The Sixties

The nineteen-sixties saw a new Headmistress. Miss Jerred left in December 1958, in her nineteenth year of office, and she was succeeded by Miss Engledow who came from the Headship of Truro High School. Miss Jerred’s retirement was the occasion ofsornc memorable parties, including the presentation by the School of 1066 and .All That, each house providing an act. It was a hilarious evening. Miss Lemarchand was acting Head­mistress !or the following term, and Miss Fngledw.v came at Easter. A year later Miss Lemarchand left to become Headmistress of Lowther College, to be succeeded by Miss Gilpin as Second Mistress. But in addition to these changes at the top, the years between 1958 and 1963 saw the retirement of many members of Staff who had been at Godolphin for an astonishing number of years. The record was held by Muriel Suffield. In 1917 she had received a telegram from Miss Prosser of the art department asking her to come in place of someone who had been taken ill; Muriel, who had just finished her training, duly came, and stayed for 47 years. She was therefore a member for three years of Miss Douglas’s Staff. Others followed similar patterns; Miss Keer was appointed by Miss Ash in 1921, and Miss Newsam and Miss Evelyn-Smith in 1922. The former retired from Methuen in 1958, but the two latter continued to do part-time teaching in School until the early sixties. Miss Littlewood, Miss Watson, Miss Reid and Miss Payne had been on the Staff for over thirty years, and Helen Poynton, Miss Lemarchand, and , Mrs. Bateman, for over twenty. These years of service to the School must be a phenomenon which we shall not see again. Social conditions are now so different, and there is so much more mobility. A number of Staff in all schools – sometimes the majority – are married women who may have to move with their husbands or retire temporarily for family responsibilities. At first thought it might seem that a strong element of continuity had been removed, but this does not seem to follow. Is it a fact that the traditions of a school such as Godolphin are largely in the hands of the girls? Certainly in the past suggestions for change were often opposed initially by the Sixth Forms, who showed themselves as strict guardians of precedent. Or is it that the spirit engendered by Miss Douglas was something independent of personalities, and was inherited and absorbed, un­consciously perhaps, by succeeding Heads of Staff?

Miss Engledow’s first years coincided with the fulfil­ment of the plans for the new boarding house, Douglas, modernisation of School House and reorganisation of kitchens and dining-rooms. She had the task of working out in detail the outline scheme already envisaged by the Governors, which the success of the Appeal had now made possible. It was a major operation, involving intricate organisation so that the School’s daily routine could be maintained as new buildings came into use and old buildings were evacuated. Building began in July 1961 and the last workman left two years later in March 1963. At a happy Commemoration on September 28th, one of our most distinguished Old Godolphins, Dr. Mary Cartwright, Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge, declared the buildings open, after they had been dedicated by the Bishop of Salisbury.

In 1964, an opportunity occurred for the Governors to acquire land in Shady Bower, adjacent to Nelson. This they were enabled to do by a generous gift from Miss Mixer, who, for many years since she taught Music at the School under Miss Douglas at the turn of the century, had been a most generous and faithful friend of Godolphin. The land was used to provide three new tennis courts; they were named accordingly the Mixer courts.

In 1965, only two years after the first extensive building scheme since the Appeal, the Governors felt able to proceed with the building of a new library. The steady growth of the Sixth Form, both in numbers and breadth of curriculum, made this urgently necessary. Into the Library block was incorporated a Geography room, thus releasing a room in the Ash Building for a fourth laboratory. Also included were several small coaching rooms of which one was set aside as an Archives room. This new building begun in May 1966, was completed just before Christmas of that year. At last it was possible not only to provide spacious and congenial working conditions for private study, but also to open the Library for the use of the whole School. This building, completed a few months before Miss Engledow’s retirement, and the last project carried through during her time as Headmistress, was named by the Governors the Engledow Library.

Throughout the years from the launching of the Appeal in 1958, the School itself made a noteworthy contribution to the Fund. Staff and pupils joined with zest and enthusiasm in a wide range of money-raising projects, large and small. Old Godolphins of that period will remember how we collected Victorian coins, sold Godolphin tea towels, carried through House and Form projects of many kinds, as well as major School efforts such as two Garden Fetes in 1958 and 1961, the production of 1066 and All That, the lighthearted and sparkling Cabaret des Canotiers with its continental gastronomy and can-can girls, and many other such schemes.

There was considerable development of the curriculum and a steady expansion of Sixth Form work during these years, resulting in an increasing number of University entrants. This reflected the general trend of University expansion on a National scale. Perhaps the most note­worthy change in curriculum was the incorporation of School games into the daily timetable. Every girl in the School could receive regular tuition in lacrosse, tennis and swimming, and the playing fields were in use eight hours a day, not merely one. Miss Taylor, who became senior member of the Physical Education staff in 1961, herself a lacrosse player of international standard, was able to use her skill as a games coach to full effect.

