This transcript reproduces Eileen Younghusband's writing as accurately as possible, including errors of spelling and punctuation. When personal and place names are misspelt, we have attempted to include the correct versions of the names in square brackets [ ] after the misspelling.
The language and opinions found in the diaries reflect the ideas, attitudes and events of the period. Some of the terminology and language used at that time may cause offence today but the content has been made available unedited. We hope that the context of the material will be taken into account and apologise for any offence caused.
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Suggested citation for this volume: Diary 20, Apr-Jul 1926; Eileen Younghusband archive, Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick (MSS.463/EY/J20)
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Florence – April 28th 1926 – Wednesday
We went out to get letters after breakfast & found masses forwarded from Rome. I got one from Edith sent to Currant Hill nearly a fortnight ago, and various other ones.
Dr da Filippi [ de Filippi ]Link opens in a new window came for us in his car at 9.30 and took us up a beautiful road with an avenue of pines on each side to a place where there is a statue to Michaelangelo [ Michelangelo ] & a splendid view over Florence. Luckily it was a fine day at last &, although the distance was a little hazy, it made all the difference to see everything in the sunshine. The Duomo dominates Florence almost more than St Peter’s does Rome.
We went on to the astronomical observatoryLink opens in a new window where a very incoherent but extremely nice Professor AbettiLink opens in a new window took us over, & showed us from the roof the same view again, only more of it this time, and a little way away the house where Galileo lived. He took us into a tower where there was a huge telescope, and some how brought down a reflection of the actual ball of the sun onto a piece of paper & showed us the spots on it. We also looked though the telescope & saw the spectrum. He took us next to the Solar Tower which is the only one in Europe & that they were only able to build because they got all the lens & most of the apparatus from Germany as part of the war reparations. A man went up the tower & did things up there & then Professor set electric engines running downstairs, & finally we got an imagine of the sun on white paper; it was so blinding when there were no clouds passing over that we had to look at it through blue glasses. We also saw the spectrum again. I couldn’t really make out what the whole place was for but it was evidently what Daddie would call “a pretty heavy thing”.
We went on from there to the Certosa,Link opens in a new window a big Benedictine monastry on top of a hill. We bought a bottle of Benedictine & then a monk took us over. There are several very fine marble tombs, some good carved choir stalls & a delightful old garden but it is really the place & the whole position that is attractive. Each monk has a bedroom, sitting room, a balcony & a little garden – besides the lovely view. Dr da Filippi brought us back here in time for lunch.
After luncheon we went by tram to Fiesole the place where Shortie was for some time with the Murrays & which she had told me about ever since she has been with me. Unfortunately the tram was packed & Daddie had to stand the whole five miles there. It is a very pretty place on the side of a steep hill & all the villa gardens had cypressLink opens in a new window & olive trees & masses of irises & roses. We went up Via San Francesco & sat on a wall & admired the view of Florence in the valley & hills all round & the Arno gleaming like a trail of silver.
I bought a very pretty crocheted straw hatLink opens in a new window there for 2/6.
We went to tea with Mrs Bromleys mother & father who live in via Ghibellini. There were masses of English people there all dressed up in their Sunday best which was most alarming but the Bromley girls were very nice.
We went afterwards to call on the dowager Marchesa Niccolini, Lady Strafford’s sister, in the Via di Fossi but she was as, as the Italians say, gone passaging.
I went & brought this horrid gloomy looking book for a diary and then came back here feeling rather sad it was our last evening here & with everything looking too heavenly in the evening light.
5, Via Telesio Milan. April 29th – Thurs:
We went out after breakfast & found some letters for us – or rather me – at E.N.I.T;Link opens in a new window then we went to look at the big Franciscan Church of Santa CroceLink opens in a new window made of red brick, & high & bare inside. We also saw the Cloisters and a chapel with some della Robbia medallions. In the Piazza di Santa Croce there are some delightful old houses with overhanging second stories. We walked back along by the Arno and I saw in a shop a very pretty salmon pink linen frock with Italian cut work embroidery in royal blue; I went in & asked the price & found it was L175, the equivalent of 22/6, so I bought it. We went to the hotel to fetch one or two things & then to the Banca Commerciale Italiana where we interviewed the manager about the question of getting back the money on those infernal tickets, however they would not know till the next day. I left Daddie there & went to a shop where I bought a very pretty mauve & white woolie for the equivalent of 7/6. Then I went to another shop and got some post-cards & several reproductions of the della RobbiaLink opens in a new window babies on the Spedale [ Ospedale ] degli Innocenti for 6d & 8d each. Then I went over the Ponte Vecchio & got a little painted & gilt frame for 8d, & from there back to the hotel. We had luncheon & went to the station to catch the 1.30 train for Milan where we were going to stay with Daddie’s friend Mr ToeplitzLink opens in a new window who is the head of the Banca Commerciale Italiana. How glad I was to leave all the English people in the hotel! Waves of desire for murder used to come over me in the dining room when it was full of them looking too hotel-like for words.
The first part of the journey was beautiful; we wound up & up into the Appenines [ Apennines ] till we were over 2,000 feet high & looked down into the valleys away below. The only tiresome thing was that there were continuous very dirty tunnels and you had no sooner put your hand out of the window to feel the cool mountain air than you were plunged into darkness & suffocating heat again. We wound down again into the plain, following the very blue river Renno (?) [ Reno ] until we reached Bologna & there we suddenly discovered that we were in the part of the train that went to Venice so we hastily jumped out & got the luggage moved over & luckily got good seats. It was tantalizing to be within three hours journey of Venice & not able to go there.
Four very noisy students of the University got in & sang songs more or less all the way to Parma where they mercifully got out. All the journey from Bologna to Milan was over the plains of Lombardy which are very flat & uninteresting, & the train crawled along – no Italian train ever seems to go faster than 20 miles an hour however much of an international express it may be in theory. I read & slept.
We reached Milan at 9.45 & were met by Mr Toeplitz’ secretary with a motor. He told us that Mr Toeplitz had had to go to Paris unexpectedly but would be back by luncheon-time next day.
He took us to the house which is medium sized and contains many beautiful things. Daddie & I were given two very nice rooms with a bath-room between them. I went to bed very soon in a gloriously comfortable bed & wallowed in the joy of getting a bath again.
Friday April 30th.
Daddie & I had breakfast in a vaste dining room with marble pillars. We explored the other sitting rooms – there are three others all leading out of one another round a square hall - & then the secretary (whose name I haven’t discovered) came for us & took us to the monastry of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie,Link opens in a new window now a state museum where there is, in the refectory, Leonardo da Vinci’s frescoe of the Last Supper which has been so splendidly restored recently. We stayed admiring it for some time & studying the expressions of the different faces (Judas by the way is the only one who is made to look like a Jew); then we went to look at the Cloisters, & the Chapel with very good Choir stalls & a blue ceiling very much spoilt by damp.
A motor met us & took us to the Cathedral which the moment I got inside it reminded me almost overpoweringly of the production of "The Miracle"Link opens in a new window which I saw in New York. The smell of the incense, the dim light, the bareness & the height, the lofty columns & the great, brilliantly coloured stained glass window at the end were all so like that I think it must have been copied from this. There are double rows of pillarsLink opens in a new window and a great deal of carving on the ceiling, while every here & there a group of lighted candles makes a sudden light in the dimness. The whole effect is most impressive, and personally I infinitely prefer Gothic churches to the Renaissance ones. We climbed right up to the top of the highest tower which is over 350 & a terrific climb. There are staircases everywhere & huge spaces of roof with tables to write at & even a restaurant which looks both odd & inappropriate on the roof of a Cathedral. We had a splendid view all over Milan from the very top, & also of all the stone carving & innumerable figures of the Cathedral itself; unfortunately though it was too misty to see the Alps. The people walking belowLink opens in a new window looked horribly like little insects running to & fro & it was the same awful feeling that one had at the top of the Woolworth Building. We came down & went to the Brera Picture Gallery, a state collection which has only been fully open a few months. It contains many fine pictures & chiefly Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin;Link opens in a new window there is also a very beautiful Virgin & ChildLink opens in a new window with St Francis by Van Dyck.
We got back about 1 o’c & Mr Toeplitz arrived soon after. He is middle aged, very cheerful looking & seems most kind. There is also a very nice little Polish lady, a Mademoiselle Ledzinsky who is a sculptress staying here.
We had a most excellent luncheon, then I came up & rested for a bit & afterwards the secretary took us in a car about 20 miles to see the Certosa of PaviaLink opens in a new window which used to be a Benedictine monastry but now belongs to the State. It contains such an enormous wealth of beautiful things that it is quite impossible to try & describe it. There are endless Chapels with perfect carved marble altars, or else inlaid with lapis lazuli, malachite & many other semi precious stones in intricate designs; there are lovely doorways, wonderful carved & inlaid woodwork, and enormous cloisters.Link opens in a new window The monks had each a little house just like the one at Florence. This was one of the most splendid things we have seen in Italy but there was so much to admire that one could not take it in.
We went on to Pavia where we had tea. It is a nice old town with a very quaint wooden bridge, but we did not stop to see anything. The country was very dull & flat & we were by the side of a canal all the way.
When we got back into Milan we went to see the Church of St Ambrose which is a dear little old Lombardian Church built partly of brick and partly of stone with a square courtyard before the entrance and carving on the columns in loops & circles extraordinarily like the old Celtic designs.
We came back to the house after this & I wrote my diary.
There was a very attractive neice at dinner who spoke absolutely perfect English with no trace of an accent. There was also a brother-in-law of Mr Toeplitz, a Mr Meyers [ Meyer ], a dear old thing & a Pole despite his name. He arrived from Warsaw this morning. It was a very pleasant dinner & they are all so nice in speaking English although some of them find it difficult & could perfectly well insist that we should talk French.
Saturday May 1st.
Madame Lednitsky, Mr Bonner (the secretary), Daddie & I, started soon after 9 o’c for Como. Just outside Milan there is a very wide tarred road going to Como, Maggiore & Lugano called the Auto StradaLink opens in a new window & meant for automobiles only, which pay so much to use it. It is a blessed change from the ordinary roads which are inches deep in thick white dust & full of holes. Most unluckily it was a dull, misty day so we could not see the Alps.
We branched off just before Como and went up a little road which goes through the hills on the promontory between Lake Como & Lake Lecco. We passed though Erba and passed a very pretty little lake. It was lovely when we had climbed high up looking down at the lake below & across at the other lakes. We got out & walked a little & picked flowers, various kinds of orchids, & laburnum & other flowers. There were still a few primroses & violets. The road wound down by a series of hair pin bends & then went along the edge of the mountains near the lake shore. We stopped at the Villa Julia [ Giulia ] just outside Bellagio & went over the garden which is very pretty at the bit down by the lake where it is a tangle of wisteria, cammelias & rhododandrums, but very ugly where they have floral bedding in intricate patterns with unmown grass in between.
We went on to Bellagio and had luncheon at the Grand Hotel, a large pretentious place with fairly good food. The garden going right down to the lake was very attractive, & as the clouds were lifting we got a good view of Mennagio & Cadenabbia opposite, and finally of the tops of the mountains themselves, some still with a little snow on.
We had coffee on the terrace & then Daddie & I went for a stroll & of course I bought post-cards. It is a delightful little place.
We took a motor boat & went over to the other side to see the famous Villa Carlotta.Link opens in a new window The garden was looking marvellous & there were flaming sheets of azaleasLink opens in a new window & rhododandrums in all colours, not straggling about but packed tight in solid masses like one sees them in the highly coloured post-cards. There were also masses of roses, and cinerarias & primula obconica and a big pergola of orange, lemon & citrus trees covered with fruit. It was the first really good & really thought out garden I have seen in Italy but then of course it belongs to the state & is made for a show garden. We came back across the lake which was absolutely glassy smooth & looked like some enchanted spot surrounded by hills line upon line & summit beyond summit of them receding into the distance.
We got into the car & went the 20 miles to Como along a most glorious road cut in the hillside, and looking down all the time at the lake below & across at the mountains. At one part the whole hillside was blue with gentiana acaulis and then there were heaps of wine coloured columbines & a few narcissus. Later on we came to blasting operations & had to wait while they blew up a bit of the rock along the edge of the road. There were several tunnels in the rock & innumerable awful turnings.
Como is a large dusty town & certain not the place to stay at on the lake. We got onto the motor road soon after this & as it is completely straight & flat we came back at 60 miles an hour nearly the whole way. We got back a little before 6 o’c & calculated we’d been over 100 miles. It was a splendid expedition.
I found letters from Anna in Kenya, & Kathleen.
In the evening Mrs Lednitska, Mr Meyers, Daddie & I went to see “Falstaff” at the Scala where Mr Toeplitz has a box. There are stalls, then three tiers of boxes all round the theatre & then what would, I suppose, correspond to the upper circle & the gallery. The whole theatre was simply packed. It was a splendid production, perfect singing, a very fine orchestra, & most beautifully staged. It was the first opera I had ever seen & in spite of the drawbacks of having forgotten the story of Falstaff, not knowing the music, and not being able to understand the language I enjoyed it very much because one felt all the time how perfectly it was being done. The best scene in the moonlight forest was for its colouring & its delicacy one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. We walked in the foyer during the interval; there were crowds of people there, mostly of a very distinctly Italian type, the women generally very well dressed & much painted. We got back just about midnight.
There was very bad news from England, negotiations have broken down between the miners & the mine owners & a general strike has been declared for Tuesday. It is horrifying to think of all it will entail.
Sunday May 2nd.
It was raining hard alas! in the morning so the expedition we were going to have done to Varese & Lugano had to be put off.
