

In 1930, Rose became the first Secretary of Essex County Netball Association and from the 1940’s to the 1970’s, she led the England Netball Association. In 1956 she was umpire to England’s first touring team, whose members had to find their own air fares, and took four days to fly in a two engine Viking aircraft to Southern Rhodesia and South Africa.

Her contribution to netball was acknowledged in 1974, when she was awarded an O.B.E. 

Good luck to all the competitors in the school’s sports activities. You never know where it might lead you!

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager 

IRIS Dec 1924 

Sixth Form Dances.  The  Origin and Result of the Netball Dance 

THREE fair young sixth-formers, working hard at pumping balls in that most noble of all places, the Games Cupboard, were racking their brains to produce a subject for a dance that would fill the School and staff and judges with admiration.

Suddenly one was seized with an inspiration, "Couldn't we have a netball dance?"

At last the competition day arrived-the dance was ready. Human goal posts, arrayed in green cloths (Sixth Form tablecloths), perched high on chairs, held their rings in a most inviting manner. The umpire posed, ball in hand, waiting for the signal.  

Then to the sound of Grieg's Norwegian Dance the match began. With graceful pirouette and bow the umpire bounced the ball. Daintily it was passed from player to player, who danced the while in perfect style. The goal posts waved their rings and gracefully bowed to receive the ball from the shooter who posed in artistic arabesque. What joy and triumph was shown in turns and springs that followed as they all went back to await the centre bounce!  

The unfortunate defeated team with expressive movements of sorrow slowly moved away to the sound of Chanson Triste. Then with joyous leaping the winning team departed to loud strains of Brahms' First Waltz, leaving the umpire to trip out between the slowly moving goal posts.  

The School clapped, the staff laughed-laughed more than the School had seen them laugh before. Shouts were raised to see it again. Again the players danced their match, and yet again, and still the School cheered and clapped. The players were well rewarded for their efforts they tied for first place and were rewarded with a beautiful green vase.  

Image from 1960: Rose on the left at International Federation of Women’s Basketball and Netball Associations conference in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

An international code of rules was agreed to fulfil its aims of promoting international  understanding and friendship and led to the first World Tournament in England in 1963. 

Vale! 

For those students who are embarking on the next stage of their education, here is a 1923 poem from the Iris magazine by E. Foster, who was also in her final year of school.

Ms Kelly
LRC Manager

Vale!

The Time has come; we part and go our ways.
Leaving, we raise to thee, Oh School, a paean of praise!
For thy spirit strong and free,
Heritage of liberty,
For the stirring unknown power
That infects each striving hour,
When, in eager competition,
Forms uphold some proud tradition,
When, with fierce exhilaration
Comes a sudden inspiration.
For eager teams and flying ball­
-The umpire's whistle thrilling all-
For secret cause of sudden mirth
And jokes that have untimely birth.
For social nights within the hall
The bright lamps swinging over all-
The audience packed with parents proud,
The song, swift dance, and tunicked crowd
Of girls in expectation tense.
For sorrowful experience
That lessons teach of self-control.

For comradeship, when heart and soul
Are centred on some mutual goal
And one is nought without the whole.
For sun-patched, cheery corridors
And classes hushed within closed doors,
For noises loud-or soft-and strange
And all the healthy interchange
Of thought, opinion, love and hate.
For bells that gladden those who wait
In expectation of release.
For friendships that may never cease.
These have we known, Oh School! in thee.
For these be ever praise to thee!
The time has come, we part, and go our ways,
Therefore, Farewell! ye happy fleeting days

 

Former Student - Kim Baker 

Former student, Kim Baker has recently donated many documents and photos of her time at Walthamstow School for Girls during the 1980’s, to the school archives.

Here she describes her 'unusual' profession:

In my last year at WSFG, I chose violin making as a career, despite being advised that specialising too early was risky. I got around this by attending evening classes in Musical Instrument making while studying for 3 A Levels at Monoux College.

This led me to a place in the world-renowned violin making school in Newark, Nottinghamshire, and it was this 3-year training which was the springboard to a profession that has allowed me to work in Asia and Europe and has brought me to settle, self-employed and bilingual, in Dresden, Germany.

