Governors’ Meeting – Christmas 1916

On December 2nd, 1916, the annual gathering took place of friends of the School and the mistresses and girls, for the presentation of Certificates. The Governors present were Canon Morrice, Lady Hulse, Miss Hussey, Miss Style, the Mayor, Canon Myers, Archdeacon Dundas, and Mr. Swayne.

A new feature of the occasion was the Orchestra, which opened the proceedings by playing from the platform the First Movement of Schubert’s B Flat Symphony. After the platform had been quickly cleared and the Governors had taken their places Miss Douglas read her Report, touching on all the different sides of School life, and noting all the different events of the School year. She referred to the sad loss to the School of Miss Bagnall and Miss, Jeffreys, but what she said about them will be found on another page of the Magazine.

In speaking of public examinations she said: “I intend to do away this year with the London Matriculation and also the Higher Certificate of the Oxford and Cambridge Board, and to take only the Senior Cambridge Local Examinations as admitting to the Universities, and as being the preliminary step into other professions. We shall thus have one examination instead of two to arrange and provide for, and the passing of this examination qualifies for the entrance to many careers. When once a girl is through it I hope that neither she or her parents will consider that her School life is over, but rather she will be free for her last year at School to study in such a way as either to help her to make every use of her opportunities at the University, or to follow her own bent, whatever it may be, and to gain the full advantage of what should be the most precious as well as the last year of her School life. Whenever it can be managed I feel sure parents are, generally speaking, doing the very best for their daughters, for themselves, and for their usefulness and value to the home and to the community if they can leave their girls at School till they are in the top classes of the School, and in positions of greater responsibility. The girls themselves who have gone from the School, would I believe, unanimously say if they were asked that they would not have missed their last year of School life for anything. So I want to make it clear that I feel more and more sure that we must provide in the most thorough manner for passing the examinations requisite for any future career, but that we must always keep in view that the lessons and the rest of School life should always make for the real living enjoy­ment of knowing and loving that which it is good to know and love, and for the training of hands, brains, wills, and hearts, for a full and fruitful life of service.”

Miss Douglas concluded with the following words: “The present girls of the School are, and we always remember it, a part of the greater Godolphin School that has passed on beyond the School gates to the larger life outside, and we can hardly desire better things for the girls present here now than that they shall take their part afterwards in a life of usefulness in the same spirit and with the same vigour as hundreds of those who have left the School are doing. We hear of the many splendid wives and mothers amongst them with a special feeling of pride and joy, we hear of others all over the world living lives of great usefulness ; at the present time we think of some in Romania, of many in France, or very many working in Salisbury at the Infirmary and the Red Cross Hospital, and in many other Hos­pitals, and others doing canteen work, such as Ruth Wordsworth is doing now on Salisbury Plain, others learning to drive motors or to be clerks at the War Office in Whitehall and in other offices, taking the work of men and doing it in the most thorough manner. But whether we think of the Old Girls or the present School in any efforts made to relieve the present distress, and to do our country service, all is dwarfed in comparison with what the men are doing on land, on sea, and in the air. We must at least see to it that their heroism, which is ever ready to meet the demands of a prolonged conflict, finds an echo at home in the readiness not only to persevere in any efforts we may be allowed to make, but in a readiness to increase these efforts in the spirit of patience, calmness, unselfishness, and courage, which will all help to make up the sum of sacrifice needed to bring at last assured victory and an honourable and blessed peace.

Canon MORRICE regretted that it fell to him as the oldest Governor to take the chair in the absence of Lord Methuen, who was doing such great work in Malta. It had been a happy day for the school when Lord Methuen had consented to become the Chairman of the Governors, and Canon Morrice suggested that a letter should be written to him to tell him how much we missed him. Canon Morrice complimented the orchestra on its playing, and also commented on the promptitude with which the girls had cleared the platform after the performance.

Lady HULSE, who was received with the heartiest applause, said that since last year the months that had passed had been full of horror and misery, such that it seemed inappropriate to speak of anything pleasant that had happened to oneself, but during that time the con­viction had been growing upon her that she belonged to the Godolphin School, and she hoped that she would be linked with it more and more closely as the years went on. The war had not spared the School, but she knew that the School would not have wished to be spared its share in the world’s suffering. It had taken its part in war work, and though it would not be good for the girls to be pleased with what they had done, she was pleased with what they had done, and that was good for her. The list was a very satisfactory one-they had made hospital bed tables, trays, case boards, and many splints and crutches, and a great many writing cases for the soldiers, many treasure bags, fodder bags, housewives and woollen things, and also clothes for the Belgian refugees. Besides these there was the work they had done in milking and digging the land. She wished to refer also to all that the staff had done, and the unselfish devotion they had shown as far as strength and time allowed since the very beginning of the war. It would be a great thing to remember in after years that the School had waited oil and entertained and been in personal touch with the wounded men, some of whom had taken part in the ever glorious failure of Gallipoli. There were those who felt that young people should not be saddened by the thought of suffering; she herself did not think that any great effort should be made to save them from realising what the country was going through. The shadow of the war was always over them, but that shadow was pierced by the conviction of the justness of out cause, and the certainty of the victory which would be ours. This was the third war Christmas, but no one who loved young people as she did would desire that it should not be a happy one for them, and so she would ask them to give a foremost place in their thoughts and prayers to the men who were enduring so much for us.

Archdeacon DUNDAS said that he, the newest of the Governors, rose to propose a very hearty vote of thanks to Lady Hulse for giving away the certificates, and for the moving words she had spoken. There was much talk of re-construction after the war, but he would like to refer to the re-construction of the ideas of men and the enlargement of their minds which had already taken place on the subject of what was sometimes called the weaker sex. Women were bound to take an all-important part in the building up of that new world to which we looked forward. The country owed a debt of gratitude to such schools as the Godolphin for the training and preparation they gave to the girls on whom, when they grew up, such high responsibilities would lie.

Canon MYERS seconded the vote of thanks to Lady Hulse, who in acknowledging it referred to a letter received by a friend of hers from someone who had been on the Arabia when it was torpedoed. The School would be proud to hear that a former head girl, Mrs. Forsyth (Ming Glanville) had shown on that occasion the utmost courage and calmness, and seemed concerned only for the safety of others.

The singing of the National Anthem concluded the proceedings.

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