Daddie & I went to High Mass in the Cathedral at 10.30. There were quantities of people there the majority of whom were men. The floor space was all left bare so most people stood but there were men going about with chairs for hire. There was a great red canopy above the high altar & the light from the stained glass windows shone faintly though this. The priests had on brilliant green & gold vestments. I have seldom seen anything so impressive as the huge dim church, the crowds of people, candles twinkling in the half light above the high altar, the clouds of incense going up into the roof; and then the unaccompanied singing of those curious mourning chants that fit in so perfectly with the rest.
It suddenly cleared up during luncheon & the sun came out so Mr Toeplitz, Daddie & I went off to Varese to see their VillaLink opens in a new window there. The motor road goes to Varese also & for a good long way it is the same as to Como & then it branches off. The country is flat the whole way & mostly covered with plantations of muberry trees for the silk worms. We passed woods full of wild lilies of the valley & also saw a few narcissus. There is a very pretty little lake just before Varese whose name I did not discover. The villa is on a hill at the far side of the town & is just about 40 miles from Milan. It is very ugly outside but very comfortable & airy inside with big windows every where. We went all round the gardens & looked at the new things they have been making. They don’t seem to have much real idea of gardening in this country. While we were there the clouds lifted & by the time we left it was quite lovely with all the successions of hills around Como & Lugano brilliant green & deep blue as they so often are after rain. The little lake also looked enchanting as we passed it with a broad beam of sunlight coming straight down into it. They can usually see all the Monte Rosa group from the villa too but of course to-day there wasn’t a sign of them. The servants brought me a big bunch of wild lilies of the valley smelling divinely when we left.
We raced two other motors on the motor road most of the way back but it became a little monotonous after a while passing & repassing at 70 miles an hour.
Mr Toeplitz left directly after dinner for Rome. He asked us to stay on a day or two here but we think it better to go. He has been extraordinarily kind, we haven’t been allowed to pay for a single thing on any expedition & he has taken great trouble in planning things for us. He works tremendously hard at the bank & was even there most of the day. He goes there early in the morning and does not get back till 8 o’c or later in the evening; also he is constantly travelling all over Europe on business. Both he & his wife (who is now in Kashmir) are Poles. He has asked us to come again to stay at the villa in the country so I hope we may do that some time.
Mr Meyer I became deeply attached to. He walks just like a duck & is a perfect old dear.
We were going to see “La Boheme” at the Scala this evening but about twice every season all the seats are sold at popular prices and Mr Toeplitz did not send to reserve his box in time so it was sold & there was not a single other seat to be had in the house.
One is never called in the morning which is very like America but as I have a bath room opening out of my room it doesn’t matter. The butler waits at breakfast wearing carpet slippers & a blue & white striped cotton coat. At other meals both the butler & the footman wear ordinary dress clothes with the addition of loose white knitted gloves. The food is perfectly excellent. It is all very comfortable & really practically the same as an English house; I do not of course know if it is typically Italian.
Hotel Schweitzerhof, Zermatt Monday May 3rd
It was a beautiful sunny day early but it got very cloudy later on. We left by a 9.30 train it was extremely full & there was very little of it so we only just managed to get seats. Mr Bonner was coming to the station to bring us some Swiss money but he hadn’t appeared by the time the train went.
The country was dull as far as Lake Maggiore. Luckily the sun was shining there & the lake was looking very pretty. Of course the clouds were all down on the tops of the hills & we got no glimpse of Monte Rosa. We saw the Simplon - Orient express at Stresa & I pitied the poor people going all across the plains of Italy because no Italian train goes faster than our Westerham one, & the majority not nearly so fast.
It was very misty through all the pretty hilly country to DomodossolaLink opens in a new window but we saw masses of flowers, & especially a big white saxafridge growing on the sides of the rocks.
We stopped half an hour at Domodossola and saw our little EnitLink opens in a new window friend who helped us to change some Italian money into Swiss. After Domodossola the Passport & Customs people came along but they only just glanced at our luggage & didn’t open anything.
When we got through the Simplon tunnel into Switzerland it was suddenly gloriously fine, a deep blue sky, fat white clouds & the mountains all uncovered & standing out marvellously clearly. We got out of the train at Viege, a little place at the beginning of the Rhone valley, because we were going by the mountain railway up to Zermatt.Link opens in a new window
We had two hours to wait for our train so we went for a walk along a mountain track & suddenly at a turn of the path we found the whole hillside carpeted with gentiana verna. It was too marvellous to see that vivid & almost unbelievable blue spread out in sheets. We went on & found a white saxifridge, a dear little pink thing like a minute ragged robin and a little ? jasione. We lay down in the sun but it was so roasting hot that we had to move into the shade. It was great fun looking along the Rhone valley & seeing the trains on the high-up Lötchsburg [ Lötschberg ] route & the others going to Geneva in the valley itself.
We went back to the station & had coffee & rolls at the buffet. We got a horrid shock when we took our tickets for Zermatt because it is only 22 miles & the tickets were 79 francs return for the two of us. And 79 Swiss francs is several pounds. The railway only opens on May 1st & I suppose they have to take up for all the months it cannot run. It left at 4.30 & took two hours to get up to Zermatt which is 5,000 ft above sea level. It would be idle to try & describe the beauty of the scenery on the way up, we followed the valley of the river, more or less, all the way. There were great precipices & rugged gorges, avalanches of snow on the hillsides & snow mountains everywhere, little sloping alpine full of oxslips, crocuses & every now & then little mauve soldanellas. The carriage had a broad platform behind with seats so we could sit there & see all the marvels we were going through.
We stopped at various little villages composed usually of a few châlets & a hotel.
We had meant to go to the hotel Bell [ Belle ] Vue in Zermatt but when we got there it was still closed but the porter took us to one opposite where the proprietor came out to meet us talking perfect English. The main hotel was not open but there was a delightful châlet at the side were several rooms had been prepared for some Americans who had failed to appear at the last moment. There were two very nice rooms, spotlessly clean & with pitch pine walls & ceilings & a wide balcony outside. The only drawback was that there was no sitting room or dining room open so meals would have to be in one of the bedrooms, but in spite of this it all looked so nice that we decided to stay. We went straight off for a walk to see the Matterhorn;Link opens in a new window it was ahead of us the whole way through the village but although the lower half was clear the top was completely hidden in clouds. There was a line of flat mountains on the left with a hotel right on the top; it is only open July to September and had a most wonderful view over the Matterhorn & Monte Rosa.
We had a most delicious dinner and I sank into bed at 9 o’c.
The strike situation was looking very grave. An Englishman in the train from Milan lent us a “Daily Mail” which said the miners were already out over the question of the reduction of wages & lengthening of hours, and a general strike had been announced to begin on Monday at midnight.
Tuesday May 4th
We woke up to find a white world, snow falling and the clouds down almost to the village. I was very depressed thinking it would mean staying indoors all day & seeing nothing & it was very bad luck for Daddie who had come to see the Matterhorn. However we went out after breakfast & the snow stopped soon after we started.
We went down the valley & then up into the woods on the right hand side. We found a lovely little star shaped magenta flower growing on a rock and the woods were full of blue & white hepaticas & here & there the tall daphne that flowers before the leaves are out. The paths were difficult & covered with frozen snow in some places so we came down again, crossed the river & got on to the main road; before long we got to a place where there had been a huge avalanche of snow & where it crossed the road a tunnel had been made in it to allow traffic to pass; it was frozen quite solid inside & was a very pretty semi-translucent white.
We got up onto the railway line & walked some way along it passing at one time a great mass of rocks covered with that very lovely little magenta primula with short stalks & big heads which is called, I think, viscosa. We also found a good many oxslips & could see in the shale on the other side big magenta patches of the little unknown flower. The mists had been rising & the sun trying to break through all this time & by the time we got back to the village it had very nearly succeeded.
After luncheon we set off up the valley on the right hand or south side along a path that went, so the sign post said to Zermatt & Schönbiehlehütte [ Schönbielhütte ]. We went first though woods with tremendous gorges down to the river thundering along below. Then we got into alpine meadows which are enchanting places straight from fairyland. There was a great deal of gentiana verna & at one place beside a little stream we found little clump of primula farinosa, the birdseye primrose which is pale magenta, two inches high & one of the most delightful of all primulas. The clouds were circling persistently round the top of the Matterhorn moving both ways at once so just as one lot was clearing off another lot had come along; However at last the top & the whole of one side cleared & we saw him towering far above us looking very pale & unearth & very fine & lovely. We turned round to look in the opposite direction was the summit of a very high mountain brilliantly caught by the sun, while its lower part remained completely shrouded in mist. The effect was magnificent. We think it was the Breithorn. We went on a short distance beyond a small village & looked back at the valley, snow covered on the north side where the sun had not been but almost free of snow on our side. Coming down we suddenly saw up a side valley a tall cone shaped mountain very thickly covered with snow & decided it must be the Monte Rosa. We saw it for just a minute or two free of clouds & then it was completely hidden. Near the bottom we met a party of peasants the women all carrying milk cans or big baskets on their backs & the man sauntering on ahead with his hands in his pockets. The peasant women dress very like the Italian ones; with voluminous skirts, & brightly coloured handkerchieves tied round their heads.
We walked about 6 miles & Daddie thinks we must have gone about 2,000 feet above Zermatt (& Zermatt is 5,000 ft above sea level) because it was uphill all the way. It had clouded over & was snowing a little as we got back.
Alas! we leave this most enthralling spot & pleasant hotel at 7 a.m. to-morrow.
Hotel Joli Site Montreaux [ Montreux ]. Wed: May 5th.
We were called at 6 a.m. & woke to find the Matterhorn towering up completely free of clouds & looking beautiful & dreamlike with the sun shining on it. All the snow on the nearby hills was gleaming brilliantly in the sunshine. The whole thing took one’s breath away it was so perfect.
We had breakfast & then they produced the bill which was one of the worst facers we’ve had because they’d managed to bring it up to over 67 francs by such charges as 5/- each for luncheon & dinner, & extra for serving it in our room (as if anyone wanted their meals in a small bed-room!) & 7½d each for eggs. Anyway we hadn’t got so much money or in Swiss money & the train was going at any minute so we went to the station & they came protesting that it was “very little for the mountains”, finally we paid 50 francs & said we’d send the rest from London. We left Zermatt with a deep blue sky & ran steadily into mist as we went down the valley. We had the whole of the little 2nd class carriage to ourselves but it was too cold to sit out on the platform outside. The journey was quite marvellous even with the mist & clouds because they parted every now & then & gave one mysterious glimpses of hills on ahead & snow covered mountains up above.
It is such a lovely place that I know nothing to compare it with except some of the valleys of Kashmir which is high praise.
We had to wait ¾ of an hour at Viege for our train to Montreaux but it was a local train stopping everywhere (though going fast between) so we got a whole carriage to ourselves except for one or two stray men who went short distances. It was a long carriage with a passage down the middle & seats for two all down each side. At one point soon after we started we passed a whole field mauve with the little birdseye primula. It was delightful going through the Rhone valley & every now & then the clouds would part giving us glimpses of the snow mountains, and the deep blue & green colouring along the mountain sides were most beautiful. At one moment we had really hot sunshine but alas! It did not last.
We passed through Sion, Martigny, St Maurice and Aigle (where the line goes off for Leysin the great sun cure place). Sad to say it was very cloudy when we got to the Lake of Geneva & the Dent du Midi where quite hidden.
We arrived at Montreaux [ Montreux ] at 1 o’c and went to the Hotel Joli Site which I had seen advertised in the Continental Daily Mail. It is near the station & on the lake; they seemed very nice people & propose to charge 5 francs a night for rooms looking on the Lake which seems reasonable. Their expensive terms are 8 & 10 francs a day but we shan’t be here long enough for that.
We had luncheon & then went in a funny little train to a place called Ginot [ Glion ] up in the mountainside. We walked up the hill a bit and got a very fine view all over the lake, & also found fields full of the pretty little deliciously scented narcissus which is the great feature of the country round here in May. It isn’t really properly out yet but in another fortnight the whole place will be covered with it and already they are picking great bundles to send away.
We came down by a nightmare little funicular railwayLink opens in a new window to Territen [ Territet ]. It felt just like Alice in Wonderland falling through the rabbit hole. We walked along the lake shore to ChillonLink opens in a new window which is a really fine old castle not like so many of these mouldy ruins one finds. The thing that impresses one most about the Lake, compared to Maggiore & Como is its enormous size.
We came back by train & I went & laid on my bed & went to sleep. After dinner I wrote my diary & a letter to Mr Toeplitz.
There are two Americans next door who bicker unceasingly in raucous American voices & as the partition is very thin I can hear every word they say.
The general strike is definitely on & all the English people one sees about are discussing it. I don’t know how we shall get home.
Thursday May 6th.
We woke to find pouring rain, a strong wind blowing & a thick mist over everything which was not a cheerful outlook. We went out after breakfast & walked along to the Kursaal which was not yet open, so we went to Cook & extracted some money from them & found that there was a 10 am boat train from Paris every day by Calais - Dover.
We both went to a hair dresser & got our hair cut. I was in terror because I thought the man had never done shingling before & was having a beautiful time experimenting on my head, but at the end I found he’d done it quite beautifully & only charged 2 francs.
We got into a tram car & went to Vervey [ Vevey ]. There is a solid line of Villas & hotels from Montreaux [ Montreux ], though Clarens to Vervey and of course masses of most excellent shops but the prices are equal to, if not higher than, those in England. We walked along by the lake & watched the waves dashing against the shore just like a rough sea. There are public gardens at intervals all along the lake shore. They are very well kept & were a mass of colour.
We got the tram again & went back to the KursaalLink opens in a new window which was open by this time. It is a good building, large & airy & with a delightful garden. We looked at the papers for a bit but they hadn’t got much. When we got out we found there was a break in the clouds & the sun was shining making everything look quite different, the lake had calmed down & turned quite blue & the clouds had lifted on the snow mountains opposite, & just for a few minutes we caught a glimpse of the Dents du Midi.Link opens in a new window We went back & packed and had luncheon and then went to the station to catch the 2 o’c train for Paris. Our porter by great luck discovered that Cook’s man had two reserved cover seats for sale, so we bought them for 2 francs each. The train was not especially full when it came in but it filled up a good deal at Vervey [ Vevey ] & Lausanne. We had four young things in our carriage, two men & two girls, with very Cockney accents & hearts of gold. By this time it was pour with rainy, being misty & frankly perfectly beastly, while all hope of seeing Mont Blanc from anywhere had gone.
By the time we got to Vallorbe it was snowing and the station was a completely God forsaken place only relieved by a huge bowl of gentians in the buffet. We had no trouble at all with the Customs & they opened nothing.
After crossing the frontier we got into the Jura with great pine forests and large tracts of grass lands pink with the bird’s eye primula. The pine trees were covered with a sprinkling of snow and it was all very big & desolate but tremendously attractive. We had one glorious moment when we were very high up & a shaft of sunlight came through illuminating all the plain for miles.
We got to Dijon about 6 o’c & went very fast between there & Paris. I slept uneasily most of the way & could not either sleep properly or keep awake. We reached the Gard [ Gare ] de Lyons at 11.45 and tried to get into the Hotel Terminus but it only had two double rooms at 50 francs each so we went on to another little hotel called the Massilia & got two rooms there with hot & cold water laid on for 40 francs each.
Friday May 7th.
We left the hotel soon after 8 o’c and drove across Paris to the Gare du Nord to catch the 10 o’c boat train for England. The driver went a direct but very dull way & we saw nothing interesting. When we got there we found that all the seats were reserved on the first train for Calais but they said there was another train which would come in at 9 o’c. I was on the platform when it came in & jumped in and got two corner seats. We went for a walk along the rue Lafayette but there was nothing to be seen so we went back to the station & the train went at 10.5. The country was not pretty except for the woods at Chantilly, however it was all flat & we went at a terrific speed which was very pleasant. We passed though Amiens, Abbeville, Etaples & Boulogne & arrived at Calais soon after 1 o’c.
There was a great squash going through the Passport place but the boat itself though pretty full was far from being really crowded. It turned out to be a Southern Railway one & was completely manned by S.R. officials. There was a Polish carriage from Warsaw in the station which was rather thrilling. We left at 2.30 & crossed in an hour; the sea was distinctly choppy, we rolled a good deal & several waves came over. We saw the coast of England just after we left Calais & one wondered tremendously what was going on over there & how things were.
There was a lot of young menLink opens in a new window in plus fours & pullovers standing on the quay when we arrived & we discovered from the paper next day that they were 100 Cambridge undergraduates who had just arrived at Dover to help unload ships. They all dashed on board & started hauling people’s luggage off with great enthusiasm.
I got through the customs quickly with my hand things (which they did not open) and went onto the platform. There were two trains in & they said that only the one on the righthand side was going so I got seats in that. We had tea at the buffet & then walked about & watched the undergraduates dashing about with people’s luggage & looking very bashful when they were tipped. There were no papers to be had except the Continental Daily MailLink opens in a new window which we’d already seen in Paris. The other train started to fill up & they said our’s would go to Charing X [ Cross ] & the other to Victoria but our’s would go first. However in the end the other train went off first, as we subsequently discovered as a non-stop express & with our registered luggage in it. We got off at 5.30; a real official blew a whistle & the poor little amateur guard who had been standing about nervously with his flag not quite knowing what to do with it nearly got left behind & had to scuttle like a rabbit for his van.
We could still see the coast of France from Folkestone.
We went very slow & stopped at every station. Our engine driver was evidently very much of an amateur. We heard two men on a station platform discussing him & they said he’d nearly given it up in despair in the morning. We slowed down a very long time before we reached a station & started again with sickening thuds & clouds of steam. After about 2 ½ hours we reached Sevenoaks, got a taxi straight away & drove home. I was fit to be tied at the thought that we hadn’t gone on to London in the fast train & seen what things were like there.
Mummy, Shortie & Mrs Idie were very surprised to see us, as they did not know when we were coming, but very pleased indeed. They got some dinner for us & I went to bed soon after.
I was not really sorry to be back, there is so much going on here that one wants to be in the midst of it, & also the weather had quite broken & was completely unreliable some time before we left. I think the two places I enjoyed most were Assisi & Zermatt – the A & Z! The Italians are a charming people, always smiling & friendly, especially the servants in the hotels which is not a question of tips because they have the 10% added onto the bill for service. The Swiss are very grave & very efficient and Switzerland, or the little I saw of it, seemed to me much less like a foreign country than Italy. One felt the iron hand of Mussolini very much & we did not dare lightly asked people their opinion of him as he holds the position almost of a demi-god with the mass of the common people, and one does not know how anyone will react about him, & if they do dislike him they dare not say so except in confidence.
Saturday May 8th.
I had breakfast in bed; read all the letters that were waiting for me here, & got up by slow degrees.
I went down to Langridge to ask them to make up some soil for the little plants I had brought back from Zermatt. On the way back I heard the train come in so I went to look at it & found they were just posting up a list of the service – about 4 trains a day for Charing X. People say Mr Blackburn of ValenceLink opens in a new window is driving the engine with his odd man as stoker.
I spent most of the afternoon potting my little plants – 21 of them – & very much hope they will grow.
After tea I went up to the Cottage to tell them I was back & show then the post-cards of our trip Edith was pretty well but poor Miss Deane had had 7 teeth out under choloform a day or two before & was feeling very sorry for herself. They were thrilled by the cards, especially the mountain ones.
We managed to get a paper, a little thing the size of a piece of note-paper, but there was no news except of attacks on cars & buses, unruly crowds, charges by the police & arrests in a few places.
I rang up the Club in the evening & Edith said all was quiet in Bermondsey but she heard things had been bad in Poplar.Link opens in a new window They have eight extra people sleeping at the Club – school teachers & Miss Tennant & Miss James – so she suggested I should go there Friday to Monday when they all go home. Its no good I can’t keep away from the Club & especially at this time.
Sunday May 9th.
I went to Church at 8 o’c & gardened for most of the remainder of the morning.
I went up to the Cottage in the afternoon & Edith & I went for a walk, down to Miss Tupper’s Cottage, then across to Crockham Hill & back over the Chart. It was rather sickening to see masses of people joy riding when petrol might soon be so scarce & be needed to take people to & from their work & for food supplies.
We got an “Observer”, a funny little typewritten thing with no fresh news.
Monday May 10th.
Daddie & I went to London to rescue the registered luggage. Mr Gifford was motoring into Sevenoaks to catch an 8.20 train & he took us in with him. There was a big crowd at the station but we managed to get in all right. The train (which was driven by a real engine driver) stopped at every station & got fuller & fuller as it went along till at last we had 22 people in our own carriage & almost hundreds had to be left behind at places like Hither Green & New Cross. I realized that we most certainly ought not to have been in that train when masses of people who had to get to work were crowded out. There were special constables on the line at intervals all the way up.
We arrived at Charing X about 9.45 & found the station very empty & deserted & practically all the entrances closed.
There were plenty of busesLink opens in a new window running mostly manned by volunteers & with a policeman beside the driver. A good many had wire netting inside the glass & some were barricaded with the boards half way up.
We went to the Stores to get one or two things for Mummy & then walked on to Victoria. We got hold of a porter who took us to the room where the unclaimed registered luggage is kept. We had a fearful hunt for our luggage but found it in the end. The Customs Official had Daddie’s box opened & went through it superficially but did not touch mine. We were wondering how we were going to get them to Charing X (the taxis are on strike) when a chauffeur came up & said he could take us; we thanked him profusely & he led us out to a magnificent car in which we reclined overcome by fits of laughter while he drove us to Charing X. When we got there Daddie gave him his visiting card to give to the owner of the car & pressed a tip upon him; whereupon the man said it was a hired car & the ordinary charge was 10/- but as we’d been mislead he would only charge us 5/-!! We retired very crestfallen to put the luggage in the cloak room.
Daddie went off from there & I got a train in three minutes to London Bridge as I wanted to go down to the Club & see what things were like there. I had to walk from London Bridge of course because there is nothing whatsoever running in those parts. There were masses of strikers along the Street by Hay’s Wharf & along Tooley St & Tower Bridge Road but everything was perfectly quiet. A long line of cars passed me filled with special constables & each with the Conservative colours tied on behind which made me see red.
Needless to say I found a staff meeting going on when I got to the Club. It consisted of Maggie, Miss Brodigan, Louie, Edith, Beatrice, Miss Macey & Budgett, & was mercifully just at an end.
Edith & I went out to get the address of someone to come & sing at the Club. We discussed the strike hard & agreed on the awfulness of it but that although there was probably a good deal of right & wrong on both sides, we were on the whole definitely on the side of the strikers. We thought it more than likely they would be beaten but that, whether a general strike was strictly speaking legal or not, they would have made a very fine moral stand.
We went to the person who sang but could get no answer so then we started to go over to College Buildings in Whitechapel where Edith wanted to see a girl who was dying. We hailed various cars to give us a lift but they took no notice, however finally on Tower Bridge some men with an empty motor lorry lifted us up behind & we went bumping and jolting along to Aldgate East Station. I waited at the bottom of College Buildings while Edith went up but the girl was unconscious so she couldn’t see her. We went on to Osborn Place & had luncheon there. There were only three people there, Miss Moses, Miss Macfee (who is in Edith’s place) & Miss Levy. They did not tell us much about the strike & talked most about individual cases.
As we got into Whitechapel High St coming back we saw part of a flour convoy go by escorted by crowds of policemen in motors & soldiers in armoured cars.Link opens in a new window There were crowds of people watching in complete passivity. The Trades Union Council has again & again given most stringent orders that everything was to be done to help maintain the food supply & had offered to co-operate with the Government (which did not reply) to this end, & Edith & I agreed that if we were strikers it would rouse our worst passions to see all this unnecessary display of force & might easily lead to unpleasant things which would not otherwise have happened.
We walked along a side street down to Tower Hill still talking of the strike & being more & more overwhelmed by the appalingness of the whole situation.
On the far side of Tower Bridge we made eyes at a man in a car & got him to give us a lift back to the Club.
Lizzie Burke was there when I got back & I was just setting off with her & Edie & one or two others to a strike meeting when I discovered it was at Rotherhithe Town Hall so I could not go because it would have run my train too fine. It would have been fearfully interesting. Edith told me they are having Labour meetings every night at Bermondsey Town Hall & imploring everyone to persue a policy of passive resistance.
There was a meeting consisting of Maggie, Louie, Beatrice, Edith & me to arrange a play for Friday night. Almost all the girls are “out” so the Club is open all day & every night & making desperate efforts to entertain them. I had to leave after about a quarter of an hour to go & meet Daddie at Charing X. Carrie & Ada walked with me to London Bridge & told me a good deal about how things were down there. Most of the factories were stopping either because their workers were on strike or because they could not get supplies. They had seen a man near the Tunnel jump onto a food lorry & be knocked off by the driver - and so report says – nearly killed. Children had been discovered by the police putting down tin tacks to puncture tyres, probably put up to it, as Carrie (who had had a bicycle tyre punctured) bitterly remarked, by older people. There was no paper visible except the "British Worker"Link opens in a new window the official T.U.C. paper which was everywhere. All the motor lorries that passed us, & there were a great many, were labelled “Food”, or “Food supplies only”, or “Sanitary Services”, or “Hospital Supplies”, or “Public Health”.
At London Bridge I got into a 13 bus driven & conducted by volunteers. All went well till Cannon St when we first collided with a large old cart horse & then a few yards further on scraped sickeningly along the side of a beautiful Daimler car & had to stop for ages while our own policeman took notes against us! When I got out at Charing X I saw that all the side of the bus had been stove in & was in splinters.
I met Daddie quite easily & we got a 5.15 train down. There was of course a great crowd but it was not nearly so dense as in the morning.
I read the “British Worker” whose calmness & belief in the justice of it’s cause are in very marked contrast to the violent recrimination and hysterical outbursts of the "British Gazette"Link opens in a new window the official Government paper edited by Winston Churchill & published from the offices of the “Morning Post”. I also read “The New Statesman”, which had managed to get published, & its clearness & sanity were a great relief.
The guard on the train was the same one whom we had from Dover on Friday & who then nervously stuffed his green flag into his pocket. Now he was very much changed, with a red & a green flag both on sticks, & a huge lantern, & hopping onto the train while it was moving with the utmost nonchalance.
We got out at Dunton Green because of the luggage & because they said there might be a train for Westerham, however there were no more that night so abandoning the luggage to its fate we walked into Riverhead & mercifully got a volunteer-driven bus there & arrived back here soon after 7 o’c.
They had room for me at the Club & had asked me to stay the night but I thought it better to come back much though I should like to have stayed up there & seen & heard more of what was going on.
Tuesday May 11th.
No news till the afternoon when I went along to see Mrs Farnworth & managed to get a paper. She came to tea here & seemed very depressed; I don’t wonder with that old mother who is desperately tiresome to her.
The “British Gazette” made me so furious I couldn’t read it. More appeals from Sir William Joynson-HicksLink opens in a new window Home Secretary for 50,000 special constables for London: against whom? or what?
Labels stuck all over Bennett (the newsagent) “Support the Empire”. Why this hysterical panic? If anyone has lost their heads in all this & shown prejudice & one-sidedness & done their best to stir up class - warfare & let loose hatred & injustice it is the Government (or at least portions of it) & the Conservatives.
Wednesday May 12th.
The “British Gazette” came in the morning: worse than ever. Also the “Times”, protesting bitterly that the Government had commandeered a large part of its supply of paper for the B.G & enquiring whether it was their policy to stifle independent papers.
The first number of the B.G was so violent that protests were made & it had to be modified.
At 12 o’c Miss Ashby came up to say they’d just heard on the wireless (ours isn’t working) that the strike was over. We were very excited & I rang up the Club but they had heard nothing of it there. At 1 o’c she sent up again to say the T.U leaders had gone to Downing StLink opens in a new window & at tea time that Mr Baldwin had announced in the House that the General Strike was to be called off at midnight.