The idea of working with my hands, combining a love of music, art and wood - in a craft that ensures that one never stops learning - means that I am never bored!

Occasionally I make a new instrument, but my ‘bread and butter’ is restoration and repair of violins, violas, cellos, double basses and their bows.

My work enables others to work at their best, thereby satisfying both me and my clients.

There is still a great demand for traditional crafts and hand-working professions. These jobs require passion and integrity and can therefore be extremely fulfilling.

 

Ms Winter/Mr Murphy footnote:

Kim Baker attended WSFG 1986-1991.

When she was 11 years old, Kim won the competition to design the school badge, which was used, unchanged for a full 30 years (1986-2016).

There used to be a rose garden close to the Greek portico. The pictorial essence of Kim’s design can be seen in brass in the Norris Hall.

My Dog 

You only have to take a short walk to realise that since lockdown, there has been a marked increase in the local dog population. Here is a poem from the 1930 Iris Magazine about the problems of owning a dog!  

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

My Dog. 

My little dog is black and white; 
I teach him tricks each day, 
But when he hears the cats miaow, 
He runs outside to play. 

My little dog is very bad,
But really I must own, 
That if you had my little dog, 
He would not stay at home. 

My little dog went out one day, 
The river for to see, 
But sad to say he lost his way, 
And I found him in the Lea. 

Maisie Pearl (Form II.)

 

"Happy" Poems 

Here are some 'happy' poems, along with a cute illustration, from our students in the Iris magazine of 1934.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

The Things I Would Love. 

A LITTLE white house in a woody lane 
With a hill at the back, and a quiet plain. 
Without any traffic or noises of such, 
And rabbits that don't have to live in a hutch. 
A little black dog, that would make a good friend; 
A little square garden, with trees at the end. 
And crowds of sweet flowers, the old-fashioned kind. 
Red and white roses and pinks you would find, 
And mignonette spreading its scent everywhere. 
And little birds filling with music, the air. 
That is all that I ask for, 'tis all that I need 
To make my life happy, ah! Happy indeed.

Janet Barton (Form Upper IVs)

Spring.   

I LOVE the Spring, I love the Spring, 
When all the birds begin to sing.  
They set to work to build their nest  
Never once stopping for a rest.  
I love the Spring, I love the Spring,  
When all the bluebells seem to ring  
And all the grass is fresh and green  
And everything- is sweet and clean.  
I love the Spring, I love the Spring,  
When all her messengers do bring  
Sweet messages of love and joy 
To every little girl and boy. 

Joyce Cartwright (Form Lower IIIw.) 

To a Daisy 

HALLO daisy wee and small, 
I think you are the queen of all, 
Standing still you nod your head,  
In my gay, small flower bed. 
All your friends they make me posies,  
Lilies, pansies, violets, roses, 
But they don't look nice at all, 
Unless you're with them, wee and small. 

Joan Lacy (Form Lower IIIh.) 

The Dew. 

On the grass the dew falls, 
Just like little silver balls. 
It looks as if a fairy in the night,  
Lost her jewels in a plight. 

CaptionJanet Garrick (Form Lower IIIh.)  

Illustration by Joyce Plumstead 
 

 

The Necessity of Art 

Here are the thoughts from a student, written in the Iris  in December 1925 about art. Mary has also added something about music, 'crawling, whining, popular songs', as opposed to 'healthy songs and music'. I wonder what she meant?

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

The Necessity of Art 

To many people the word 'art' conveys only a thought of symphony concerts and picture galleries to be indulged in by those who have the time, money and inclination; but art is a necessity, not a luxury. Its aim is always that of expression in terms of beauty, for 'the highest cannot be spoken,' and so it uses form, colour, proportion and harmony to express itself. Art is the sole means of handing down to posterity the beauty and meaning of life, for only the really artistic things survive the ages; all else is lost in time. 

There is no question of ugliness in Nature's world; everything is beautiful, and when we surround men with artificial ugliness we take away a precious gift.

Character depends a great deal on the things seen during life and if people grow up accustomed to ugliness their whole attitude towards mankind will be warped and sordid. As long as unsightly buildings, stupid inane posters and crawling, whining, popular songs remain we are not an artistic race. 

