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April 25th 1915 - Letter from Juliet Sladden to her mother, Eugénie Sladden

25th April 1915
Correspondence From
Juliet Sladden, The Grove School, Highgate
Correspondence To
Eugénie Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

The Grove School
London N

Sunday April 25th 1915

My darling Mother

How are you all getting on? I do hope that Mela is really better, and that you are all right again.

I have not yet had my timetable seen by Miss Lacey, so that I don’t quite know yet exactly what I am teaching (except 4th Arithmetic which is quite fixed) or how many hours housework I am supposed to be doing. Other people appear to know better than I do, for everyone says to me, “Oh you are doing three hours a day, aren’t you?” It is not as alarming as it sounds really, because teaching counts double the time of housework, so that the three-quarter hour Arithmetic class which I take once a week will count 1½ hours, and if I go on taking third French once a week that will count another 1½ hours. Also there is the question of those two music pupils of which I have heard no more as yet, but one of the children in question has heard that I am going to take her. If so, that will be a bean-feast, for they will both have an hour’s music lesson apiece, which will count as two hours’ housework. If I do all that teaching then it will take five hours off my week’s work, leaving the remaining 16 hours to be filled in by housework; an average of about 2¼ hours a day. It will mean a pretty good scramble anyway, so I hope I will do all the prospective teaching. Of course I don’t know yet though officially that I am doing three hours a day – it may possibly be less, I shouldn’t think that it is more.

I am awfully pleased, because I think I stand an excellent chance of getting thinner with all the rushing round I shall have to do. I will quote yesterday to you as a typically busy day. Get up 7.15, make bed and tidy room before breakfast, wait meat at breakfast (takes about ten minutes). Half past 8 go over to library and work till 9. Prayers 9 to 9.10. Church history 9.10 – 9.30. Miss Crump’s grate and washstand 9.30-10. 2nd Greek 10 – 10.45, 1st Greek 10.45 – 11.30. Sweep and dust Miss Crump’s room 11.30 – 12.30 (Saturday is extra-big do day!). Lunch 12.30-1. Glance at newspaper for 10 minutes. Walk 1.20 to 1.50. 2-2.30 get tea for Miss Crump and three visitors, cut thin bread and butter, take up cake and all implements, dust tea-set which has not been used lately, etc. 2.30-4.30 work in library. 4.30-4.45 tea, 4.45-6.15 work in library, 6.15 dress for dinner. 6.40 take little ones’ supper till 7.10 or as soon as you can get them all to finish! 7.10-7.40 put little ones to bed. Late for dinner of course which is at 7.30 but that is always a recognised thing and excused. 8.15-8.45 pantry duty, ie clearing away and washing up as much as possible. 8.45 prayers. 9-9.30 pantry duty – finish washing up (there are two of us at it then) and take over Miss Lacey’s letters. 9.30 bed. That is quite a typical day, and I must say I should like Queenie and Ivy (especially Ivy) to have to get through it all. Miss Crump is fearfully untidy and strews her floor with books and papers, also she has countless table and chair covers to be shaken and heaps of things to dust, so her room takes ages to do well. Some days I have only got three-quarters of an hour in the morning to spend over it, so must do it thoroughly the other days. I must ask for bedrooms in the morning off as I have not a minute to do them any day except Fridays.

I must go and wash up Miss Crump’s tea things from yesterday now, and finish this later. She went out last night, so there was only her grate to do, but as Madge Heath was of course away for the weekend, I have to look after Miss Fletcher in the meanwhile. I don’t suppose I shall have that every week though, it was only because Miss Crump was out.

I have successfully negotiated her precious Dresden china, her last fag broke a cup and saucer, so you can imagine I felt nervous! It is much worse to break something belonging to a mistress than something belonging to the school, because if it is the school’s you put it down on he house-workers’ breakage list and I suppose it goes on the bill; but for a mistress’ thing you don’t pay – merely have to tell her, MERELY!!

Joyce and Peggy Ashby cannot come back for a fortnight as they are in quarantine for German measles. One or two other of the children are coming back late too, and Eileen Cromie’s little sister, Eleanor (do you remember her?), is coming next week, I believe. She is only nine.

The joy of house-work is that you sail gaily in and out of all sorts of places strictly forbidden to the common herd! For instance there is a hard and fast rules that girls sleeping in No 1 may not go into No 2 (upstairs, that is to say) and vice versa, only “excepts”, prefects and house-workers; so as Miss Crump’s room is in No 2, of course I am one of the excepts. Then all the bitterness of the rule about not going into each other’s rooms is all swept away when you have to go round half the rooms in the school doing slops and sweeping! It introduces you to the basement and kitchen too where no one else may go. The basement is so large that I am sure I shall get lost down there one day.

It was rather funny the day I came, no one met me after all. Miss Lacey had so many letters and times of trains quoted that she mixed up the time of arrival and departure of mine and sent Miss Crump down to meet the 3.12. She found out the mistake too late to do anything, but thought I might be trusted to get up here all right by myself. She has great faith in me in that line!

Madge noticed the hair before I took my hat off; she says she feels awfully out of it, but is not going to put her hair up before she leaves school, which is the end of this term. Everyone likes me tons better with it up, I am so glad now that I didn’t wait till the end of the summer. I can do it quite quickly and nicely now Det’s way. It really is amusing, last term it was always, “When are you going to put your hair up, Juliet? I say, how on earth will you do it?” This term it is, “Juliet, you do do your hair well, you are lucky you’ve got just the right amount to do.” They seem to have forgotten what a little rat’s tail they thought it before.

Mr Mackinlay, the Father of a day-girl who left last term, has presented us with 50 lovely new good novels for the common-room library. Isn’t it splendid of him? Books by Arnold Bennett, G K Chesterton, Mary Johnston, Jack London, W A Watson, Seton Thompson, A C Benson, William de Morgan, Seton Merriman, |George Meredith and heaps of others that I can’t remember. I only wish I had time to sit down and read some of them.

Augustine has kittens, two very sweet tabbies, prettily marked, and exactly alike except that one has a pink nose and the other a black nose. Their names are Richard and Ambrose but I forget which is which. They live in Miss Grierson’s room, she called me in to see them this morning. I sleep not opposite Miss Grierson, but the room next to that, almost opposite her.

Will you tell Ethel that I want to write to George today so will write to her next Sunday. Tell her not to bother to write this week if she is very busy.

There is a voluntary Cadet Corps being got up by Miss Lacey and the mistresses, to learn simple First Aid and bandaging, and signalling and easy invalid cookery, a private affair of course, and intended as a kind of training for VAD work later. Anyone may join from youngest to oldest, and Miss Lacey is planning delightful excursions to places like Hadley Woods to practise signalling and have sham wounded little ones to practise on. I wish I could join, but she says it is to be done all in spare time, and I have no spare time.

Just had to go to Miss Lacey about my timetable. I am not to have the French class, but I am to have the two piano pupils and the Arithmetic class; she says she thinks I didn’t do myself justice in the French class and would rather put me on to something quite different. The Arithmetic is very elementary luckily for me! Apparently she is not fixing a number of hours for me to do housework, but I am to see in the next week how much I can get done without overworking myself.

Much love
Your affectionate

PS – Joyce Ashby’s youngest brother has had his nose broken by a piece of shell. He has been invalided home. I think his nerve has given way a bit too, for Madge heard from Joyce that he creeps about the house so silently and doesn’t seem himself a bit, they hardly recognise him. Poor boy, he is only 17.

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference