Miss Payne was a graduate of London University; subsequently she took a further training as a teacher of Divinity, before joining the staff of Croydon High School. She came to Godolphin in 1932, and served the school with great devotion for 34 years. In 1943 she became Housemistress of Fawcett, where in 1948 she was joined as Assistant Housemistress by Miss Olive Winter. This began a partnership which lasted until 1965, and to which the House owed the continuing happiness and stability to which all ex Fawcett girls testify. they regarded Polly, as she was known to Staff and girls alike, with great respect and affection.
In 1963, when Douglas House was opened, and Fawcett and St. Margaret’s closed, Polly undertook the task of welding these latter two houses together as the new Douglas House. This was no easy matter, as Fawcett and St. Margaret’s were both houses with strong traditions and individuality, and had been important units in the life of the school for a long time. It was Polly’s sound judgement and sympathetic understanding which enabled these changes to take place, and Douglas House to become firmly established, quickly and easily, in spite of the inevitable initial regrets of members of Fawcett and St. Margaret’s.
As Housemistress, Polly’s sense of humour and fun, her great commonsense, and her very real understanding of young people and their problems enabled her to win the loyalty and affection of the girls in her care. In her other role, as a teacher of Divinity, she was wholly committed to her task, and this commitment was recognised by those whom she taught. This same commitment was also evident in her work for the Mission and other charitable causes supported by the school. Her strong Christian faith was the inspiration of all that she did. In her 23 years in retirement she shared a home in Wilton with Miss Winter. She devoted much time to Wilton Parish Church, serving as Sacristan, as a member of the Parochial Church Council, and as a representative on the Deanery Synod. Her life centred round her allegiance to the Church and her Christian faith. Her devotion to Godolphin, however, remained a paramount interest. She served the O.G.A. in various ways. For instance, it was she who organised the geographical groups when they were first formed, and she collected the annual subscriptions for a number of years. In particular, however, she maintained until the end of her life an enormous correspondence with former pupils, and friends and colleagues on the staff, her service to Godolphin was sustained over a period of 57 years. Increasingly in recent years she became frail in health. We must be thankful that she did not suffer a long final illness, nor any loss of mental ability, which would have distressed her. We are very grateful for all that she gave to the school, and for her loyalty and devotion to all its members. She will be remembered with affection, and greatly missed by very many of us.