It is extremely important that art should play a greater part in the home than it does at present, but first, more artistic houses must be built. If the exterior were beautiful, it would follow that most people would wish to make the interior equally attractive. Much could be done to improve the indoor decorative schemes, with brighter and more beautiful wall-paper and good pictures glowing with colour to adorn and not cover the walls. Healthy songs and music fill the home with joy and harmony and books will "charm magic casements" in boundless fairy lands.  

Mary Selway (Form U. IVa.)

A War-time day in London 

For many of you travelling into an empty central London during 'lockdown', this piece from the 1940 edition of Iris recalls how London coped during World War II. The subtitle is "LONDON CARRIES ON - CARRY ON LONDON!” and I am sure we can all agree and hope that London returns to normal, sooner rather than later.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

A WAR-TIME DAY IN LONDON. 

"Coo! London ain't 'arf got it awful!" . . . Thus quoth a charwoman, "My sister's young man's uncle told Edie the other day that it was right down to the ground, not a buildin' standin' at all: don't it seem a shaime ?" . . . 

London in ruins? Could it be true? Having heard the preceding conversation, I decided to investigate matters for myself. 

I chose a beautifully clear day for my trip -"nice day for raiders", as I heard one man remark. Sure enough he was right; before I had been in London ten minutes the siren sounded. I had wondered whether people bothered to shelter if caught in the City during an "Alert"; they do not, but just carry on with their normal work - no fuss, no hurry - just calmness and cheerfulness. 

I passed along Fleet Street, and eventually came out to the river which, incidentally, has risen slightly and is considerably dirtier owing to the cleared-up rubbish having been deposited here! 

My ultimate aim being Oxford Circus, I boarded a 'bus (which took twenty-five minutes to reach its goal, owing to some streets being closed). Boom I Boom! Bang! Oh, of course, the warning is still in progress: that's sent the raider away, thank goodness! What's that? Do we want to get out and shelter? No, thanks, we'll chance it! Good, there goes the “All clear". 

Arrived at the Circus, I looked across the road, only to see a skeleton of a shop - no windows, no doors, no front walls, and piles of cement all over the pavement. What a pity, all those goods wasted and the assistants out of work. But wait a minute, here's a notice: "Hitler's broken our glass, but not our spirit!” Here was surely courage, pluck and perseverance! 

I saw hundreds of cheerful soldiers, English, French, Australians and New Zealanders, clearing up the damage, though they seemed to have plenty of time for calling out various remarks to passers-by. Every few minutes can be heard a furious ringing of horrible-sounding gongs. This means all traffic must clear off the roads, because the valiant men of the “Bomb Disposal Squad" have retrieved another Delayed Action Bomb, and are taking it to an open space before blowing it up.  

"Walking back along the side streets, I met a flower-seller, who said to me, "Yus, Miss. I've lorst me 'ome. I've lorst all me money, but I thank Gawd I'm still 'ere, and so's me Missus. I've 'eard one of me sons 'as bin killed at sea, but I still have two left who are quite O.K., so I can't really grumble!" This seems to be the typical attitude of the Londoner today, feeling fortunate to be alive. 

Some rather amusing effects have been created - in one sense amusing, although heart-breaking in another. In Holborn, for example, only one inner wall of a five-storey building is left standing, and on a shelf on the 4th floor are piles of boxes neatly packed up, with a calendar hanging above the fire-place. . . clothes of various descriptions hanging from iron girders above the pavement . . . and ducks swimming unconcernedly in a bomb crater full of water! 

The damage done to the Middle Temple - which can never be repaired - was the saddest thing I saw: its famous library is also badly damaged. 

Seeing St. Paul's as it always has stood, outlined against the sky, was the scene which seemed to me to be the most wonderful, and the one for which to be the most thankful, when we remember how very near we did actually come to losing it. Without St. Paul's London would not have the same atmosphere. Certainly those valiant men in their khaki uniforms with the red badges of the B.D.S. deserve all our praise. 

My day in London under War circumstances was an enjoyable experience; one I would not have wished to miss. There is a saying which aptly expresses my feelings: 

"LONDON CARRIES ON - CARRY ON LONDON!” 