Edith came to tea & seemed rather sad.
In the evening Mrs Maguire’s butler rang up to say it was “unconditional surrender” but could give no particulars. I was in despair it is simply too ghastly – worse than the strike itself.
Thursday May 13th – Ascension Day
I went to Church at 10.30. The Canon had a long & enthusiastic thanksgiving that the Strike was over, though I don’t know that God would wish to be thanked that the stronger had got the better of the weaker.
A “Times” came about 12 o’c with much better news than I had feared. The T.U.C had agreed to call off the General Strike (not the miner’s strike – or lock-out) because the Government had all along refused to negotiate unless this was done – although, as a Labour member pointed out in the House, they had not broken off relations with the mine-owners when they had put up lock out notices.
Colonel & Mrs Tenison came to tea.
Friday May 14th.
I met the Foxes at the corner by Quebec House at 8 o’c & they gave me a lift into Sevenoaks where I caught the 8.22 train to London. The railway strike was still unsettled & only the strike services were running. The train was full of course but not desperately so. I waited for a 47 bus for some time & nothing happened so finally I made eyes at a young man in a car. When he asked me where I wanted to go & I said Bermondsey he said “Oh yes you come from Princess Club don’t you?” I did not shatter the romance by asking how he knew! Anyway he took me all the way there.
Edith was out but came back soon after I arrived.
They told me the story of the play they were producing that evening & we went up & set the stage for the first scene – a west-end drawing-room!
I went up with Miss Brodigan to her sitting room to tell her about our time in Italy after she left & we talked a good deal about Mussolini & about the strike. She told me she went to see Dr SalterLink opens in a new window (the Labour M.P for Bermondsey) the first day of the strike & he put his head between his hands & said “the terrible thing is we’re beaten”. She thinks the responsible Labour leaders were rushed into the strike by the T.U secretaries. She had also heard that the T.U.C delegates asked Mr Baldwin what guarantees there were that the Government would accept the Samuel Memorandum & he said he would resign if they didn’t.
Louie suddenly appeared in a state of great agitation to say that the car was being sent for her to go back to Wrotham that afternoon & so she couldn’t take part in the play. It was decided that Edith should take her place while I took Edith’s part.
I did some visiting in the afternoon & found that the only thing the women I saw cared for about the strike was that it might soon be over. There had been two baton charges up by Tower Bridge during the week but otherwise things had been pretty quiet.
We had a rehearsal of the play about 6 o’c & it had not long ended when the performance itself was due to begin at 8.15. The story was a modernized Bluebeard & of course we all made up what we would say as we went along. Alice Elmes was wonderful as the Duchess, she came on at the rehearsal, stood in the middle of the stage & said “’ow I ‘ates re’earsing” & refused to say any more, however she was splendid in the thing itself. Budgett & I were two young naval officers & I had to make violent love to the heroine - Lizzie Burke. My costume consisted of brown tights, a very old & motheaten snottie's jacketLink opens in a new window & a grinder's hat. The play lasted about 1 ½ hours & was a howling success.
Edith & I are in separate rooms now that Rosalind has gone. She came to see me in bed & asked how the depression was but I did not say anything because I decided it was better not to.
Saturday May 15th.
We tidied up the acting clothes after breakfast, then I watched Beatrice cut out frocks for the Intermediate’s dress making class.
There was a deadly dull staff meeting at 11 at which “Ina” talked & no one listened. As a result of it I went off to Greisbach [ Griesbach ] in Southwark Park Rd to buy cakes for the dance in the evening & when I got back found I’d been told the wrong quantity so I had to go off back there again.
In the afternoon I went to see Father Murnane of Dockhead Catholic Church about our Temperance Conference & then went round to Club girls mothers telling them about an end of strike service we were having the next day. A more rotten & positively immoral job than touting services it would be hard to imagine.
Florrie Miller came in after tea & was very surprised & excited to see me back.
There was a large Mixed Club dance in the evening. Budgett & I helped Florrie Potter get the Canteen ready & then helped to serve out things when it was on, a nerve racking job because you mustn’t leave anything within reach of the boys who knick everything. I had great fun afterwards dancing with various people and Susey Ward told me I’d learned to dance quite well since I came to the Club! It went on till past 11 o’c. I always dread the Mixed Club before I go into it & enjoy it very much when I’m there.
Edith asked me again about the depression & because I did not want to hurt her & purely for my own sake wanted to tell her, I told her that it was more or less continuous now. She was unbelievably (and almost unbearably) kind & helpful about it – and continued to be all the following week.
Sunday May 16th.
I went with Edie & Susey to the Toc H Church in Mark Lane. It was a Choral Communion; there were very few people & it was very peaceful & nice. We dashed back afterwards to Bermondsey Town Hall where there was a Labour Party religious service on. Dr Salter read the Parable of the labourers hired for 1d a day which he explained as the principle of the Living Wage, he also read something from Isaiah & at the end there was loud clapping which somehow sounded very odd! Canon DonaldsonLink opens in a new window who is a Canon of Westminster & very violently Labour gave a tremendously fine address. He sketched briefly the conditions in the last century & then went on to what present day conditions would look like a century hence. It was one of the most moving addresses I have ever heard & the mixture of religion & politics did not jar in the least. There were several hymns including “God Save the People” & “Once to Every Man & Nation”. There was a huge placard across the back of the platform saying “Keep quiet & Abstain from violence” & all round were notices ”Support the Miners”, “The Miners Fight is Your Fight”. It was pretty full & a wonderfully interesting meeting.
After luncheon we all went up to the Hostel & had cups of tea & talked & joked with the girls.
Edith & I & Alice Penney went to tea at Lyons Corner HouseLink opens in a new window in the Strand. Alice was in splendid form and frightfully amusing. One could not imagine anyone better to go out with. We all went on top of a bus to Stepney, Alice left us at the Minories & Edith & I went on to John Knox church where we were joined by Beatrice. Mr Little was obviously desperately tired & did not speak as well as usual. Afterwards a friend of Edith’s (or rather an old enemy!) read a paper on “Why I am a Catholic”. She was frightfully dogmatic & made the Catholic Church seem very cut & dried & unattractive although it was intrinsically a good paper. There was a discussion afterwards in which the audience’s profound dislike of & very slight knowledge of Catholicism became apparent although they were extremely good humoured & tolerant. Miss Bolton said something about the miracles of Lourdes & one of the audience asked if they were supposed to have been worked by the Pope!
The Club service was completely over & everyone had gone by the time we got back there.
Monday May 17th.
I did some visits in the morning & got back in time to help with dinners.
Edith & Budgett went to have their shingles trimmed at a hairdresser at Docklands & I went to watch them being done. Budgett left us afterwards & Edith & I went miles along Southwark Park RoadLink opens in a new window to see someone who was out when we got there. We sustained ourselves with buns & penny ice cornets.
I went to see Mrs Taylor & then went back to tea at the Club. I left directly after tea, went to MudieLink opens in a new window to change my book & came down here by the 6.10.
All the girls were back at work by this time except some of Lipton’s girls as Lipton behaved very badly & tried to break the Union and lower wages which caused a great deal of bitterness & ill-feeling. Some firms in which the workers did not go on strike but were forced to stop work through lack of supplies have behaved extraordinarily well & paid full wages for the time their workers were idle.
Tuesday May 18th.
I went up to see Edith in the afternoon & we walked in the Tower Woods.
General & Miss Baden-Powell & Mrs & Mr Harvey came to tea & all talked aimlessly.
Wednesday May 19th.
I went up to the Club by the 9.44 and did some visiting in the morning.
Edith & I did dinners and spent most of the afternoon writing a brief account of the Club in 1925 for the Princess League of Helpers. Our minds were so dull that it was only with the greatest difficulty that we produced complete banalities.
We had tea in the hostel with Sister & her mother.
Two students came to do Peter Rabbits & we left them in complete charge of them.
Rosalie (who was in London to buy books) rang up in the evening. Edith answered the telephone & asked her to come to supper & to spend the evening. She was in rather a tiresome mood criticizing everybody & every thing in a loud voice.
Edith’s charming friend, Violet Waterhouse, came down to recite. She did amongst other things, a scenes from “St Joan”, "Androcles the Lion"Link opens in a new window and "Fanny's First Play"Link opens in a new window all quite perfectly and becoming completely the part each time but it was rather spoilt for me by Rosalie who kept up a running fire of commentary the whole time. The girls loved it & were absolutely quiet.
I had a great discussion with Mary Rolls afterwards as to whether the Union Jack was or was not a class flag.
A “black leg” coming back from working at the docks was waylaid & murdered in the Tunnel.
Thursday May 20th.
I left the Club soon after breakfast & went to an H.M.U.H [ Home Mission Union Helpers ] Committee meeting which was, as usual, both long & dull. I met Rosalie at Bush House at 1 o’c & we had luncheon in a little restaurant in Portugal St. She was in a much better mood. We went to Waterman after luncheon & I changed my fountain pen for one I like even less than the one I had before! From there we went to Smith’s second hand book department where she was buying books for the County Library, and as she said she would be there an hour I went to Mudie & changed my book & then went back & found her still at it.
From there we went to Peter Robinson to choose her a hat but she couldn’t find one she liked so we parted & I went to tea with Peggy who was very tired but most blessedly peaceful and soothing. She told me various interesting small oddments about the strike; the most interesting was an order which Derek Murphy (who was with the Guards in Victoria Park commanding his battalion) had shown her which said that no man was to have his rifle loaded on any pretext whatever. He also told her that the crowds in the East End cheered the troops as they marched to Victoria Park.
I came down with Rosalie by the 6.34.
Friday May 21st.
I did oddments & read most of the day. After tea I went up to the Cottage to see Rosalie & we walked over to Hurst Ground to pick bluebells arguing heavily on various subjects all the way there & back.
Saturday May 22nd.
It was very hot & I didn’t do much except potter about the garden.
Harry came to tea. He is so nice.
Sunday May 23rd.
I went to Church at 10 o’c & then went straight off for a walk in Squerryes, it was looking too lovely with bluebells & young green & sunshine.
We all went to tea with Miss Swan & Miss Gosling to meet some people called Tristram who have come to live at Oak Lodge. They gave us a fearfully delicious tea.
Monday May 24th.
As it was a Bank Holiday I didn’t go up to the Club till the evening.
Rosalie came to luncheon & was very cheerful and amusing. I walked part of the way back with her.
Margareuite [ Marguerite ] Tenison came to tea. I went up at 6.45 and got to the Club about 8.30 to find them just back from a Whitsun outing to Grey Ladies Garden at Blackheath. I wanted Edith to go over to Whitechapel with me to see what it was like on a Bank Holiday night but she wouldn’t go.
We played whist with Lizzie & Esther Hitchman.
Tuesday May 25th.
I went round to Maggie’s after breakfast & did a mass of indexing there, then I went visiting and then back to the club for luncheon & more visiting in the afternoon.
It was a deadly dull evening in the Club. We all sat & talked the whole time & there was nothing to do.
Wednesday May 26th.
Some members of the H.M.U.H were at my instigation going over Southwell’s in the morning & Beatrice & I went with them. I had of course been over it before but it was very interesting to go again having seen other factories in the interval & knowing so much more about it now. When alls said & done it is an ill lighted & dirty place; the buildings are mostly over 100 years old, & the ceiling, composed of wooden beams, are thick in dirt & cobwebs. They are mainly a rough type who work there because the factory is in one of the worst parts of Bermondsey & draws largely on the notorious Wolsey Bdgs [ Buildings ]. The H.M.U.H damsels were enchanted with it & said what a model factory it was! Florrie Page, who had seen me there in the distance, came in in the dinner hour & said “dirty old place ain’t it?” in a voice of deep contempt.
In the afternoon Beatrice & I went to Old St Children’s Court got in by Miss Moses Of Osborn Place who is a J.P & helps Clark-HallLink opens in a new window the magistrate there. It was tremendously interesting although they were all with one exception remand cases which were being had up for the second time some didn’t know what the charges were. It was sad & also a little odd to see small children mostly between the ages of 8 & 12 had up before the magistrate & a long table of men & women, although he was more than kind & gentle to them & often called them to his side & spoke to them privately. They were all cases that would either be sent to a remand home for a week & then put on probation for a year, or sent to an industrial school or reformatory.
We saw Miss Keble afterwards, she used to live at the Club & is one of the Probation officers of that Court.
I went on to the Chelsea Flower Show which was better than ever this year & perfectly beautiful after the squalor & greyness of the East End.
We played games with the Intermediates in the evening & Maggie gave them a dressing down for their bad behaviour to Miss Morris the night before which resulted in two quite charming letters of apology – “we have behaved as no Bermondsey girl should behave” & “we are very sorry for you”. I played whist with Lizzie, Esther & Ada Samwell later in the evening.
Thursday May 27th.
I left the Club about 10.30, changed my book at Mudie’s & then went to meet Esther in South Moulton St and she went with me to look at hats; we went all over the place but couldn’t find anything that (a) I liked & was (b) a possible price. I went back to luncheon with her & there was a girl called Nelly Villiers there whom I have met several times at the Knoll. EstherLink opens in a new window has been “converted” whilst staying in a house party in Holland; she started telling me a little about it but there wasn’t time for much. Anne is very excited about it & says it is absolutely genuine & she certainly does seem a great deal quieter & more sure of herself. She has given up dancing, not because she disapproves of it but because she was too fond of it & thought too much about it.
Practically all our trains have been have been cut off owing to the Coal Strike so I came down to Sevenoaks by a 2.30 train & then out here by the bus.
Sir Ernest WiltonLink opens in a new window who is just back from China was down for the day. It was awfully nice to see him again & he was very amusing & told us a good deal about China. He stayed for dinner & went up by the 9.20.
