BICENTENARY SERVICE IN THE ABBEY
From ” The Times,” 25th June 1926, by kind permission of the Editor.
ON the wall of the west walk of Westminster Abbey cloisters there is a monument which, with eighteenth-century amplitude, commemorates ” Charles Godolphin Esqr. Brother to ye Right Honble Sidney Earl of Godolphin Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain who died July 10th, 1720, Aged 69. And Mrs. Godolphin his Wife who died July 29th, 1726, Aged 63.” And lower down we find this:
“But as Charity & Benevolence were the Distinguishing parts of their Character so were they most Conspicuously display’d by the last act of their lives a Pious and Charitable Institution by him Design’d and Ordred and by her Compleated to the Glory of God and for a bright example to Mankind. The Endowment whereof is a Rent Charge of One Hundred & Eighty pounds a year Issuing out of Lands in Somersetshire and of which One Hundred & Sixty pounds a year are to be for ever applyed from ye 24th of June 1726 to the Educating eight young Gentlewomen who are so born & whose Parents are of the Church of England whose Fortunes doe not exceed Three Hundred Pounds and whose Parents or Friends will undertake to provide them with Decent Apparell and after the death of the said Mrs. Godolphin and William Godolphin Esqr. her Nephew such as have neither Father nor Mother.”
There is much more, from which it will be enough to cull the particulars that the young gentlewomen are to be not under eight years old nor over nineteen, and that they are to be brought up at the City of New Sarum or some other town in the County of Wilts.
So we learn why on 24th June 1026-two hundred years after Elizabeth Godolphin by her will dated 24th June 1726 had ” compleated ” the pious and charitable institution designed and ordered by her cousin and husband, the Cornish M.P. and Commissioner of Customs-a great many more than eight young gentlewomen from the Godolphin School, Salisbury, assembled near the monument to do honour to the founders. Though the will was dated two hundred years ago yesterday, it took nearly sixty years and some proceedings in Chancery before the school came definitely into being. Under a long succession of “prudent Governesses or Schoole Mistresses,” among whom the names of the Misses Polhill and of Miss Andrews are still remembered with affection and respect, it continued its modest and beneficent work. After 1890, when Miss M. A. Douglas began her thirty years as head mistress, it expanded from seven boarders and fifteen day girls into a school of more than two hundred girls. A large gift from the trustees of the Godolphin School (formerly for boys and now for girls) at Hammersmith,helped the increase; and to-day Miss Ash is head mistress of a some three hundred girls.
The Godolphin arms are (in plain language) a silver eagle and three silver flcurs-de-lys on a red ground, and these colours are shown in the school banner and in the red hatbands,red ties and white shirts of the girls. They were shown also in the red and white peonies at the foot of the monument, in the white lilies and sweet peas and red carnations of the big wreath which the head girl of the school laid upon it “in grateful remembrance from past aml present members of the Godolphin School, Salisbury,” and in the bunch of leaves and cones of the silver-tree which an “old girl” from South Africa brought as “a loyal tribute from old Godolphin girls and staff in South Africa.”
When the wreaths had been laid, there was a short service before the monument. The Dean of Salisbury spoke the prayers for the school, for the governors (of whom he is one), and for the schools of England and of the Empire, and read the lesson, a few lines from the great chapter of Ecclesiasticus about the praise of famous men. And the Dean of Westminster, who was attended by the Precentor of the Abbey, the Rev. L. H. Nixon, spoke the Blessing, with special mention of the school.
Then came evensong for St. John the Baptist’s Day in the Abbey. The church was crowded, the present Godolphin girls in the south transept, the “old girls” in the north transept. There was a special prayer and a special hymn; and the preacher, the Rev. H. Byerley Thomson, vicar of St. Mary’s, Stamford Brook, before beginning his sermon, spoke a few words appropriate to the very interesting occasion and the very charming ceremony.
Among those present in the cloisters were:
Field-Marshal Lord Methuen, who is Chairman of the governors of the Godolphin School, and Lady Methuen, Lady Hulse, Lady Everett, and Miss Stephenson (three of the governors of the school), Miss M. A. Douglas, Miss Ash, the Mayor and Mayoress of Salisbury (Mr. and Mrs. J. Brothers), and Mr. Ernest Mould, the bursar of the school.