Vera Lee (O.G.)

More information about the attacks on Middle Temple

The restoration of Inner Temple 

The League of Nations Union 

Iris 1937 by Valerie Gardiner, VI

Our school has a long association with campaigning for peace. In the 1931 Iris magazine, it was recorded that the school formed a school branch of the League of Nations Union,

"because we are convinced that the solution of the world's difficulties will only be found through international good-will and that the future of the League of Nations depends on the good-will of the rising generation"

I think we can all agree with this statement.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

My Dog 

You only have to take a short walk to realise that since lockdown there has been a marked increase in the local dog population. Here is a poem from the 1930 Iris magazine about the problems of owning a dog!  

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

My Dog

My little dog is black and white; 
I teach him tricks each day, 
But when he hears the cats miaow, 
He runs outside to play. 

My little dog is very bad, 
But really I must own, 
That if you had my little dog, 
He would not stay at home.

My little dog went out one day, 
The river for to see, 
But sad to say he lost his way, 
And I found him in the Lea. 

MAISIE PEARL (Form II)

 

The House 

The oldest building on our site is the ‘House’, formerly a Vicarage built in 1906. Our school moved to the site in 1912 and shared the grounds with the Vicar until the 1960’s. The Rev. Herbert Dudley Lampen, Vicar of Walthamstow, moved into the ‘House’ in 1907. During World War I he served with the 7th Battalion, Essex Regiment. He had 4 children, Graham Dudley, born in 1899, who became the Governor of Darfur in Sudan, David Lampen, born in 1904, Edith Barkley (named after her mother’s family) and twins Miriam and Francis, born in 1908. 

‘Iris’, our school magazine has information about the family's involvement in the life of our school. His daughters Edith and Miriam were both pupils.  Edith (Edie) Lampen gave a talk at the Empire Day assembly on the theme of trees and birds. Miriam and Edith were Prefects in 1921 and 1923. Anna Lampen, their mother, as well as their father, presented awards at Prize Giving Day. Their brother Francis followed in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps and became a Vicar.  

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

Edith Lampen,
born 1904

 

Miriam Lampen,
born 1908

 

Francis Lampen,
born 1908.  
He went on to become the Vicar of Walthamstow.

 

Handbook for Parents 1986 

We would like to thank Kim Baker, a former student who is a violin maker living in Germany, who has kindly donated to our archives several items of her time at the school. Including the ‘Handbook for Parents’ from 1986.  The transition year from Walthamstow Senior High School to Walthamstow School for Girls.

The aims of the school, as published in the handbook, are still as important and relevant today:

  • To ensure that pupils achieve the highest academic standards of which they are capable.
  • To provide a wide range of educational experiences for every pupil in a school environment that is welcoming, exciting and interesting, as well as academically rewarding.
  • To provide opportunities for the spiritual and moral development of pupils.
  • To promote social responsibility and awareness among pupils so that  they are able to become alert and critical citizens with a strong sense of justice and equality.
  • To ensure positive acceptance of ethnic diversity and opposition to all forms of racism.
  • To promote self-esteem among pupils particularly concerning themselves as women with positive aspirations and confident of equal opportunities both in education and society.
  • To develop mutually beneficial relationships with parents and the local   community.
  • To afford maximum opportunity for the professional development of all members of staff.

School Uniform 

A recent letter to parents mentioning adherence to our school uniform, has allowed me to raid the school archive for items about previous school uniforms.

As you can see in the advert for Henry Taylor from 1958, the raincoats were extremely formal. I have also included articles from the 1937 edition of ‘Iris’, our school magazine, one describing the problem with leg wear and the other about trends in fashion.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

To a School Girl a Hundred Years Hence. (Iris School Magazine, 1937).

WSFG School Uniform 1930

As each spring brings new flowers into the world,  flowers like those of the years before, yet always a little altered, so each generation of school girls has its own fashions, ambitions, enthusiasms and slang. In the nineteen thirties one performed handstands, wore one's hat brim turned down all round, built grasshouses beneath the elm trees by the hockey field and described most pleasant things as "ripping."

