Tennis on the telly; a visit to Selborne; a mouse in the bed; an act of kindness; historic activity with “our pale lady”; birthday gifts; Ricky is christened; like old times in the New Forest; The Ridge – fully furnished at last, and a diversion – an important mentor and the Beaulieu Tomes.
Gran’s dislike of television seems to have been overcome, and the watching of it more or less normal by July 1st 1955, the word itself no longer qualifying for a capital “T”:
I spent this afternoon glued to the next-door television and saw Tony Trabert of America, win the Men’s singles at Wimbledon from Kurt Nielsen of Denmark… I saw the gold cup presented to the winner by the Duchess of Kent and there was much fun and laughter between the victor and the vanquished which was good to see.
An encouraging and pleasing result of play in the semi-finals of the Women’s doubles is the fact that there will be an All-British final tomorrow – the first since 1936!
The first few days of July are hectic for Gran – a Natural History Society trip to Selborne and Noar Hill, accompanied by Diana Fowler; a B.E.N.A. meeting on Farley Mount with members from Guildford and Aldershot, and hectic spring-cleaning of The Ridge, with Mother, the chimney being swept and furniture cleaned and re-arranged. The field trips produce many flowers for Gran to paint, and she fits this in whenever she can.
On the 4th, she receives a letter from Jane, who is camping with other students at East Grinstead. It contains details of an amusing incident. “She was comfortably asleep”, writes Gran:
…when, at about two in the morning, something ran over her face. She jumped up and felt “it” run down her legs into her bed. She was afraid to move much lest she crushed the poor thing, but her torch revealed a little Field Mouse. After much hunting and many attempts to catch it, amid near hysterics in the tent, Jane managed to dazzle it with her torch, pick it up and, to quote Jane, “flee into the night with it”. It is a good thing Jane does not possess the average woman’s reactions to mice!
Having spent the morning working for the Fowlers in Bassett, Gran makes her way, by bus, to Pepperbox Hill on July 6th, and is bitterly disappointed to find that the downland with the Burnt Orchids she had hoped to paint has been grazed by sheep, and there is no sign of their presence. “I felt utterly defeated”, she writes, “and now must depend on Jane to send me one from Eastbourne or East Grinstead, where Jill Fowler found one this week”. She still has plenty of material to paint though, telling us the following day that she commences painting her Meadow Cranesbill – “and it took me close on three hours!”.
This evening I went to look for some very fine Helleborines, which bloomed at the side of the road through the opposite wood last year, but they have been destroyed by clearance for building. This is annoying because I wanted to show them to Dr Young, who is coming down on the 16th, with Mr Kimmins of the British Museum, to photograph the Hursley Epipactis leptochila and to see our Brambridge find. I think they were only E. latifolia [now E. helleborine] but they were particularly beautiful specimens.
On July 14th she records that during the afternoon and evening:
Thunderstorms developed again, commencing distantly at twenty minutes to four, north-east of Chandler’s Ford, and moving towards Southampton. Rain started to fall at five minutes past four, and thunder was closer, though not overhead. I called in a small, frightened child, who, without a coat or hat, was running down the road. I kept her with me until the storm passed, during which time she told me that her name was April Scott, and all about her family, and then I took her home.
Such a kind action would be much more difficult to perform nowadays without suspicion. Gran tells us she enjoys the presence of young company the following hot day, when Jane returns from college, brought by car driven by Jill Fowler with a friend, Rita. She describes their arrival:
I have seldom seen a trio of hotter, more dishevelled girls. Even Jill, who is usually so immaculate, looked slightly ruffled and sticky. We sorted out Jane’s luggage from the jumble of suitcases, sportsbags, tennis racquets, cricket bats, umbrellas, boxes and parcels, and they all bundled in, staying just long enough to have cool drinks before Jill took Rita on to Southampton to catch a train to Bristol. It was good to see young people in the house again…
And Jane has brought her a couple of Burnt Orchids to paint, and when Gran completes them, on the 16th, she writes, “these were among the best I have done” and follows with, “During the evening Jane entertained me with a few records on her new gramophone, which has a very pleasing tone and attractive appearance”. They enjoy each other’s company, walking together the following day, along the Itchen to Winchester, where they have tea at The Old Chesil Rectory, “whose black beams and oak ceiling certainly make it dark, but considerably add to its charm”.
