What a lovely surprise to get a letter from you! is it really fifty-four years? I remember vividly those cross-country railway journeys – one time you had a ukelele with you. And I remember Top 5, too. You were very ready to leave school at that point, which astonished me, as I couldn’t imagine life after school – still couldn’t, really, three years later when I left. I think basically I liked the structured life and anyway, by that time, I’d persuaded the system to make certain compromises with me. I also remember you saying, in a tone of profound disgust “Brown shoes with a navy blue suit! How can they expect us to grow up with any clothes sense!”

Enough of this frivolity: Fawcett: it sounds to me as though it’s time they updated the Godolphin Book – or did they do it in 1976 and has this now been forgotten again? Or is it just that a sense of history is not encouraged in this computer-and-Internet oriented generation? The past is quaint at best and mostly boring? (We are tottering on the edge of a major diatribe – what I did, when I did anything, was teach history. But back from the brink, to the subject under discussion). Fawcett, it seems to me, was very much defined by its physical position; the other Houses all lived in each other’s pockets, but we were away along the Snicket. We were even in a different parish – do you remember Early Service at St. Edmund’s in the blackout? Torches fastened to the ends of the rows of chairs? And the curious smell of damp, not nearly so noticeable at St. Martin’s. ‘And may her bridegroom bring her to a house where all’s accustomed, ceremonious” – that I think is what Poly and Eva did for us. They provided a secure and ordered life for us. I wasn’t always happy – too many places where it was easy to go wrong (“Aggie, that’s another fag mark.” “Aggie did you forget the . . .”) But one knew that Prep would be at 6 and supper at 7.15 and bedtime at 8.30 (or as appropriate), that Sunday would roll around with coffee (of a sort) for breakfast, and Church and letter writing and gardening and Poll/Eva would read aloud while we did our mending. I think that framework, though we chafed against it, gave me at least a great sense of security. I don’t know that the ethos of the school (a “nice” job and a “suitable” marriage, when all was said and done) did much to prepare us for the “philosophical and social turmoil of the late C20′ but I think the training in order gave us a good start in a world where order seems to be dissolving all around. And being, like yourself, now a widow, I find it invaluable to be able to create some structure for my life.

All of which said – some of the best moments I remember are when either outside events or some minor mutiny within managed to punch a hole in the routine; sleeping in the kitchen because the air-raid sirens had gone? In VIth form going down town by myself to Beech’s Bookshop? A walk up to Clarendon in the early spring – going skating on the Clarendon pond, Thursday afternoons. But perhaps the most useful thing I learned – from doing prep every night with 3 aspiring pianists practising three different tunes on 3 pianos all within earshot, was how to tune out absolutely anything!


Housemistress, Fawcett, 1925-42

Miss Manning was a Housemistress at Godolphin from 1925-42, during which time she was untiring in her efforts, winning deep respect and much love from pupils and staff, many of whom continued to correspond with her, giving her great joy. Her interest in the school continued throughout her life and she was, until the end, an active member of the Old Godolphin Association. After her retirement she became a member of the English Speaking Union. She was widely known and loved in the City of Salisbury. First and foremost, however, she devoted her life to St. Martin’s Church. She was elected a member of the P.C.C. in 1944, then to the Board of Governors of the two Church schools in the parish. When fire destroyed the girls’ school in Milford Street it became her great ambition to see another school built to replace it, and she put all her tireless energy and drive into the necessary fund-raising. The target was £3,000, to be raised in five years, but this was accomplished in three-and-a-half years, and permission to build a school on the Shady Bower field was granted. Eva cut the first turf of the new school on 21st March, 1950, and the building was officially opened on January 9th, 1952. This achievement was largely due to Eva’s efforts and organising ability.

Martin’s Church at a cost of £1,000. An Appeal was launched and once again in her seventy-second year Eva gave a lead in the fund-raising and, with her encouragement and enthusiasm, the target was again reached.

Among her other duties she served on the Missionary Committee, as Clerk to the Board of Governors, Flower Organiser, Church Cleaner, Secretary to the P.C.C. and Churchwarden. In November 1966 when Canon McKenzie died suddenly her grief was intense, they had worked together so happily for many years, but her loyalty to the Church and two successive Rectors remained steadfast. Many who have known her over the years will remember with love and gratitude her many sterling qualities. At St. Martin’s she will be remembered also as the frail little lady, with a dynamic voice, who, from her wheelchair, read the Old Testament lesson in January, just after her nine-sixth birthday. She died on February 20th.

(Abridged from a Memoir in St. Martin’s Parish Magazine).

Eva Manning came to Godolphin and Fawcett House in 1925 as Housemistress. She was Australian by birth and had previously been on the staff of “Glennie”, a girls’ school in Queensland, Australia. Looking back fifty-seven years, I remember she seemed like a breath of fresh air to us in Fawcett. She was deeply religious, a strong character, friendly, helpful and interested in all our activities, we became firm friends and remained so. She drove around in a bull-nosed Morris in those days and continued driving a car until comparatively recently. She dearly loved travel and spent many holidays abroad until her infirmities put a stop to them. She sang, wrote poetry, played bridge even in her latter years. She enjoyed many things. Other people know more about her life in Salisbury after retirement in 1942. I feel sure she will be missed by many and they will feel they have lost a very special friend.

Phyllis Fraser (Farncombe).