These are the details of school life that alter, but the nineties, the tens, the teens, the twenties and the forties all had their counterparts. This, then, is the spirit of the school, that each decade, each year, each day, brings its new problems and interests, yet should it be possible for three girls, one of Miss Hewett's first young ladies, a fourth former of to-day and some fourteen year old of the year 2050, to step out of time and meet together in the entrance hall, it would not, after the first excited comparisons of clothes and surroundings, be their great differences that would surprise them, but the tremendous and amazing amount they had in common.

Sylvia M. Gould


Ladders

Inspired by the arrival of the Sub-Editor's letter while mending yet another ladder. 

One often hears the phrase "the good old days" decried and disproved, but our grandmothers had one advantage over us emancipated moderns. They wore skirts which hid their stockings!

And the stockings were black woollen, which could be darned to the last shred! Stockings are a perpetual bane from the moment one leaves off socks until one grows too old to bother and gives up the hopeless struggle. Oh! those long black gym-stockings we wore-they were either too long or too short. If they were too long, we tugged them up and pulled holes (potato size) in the tops, and if they were too short, suspenders did the same for us, However, we must have had a fondness for them, because we wore them even to parties, not caring for black silk, and light ones being more or less unheard of. I wonder how many remember the storm aroused about twelve years ago over the query of whether light stockings should or could be worn with school uniform. 

And now, when we have put away childish things many years ago, the curse is still upon us. We are told to buy more than one pair at a time because if one goes, we can match up the partner. This works excellently in theory but not in practice, because the whole lot goes. 

One of Summer's chiefest blessings is that one's hosiery can be discarded, but even so one must admit that it makes very little difference to one's purse or leisure, which still seems to be filled with mending ladders. 

I am thinking of starting a "Back to Black Stockings and Longer Skirts" movement, but I fear that the manufacturers would have me locked away, so, I suppose, being a moral coward, I shall still go on buying several pairs of the same shade, ad lib, and I expect you will too! 

C. Pettit (Old Girls Association) 

WSFG School Uniform 2020

 

Our Carefree Youth
 

Here is a poem from the December 1927 Iris magazine, which many of our current students taking exams and tests will be able to relate to. The title is ironic, as you will see when you read the poem.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

"Our Carefree Youth."

LAST night we decided to get up at five

And 'swot-up' some words that from Latin derive,

Prepare last week's history, an essay to write,

To translate some French at the very first sight,

To juggle with x's, with y's and with z's,

And generally cudgel our sleepy young heads.

Alas! though at eight the alarm clock went off,

We shiver and growl as our nightdress we doff.

Five minutes for breakfast, no more can we stay,

We put on our hats and then run all the way.

We think of the test we've been promised to do

In Latin, and English and Arithmetic too.

We shudder and groan as we enter the room,

“Rough note-books and pencils” – those words full of doom;

Well-known and expected they fall on our ears,

As hopeless and helpless we burst into tears.    

G. McFarlane (Va)

Fresh Air
 

During the finer weather, our school introduces a 'Fresh Air Day' once a week for each year group. This is so that students can enjoy our fantastic outdoor spaces that we are fortunate to have at this school. In 1946, Miss Norris, the Headteacher also believed in the benefits of fresh air. However, one of the students, Olive Blanche Cole, voiced her protest in a witty poem in the Iris magazine. It should be noted that this poem was set, indoors and during the winter!

Quite appropriate in these present times.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

Wot! No Air?

Sitting down to Latin once, upon a frosty morn,

Door shut, windows shut, and looking quite forlorn,

Meekly Upper Four H Form were waiting for their Head,

With heavy minds, sleepy brains, and hearts like lumps of lead.

Along there came Miss Norris, gave the comfy girls a scare,

Threw them a reproachful glance and then said, "Wot, no air!

Open up the windows, girls, then throw wide open the door,

A stuffy room breeds lots of germs, I've told you so before."

Sitting with their teeth now dancing in their heads,

With rosy visions of a future spent in sick-room beds.

All the girls of Upper H Form, vow resolvedly

To take their dose of morning air in smaller quantity.

A warning to all mistresses, while I have room to tell,

Be sure when killing nasty germs, you don't kill girls as well.