Friday May 28th.
I gardened & did things here in the morning.
In the afternoon I went up to the Cottage to see Edith but she had gone away for the week-end.
It was the night of Bridget’s coming out dance but I didn’t go to it for the good old reason of hating dances.
Saturday May 29th.
The Bowens were coming down but they telegraphed in the morning to say they couldn’t come.
I went to tea with Mrs Busk to meet a nice girl called Helen Alderton who was staying with her for the week-end.
Sunday May 30th.
Wolfie was coming down but there were no trains at all here so she couldn’t come.
Daisy telephoned the evening before & motored down for the day arriving at 12 o’c. Unfortunately it poured with rain almost all the time but there was one short interval in which we went into a sopping wet field & picked buttercups. She was just the same & very full of family news.
Monday May 31st.
I went up to the Club by the 8.40, left my things there, changed & went hat hunting “up west”. I wandered along Sloane St & Knightsbridge & found nothing, then went to Parnell & at last in desperation went to Parnell & bought an untrimmed hat there & got them to trim it for me.
I rushed back to the Club to do dinners but found when I got there that I wasn’t wanted. Miss Cook is away on her holiday & a Mrs Adams the widow of a Cornish clergyman has come to do the housekeeping while she is away.
I left a note for Miss Brodigan in the afternoon & went to see a Club's girls mother who needless to say was out. Then I went along to Maggie’s to collect visits & did some till tea time.
Edith got back after tea with Kitty Bisham the nice girl who used to be at Osborn Place who was spending the night at the Club.
I helped play games with Maggie’s Brown Hares after tea.
There was very little to do in the evening because no one came in for the library. I went & talked to Beatrice’s Intermediate’s dressmaking class & they commiserated with me deeply for having no relatives in Bermondsey whom I could go & see!
Tuesday June 1st.
I went out and did some visits in the morning & then wrote them up at Maggie’s.
I helped with dinners and then went to lie down. Edith came to talk to me for a bit & then I went to sleep.
I met Mummy & Gus at Upper Berkeley St at about 4.30 and we went to Lady Lawson-Johnstone’s thé dansant in Portman Square. Gus had thought my letter inviting him was a leg pull & when he appeared & found it was genuine he was inarticulate with fury. Peggy & I laughed till we ached which made him more furious. We sat in a corner & smoked & talked at the thing itself, except when we went to get ices. I let him go at about ¼ to 6 & Betty & John came soon after. We left about 6.15. It was like all those things & may I be preserved from going to another for a very long time: but Mummy enjoyed it. I picked up my other hat at Peggy’s & dashed back to the Club.
St Martins were sending us a concert in the evening but the poor lady who was organising it appeared in a great state of agitation & none of the others turned up at all, so she had to do it all on her own. She sang very badly but she made a valiant struggle. There was a Companionship service afterwards & the Bishop of KingstonLink opens in a new window gave a long & rambling address as most Bishops do.
Later on I found myself being borne out of the front door & onto the pavement by a crowd of girls, with a bowler hat insecurely perched on my head. I was very nearly caught in the act by Maggie who came out to see what all the noise was about & I had to slink in with the bowler behind my back.
Wednesday June 2nd.
Edith & I started out soon after 8 o’c because she had at last persuaded me to go to a nerve specialist & this was the only time he could see us. He was a Dr William BrownLink opens in a new window in Harley St. I simply hated going & have never felt so terrified as I did in his waiting room but all was well when I got up to his room, he was quite charming & told me a good deal about psycho-anlysis & psychology and different forms of depression. He asked me a good many questions of course & I shall have to go to be psycho-analized which will be very expensive but I think it will have to be done because this (which hadn’t occurred for over a year) has gone on for 9 months now and has got beyond my control. Also it must be got rid of for the future & to lift the burden off Edith. We went & had coffee afterwards & I told her as much as I could remember of what he had said, then she went to see a friend in Harley St & I went back to the Club where I found Esther Hitchman waiting for me & we went & had our hair cut together.
I helped a bit with dinners.
It was an appalling day simply pelting all the time & I didn’t do any visiting in the afternoon, purely because there were none to do. Edith & Budgett & I discussed factory legislation.
Edith’s prospective successor came to tea. Her name is Titmouse, she has just been through the School of Economics & seems nice. Miss Brodigan saw her alone & definitely engaged her to come next term.
We had great fun with the Intermediates playing games & acting a little play. They were at their nicest.
Thursday June 3rd.
Edith, Beatrice & I went to a Local Attendance Sub-Committee at Farncombe St.Link opens in a new window It was interesting, as they always are, but there were no Albion St Cases. I did a few East Lane visits for Beatrice afterwards.
I went to luncheon with Barbara. Joan is in England & had a small luncheon party going on but Barbara & I managed to talk all the same. She was perfectly delightful & so amusing. It is a joy & blessing merely to remember that anything quite so attractive exists. Mrs BentinckLink opens in a new window was out for luncheon but got in before I left & rushed up to see me & was most cordial & nice. They have asked me to go to Corfe for a fortnight this year.
I went to change my book at Mudie & then went to meet Mummy & Daddie at an At Home of Miss Heathcote’s. I ate a great deal of a superlatively good tea & then went on to see Peggy & had a very good talk with her. We came down by the 7.10.
Friday June 4th.
I did some gardening in the morning & went up to the Cottage in the afternoon but Edith was out.
Saturday June 5th.
Miss Wolff came down for the day & was very cheerful & full of plans for letting this house & our going to London.
Sunday June 6th.
I went to Church at 10 o’c.
Daddie & I went by bus to Sevenoaks in the afternoon & then walked out about two miles beyond to RiverhillLink opens in a new window to see a Colonel & Mrs Rogers who have a most beautiful garden where they grow every sort of rhododandrum. We had a first rate tea & then walked back into Sevenoaks & caught the 6.30 bus home.
Monday June 7th.
I went up to the Club by the 9.44 and went along to East Lane School where I am doing some visiting for Beatrice while she is away in Ireland I did all the visiting there was & then went back to the Club & helped with dinners.
I went to Albion St school in the afternoon & intended to do some visiting afterwards but they kept me so long in the girls department telling me about the school journey that I didn’t have time for any visits.
I was staying the night with Vie Bond & going with them to her neice Gladys Stuckley’s dance at Claridges. I got there in time for a late tea & found rather a silly great neice also staying there. She hadn’t got a partner so I telephoned all over the place to try and get one for her but of course it was too late. Harry came to dine and also a most attractive girl called Esmé Fitzroy & her partner a Mr Hesketh who was nice & knew Cornbury but didn’t like the looks of me because he didn’t ask me to dance. I enjoyed the dance itself enormously; it was not at all crowded & I was introduced to several people whom I got on well with and one, a doctor, is going to take me over Guy’s some time. Harry, the neice & I stayed on after Vie & Johnny had left but I had to leave before the end of all my dances because my feet ached so abominably I could scarcely walk. We got back at 2.30.
Tuesday June 8th.
I left soon after 10 o’c & went to see Dr Brown dithering with fright. He gave me suggestion treatment which is most pleasant, one lies on a comfortable sofa with one’s eyes shut & make’s one’s mind a blank except for the idea of sleep and then he suggests things at intervals. I didn’t go to sleep but he says that doesn’t matter so long as one’s mind is completely passive. One feels deliciously soothed down & cleared out after it.
I went straight back to the Club. Miss Tennent came in in the afternoon. I did some very interesting East Lane after-care visiting. I did hostel teas & had a most cheerful time up there.
We played games in the evening and had acting and a musical story.
Wednesday June 9th.
I went to Dr Brown at 10 o’c. He gave me suggestion again & I was able to relax better this time partly because I’d got over my alarm at going to him.
Edith & I did dinners.
I did a good deal of visiting in the afternoon & Budgett and I went to tea with Maggie.
We played games & acted with the Intermediates in the evening and afterwards I had a hilarious time with Alice Penney & Mary Rolls who lifted me up one by the head & the other by the feet & tried to put me in the dustbin!
At 11 o’c Alice, Mary, Emily Stocking, Edith & I went in pouring rain to the Town Hall to get more flags for the Miner’s Relief Fund Flag Day for which Edith was organising Ward 6 on the next day. The flags hadn’t come in when we got there & we waited some time for them; there had been some hitch in the printing & when they did come there were very few & they could only let us have 1,000.
Thursday June 10th.
Edith was up at 5 o’c and out looking after the flag sellers – although there were only two people out at that hour. I got up at 7.30 and went to take over from someone at the corner of St James’s Church but there was no sign of her so she had presumably sold out and gone home. I met Edith coming along and she said they had been doing splendidly but that the flags were all gone. We went back to the Club & telephoned to the Town Hall & they said there was no chance of getting any more flags before 11.30 so there was nothing to be done.
I went along to a medical inspection at Albion St and helped Maggie.
The flags came about 12.50; they had got emergency ones printed and we had to stick them on the pins. We worked frenziedly at this for some time & tried to do dinners too. I went out to sell but people’s enthusiasm had moved by that time and I didn’t sell many. I met Budgett & Florrie Page at DockheadLink opens in a new window and we went to Southwell where Florrie caught all the people going in. It was worth anything to be with her & hear her method of selling; anyone who refused to buy was called a mouldy old thing or lousy! Budgett left us and Florrie & I went on along Jamaica Road back to the Club.
We told Edith there was very little doing but she seemed doubtful about it so we went & stood outside the Club & Florrie took a new lease of life and was perfectly wonderful, catching everyone who passed & dashing after men on carts. Barbara was down selling & she came along presently saying that seven large dockers had made her speeches against the Strike!
I went to Dr Brown at 4.30. He gave me more suggestion & I really went to sleep part of the time. This was my last visit because it is £3.3 a time & I can’t go on with it. I am very sorry because he is perfectly charming & very interesting & the suggestion really is making a great deal of difference.
I went on to see Peggy but she had an American girl whom she met in Egypt staying with her so I didn’t see much of her. I came down here by a 7.30 train.
Friday June 11th.
Mummy went to London to stay with Miss Heathcote for about a week. Daddie also went up for the day.
Edith came to tea & Mrs Farnworth came after tea. I walked part of the way up to Hosey with Edith.
Saturday June 12th.
Barbara came down for the week-end. Joan & Rex were motoring down in this direction so she got them to drop her here about 11.30.
In the afternoon we went over to see Knole which is undoubtedly very beautiful but the interior somehow leaves me rather cold.
After dinner Barbara insisted on going to a Fair over at Sundridge so we went taking Shortie with us and had rides on the Merry-Go-Round & shied at various things for perfectly hideous prizes which needless to say we didn’t win.
We found a Labour meeting going on on the village green when we got back & stayed to listen to that for some time.
Sunday June 13th.
I went to church at 8 o’c. Barbara & I went to Mrs Bowles in the morning to order a cake & had a long political talk with her. We went on to the Cottage to see Edith and got kept by a downpour which made us very late for luncheon.
It rained in the afternoon so we stayed indoors & Barbara was frightfully funny imitating different kinds of speakers.
After dinner we went for a walk across the fields & Barbara told me a ghost story which she made up as she went along & did it tremendously well. She was altogether in splendid form & very amusing & attractive.
Monday June 14th.
We went up together by the 9.44. I went along to East Lane School & did some indexing & then went to the Club where I found pandemonium because poor little Budgett had had a letter to say her mother was very ill & she must go home at once. Edith was just going off to Paddington with her.
I started off at 1.30 to take one William Gates of Albion St to be inspected for Bushey. We had to go to a school in Upper Kennington LaneLink opens in a new window which is miles away near Vauxhall Bridge. There was a good many other boys there all looking pretty prosperous because that is a dull & respectable district. They first had their heads examined by the school nurse & then were examined by the doctor. I took him back to Bermondsey & bought him a pair of plimsolls & sent him home. Then I dashed into East Lane to leave some vouchers which had been forgotten.
I helped Maggie with her Brown Hares after tea.
I took Beatrice’s Intermediates dressmaking class in the evening but mercifully there wasn’t much dressmaking to do.
Edith had a bad throat & lost her voice so she went to bed early.
Tuesday June 15th.
I did some East Lane visits in the morning
I went to luncheon with Miss Anthony & Margaret Anthony at the Burlington Hotel.Link opens in a new window Mummy was there & a very nice Miss Thomas. They are fearfully happy at being in London again & are rushing all over the place. They took me to see a film at the Philharmonic Hall called "The Light of Asia",Link opens in a new window it is based on Sir Edwin Arnold's poem,Link opens in a new window the scene is laid in Jaipur and it is entirely played by Indians. It is of course the life of Buddha & although I previously knew nothing about him it was very impressive & most beautifully produced.
Miss Titmuss was at the Club when I got back discussing with Edith the duties of the union (I think I said she is taking Edith’s place in the autumn).
I went swimming with about half a dozen of the girls to Rotherhithe baths and later on in the evening Maggie & I organised games with some success.
Edith was worse & went to bed early.
Wednesday June 16th.
I went in the morning to interview a woman whose daughter wants to come into the hostel. Then I went to Maggie’s to get visits & went out & did a few. I went to a C.C.H.FLink opens in a new window assessment committee at the Alice Barlow Settlement. It wasn’t very thrilling although it was interesting to see how the assessing is done. I helped Maggie & Edith with dinners & Miss Ballantyne the new I.C.A.A [ Invalid Children's Aid Association ] secretary came to luncheon. I didn’t care for her awfully.
I went in the afternoon to an After Care Conference at the boys department at Albion St. Only Mr Lytton & Mr Howard were there and we saw 24 boys which is over double the number we ought to have seen, however it was great fun & I enjoyed myself very much talking to those two. Mr Howard knows Bermondsey & all the possibilities of work inside out.
Lady CableLink opens in a new window who is one of our largest subscribers came to tea. She said we were to let her know whenever we wanted money for any particular thing so I promptly said I wanted to send a child away for a holiday & she gave me 10/- on the spot.