Another aspect of these years was the steady progress which was made towards a greater measure of freedom for the older girls. The provision of study bedrooms for Upper Sixth pupils was greatly appreciated, as also was the decision to treat third year Sixth formers as students. The School also played a role in the City of Salisbury, and pupils shared frequently in Salisbury’s activities; concerts, lectures, sponsored walks and fund raising efforts of many kinds. In these and other ways the School kept in touch with the changing times.

And so we come at the end of the sixties to Miss Engledow’s retirement and the appointment of Miss Fraser, who took office in January 1968. Very soon she too was immersed in building schemes, for the Governors were now realising that the old fashioned Hamilton and Methuen Houses would have to be replaced eventually. The disparity between them and the modern Douglas and School House (which had been admirably modernised when Douglas was built) would have to he remedied. This time a more revolutionary approach was needed, and the sale of the whole Hamilton- Methuen block was discussed. In no other way could the vast financial outlay for new houses be contemplated, and in due course as we all know, this was successfully accomplished. On a perfect summer day in 1974, after some incredibly strenuous years of organisation and preparation the two new houses were officially opened by the Bishop of Salisbury, amid a huge crowd of School, parents, and O.G.A. They occupy the site of old Brome paddock and girls’ gardens, but the latter have been transfer (plants and all) to the kitchen gardens below the swimming pool, as were the Mixer tennis courts, when the Nelson site was also sold. Two buildings remained slightly apart; the Hulse Room and Brome. The Hulse Room was moved from its old position near the old Methuen to a new one in a wing of the Sanatorium following the pattern of consolidation. Brome also was closed down for the same reason in addition to the fact that is was very uneconomical to run, particularly from a domestic point of view. The School has of course gained tremen­dously in compactness, quite apart from the splendour and convenience of the purpose-built houses.

In 1976, the 250th anniversary of the signing of Elizabeth Godolphin’s Will was celebrated in a variety of different ways. First of all, chronologically, came the small ceremony in the Cloisters of Westminster Abbey on June 24th. This was attended by a representative selection of Old Godolphins, and the present School was represented by the Foundation Scholars. The Dean took a short service after the wreath had been laid.

In July, for a whole week the School presented a Musical, “Where There’s a Will” written especially for us by Richard Shephard, Head of the Music Department, and Jennifer Curry who had studied the twenty four hand written volumes of the School diaries page by page. It was a magnificent success and was thoroughly enjoyed by capacity audiences and by the huge cast itself, in spite of stifling hot evenings. A small professional orchestra accompanied the songs and provided links between the dramatic scenes. Mrs. Curry’s husband provided most professional stage lighting. Otherwise the School and Staff put the whole of the production together; nearly everyone was involved in some capacity or other, whether it was acting, directing, selling programmes, ushering guests or making costumes and props.

On October 2nd 1976, a big Service of Thanksgiving was held in Salisbury Cathedral taken by Bishop Pike. The Chairman of the Governors, the president of the O.G.A., the Headmistress and the Head Girls all took active parts in the Service. All the present School, many parents and a number of Old Godolphins joined in an act of Thanksgiving, Intercession, and Rededication.

The entire anniversary effort is proof in itself that Godolphin loves and respects her past but still keeps pace with the present and anticipates the future. The Sixth Form today can be seen tearing round the School in trousers not ankle-length skirts, gulping down gallons of coffee during the break in the Upper Sixth sitting room, spending their money at the Tuck Shop, run and organised by themselves, and discussing the problem of inflation. Day girls drive to and from School in a variety of petrol-driven vehicles, and hordes of boarders can be seen pouring down to the station most Saturday mornings for weekend exeats. The tie has disappeared, games shorts have been replaced by kilts, stockings by tights, jugs and bowls by basins and taps and impractical old buildings by modern practical houses. In spite of all this, new houses have not broken continuity with the old order. The traditions of the School have never become traditions for their own sake, ossified and alien from the world outside. There are still the enterprising societies, the House competitions, the teams, the academic movement and achievement, all recorded in print, but behind these is the same imprint of individual thinking and vigour. Equally, living contact with the School shows the same spirit of friendship and tolerance. There is still the social conscience which does not mean “good works” in a narrow or self-conscious sense, but what it really should be, right relationships with all and everyone.


I should like to thank a large number of O.G.’s and Staff for their help and advice, notably Miss Phillips, Miss Payne, Miss Jerred, Miss Engledow and Fiona Brookfield.

V.M. Fraser

Summer 1976


One thought on “The Sixties

  1. I think my maternal grandfarther’s first wife Florence Beatrice Leitch, was a nurse at the Sanitorium at Godolphin School in 1950 according to passenger records I have found. On the ships record it states that she was a nurse at the school. Would it be possible to see if records exist that could confirm this? I would be extremely interested if there were.
    Alison Curtis


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