O. Cole, Upper IV. H.

 

Medical Alumnae
 

Continuing our theme of ‘Honouring our Women of Medicine’, many of our students no longer with us went on to work in the field of medicine. As a tribute to those still working to support us during this period, I thought I would share some of their stories.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

Honouring our Women of Medicine

Margaret Witt, 1930-2005

Margaret was born on 14 June 1930 in Leyton, daughter of Henry, a mechanic and chauffeur, and Bertha, a former lady’s companion. In 1941, she won a state scholarship to study at our school and in 1949 she also won a scholarship to study medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, the only woman applicant out of 80 men.

Margaret was a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the North Middlesex Hospital, London. She won the treasurer’s prize in practical anatomy, the Harvey prize in practical physiology, the university scholarship in science (physiology), and the Mathew Duncan gold medal and prize in obstetric medicine. She became the first female registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at St. Bartholomew’s hospital.

Margaret Witt never married. She had a zest for life, enjoying cooking, entertaining, fashion and travel, as well as music and the theatre. A colleague once said teasingly that: “Margaret was the only person who would take two fur coats, enough jewels to rival the Queen, and half a dozen pairs of shoes for a weekend conference in Paris.” She was a governor of Connaught School for Girls, where a silver cup was dedicated to her memory for the girl who achieved the highest all round points in the year, and a bench placed in the playground. She died on 30 October 2005. 

In 1957, despite her busy career she still took time to be on the committee of the Old Girl’s Association at our school.

Her name is recorded on the Honours Board in Hewett Hall.


Daisy and Jessie Foxon - Nurses in World War I

Jessie wrote a letter from France in 1915, about her nursing experiences during the war. Both sisters, Jessie and Daisy were awarded medals for their work.

The Foxon family, including the boys, attended our school from when it was founded in 1890 and involved themselves in various capacities until the 1950’s.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

Daisy writes to me from Malta, she seems to be having a very tame time, hardly any wounded, nearly all medical cases, and not at all busy yet. I dare say they will be later on, although it's hardly human to want to be busy under the circumstances. 

I am at E__s with No. 26, composed chiefly of nursing sisters trained at Guy's……. We have over 1,000 beds in our hospital, and during a rush we take in convoys of varying numbers, mostly between one and two hundred, and evacuate them for Hospital Ship and Belati (India), which the men always call "Blighty."  During the last attack by us we seemed to take in and evacuate every day, and all this trying business was accomplished by the night staff. As I was on night duty then I can assure you it was very hard work and I had over 100 quite badly wounded men under my care.

N.B. - Jessie Foxon is now at Salonika. In spite of poisonous mosquitos and shells bursting 200 yards off her she is in good health and says the shells are a most interesting sight to watch in  the afternoon. 

 

Honouring our Women of Medicine
 

Our school was founded in 1890 and stories of the women who attended our school are recorded in our school magazine, ‘Iris’, which was started in 1906. Many of our students went on to work in the field of medicine and as a tribute to those still working to support us during this period, I thought I would share some of their stories. 

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager


Hilda Kate Whittingham, O.B.E. M.B. Lond. D.P.H., 1876-1965

Hilda qualified as a Doctor in 1903 and went on to work at the London School of Medicine for Women and the ​Royal Free Hospital.  Her father, William Whittingham, was the person responsible for setting up our school and interviewed our first Head, Miss Hewett. Her family home was Comely Bank, which is now the site of a health centre. Hilda and her sister Maggie are one of the first names listed on our Honours Board in Hewett Hall. 

During the 1914-18 war she worked with the bacteriological and hygiene section of the Royal Army Medical College at Millbank. She was awarded an O.B.E. for her work during the war years. In 1917 she became the first pathologist of the South London Hospital for Women, and she worked there for the next 30 years. Sadly, her brother and brother-in-law were both killed during the war. A friend remarked that she was ‘an enthusiast and a perfectionist and her love of life was infectious’.  