I went along to see Alice Penney at her works after tea. She is at a leather works called Kerr & Co off Bermondsey St. She & one old man have the upper floor to themselves. The whole room is full of dust & cobwebs inches thick in odds & ends of leather. She dyes & puts the tags on leather boot laces by an extremely old fashioned process & almost entirely by hand. She has been there for 14 years & none of us can make out why she has stuck it so long; however shes leaving it now & going to be something or other in the Bank of England.
Two students came down to play games with the Intermediates and after Chapel Miss Brodigan had all the girls up in her sitting room & told them about Blaina the South Wales mining village that has been adopted by Bermondsey which she had been to see. She says there is not actual starvation but that the Poor Relief is only 12/- for a family; they have twice had strike pay of 5/- and twice 2/- worth of food from the money sent by Bermondsey. She says it is telling most hardly on nursing & expectant mothers, & on single men who may be actually starving because they get no parish relief. The men as a whole are so weak that when they go to the hospitalLink opens in a new window for an operation they have to be fed up for two days before they are strong enough to bear it. The girls were thrilled in hearing of it all & full of questions and sympathy & very eager to help.
Thursday June 17th.
I went with Edith to a local attendance sub-committee in the morning and did a holiday visit, then I came back & helped with dinners till 1 o’c. The Waldegraves had asked me to stay the night to go & hear Father Vernon preach at St Pauls Knightsbridge next day, so I went there first & left my things & then went to meet Anne at Peter Jones. It was a tremendous joy to see her again after so long. She is with Lady Hotham her future Aunt, helping her & the girl who has just come out with their social things. Lady Hotham is treating her perfectly abominably, working her to death and heaping perpetual slights & unkindnesses upon her. I do admire Anne enormously, she was cheerful & smiling about it all, never complained & only said “it does seem funny”. We did some shopping & then collapsed in the restaurant at Harrods & had orangeade. I went on to the R.G.S where Daddie had a tea party for Miss Anthony. Sir Ernest Wilton was there, & Cousin V, Lady Emma, Miss Heathcote & Lady Percy St Maur.
I went afterwards to the Waldegraves & before dinner had a talk with Mrs Waldegrave about Anne. We agreed that the only thing is for them to get married as soon as possible because Anne has nowhere to go & no money to live on alone.
Only Mrs Waldegrave & Esther were there & after dinner we had a long talk on religion. There is no doubt on the genuineness of Esther’s conversion, or the beauty of it because it is completely unemotional. As Anne says the question of whether it is genuine & the question whether it will last are two different things, and at the moment it is certain she can see “spires away on the world’s rim”. We discussed mostly the necessity or otherwise for a Church & prayer. Esther’s leanings at the moment are all towards Anglo-Catholicism and Mrs Waldegrave (who is certainly a Saint) agrees it would be the best for her.
Friday June 18th.
Esther & I went to Communion at St Mary the Virgin, Graham St. It was so high that except that it was in English it scarcely differed at all from the Catholic Low Mass, & in fact a large part of the service was taken from that. I quite honestly prefer our own service.
Betty got back from Ascot in the morning & we all went to hear Father Vernon who was giving three addresses on Happiness. The Church was packed & he spoke for an hour without a single note. He really was tremendously fine; it is no good trying to record what he said because it was his own great earnestness & conviction which carried such weight. He said we are to-day either materialists or hedonists either saying there is nothing really in life so we’d better make the best of it & not care, or else running after sensation at all costs. And we are starving our sense of Love & Eternity & so we are restless & dissatisfied because they only can give us peace & happiness.
I saw Anne for a moment afterwards.
A young Count Bernsdorff [ Bernstorff ] the brother of the one at the German Embassy came to luncheon. Mummy came in the afternoon & we went & had tea with Cecil & I came down here by the 5.30 train.
Saturday June 19th.
I slept & read & gardened. Mrs Farnworth came to tea & I went for a walk with her afterwards.
Sunday June 20th.
I went to church at 10 o’c. In the afternoon I went to the Cottage & saw Miss Deane & Miss Colville but Edith was out.
Monday June 21st.
I went up to the Club by the 9.44. I did some after care visiting in the morning & then helped with the second half of dinners. Florrie Miller was married in the morning & she came round to see me after luncheon & in spite of having only just been married she spent the entire afternoon going round with me doing After Care visits!
I helped Maggie with the Red Squirrels - or rather I sat & talked to Beatrice while she told them a story.
There was nothing on in the evening & I spent most of the time in doing indexing & showing Carrie & Ada my post-cards of Italy.
Tuesday June 22nd.
I went along to a Medical Inspection at Albion St in the morning. Every department denied knowledge of it till finally Dr Cotton came along & said it was in the Infant’s department so then there was a desperate scramble & I & two girls from the Girls department dashed about collecting mothers & altogether it was pandemonium. Edith took over from me at 10.30 & I went visiting. In the afternoon Edith & I went to Browning HallLink opens in a new window Walworth & were met there by Beatrice & two Avery Hill Students and spent the afternoon at a centre for ineducables run by the London Association for the Care of the Mentally Defective. There were approximately 20 children between the ages of 10 & 16; most of them could talk freely & were very ready to do so but only one showed any gleams of ordinary intelligence & he said he would like to be a van boy & earn £1 a week. They did hand work for a time & then they played games, then they had a band in which they had drums & bells & kept time with some piece with a strong rhythm played on the piano. They also sang & marched & had team races. Their teacher said their great characteristic is laziness & there isn’t any question of being really able to teach them anything, all they can do is to keep them amused & occupied. It was all intensely interesting. Edith had to leave before the end to go to see Miss Taylor & Beatrice & I went back together.
I went swimming with some of the girls in the evening. Betty came down to the Club & took part in some charades in which Miss Brodigan appeared as a tweeny with an overall, and a black hat perched on top of her veil. And Florrie Page was wonderful as a footman in white flannels & a snotty’s jacket.
Wednesday June 23rd.
Naomi Brown was staying at the Club for a couple of nights and made a very welcome relief & piece of new life. I took her along to Maggie’s in the morning to look at some C.C things for us & then went & did visits myself including one very interesting one for Budgett a long way “down town”.
There was an After Care Conference in the Girls department of Albion St in the afternoon at which at least 6 of the children from the sub-normal class came up and the whole lot of them (the normals included) said they’d like to join the Club in the evening!
We got back just in time for Miss Brodigan’s great Temperance Conference which she had been excited over for months. It was a meeting of Clergy & social workers in the district to discuss the need for a temperance campaign & what could be done about it. There were about 50 people there; the Bishop of Kingston was in the chair & the Bishop of Woolwich & a Temperance speaker made speeches & then there was a general discussion. There was a terrible moment when Dr Salter (Labour M.P for Bermondsey & a total abstainer) advanced off the platform & down the aisle & Mr Sinker (rector of Old Bermondsey Church, & very Conservative & temperance-in-moderation) advanced up the aisle, both with their tempers completely gone & Dr Salter calling Mr Sinker a liar while the latter responded that Dr Salter wouldn’t be happy till he had trampled the Union Jack in the dust. It was extremely funny till one remembered the complete loss of dignity implied in losing one’s temper at a public meeting, & the really sad thing was that Miss Brodigan was almost ill with misery over it.
The two students came & played games most splendidly with the Intermediates.
We had all the older girls in the sitting room and they had a long discussion about men & marriage & being in love and made a great many very amusing remarks.
I went to bed very late & one of the hostel girls had a late pass & didn’t get in till 12.30 & Edith & I went on talking after that.
Thursday June 24th.
I did oddments in the morning & took some medical cards along to Maggie to be filed away.
Edith had a letter from Budgett to say her mother had died the day before.
I had luncheon with Phyllis & Violet Carnegie who were in London. It was delightful to see Phyllis again and she is completely unchanged, full of naughty stories about people in Kenya and talking quite incessantly. It was the first time I had seen Violet, she is very gentle & charming & had Phyllis’s voice. They were going back to Newstead the next day.
I went to see Harry who has had an operation for appendicitis & is in a nursing home in Vincent Square. A fearful thunderstorm came on & I had to stand up at Westminster Cathedral for ¾ of an hour while rain came down in deluges & the thunder pealed right overhead. Harry seemed pretty cheerful & I had tea with him & then went on to see Peggy but the American girl was still there & Christian Guthrie (whose married name I forget) & Charles came in later so I didn’t see Peggy at all & conversation languished a good deal. I came down by the 7.30.
Friday June 25th.
I read, wrote & gardened.
Saturday June 26th.
I did the same as the day before.
Sunday June 27th.
I went to church at 8 o’c.
I spent most of the morning up at the Cottage in the garden with Edith. Her sister Alice is going to be married to a clergyman in Suffolk but it is a secret at present.
Miss Wolff motored down with Violet & Leonore Henry & their father & mother for tea. They were so nice & enthusiastic about everything.
Monday June 28th.
I went up by the 9.44 & met Edith as I was waiting for the bus at Tooley St.Link opens in a new window I went along to Albion St to give Mr Litton some money I’d collected for their summer outing I helped with dinners & then went with Edith to see some cripple Guides at Peckham which she will have to look after when she goes to Avery Hill. We were discussing the case for & against society so hard that we walked past the school & so arrived late. Miss Hyslop was in charge of them and afterwards she went with us and had tea at a Lyons & she & Edith talked of what the latters various duties would be at Avery Hill.
Edith & I discussed ineducables & M.Ds & the moral sense hard all the way back.
I wrote letters & did indexing most of the evening.
Tuesday June 29th.
Edith, Beatrice & I went to East Lane school in the morning & then went along to Grant’s tin factory where a good many of our Intermediates work & made an effort to see over it. They were very anxious to know if we had come to find fault & said they had quite enough trouble with factory inspectors & the Home Office. Finally they said they were too busy to let us over now but they would arrange it in September, so we departed crestfallen. I did a few visits and then went back to the Club & met Edith. We went to Osborn Place to pick up Miss Moses & then went to Mrs Beckett’s wedding at St Ethelburga's near Liverpool St. She married a man called Oliver Frost who is a good deal younger than herself. There were various society women there of the most loathsome type & we criticized them severely afterwards. We walked back to Osborn Place with some of the others who had also been in the Church & had luncheon there. Edith & I went to look up a reference in the Public Library afterwards & then she went back to the Club & I went to Toynbee Hall to join Miss Brodigan, Beatrice & Miss Cook for the annual meeting of the Federation of Settlements. Mr Eager was to have read a paper on the settlements & the strike but he never turned up. J.J. MallonLink opens in a new window the Warden of Toynbee, Sir Wyndham DeedesLink opens in a new window & various others spoke & then we had tea. After tea we & some other people got Mallon to take us over Toynbee Hall & tell us its history which was very interesting.
I got back in time to do Hostel teas, then went swimming. Barbara came down in the evening and we had charades & a free tea as a sort of farewell party for Edith; they were all very happy but somehow the charades didn’t go as well as usual till the last one in which Florrie Page was the butler & Nell Rolls a drunken cook.
Barbara & I went along to Bermondsey Settlement afterwards to collect the flowers for Queen Alexandra’s Rose Day.
Wednesday June 30th.
I visited hard during the morning.
Mummy suddenly appeared at the Club on her way to Miss Heathcote.
Beatrice & I did dinners.
I went to see Beatrice Ayling in the afternoon & she told me a good deal about the ghastly time she is having as a counter hand at Lyon’s Corner House in the Strand. I went back to the Club and had a sleep & Miss Ballantyne from the I.C.A.A came to see me. Beatrice & Ethel came in after tea.
We played games with the Intermediates in the evening & Edith organized a play with some of them. I had a bright discussion with some of the older girls after chapel on True Love & Birth Control. They were mostly full of definite opinions & very sensible.
Edith & I talked till well past midnight. She was charming the whole week and just like she used to be last year.
Thursday July 1st.
I left soon after breakfast & met Anne in the hairdressing department of Evans where also I had my shingle trimmed. Then we went & left my attaché case at Miss Heathcote’s where I was spending a couple of nights. Then I left a note at Miss Wolff’s & we went & sat in the Green Park & discussed the Youth of the Present Day.
I lunched with Charlie Fraser at Les Lauriers in Jermyn Street & we went to see Noel Coward’s new play "Easy Virtue"Link opens in a new window which is – with the acting – an inhumanly clever satire on English County families. We had tea afterwards at Lyons Corner House in the Strand & he went back with me to Hereford Gardens. It was great fun to see him again, he has grown a good deal older & more developed but he still talks quite unceasingly & is still as engagingly enthusiastic about things. He had started going to dances in London & he says he does hope he won’t become spoilt & tiresome but he thinks that all is well if he continues to come away from every dance feeling he has made a complete fool of himself.
I got back to Hereford Gdns fully expecting to go to the Lawson-Johnstone dance in the evening but found Mummy had no intention of going which was a great blessing. Bob Vernon who is Victoria’s brother, therefore a vague cousin, dined & he didn’t want to go either so we remained where we were.
Friday July 2nd.
I went to see Betty in the morning. She had a bad cold & was rather dull.
I changed my book at Mudie’s & then went to luncheon with the Henrys who have taken a most beautiful flat in Sloane St belonging to Lord Glenconnor [ Glenconner ]. There was another American woman there, a Lady Maryon-Wilson, & Bettie still making the same little remarks in the same little affected voice. Everyone was a little vague & loose-endish & conversation never settled down properly.
I went to the Club to get away some clothes. Edith & I went & sat in Southwark Park & sucked sweets & discussed thoroughly an idea of Anne’s that we should go to see Father Vernon, who is according to her very worried as to what to do with all the young things who are coming to him as a result of his preaching, and suggest to him that what they want is work & that we will assist him to provide work for them to do. We had an extremely nice time in the Park & dealt with other people’s failings & shortcomings very effectually. I had tea at the Club & then went to see Peggy whom I found alone and very depressed.