The morning of July 21st is spent in the Fowlers’ shop, Gran making up orders for departing liners, including one “for two dozen red roses for Doris Hart, the tennis star, who was returning to America in the Queen Mary today”. Gran continues:
I went up to Bassett for lunch with my Aunt, to join my two cousins Marjorie and Fairlie, who had come from London for the day. It was good to see them again. During the afternoon a family friend, Father Holden, a missionary on leave from British Guiana, and his sister, came to see Marjorie about doing some illustrations for the Creed for his Guiana people, as she had done for India and Canada, and they stayed for tea.
The next day is her 51st birthday – “and a very pleasant one too”.
Besides gifts of cash with which to purchase what I like, I had two books and a book token. One of the books I had long wanted, Paul Gallico’s Snow Goose illustrated by Peter Scott; the other, The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Gouge, I have not read, but I know I shall like it.
A few weeks later Gran spends her money and book token on Gilbert White’s The Natural History of Selborne, and I Love the Brooks by John Eldred.
News in a letter from Barry tells her that he has passed his year’s probation at Haberdashers’ and that he is now on the permanent staff.
“This afternoon, in perfect weather”, Gran writes next day, “I met Dr Young and Mr Kimmins, with Mr Roseweir, at the appointed place at Hursley to photograph the albino Epipactis leptochila”, referred to by Gran as, “our pale lady”. She continues:
When I arrived, Mr Kimmins had his camera, flash lamp and all, ready for action, and I was amused to see them trying to look nonchalant and casual until they recognised me! Dr Young came forward to meet me – I was not prepared to find that he was a hunchback! – but he is a charming personality and he certainly knows his Helleborines!
Gran tells us that exercising great patience, owing to the windy conditions, the photographer took eight pictures in colour:
…which, if successful, he will make into slides, and if I am lucky, I shall have one. Others are booked for Kew, the British Museum, Southampton Natural History Society, Dr Young, Mr Roseweir, Paul Bowman, and of course, Mr Kimmins himself.
Our pale lady was only in bud, all, including the leaves, smooth, almost buttercup yellow, with the faintest hint of green in the veins of the leaves, but we found two or three typical specimens with a few flowers open. I shall be able to identify leptochila in future, after Dr Young’s careful explanation of its outstanding features.
The party of botanists move on next to Brambridge (the location of Helleborines discovered by Gran and Barry, but with their identification so far unconfirmed) where:
…we searched carefully amongst the great leaves of Butterbur, and found at least six of our Epipactis, which Dr Young proclaimed to be phyllanthes, the Isle of Wight Helleborine, possibly a degenerate. They were still only in bud, so he asked me to send him a single flower later, when they are in bloom.
Gran later entertains them all to tea at The Ridge, enjoying “talking to these knowledgeable but charmingly unpretentious people, and, I hope, I have learned much”.
An interesting discussion of “our pale lady” is included in an article by Dr Donald Young in Watsonia 5 (3) 1962, page 131
Two days later, I read with surprise that Gran, for whom housework is anathema, “enjoys the polishing and arranging tremendously”! She has been:
…much occupied indoors arranging and rearranging furniture in Jane’s room and mine, for I have acquired some for both our rooms from a neighbour who is moving. The house now looks completely furnished for the first time in twenty-seven years.
Late July and early August are busy times for Gran. She is frequently at work for the Fowlers, delivering to ships in port; there are botanising and birding visits to the New Forest and the Meon Valley, with Norris, Fin and Hazel Bidmead; Barry and his Haberdashers camp again at Beaulieu Road, while Jock, with Julian and Ricky stay at 99 Kingsway but spend plenty of time with Gran as well. Gran notes that Nightjars are heard in the New Forest by the Haberdashers but, she writes, “there have certainly not been our usual visitors here this year”. And, of course, there is considerable flower painting.