 


Margaret Witt, 1930-2005

Margaret was born on 14 June 1930 in Leyton, daughter of Henry, a mechanic and chauffeur, and Bertha, a former lady’s companion. In 1941, she won a state scholarship to study at our school and in 1949 she also won a scholarship to study medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, the only woman applicant out of 80 men. Margaret was a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the North Middlesex Hospital, London. She won the treasurer’s prize in practical anatomy, the Harvey prize in practical physiology, the university scholarship in science (physiology), and the Mathew Duncan gold medal and prize in obstetric medicine. She became the first female registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at St. Bartholomew’s hospital.  

Margaret Witt never married. She had a zest for life, enjoying cooking, entertaining, fashion and travel, as well as music and the theatre. A colleague once said teasingly that: “Margaret was the only person who would take two fur coats, enough jewels to rival the Queen, and half a dozen pairs of shoes for a weekend conference in Paris.” She was a governor of Connaught School for Girls, where a silver cup was dedicated to her memory for the girl who achieved the highest all round points in the year, and a bench placed in the playground. She died on 30 October 2005.  

In 1957, despite her busy career she still took time to be on the committee of the Old Girl’s Association at our school. Her name is recorded on the Honours Board in Hewett Hall. 

            


Daisy and Jessie Foxon - Nurses in World War I 

Jessie wrote a letter from France in 1915, about her nursing experiences during the war. Both sisters were awarded medals for their work.  

The Foxon family, including the boys, attended our school from its founding in 1890 and involved themselves in various capacities until the 1950’s. 

Daisy writes to me from Malta, she seems to be having a very tame time, hardly any wounded, nearly all medical cases, and not at all busy yet. I dare say they will be later on, although it's hardly human to want to be busy under the circumstances.  

I am at E__s with No. 26, composed chiefly of nursing sisters trained at Guy's……. We have over 1,000 beds in our hospital, and during a rush we take in convoys of varying numbers, mostly between one and two hundred, and evacuate them for Hospital Ship and Belati (India), which the men always call "Blighty."  During the last attack by us we seemed to take in and evacuate every day, and all this trying business was accomplished by the night staff. As I was on night duty then I can assure you it was very hard work and I had over 100 quite badly wounded men under my care.  

N.B. - Jessie Foxon is now at Salonika. In spite of poisonous mosquitos and shells bursting 200 yards off her she is in good health and says the shells are a most interesting sight to watch in the afternoon.  


Dr. Ruth O’Dell (née Licence), MB, M CH, MRCS, LRCP - Student 1934-1942

When Ruth qualified as a doctor, our school was given a half day holiday, to celebrate her appointment as Junior House Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital. The hospital was recognised at the time as a medical training school for women.

Here are some extracts from an article about her experiences during World War II:

At the end of August 1939, when I was sixteen, my family and I were on holiday in Guernsey, and because my Father was a teacher at Shoreditch Central School, we had to cut our holiday short so that he could report to his school for evacuation.

I was evacuated for 3 years with my school and won a scholarship place at Cambridge to do Medicine, where I completed a 2nd MB. I then went to the Royal Free Hospital for another 3 years to qualify as a doctor.

In early 1945 a bomb fell on the medical school and as I was then doing a surgical course, I was up all night assisting the surgeons operating on the casualties. My parents returned to Walthamstow after about 2 years of war, because so many children didn't want to remain evacuated because fewer bombs were falling. When bombing did start again, my parents used their coal cellar as an air-raid shelter and had beds down there for when the sirens went.

Ruth continued to keep in contact with our school and the picture below is from 2011.

One for the Petrolheads ...
 

Here is a poem from the 1957 Iris magazine which may only be understood by the parents or grandparents of our current students, or vintage car enthusiasts. See how many names of cars are mentioned in this very clever poem by Lorna Rowe, who was aged 14 at the time of writing this poem.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