There was to have been a dinner party at Miss Heathcote’s but she had made a mistake in the day so there was no one & we got to bed early.
Saturday July 3rd.
I went along to see Anne at Chelsea Park Gardens in the morning & helped her pack & move her things from there to Draycott Place. Then we met Charlie at a little restaurant in Soho & had luncheon there and discussed whether or no they should go & live at Welwyn Garden City. We parted in Shaftesbury Avenue. I went back to Hereford Gdns & collected my suit case & went to Victoria to go down to Wrotham for a week with eight Intermediates. Maggie greeted me at the station with the pleasant news that Dorothy Whiffin, Edith’s friend who was doing the week with me, had got a bad throat & couldn’t go down till Monday. Edith came to see us off just before the train went. The Intermediates were:- Lily Stanley, Alice Harrington, Jessie Aldis, Janie Sanders, Minnie Brown, Bettie Robinson, Bettie Ives & Loulou Taylor. They all hung out of the window completely thrilled all the way down & arrived with their eyes full of smuts.
The taxi took the whole lot of us to the bottom of the hill which was another huge source of thrill. Louie met us at the Cottage with the news that she was staying there for the week-end, I tried to dissuade her but she refused to go. The children tore all over the Cottage, then had tea & we took them through the woods to the Bruces & they had turns on the swing. All the most blatantly garden flowers we passed they said “oh Miss Young’usband are those wild flowers, can we pick them?” They had baths which were another source of extreme joy & were in bed by 9 o’c.
Sunday July 4th.
Louie conducted a service in the Cottage after breakfast because two of the party were Catholics & therefore would not go to Church. Edith, Beatrice, Sarah Wallace, Nelly O’Connor & Florrie Jenner arrived down for the day by bus at 11.30. We all went up to Mrs Bulley’s house & were weighed & then went over the house. The children were charming about it, they said it was like a palace & Loulou Taylor said to me afterwards “it was so beautiful it seems we should not have been treading there”.
After dinner we walked to Golden Knob & started to play games there but it started to rain so we had to come back.
Edith & I went up to my room & composed a letter to Father Vernon.
We walked to the Battlefields after tea to see if one of the cottagers would take a woman for a week’s holiday.
They went back by the 6.25 bus.
Louie read the children a school story after supper & they all went to bed pretty early.
Monday July 5th.
Louie & I did heads in the morning & found nits on two people.
I took them all – protesting bitterly – to meet Dorothy Whiffen by a 1 somthing train but when the train came in there was no sign of her. We walked back to the village & I went to the post-office & found a telegram saying she’d missed the train & would arrive at 3.30. She had to be met so I sent the children back to have their dinner & stayed in the village myself till it was time to go & meet her. She had two very heavy suit cases because she was going on somewhere else when she left; we staggered to the village with them & deposited them at the baker & went on up to the Cottage. She went for a walk with the children after tea.
I liked her enormously & she appreciated the children completely & enjoyed all their remarks & their way of talking.
Thursday July 6th.
The children all went down to the village on their own in the morning.
I took Dorothy Whiffen down to Mrs Bulley’s house to have her two hours off & stayed there for some time myself talking to Louie & Naomi.
In the afternoon we all went to tea at the Bulley’s. There was a beautiful tea & the children ate & ate & ate. After tea they did country dancing & then went & played hide & seek in the woods with the Bruce children.
In the evening when they were all in bed & the lights out Janie Sanders suddenly got a wild fit of weeping. I tried again & again to discover what it was but she wouldn’t stop or answer, at last I discovered it was quite irrational but overpowering fear, so finally I took her into my room where she remained for the rest of the night sobbing most of the time she was awake.
Wednesday July 7th.
I spent a good deal of the morning sleeping off the effects of the night before.
We had meant to go for a picnic to Stansted but it rained hard most of the afternoon so we played games till it stopped & then walked to Stansted. I brought them back by the path through the woods & they all complained most bitterly of the wetness & the brambles & couldn’t see the beauty of it at all. They were very bad walkers. We played games after supper.
All was peace for a while after they’d gone to bed & then I heard sobs. I went in & there was Janie beginning to go off again. Loulou said that Minnie Brown was beginning to “feel that queer with them nervous debilitations – or whatever she calls them”. Janie complained bitterly that she was going to sleep if it wasn’t for all the things the others said to her. I went back later & Loulou said Minnie was “that frightened by the noise Janie’s nose made”, so I got Milly to change beds with Minnie & go into the four room. Later I hear wild sobbing & went back to find that most unfortunately Milly had given Janie a dressing down which had reduced her to hysterical weeping, the night was finally spent with Janie & me in the two room – Janie declaring in a loud voice till long after midnight that they all hated her & she was going home next day.
Thursday July 8th.
Louie came up in the morning & was told of all the excitement of the two preceding nights; she had bright & sensible talks to the children, moved Janie into another room & all was perfect peace from then onward.
We went to the village & did oddments in the morning & directly after dinner set off by bus for Wrotham Heath. It was a lovely place rather like a bit of the New Forest & we played games & had a very good time there & then walked back another way to catch the bus.
Friday July 9th.
We all went to the village in the morning to do shopping for Louie.
Dorothy Whiffen & I lay on a haystack after luncheon reading & sleeping. Her mother had given her 10/- to spend on the children so we decided to take them somewhere & give them tea. We walked along Pilgrim’s Way to a place where Louie thought they gave teas but when we got there we found it had never entered their heads to do so; and so we walked up onto the main road where we found an inn but the inn received us with great disfavour & said there was a tea shop in a village a mile along the road. We finally arrived at the place faint & exhausted & ate an enormous tea.
Janie & I had a long talk on Catholicism on the way back. She knew a great deal about it & was extraordinarily intelligent once one had got her away from the attitude of “mine is the only true religion”.
We went along to Miss Lasky’s farm after supper. She was very nice & gave the children enormous bunches of flowers for 3d each.
Saturday July 10th.
The children were all very excited in the morning wanting both to stay on & to go home. They were leaving by a 9.40 train & I was catching the bus to Sevenoaks at 9.30 but it went before its time so I missed it by two minutes & cursing bitterly went on with them by train to Otford, then I found there wasn’t a train to Sevenoaks for an hour, so I walked across to Dunton Green & got a train for Westerham there at 11 o’c.
I found Mummy was still in London & didn’t show any sign of returning.
I slept most of the remainder of the day but was rudely awakened by the Tenisons who came to call at tea time & stayed for tea.
Sunday July 11th.
I went to church at 8 o’c, & spent the morning up at the Cottage.
Daddie & I were asleep in the garden in the afternoon when the SpeakerLink opens in a new window & his son suddenly drove up. We awoke & pulled ourselves together & made conversation & gave them tea. They were nice but not so interesting as they should have been.
When they had left I went to see some children whom we have got at Mrs Jarrett’s for a holiday. They all seemed very happy.
Monday July 12th.
I went up to the Club for the last time. Edith had left but I found a letter from her saying she had promised that I would organise Ward 6 for a Miner’s Flag Day the next day. I wrote notes & flew about trying to get hold of people to sell.
Alice Penney was helping with dinners & she & I went & had an ice in Jamaica Rd afterwards. I went along to Maggie’s to get visits & found Edith there. I went with the latter to Avery Hill which is at Eltham a long way beyond Lewisham. We talked very hard all the way there. I came back & did a couple of visits then went back to the Club for tea. All sorts of oddments cropped up after tea. Edith had been coming in on her way back but she telephoned from Avery Hill at 7 saying she’d been kept much long than she thought she would & asking me to go & meet her at Lewisham which I did & we came back in 47 still talking hard; she went on to London Bridge & I returned to the Club. Masses of small things that wanted doing turned up in the evening. All the Intermediates came in, the holiday ones sighing for Wrotham, & Minnie Brown told us quite casually that her father had gone mad while she was away!
Tuesday July 13th.
Florrie & Dolly went out to sell flags at 5.30 a.m but didn’t have much luck.
Miss Cook & I went out during the morning & walked all round the ward. We found that people varied in different streets very greatly. Jamaica Rd would give us nothing; along the wall most of the men already had flags but if they had not we occasionally met a group that was quite enthusiastic to buy; the great joke was to make us go into the office where usually we got a lecture on the wickedness of the miners. Some of the women in the side streets, & the little shops were very ready to buy. It was not nearly so easy to sell as it had been before but then a great many of the people are contribution whatever they can afford week by week.
I did visiting during the remainder of the morning & again in the afternoon.
The mayoress came to see me in the afternoon & to ask how we were getting on & I told her we had got hold of as many girls as we could in the time to go & sell.
I went to say good bye to Ethel Ayling after tea.
I had supper early & went to the swimming baths but only one girl turned up which annoyed me very much because they’d wanted me to go to the Town Hall to count up our boxes but I had said it was impossible because of the swimming.
The Intermediates came in a body for no obvious reason in the evening. There was a dress rehearsal for the Annual Concert & I flew about doing odds & ends all the evening. The girls had got up a subscription to give Edith a present & there was a terrible discussion as to what it should be, finally we decided on a brooch. Then there was the question of who should do it & we settled it must be the Princess. Miss Brodigan went for me like fury afterwards for saying in front of Alice Penney that Edith has a royalty complex – which is as a matter of fact true.
Wednesday July 14th.
I met Alice Penney at the Monument at 10 o’c and we went to look for a brooch for Edith We finally got an amythest & pearl bar one at a shop on Ludgate Hill. Than I went to get some things for Miss Brodigan at the Sunday School Union and we went together on a bus as far as the Old Kent Rd discussing the Club & the difference Edith had made there.
I went to Galleywall Rd School for Miss Brodigan to get the character of a girl who wanted to go into service. The headmistress, Miss Deal, was a most cheerful & friendly person & I had a long talk with her about the Elementary School system, the children, the necessity for raising the school leaving age, evening classes, After Care Conferences, Local Attendance Sub Committees, the homes, & kindred subjects. She was most interesting.
Two girls from the United Girls Schools Settlement had come to see over the Club when I got back so I took them over. One was a German & most interesting about education & Care Committee work in Germany.
I went visiting in the afternoon & cleared up all the remaining visits.
Edith came about 4 o’c but I didn’t see much of her till later because there was someone at tea & then she was up in the Hostel being presented with a picture. We went out & bought cigarettes after supper & sat on my bed & talked.
The concert was very like all concerts, it was the hottest day of the summer so far & the heat in the hall was terrific. The PrincessLink opens in a new window made a speech about Edith & she went up amidst great cheering to receive her brooch. I had previously had a bet with her of 6d to 5/- that she wouldn’t curtsey to the Princess or call her Ma’am (this was when she knew nothing of the presentation) she thought of it all the way up the aisle & did neither – much to “Ina’s” annoyance! The girls were all enormously enthusiastic.
Edith was sleeping in my room & we talked till after 1 o’c and agreed that it had on the whole been a very good time at the Club & that we could neither of us have borne it but for the other’s presence.
Thursday July 15th.
We smoked cigarettes in bed & talked scandal about our friends.
Edith went directly after breakfast to a Medical Inspection at Albion St & I followed later with Ina’s Italian friends, Signorina Perrazzia & her friend, whose arrival I think I had forgotten to mention. We got the headmistress of the Infants dept: to take us through the classes which are almost entirely run on the Montessori method & it was extremely interesting to see their work. I went up to help Maggie with the Medical & Edith took over the Boys & Girls depts:
I left before the end of the Medical to go back to the Club & help Edith with dinners. Maggie took over from me at half-time. There had been a staff meeting on when I got back & after it I said goodbye to Ina & Edith told me she went along to say goodbye a little later & Miss Brodigan suddenly turned & rent her with utter fury for no very apparent reason.
Florrie Page took Florrie Miller & me to Sports Day at the Guardian’s Homes at Shirley where she had lived for eight years when she was a child. We had to wait ¾ of an hour for a bus at the Elephant and as it is out beyond Croydon we arrived there very late. We went first to see the sports & then Miss Mould, who is Cottage Mother of the Cottage Florrie was in, took us over & showed us things. It is a most beautiful place, there are 600 children there all living in cottages holding 18 children each & run by a Cottage Mother; there are workshops & a swimming bath, a school, enormous grounds and a farm. All the children’s clothes are varied as much as possible & they were all in very pretty coloured cotton frocks when we saw them; they leave the school at 14 & choose what trade they will learn till they are 16 when a job is found for them; their parents can come & see them once a month & they have toys & other small possessions of their own. They all looked extraordinarily happy & sunburnt & well & it is the sort of ideal life one would want for a Bermondsey child but it is a question how far it fits them to go back and live in Bermondsey. Florrie Page says she never appreciated it properly while she was there but now she often wishes she could go back. Miss Mould gave us tea in one of the Cottages & was most kind & hospitable. It was most extraordinary to see the change in Florrie, she became quiet & subdued & gentle & a different being to her usual tomboy self. I would have liked to stay on till the end but I was spending the night with Peggy so I couldn’t. As it was I didn’t get away till 6 o’c. I got onto a bus & asked to go to the nearest point where I could get a bus for Marble Arch, the man said Lewisham and gave me a 6d ticket which I thought looked ominous but when I got the other bus at Lewisham for Marble Arch I was given an 8d ticket. The result was that I didn’t get to Peggy till 8 o’c.
After dinner we went to see a very amusing movie at the Plaza and then went to the Gargoyle night clubLink opens in a new window where needless to say we found Charles. Peggy told him I disliked him very much (which is quite untrue) and then he started off talking about himself & I told him his character. Peggy was very excited because she said I had discovered the meaning of the thing in him that had always puzzled her – that is that he sees everything in relation to himself & as it serves his ends & not as it exists in itself. We went home about 1 o’c & Peggy & I talked till after 2 discussing Charles & how to put him right.
Friday July 16th.
I woke about 11 o’c, went up to see Peggy & dressed. Barbara came round to discuss dates for Corfe & then Peggy & I walked along Bond St & had ice cream sodas at Gunters.