Gran has several times mentioned the presence of Barry and groups of boys from Haberdashers’ School camping at Beaulieu Road and investigating the ecology of the area. This is perhaps a good place to undertake a small diversion from Gran’s journal, to enlarge upon this.
John and Anne Coles published an account of Dad’s influence on these young people in the 33rd Newsletter of the Beaulieu History Society, dated January 2018 and titled Beaulieu Road – An Inspiration for Naturalists. With their kind permission, I reproduce it here in full. It will probably embarrass my modest father, and I apologise to readers for doubling the normal length of this blog post, but I believe it is important:
“For most people who have been there Beaulieu Road is just a small area on the Beaulieu to Lyndhurst road containing a little-used railway station, a hotel and a number of corrals used for the autumn pony sales. For walkers it is the starting point for a number of New Forest walks. But there is another group of people, some now eminent in their fields, who remember the area with special pleasure and gratitude from their schooldays.
If the environment seems rather bleak to the casual passer-by, for this group it was and is a place of inspiration.
Between 1955 and 1962 parties of schoolboys from Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys School, then in London, made visits to Beaulieu Road uder the auspices of their biology teacher, Mr Barry Goater, who was the first person to bring biological field work into the school curriculum. They would arrive by train at the station (there were more frequent trains then), erect tents at their favoured site and spend many days investigating an area of water, bog, dry heath and woodland roughly oblong in shape, three miles by two, straddling north and south of the Beaulieu-Lyndhurst road.
Largely independent, they bought some supplies from the hotel. The visits came to an end in 1962 for two reasons. The Forestry Commission objected to the tented camp, presumably because it had become policy to confine camping in the Forest to organised sites. And the Beaulieu Road Hotel decided to move up-market and try to attract wealthier clients. Schoolboys with muddy boots were no longer welcome.
Eighty or so sixth form boys attended these camps in the seven years. The largest camps, usually in April, had anything from 10 to 20 boys but there were also several smaller camps each year. Sometimes in a group and sometimes individually, the boys worked on specific biological research projects, which they wrote up as they went along. Their teacher wanted to have his own record and kept a detailed account in two volumes which were entitled the “Beaulieu Tomes”.
They are still in his possession and we have had the privilege of consulting them. The Tomes record in a clear manuscript hand the participants in each camp and the factual details of their projects. These ranged widely from flora to bird distribution to butterflies and moths to newts and leeches and much more. For example, one study examined the effects of fire on ling (Calluna vulgaris) and bell heathers (Erica spp.), another recorded the angiosperm flora on cattle and pony dung. Altogether over 90 species of birds were identified and notes made if they nested in the area. More than 270 species of flora were recorded according to their location: on road verges, railway banks and bridges, and in the pony corrals, as well as in the bogs, streams, heath and the different patches of woodland.
A fascinating account of the fieldwork and of the Tomes themselves occurs in Wildwood (Hamish Hamilton 2007) by Roger Deakin.
Deakin appears in the Tomes as one of the boy campers. He became a leading naturalist and environmentalist and a celebrated nature writer before his death in 2006. His book Waterlog (Chatto and Windus 1999) recorded his experience of wild swimming in rivers and lakes across Britain and led to the creation of the wild swimming movement. Wildwood, published posthumously, describes a series of journeys he made across the world to meet people whose lives were intimately connected with trees and wood. The book includes a vivid account of a return journey to Beaulieu Road with his teacher Barry Goater. Deakin writes: “Beaulieu and the New Forest affected me now, as in my schooldays, all the more profoundly by being so intimately known and, at least partly, understood. We were a kind of tribe, this stretch of wild country was our dreaming, and Barry our sage and chieftain… Like the layers of springy sphagnum moss that grew in the peat bogs, the Tomes grew by gradual accretion into something of lasting value. Between us, we set down some of Beaulieu’s stories, charted them on a map of our own making that each of us still carries in his head and learnt some of the New Forest’s distinctive language: what Keats calls ‘the poetry of the earth’.”