"By Jove!" said Zens, "the time is late,
Our chariots are out of date­
Di immortales, let us go
To the Earls Court Motor Show!"
So now his lordship doth rejoice
In a stately Rolls-Royce;
But Mars, who found the Rolls "too fiddly"
Invested in an Armstrong-Siddely;
Appollo scans the Zodiac
From a speeding Cadillac;
Neptune watches o’er the deep
From a Naval jeep;
Silvanns liked to take things gently,
So bought an antiquated Bentley,
Mithras rattled through the heaven
In an ancient Austin Seven;
Bacchus' Ford was confiscated
For "driving while intoxicated,"
Hermes, cop on his daily rota,
Sports a streamlined Singer Motor.
Vulcan's Vanguard caused some fear
By reversing in top gear.
Poor Cupid could not see quite straight,
And put his brakes on far too late­-
His splendid Jaguar Mark Six
Is bogged down in the river Styx;
Morpheus, the god of slumber,
Went to bed inside his Humber.
Godesses, not to be outdone,
Decided they would join the fun;
Diana her pot shots doth take
From a sturdy shooting brake.
Athene's taste was somewhat finer­-
Her savings bought a Morris Minor;
Psyche, in her Hillman Minx
With Aesculapins had high jinx­-
(the latter, now a "flying doctor"
Does his rounds by helicopter).
The reckless driver's perfect dream-­
No Zebras, police, or "one way stream,"
Till Pluto, full of rage and spite,
Made an Olympian traffic light
And on the great Olympian Way
Put "NO THROUGH ROAD-SOME OTHER DAY!"

Lorna Rowe, VI

Junior League of Nations 

The League of Nations was set up after World War I, to seek an ending of war.

Our school set up a Junior League of Nations Union in 1931 and this is how it was introduced to the school:

We have formed a School Branch of the League of Nations Union; we have done this because we are convinced that the solution of the world's difficulties will only be found through international good-will and that the future of the League of Nations depends on the good-will of the rising generation. 

Here is an illustration by Valerie Gardner from the 1937 edition of the Iris magazine, which I hope will complement the powerful poetry of our current Year 8 students

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

 

Our School Bells
 

Our school bells are not being used at the present time and I was just wondering whether we were missing them? 

Here is a piece from the 1920 edition of our school magazine ‘Iris', describing the love/hate relationship that a student felt towards the school bell.

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager

An Address to the School Bell 

We have heard thee oh Bell! in the mornings when we were panting for breath in the cloakrooms, and when our unmarked footwear was lost behind the dusty boot-lockers. Twice hast thou called in a harsh voice, "Hurry, thou daughters of laziness, 'tis time for work!" Then have we hated thee, and have muttered things about thee. 

When our brains were hard pressed, and we sighed for thee, then didst thou keep unwanted silence. It seemed the minutes were tied down with leaden strings and thou rangst not. How wearily we waited, and how great was our agony until thou hast cleft the silence with thy welcome voice, oh, longed - for Bell! 

We have heard thee when the sun shone brightly, and when the bell was our companion. Ah! how grating was thy call, - "Come in at once, ye maidens, cease your play." A subdued triumph lurked in thy unwelcome note, oh hated Bell! 

Oh! thou herald of all school functions! how mingled are our feelings toward thee! "Sometimes we would gild thee in honour, to show our love for thee, oft we would fain smash thy works - yet more in sorrow than in anger, for thou art one of the things that must be, and that ever shall be! Oh Bell! 

E Foster, Form VI

 

Remembrance
 

The First World War deeply affected people long after it had ended. Here is a poem by a student, Olive Baker, written in the 1933 school magazine ‘Iris’, which remembers those people who died.

THANK God for peaceful England, this dear isle;
For England's quiet green beauty and her fame;
For her never-failing honour, and her ever-glorious name,
Which still doth stand though nations fall the while.

Remember! Only nineteen years ago,
The roll of war's dread thunder filled the air,
And ev'ry home was called upon to spare
Her father and her sons, to fight the foe.

Think, that the flower of all this nation,
And the good, were laid 'neath alien sod.
And for them England now gives thanks to God.

So while we in security may dwell
Remember still those sons who fought and died For England's noble glory and her pride.

Olive Baker (Form VI)

Brave New World 

With the modern TV adaptation of the Aldous Huxley book ‘Brave New World’ now showing, I thought I would share with you an illustration from the 1964 edition of ‘Iris’, our school magazine. Ann Giles was aged 14 when she submitted this illustration and she had many more illustrations in other copies of the magazine, all of them equally impressive.  

Our school magazine was produced every year (apart from 1917-1920) from 1906 to 1974 and included articles and illustrations from students, staff and former students. 

Mrs Kelly
LRC Manager