I arrived aged 12 in 1940 and spent the next 5 years of war in Fawcett. I was too young and in our cosseted environment didn’t really understand what was going on at the time in the world. We took everything in School and House for granted. I loved Fawcett and Godolphin, and pottered happily up and down the Snicket between House and main buildings, hoping not to have to walk with staff who emerged from their house, or someone unpopular!
Eva Manning terrified me, but she was a Housemistress of prewar ideas, was strict but fair. She retired while I was quite young and was succeeded by “Polly”. There was a great change from the seemingly stern disciplinarian to what some of us considered to be a bit “weedy”. The “Come in and sit down Joan” was usually because my sister Hazel, 3½ years younger, had been “difficult” again, and could I do anything about it? The net result was that at 16 Hazel was `asked to leave’ by Miss Jerred for being a disruptive influence on others!
Life in Fawcett, which then was just a large private house adapted and enlarged by a peculiar “bridge” added on to the next door house, held 28 girls. We had our own tennis court. The cloakrooms were in the basement reached by a flight of stairs with a tall newel post which we used to swing round on – all strictly prohibited. Also in the basement was the kitchen with a lift for the food to be propelled to the dining room by pulling ropes. The kitchen had another more unusual use on the nights when there were air raids over Salisbury. It became our Shelter, where we slept on lilos till the “All Clear” sounded. There was one very unpopular one with burst joins in it, and we had to take it in turns to sleep (or not) on Bubbly.
As Polly settled in to the job, we appreciated her war-time difficulties and the way she had “matured”. (As a Housemaster’s wife of 18 years at Wellington, I realised what a ghastly time she had in war having to make life as normal as possible for young adolescents). I left school in 1945, married in 1948 and our daughter Fiona arrived at Godolphin in 1962, to be in the waiting house for Fawcett. I wonder if any other mother and daughter had the same Housemistress. Polly stayed on in Fawcett to see the removal to the new boarding house built next to School House and called Douglas.
I saw a lot of Polly when I was O.G. President and on the Committee, and frequently stayed in Wilton in the little house she shared with Olive Winton. I then realised her worth and commitment to all her girls and her life at Godolphin. I was sorry not to be able to be at her funeral which was on a day of ghastly weather. We were due at a special lunch party at Wellington, and I had intended to break the journey in Wilton for the funeral and then go on. However, our old car couldn’t take the wet weather and we broke down twice, and eventually arrived late for the lunch.
Polly would be amazed at the changes at Godolphin – more new buildings, science, art, new gym and now soon to be opened the new theatre, concert, etc. building. Life is much faster – the girls are more sophisticated and I think Polly would not have been so happy as she was in her heyday.