Posted on 6th September 2012 by Dinah Starkey
It is September 1898 and at Sevington School, Miss Squire is writing her journal.
Well, the decision is made and I trust we will not live to regret it. I wonder what my dear mother would say. Of course nowadays it is quite the thing to take a tour of one of the great houses, but Mompesson and Lacock are rather different from my humble abode and though the parlour is, I trust, neat and clean, it is quite without those little elegancies which are the mark of a lady of fashion. And as for the schoolroom I am sure there are a dozen like it.
Still, dear Sir Algernon and the Rector argued strongly for the plan and it must always be my aim to oblige our kind patrons. So after much soul searching and anxious talk with my sister Hannah we have said yes, and Sevington School will be opening its doors on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September for the ‘Heritage Open Days’. Or rather afternoons, for of course we will wish to attend divine service on Sunday morning. Any donations are to go to the Church Missionary Society, an excellent cause.
Hannah has an ambitious plan to offer our guests clotted cream teas like those we tasted in Budleigh Salterton. (Such a delightful trip! I am sure the sea air has done us both good.) “After all,” said my sister, “Wiltshire cream is just as good as that in Devon.” Mrs Thomas of Manor Farm had never heard of clotted cream but believes that, with the help of her dairy maid, she can achieve something like the delicacy we enjoyed in Devon. Fortunately we had an excellent crop of strawberries this year so there is plenty of jam and as to scones, Hannah is renowned for her light touch. So we have nothing to fear as far as provisions are concerned.
But I do quail a little at the thought of welcoming complete strangers into our little house, without so much as an introduction. I have already received some correspondence on the matter. The Hullavington Band of Hope plans to charter a charabanc, if you please, and wished to acquaint me of their plans in advance. Then there is a group from the Mothers’ Union and I believe we can expect a visit from the big house. (Mem: ask Hannah to wash Mama’s good teapot and polish the silver teaspoons.) But it is the bicyclists which concern me most.
The secretary of the society sent me a very civil letter advising me of their intent to visit. He sounds a thoroughly respectable young man and I have nothing against bicyclists. But he tells me that there will be lady members riding alongside the gentleman and I confess it hardly seems quite proper. I have heard that some ladies, when they take the wheel, find their petticoats encumbering and have adopted the new rational dress. What if the ladies arrive in bloomers? What will the rector think?
Speculation is fruitless but on one thing I am resolved. Whether they wear bloomers, crinolines or three-cornered hats, anyone who comes will be assured of a hearty welcome at Sevington School.
Miss Elizabeth Squire. Schoolmistress, Sevington School.
Miss Squire kindly contributed to our humble blog before. Read her musings as her school prepares for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.