Edith & I were going to have a tea picnic in Hyde Park but she sent a post-card putting it off.
I lunched with the Anthonys & in the afternoon met Barbara at Harley St & went hat hunting with her. I left her at Debenham, went to Upper Berkeley St to collect my suit case, changed my book at Mudie’s & came down here by the 6.15.
Saturday July 17th.
I went up to the Cottage in the morning to see Edith who was going away for the week-end.
In the afternoon I met Rosalind in Squerryes for a picnic & she lent me some books & gave me much useful information about the School of Economics.
When I got back I found a letter from Edith saying Aida Tennent had heard from Bayeux and there was only one room with three beds for August 5th so they proposed that they two & Helen Mason (who I never know was going) should cross then & I could come later when there was room, which I can’t do because of other summer plans. It upsets my arrangements very much & is most disappointing.
Sunday July 18th.
I went to Church at 10 o’c & read & wrote the rest of the day.
Monday July 19th
Esther arrived at a little after 11 o’c to stay for a few days.
We went & did a few oddments in the village and found Lady Plender here when we got back.
Esther & I sewed & talked in the evening & she asked me to go to the conversion house party which she had arranged for the American Buckman [ Buchman ], who converted her, to have at the Schröder’s that weekend. I consented with some fear & trembling.
Tuesday July 20th.
Esther went to London by the 1.40 train to have tea with Buckman to meet the King & Queen of Greece.
I went up to the Cottage & had tea with Edith.
Esther got back very tired at 8.30.
Wednesday July 21st.
We really did nothing in particular except talk & sew all day. We had been going for a picnic with Rosalind but it poured & so that was impossible.
Thursday July 22nd.
Esther, Daddie & I went to London by the 1 o’c train. I went to Harvey Nichols & bought a summer coat reduced, so the ticket said, from 12 ½ gns to 98/6. Then I went to Upper Berkeley St where I was spending the night & left my attaché case there & went on to meet Daddie at 3, B.G & go with him to the Royal Garden Party.Link opens in a new window Mummy had already gone on with the Anthonys for whom she had managed to wangle invitations and we didn’t find them till nearly the end. We saw a great many people we knew of course. People talk to one for a few minutes & then their eyes become glazed & they say “by Jove theres Harry over there!” & vanish.
I got to the Leighs soon after 7 o’c. Peggy & I went with Charles GravesLink opens in a new window to a movie after dinner. She came back and changed & went off to a fancy dress dance & I flopped into bed.
Friday July 23rd.
Peggy & I had breakfast in bed together & then I got dressed & went along to see Margaret Anthony.
She & I went down to St Paul’s Cathedral to see the Sargeant [ Sargent ] Memorial,Link opens in a new window & the Kitchener Memorial ChapelLink opens in a new window which is a very lovely thing.
We lunched at Simpson'sLink opens in a new window in Cheapside a most amusing place where you have an excellent fish luncheon for 2/-. Everyone sits at one big table & talks to everyone else & there is a Master of the Ceremonies who makes a speech at the end. It is completely unlike anything else I’d ever been to.
Margaret & I parted in Oxford St & went to Upper Berkeley St to collect my things. I went down to Egham by a 3.55 train & by a most extraordinary fluke met Ruby Smith on the same train going down to Sunningdale. I fell into her arms & we talked hard; someone else got in before the train went & she turned out to be Iris Ryder whom I’d heard about for years from the Waldegraves & Anne; she also was going to stay with the Schröders
I was staying with Dorothy Schröder who married a Cousin, Baron Henry Schröder & lives in a very attractive little house called the White Cottage.
Betty was staying there also & sharing a room with me & there was a most delightful Miss Graves who knew all sorts of interesting people & was a specialist in mediaeval manuscripts & had a mind like a Rose MacauleyLink opens in a new window book, clean & cold &yet merciful.
We went to tea at Dell Park & Buckman [ Buchman ]Link opens in a new window appeared and was very disappointing, a little man with a huge parrot-like nose & glasses. It isn’t any good giving a list of the people who were there, except in so far as they enter into the story, because there were too many of them (at one time I counted 36) and they came & went.
Some of us wandered about the garden after tea & then sat & watched Dorothy & Miss Graves playing tennis. Iris Ryder & I wandered away & she was very excited to find I was a socialist because she & her mother hold the same views & are looked on with horror in the New Forest where they live.
We dined at Dell Park. I had rather a solo dinner because the man on one side of me didn’t appear till half way through & Helmut SchröderLink opens in a new window who was on the other side went to look for him. His name was Hamilton and he was Buckman’s Chief Lieutenant; a large young Englishman with a look of perfect peace in his eyes, but personally uninteresting & rather a shadow of Buckman. But I have no right to speak of him because I was consciously or unconsciously indifferent to him the whole way through.
There was a feeling of expectancy and wondering what was going to happen in the air & after dinner we had the first session. Buckman talked a great dealing about breaking down barriers & walls coming down between us; he asked various people to tell who they were & all about themselves. I disliked all this intensely. Esther gave a very beautiful account of her conversion which lifted the proceedings onto a different plane altogether.
Saturday July 24th.
We discussed Buckman and his ideas at breakfast & said how much we disliked them.
We went over to the morning session Miss Graves saying she would go once more & after that she felt she couldn’t bear it. We sat together & I behaved disgracefully all through. It was frantically dull, stories of people whose lives had been changed by something someone had said to them, and a long discussion as to whether if you’d done something nasty to someone or said something nasty you should go & tell them. Miss Graves suddenly burst in with the clear cold light of her reason and made everyone sit up.
We went back to the Cottage for luncheon & after luncheon Betty & I walked over to Dell Park & seized on Esther & Buckman & tried to put my point which was roughly, so far as I remember, that all this emphasis on sin & self were bad & what was important was self-less & the thought of God. Buckman had to go off to have a tête-a-tête very early in the discussion & Esther, Betty & I went off & sat in a greenhouse. I told Esther how enormously interested I had been in what she had said the night before because I had known more or less the same kind of thing but instead of talking of that she asked what had made me lose it & I said I didn’t know (which wasn’t true) and shut up. Then she said I let my intellect & intellectual difficulties stand in my light & I said I hadn’t got got any intellectual difficulties which rather brought her up short. Then she said that what I lacked was power & sin was the cause of that and she asked what my sins were & said we would pray about them. I remained silent & after a bit we got up & went away. I see now that my attitude was all wrong but given that wrong attitude her way of tackling it was bound to make it worse whereas there was another way that would have succeeded.
I wrote a letter or two & then a nice American boy called Hubbard came & asked me to walk with him in the garden. I thought “goodness heres someone else who wants to talk to me about my soul”, however I went.
I found he came from Boston, knew all the Forbeses & was a great friend of Malcolm Forbes. I told him I disagreed with the house party (this became a kind of name for the thing itself) and we discussed it fruitlessly.
One of the American girls a nice Miss Simmonds told me about her work among the factory girls of New York & the awful housing conditions which sound far worse than London.
There was a story after tea told, so far as I remember, by Lowden Hamilton [ Loudon Hamilton ].
Betty & I dined at Dell Park. I sat between a Dutch girl called Nine de Hykeron who found me too dull for words, and a nice little Australian called Hymansen who talked rather well on modern English literature.
There was a far better session in the evening with a quite different atmosphere. Buckman told very charmingly the story of one Bill Pickle an American bootlegger. There was some talking and discussion and a Dr Shaw who works at St Thomas’s Hospital drew a vivid picture of the great need of Christ of the people who came there and the difficulty of making them feel that need.
Betty, Dorothy & I talked for a long time when we got back and Dorothy described very well the way when one is in trouble and everything is dark one clings to religion with a “numb, dead hand” sometimes only realizing afterwards that one has clung.
Sunday July 25th.
There was to be a Quiet Time at 8.30 to which Betty & I went both liking the idea of quiet and thinking it would calm the turmoil of our thoughts. However, I at least, disliked it very much. Buckman is very strong on stopping talking oneself & listening to God speaking but according to him the speaking takes the form of all sorts of practical directions about things to do & things that will happen & messages for other people which are to be written down so that they may be verified later & checked with other people’s messages. The result was that the silence was broken by the scratching of many pencils. When the silence was over each person was asked in turn what thought had come to him or her which seemed to me (taking as I see now quite the wrong attitude) to be an intolerable belittling and mechanizing of the whole thing, as though one should pull a poem to bits to show exactly how it worked.
We went back for breakfast & I told Miss Graves about it & she told me I had a clean, cold, critical brain which touched a soft spot & probably made me even more puffed up & superior than I should otherwise have been.
There was a very simple & beautiful service in the morning to which all the servants came.
Afterwards I had a talk with Lady Norah BentinckLink opens in a new window and Hymensen on St Francis & then Socialism. There was another session & they were just getting into industrialism, which thrilled me, when I had to leave for luncheon. Esther & Miss Simmonds also came to luncheon.
We went back to Dell Park in the afternoon and a cinematograph was taken of us all.
I had a long talk with Lady WynfordLink opens in a new window who lives in Dorset & is perfectly charming. She was very interested to hear about the problems of Bermondsey and told me a good deal about the difficulties of the country. Later on Hymensen & I talked English literature.
After tea there was a Quiet Time for selected people of whom I was one. They all gave out their messages once or twice mentioning other people by name. I began to have an awful trapped feeling as though I were being hypnotized & should be forced into saying & doing things I did not want to say or do. Esther drew me aside afterwards & said she had had a message for me that morning that I should think less of original sin & more of my own sin, the chief of which was self deception.
Lowden Hamilton told a conversion story later on. I went in & sat there not listening feeling as though unless I shut out that atmosphere which weighed on me & made me feel miserable I should have hysterics.
I left some while before the end, feeling I must get out of that house, and walked back across sunlit feilds, drinking in the beauty of the evening something which seemed to be very lacking there. Miss Graves and Dorothy were awfully nice and I felt as though I had stepped again into a world of sanity. Miss Graves, to my sorrow, left before dinner to motor back to London. She has asked me to go & see her in the autumn.
We dined at the White Cottage & went over to Dell Park after dinner.
Dorothy & I sat together & behaved rather badly. An argument started at the end, Dr Shaw pressing Buckman to explain exactly what he meant by “guidance” & “power”. Afterwards we broke up into small groups Dr Shaw, Betty, Dorothy, Hubbard & I arguing hotly. I like Dr Shaw’s attitude enormously, it is briefly, that as a matter of sound fact & quite apart from any sentiment, the only thing that is going to help individuals and society as a whole is to get Christ into their lives.
Dorothy, Betty & I talked till nearly 3 o’c when we got home and the way Dorothy talked & the things she said gave me more feeling of real & living religion than anything else since I’d been there. We got very worked up about “guidance” & decided that it was not essentially different from spiritualism or any other cult of that sort & we simply must have it out the next morning & see what was really meant.
Monday July 26th
We discussed all though breakfast what we were going to say & wrote it down under headings. We talked it over again when we arrived at Dell Park both among ourselves & with Dr Shaw. All through the morning Dorothy & I kept up a running fire of arguement in hard incisive voices. I don’t remember now what we or anyone else said but at the end we felt very pleased with ourselves & we had very little cause to be.
Marga & Dr Shaw came back to luncheon and we discussed all through luncheon & afterwards & then walked back to Dell Park.
Betty & I went to look for Esther & found her having a tête à tête with Ken Maddox a boy of about 20, so we left them. I wrote a letter & then joined a group of about 6 including Betty & Dr Shaw who were discussing the meaning & purpose of the Cross. The curious thing was that there was a group of people the majority of whom would probably scarcely ever talk about religion, & who could have been doing anything else that afternoon, spent the whole time discussing it & always coming back if the talk wandered away.
The house party did produce the kind of atmosphere in which it was completely natural to talk to anyone about religion & not even to realize particularly that one was doing it.
After tea Buckman said would we all stay for a few minutes as Maddox had something to tell us. I said to Dr Shaw “what a shame, they’ve hypnotized that poor boy!” But that was the last criticism I made. It is impossible to convey in words the change that came over us all as that boy spoke and we realized that right under our hard & sophisticated and logical noses a miracle had happened. He & Esther had been talking (he was just a nice ordinary easy-going boy, not particularly interested in religion or anything except the obvious things that came his way) when suddenly the thing, whatever it was, happened. Esther said the whole room seemed to be completely & overwhelmingly filled with Christ and the boy said “if I had been an atheist I should have been afraid”. Beyond that I do not know what actually happened but their faces explained more than their words; they both looked as though they had seen the morning glory & the glow of it had remained on them. That boy’s face was the most marvellous & the most changed thing I have ever seen, from being a nice youth one wouldn’t think twice about he had become someone one would turn & gaze after in wonder if one saw him in the street. We prayed in silence for a bit and it seemed as though we were all lifted into another world of reality; then we all dispersed & went into the garden. Dorothy & I went off to talk it over & face our utter smallness and the way we who called ourselves Christians had deliberately blinded our eyes to the Light until they had been forced open.
We dined at Dell Park & I sat between to a very nice youth called Kenyon Lowe on leave from India, and Dr Shaw.
After dinner there was another session with a very different atmosphere to the others. I felt such a worm that it seemed to be presumtion for me even to say anything, however I apologized for my previous attitude. Dr Shaw told most movingly the story of one of the things most vividly impressed on his memory, it was of a young man brought into the hospital sopping wet from three nights on the Embankment & sodden with drink, altogether seemingly hopeless & Dr Shaw’s sudden vivid realization of how very little separated him from that man.
Betty & I talked for a very long time in bed & I tried to tell her, giving her the best I could, what religion seemed to me to be. She had accepted her’s more or less on trust & lost it all eighteen months ago. This week-end had brought her at least to realize the enormous attraction of God & the desirability of a life lived in close contact with Him. Though how she is to attain to that she does not yet see.