Over to Dover

In the last posting (Could do better?), we considered the somewhat poor school report of an early twentieth century pupil. It would, however, be unfair to look at this in isolation: the pupils attended the School in the first place as the daughters of indigent Freemasons and frequently this was as the result of the death of the father, as was the case of Adrianne Harvey.

Adrianne’s parents, Arthur Edward Harvey and Kate Harvey nee Thorpe, had married on 28 Jan 1909 in Dover’s Holy Trinity Church and Adrianne was born on 11 January 1916 in Dover.

Dover Holy Trinity church

Image of church from http://www.doversociety.org.uk/history-scrapbook/churches/holy-trinity-church Date for the photograph is given as circa 1900.

Kate was a Dover girl by birth and from ‘a long established Dover family‘ (Dover Express, 10 Feb 1911). Kate’s father, Henry William Thorpe, was a councillor and a magistrate. His father, William Thorpe, had opened a business in Dover at the beginning of the nineteenth century so the Thorpes were well established as a Dover family by the time Adrianne was born.

death notice
Announcement of death of Councillor Thorpe

 Dover Express 10 February 1911

Adrianne’s grandfather had been a town councillor for many years and may well have been appointed Mayor in 1902 but for the fact that his wife had died during the election. He had ’felt the loss keenly’ the Dover Express stated and, although he served the town as councillor, he did not contest the mayoralty. He had been appointed magistrate in 1892 and he was also Chairman of the Dover Overseers, a Director of Dover Gas Company, a sidesman at St Mary’s Church (where he was later buried) and Chairman of the Dover Promenade Pier Company, so he was fully involved in Dover life.

The Express then goes into quite extraordinary detail of his funeral, not just listing the mourners but describing the vault in which he was buried alongside his wife and the coffin (polished 1½ inch English oak) and the flowers and the tributes and the undertaker … From which we can assume that he was indeed held in high regard.

His son in law, Arthur Harvey, was listed as one of the Chief Mourners. His daughter is not listed but neither were any other females named. It is unclear from this whether they were present and not named or whether they did not attend the funeral. http://vichist.blogspot.co.uk/2008/06/victorian-funerals-and-mourning.html states that

Although expected to mourn, women were generally advised against attending funerals, especially for those nearest and dearest to them.

Arthur Harvey did not hail from Dover himself. He had been born in Bristol and was in Dover because he was the manager of the Lord Warden Hotel. However he too became involved in Dover’s affairs becoming a Councillor in 1920. Quite possibly he might have gone on to serve longer had not illness intervened. The Dover Express in 1924 reports his death in Felixstowe, where he had gone in the hope of improving his health, and indicated that his illness had been of some six months’ duration.

Curiously, although still acting as town councillor in Dover, the newspaper notes that he left Dover in about 1921 and managed a hotel in Bexhill before then going on to successfully run the University Arms Hotel, Cambridge.

University Arms, Cambridge

Image from http://www.universityarms.com/restoration

The University Arms hotel was opened in 1834 and is considered to be Cambridge’s oldest hotel. It has been recently restored – having been damaged by fire in 2013, dramatic pictures of which can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-24379988 – and continues to operate as a hotel.

But he was associated most with the Lord Warden Hotel. https://doverhistorian.com/2013/10/02/lord-warden-hotel-house/ carries a splendid history of the hotel written by Lorraine Senicle.

Designed by the leading theatre architect, Samuel Beazley (1786-1851), the remit was that the hotel was to look ‘magnificent from the sea, the barracks (on Western Heights and the Castle) and for passengers coming by rail.’

Rather like the University Arms, Cambridge, the hotel was clearly intended to attract the wealthier customers, in Dover to cross the Channel and for onward travel on the Continent. For their convenience, there was a covered walkway from the first floor of the hotel to the train station. The hotel had been named after the Duke of Wellington, who had also been the Lord Warden. John Birmingham was its first manager.

Among the many renowned guests was Napoleon III, the nephew of Wellington’s opponent at Waterloo. The Dover Society placed a blue plaque on the building to commemorate this.

Blue plaque
Dover Society Blue Plaque

Image from https://doverhistorian.com/2013/10/02/lord-warden-hotel-house/

Another noted guest was Charles Dickens. It is amazing how often this man crops up in stories about the School’s history! It is thought that the streets surrounding Dover Pier District may have been the inspiration for the area of Tom-All-Alone’s in Bleak House.

As well as its connection to rail travel, two other hotel guests connect the Lord Warden Hotel with flight. Louis Bleriot celebrated there in 1908 after his solo flight across the Channel. Just four years later, Harriet Quimby was a guest on 16 April 1912 before becoming the first woman to fly across the Channel.

Louis Bleriot & Harriet Quimby

Image of Harriet Quimby from http://airwingmedia.com/pilots/2013/harriet-quimby-first-woman-licensed-pilot-america-cross-english-channel/; Image of Bleriot from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Louis-Bleriot

For the funeral of Queen Victoria (1901) and the coronation of Edward VII (1902), the European monarchs and nobility crossed the Channel and stayed at the Lord Warden en route to Windsor. By 1911, the hotel was of sufficient size and/or prestige to have 35 servants listed in the census. In June of that year came the coronation of George V and it is thought that virtually every room (about 100) was occupied by royalty or members of their entourages.

Arthur Harvey
Dover Express

In the announcement of Arthur Harvey’s death, it states that he served with the RAF. This was only formed in 1918 from the Royal Flying Corps and as the hotel was closed in 1917 because of the war, it seems likely that Arthur at this point enlisted with the RFC, later going on to the RAF.

