Memories from Jean Walsh (Hughes)
President, Treasurer, and Secretary of the Association,
My brother went to the Southsea Convent as a 'day boy' in about 1919. I can remember going there to the cloakroom door to meet him, in my pushchair pushed by my nanny. Mother Bristol used to be there and as usual, made a great fuss of the little ones and gave us sweets.
In 1921, my brother Jack, moved to Boscombe as a boarder, under the wing of Mother Howe - M' Howe as they fondly called her. She was wonderful and called them all 'Sir'. Mother Costello was Reverend Mother then. Again, I was allowed to travel to meet my brother at the end of term - we lived in Cookham near Maidenhead at that time.
At Whitsun in 1925, my father suddenly died and not long after that I was sent off to Boscombe as a boarder as well. Brothers and sisters were allowed to meet for half an hour after tea on Sundays. For the rest of the time boys and girls would pass in the bottom corridor but dare not exchange a word!
Mother Butler Bowden was Headmistress of the girls, fondly known as Mutler Bowden and loved by everyone. We would find any excuse to go to her room (office) to talk to her. We were allowed sweets on Sundays and Feast days, our sweets being kept in a tin with our name on.
After we had taken out two or three, the tins would be locked away again in a cupboard in the refectory
Meal times were taken in silence until most had finished their first course, then after pudding was served, a bell would tinkle, indicating that we could speak. All food, served to you by name by the headmistress, had to be eaten and my horror was stewed steak. I called it 'lumps' and was often there chewing until class time at two o'clock!
In those early years I was a sleep-walker and I was in the Long Dormitory where Mother Welstead was in charge. I often woke up to find myself in the bathroom area and very soon heard Mother Welstead calling quietly, "Jean, where are you?"
I did my best to get back to bed before being found - and then pretended to be fast asleep, scared of being in trouble for being out of bed!
Mass was in the chapel every morning at 7.25 with morning prayers in the Study room first. If you had not finished your homework you could have permission to get up at 6 a.m.!
On Sundays, we went through a long covered passageway to a side chapel at Corpus Christi Church. This chapel was on the side of the high altar and was completely screened from the congregation. We went there for the 9.30 Mass and again at 6 in the evening for Vespers, Sermon (about 40 minutes) and Benediction.
Sometimes it was Bona Mors instead of Vespers; we liked that as it was much shorter. John Young was a fidgety little altar boy in those days and we used to try to catch his eye to make him giggle!
Margot Jones, Clare Blanshard, Betty Bleeck and I, Jean Hughes, formed an alliance - we did everything together. At one time we made little gardens by the drying sheds but Margot, being a keen botanist, kept pulling up the plants to look at the roots.
Once on an outing, we caught a toad and brought him back to school. We built a mini garden in the classroom, encouraged by the science teacher, Miss Dempsey. We called him Timothy and he got to know the sound of his name. If a lesson was boring we would quietly call him and he would come jumping over the desks. Chaos broke out as we all tried to catch him.
Mother Jones taught RE and one lesson was all about Timothy joining the Apostles and dear Mother Jones kept saying " and when Timothy joined the band ..." On that day when Mother Jones was suddenly called outside the door, Margot who was a very clever spontaneous artist went quickly to the board and drew Timothy as the drum major leading the band!
The gates onto Parkwood Road were always locked at 8.50 p.m., we went to bed at 8.30. The staff were resident in those days and even they had to be in before the gates were locked - if late they would climb the gates and be let in by an insider, through a window.
Those were the days!