The Admiralty commandeered the hotel in 1917 and handed it back in 1919. It was refurbished by its owners and re-opened for business in 1920. Arthur, on leaving the RAF, probably moved on to the Bexhill hotel and then the Cambridge Hotel and never went back to the Lord Warden. Further refurbishment took place in 1924 but Arthur was not alive to see it.

In World War II, the hotel was once again requisitioned and in 1940 became ‘the headquarters of the Coastal Force Base, HMS Wasp’ which ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ once famously announced had been torpedoed in the Channel!

The hotel survived the war, despite being shelled, and a plaque had been installed on the building after the war but mysteriously disappeared. In 2010 another plaque was placed on the building.

Dover Society plaque to HMS Waspe

Image of plaque https://doverhistorian.com/2013/10/02/lord-warden-hotel-house/

Although it was intended to re-open it as a hotel, by this stage it was somewhat battered and battle-scarred and the money needed to refurbish it just wasn’t available. It had been renamed Southern House and was used as offices. In 1990 Stena shipping group acquired the building as part of a wider franchise and when Roy Hattersley, in a 1992 Guardian article, was less than flattering about its decayed state, they perhaps felt stung into carrying out some exterior refurbishment. By 2007 it had been given a listed status and subsequently underwent more extensive repair work costing three quarters of a million pounds but it remains as offices today albeit its original name being partially restored as Lord Warden House.

former hotel
Lord Warden House today

Image above from https://doverhistorian.com/2013/10/02/lord-warden-hotel-house/

Adrianne would only have been a baby when the hotel was closed in 1917 although she may have been more aware of the University Arms hotel as this was presumably her home whilst her father was its manager. After leaving the School in 1932, she lived for a while in London. By 1939 she was in Salisbury and in Eastbourne by 1957. She died in Cheltenham in 1999 never having married and thus her story stops here.

Could do better?

Discovering an old record book, produced by W Straker Limited of Ludgate Hill, London and dating from 1921, opened up new aspects about individual former pupils. The unknown member of staff who noted marks for the pupils over approximately a decade and a half (the last dates are 1937) and also recorded the comments on their progress has given us an insight into the girls which might otherwise have been lost. In those days, school reports did not hold back on the negative qualities, as is shown for this particular pupil!

Ad's reports
Report comments

The recorded marks, whilst clearly meaning something at the time, are not so comprehensible now. For each subject, there are two marks, one in black and one in red. Taking them in conjunction with the comments, it seems likely that the first mark is a term grade or perhaps an exam result and the second mark might be the position in class. As can be seen, this young lady had a larger number in the 2nd column than in the first, from which we might assume that her weak marks kept her, fairly consistently, bumping along at the bottom of the class.

marks for term
Term marks 1926-1931

The subjects, too are an interesting insight into the curriculum of the time: Arithmetic where we would today have Mathematics, for example. It is clear from comments made in the Head Governess reports that the two subjects were regarded as separate; that all girls were taught Arithmetic but that Mathematics, which required the employment of a specialist, was the province of only the senior girls. Algebra was introduced later in their school careers and Geometry even later still. Grammar, Composition and Dictation, plus separately for girls in their third senior year and above, Literature, are today all included in English lessons. ‘N Study’ is presumably Nature Study and is the only nod towards Science although, interestingly, in the C19th century it is clear that some girls studied scientific subjects: for example, in a report about the School in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser of 28 August 1885, we are told that girls had been successful in exams in geology and physiography and that it was intended that galvanism and electricity would be studied next, followed by botany. It is unlikely that this was available to all of the pupils at the time especially since we are told that

Education in these extra subjects was entirely outside the routine of the school, and the girls who studied them did so in the evening after their ordinary studies were over.

These were clearly the cleverest of pupils who today would be the Oxbridge candidates.

Scripture and Drawing also make their appearance from the third year but by a pupil’s final year – the equivalent of the 6th Form today – the wider curriculum was narrowed to a specialised few subjects. In this case: Arithmetic, Geography, Grammar & Composition, French and, newly introduced for the older girls, Shorthand and ‘Business’. Unlike today where Business Studies might be undertaken, then it probably meant Typewriting to go with the Shorthand and both of which subjects might enable those girls who were not academic to be equipped for a future in clerical work.

This particular pupil did not appear to have an understanding of numbers and her Arithmetic marks are consistently low, culminating in 1931 with a 0 mark. Her Algebra and Geometry were equally weak and she scored 0 in these long before her final year! Her highest marks were largely in Arts subjects until she starts learning Shorthand when suddenly she begins to shine. It is interesting that, although she did poorly in Algebra with its use of symbols, in Shorthand, with its equally baffling use of symbols, she did much better.

Looking at these entries dispassionately and three-quarters of a century on, we have no sense of the individuals here – either the pupil or indeed the teacher who wrote the remarks. Given that the vast majority of the pupils came to the School under difficult circumstances, these sparing (or perhaps we might say unsparing) comments do not reflect this. As with probably the majority of the girls at that time, Adrianne came to the School after her father had died. There is no reflection in these comments of any emotional trauma she may have been experiencing but this was the norm at that period in time. One did not give way to unseemly emotion but ‘bucked up’ and Got On With Life.

Having been introduced to Shorthand and Business towards the end of her School career, and clearly taking a shine to it, Adrianne went on to make that her employment. In 1939, she is recorded as a shorthand typist in Salisbury, living with her mother, and in 1957 there is also a fleeting reference to her in a travel document as having a ‘secretarial’ occupation. So the skills she learned in 1931 stood her in good stead throughout her working life.

Presumably she recovered from having “the worst report in the school” (1929) and became a perfectly competent shorthand typist, enough to earn a living from and to support her mother. Who knows? Perhaps the despair felt by the teacher who recorded this comment forged in Adrianne a determination to succeed despite being “thoroughly unsatisfactory”!