He is in no doubt as to the source of his inspiration: “A formidable lepidopterist, ornithologist and all-round naturalist, Barry infected us all with his wild enthusiasm…he was the instigator of an extraordinary educational experiment.”
The Tomes also list many visits by George Peterken. In the summer of 1958, Peterken recorded 735 ferns of seven different species that he found growing on the eleven railway bridges around Beaulieu Road. In later life, at the Nature Conservancy, he led the development of national surveys of woodland and their management for nature conservation. Since 1992 he has worked independently for the Forestry Commission and others while living in the Wye Valley where he has developed a local grassland project. His publications include Woodland Conservation and Management (Chapman and Hall 2008), Natural Woodland: Ecology and Conservation in North Temperate Regions (Cambridge 1996) and Meadows (British Wildlife Publishing 2013). To quote from a biographical note by one of his publishers, Harper Collins, “His interest in wildlife, ecology and landscape history was stimulated by childhood holidays in the New Forest and by his teacher … Barry Goater.” George Peterken still visits Beaulieu Road from time to time.
Deakin writes: “For George, as for me and others, Barry Goater is still the original inspiration for a life’s commitment to ecology and conservation.”
A third person who was similarly inspired, but at a period later than that covered by the Tomes, is Andy Clements, now Chief Executive Officer of the British Trust for Ornithology and a member of the Board of Natural England. Again seeds were sown by Barry Goater. “How”, Clements writes, “did I get from those first shaky steps to here? Like so many others it was the influence of an important mentor, mine in the shape of my biology teacher, Barry Goater. Not only did his teaching shape my future career—zoological science, conservation and leadership—but he encouraged me to start a school bird club.”
In the early nineties Clements led a team to oppose the proposal of Associated British Ports to build a new container port at Dibden Bay. The opposition was successful.
Mark Telfer also does not appear in the Tomes but has similar reflections. He went on many bird watching outings with Barry Goater between 1982 and 1987 during his years at Haberdashers, when Barry ran the School Ornithological Society. Mark says that North Norfolk was a favourite destination but they travelled to many parts of Britain in search of birds and that included Beaulieu Road and the New Forest. He is now a successful freelance entomological consultant and a respected coleopterist (beetles) and pan-species lister. The list of species he has observed runs to over 7000 and is still rising. Like Barry he is a former President of the British Entomological and Natural History Society. He told us: “Barry was such an important influence on my life during these years that I find I simply cannot imagine what life would have been like without him. Birding and natural history are my work, my hobby and my passion. Most of my friends are birders and naturalists. Barry sparked it all off.”
Further research might well reveal that other boys who studied the resources of Beaulieu Road later made their mark in the naturalist world.
Barry Goater taught at Haberdashers from 1954 to 1989. He is an established authority on butterflies and moths and the author of, among other works, British Pyralid Moths: a Guide to their Identification (Brill, Harley Books 1986), The Butterflies and Moths of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (E W Classey 1974) and co-author of sundry other publications. He gathered records of Lepidoptera in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight from an early age, but was never officially County Recorder.
His direct contribution to naturalist studies is thus substantial. His indirect contribution, through his young students who became authorities in the field, is truly noteworthy.
We asked Barry whether he would be prepared to give a talk to the History Society. The answer was a courteous but firm no. At the age of 87 he no longer felt able to address an audience. 87 he may be but his enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, the environment are undimmed, tempered only by the concern that all naturalists feel for its deterioration.
The connexion of Beaulieu Road with Beaulieu itself is perhaps slender. It was never part of the Beaulieu Estate. But the station bears the Beaulieu name and the Tomes are the Beaulieu Tomes, sufficient reasons for our Society to take note of the activity there in the last century and its lasting legacy.”
John and Anne Coles
The boys from Habs received at Beaulieu Road a grounding in Ecology – arguably the most important of all subjects today – and our politicians would do well to understand it themselves – but not only this, it seems to me. They also experienced a valuable exposure to safe discomfort and hard work, camaraderie and teamwork, self-reliance and responsibility. Through such mentoring, all, including the more hesitant among them, were kindly and enthusiastically nurtured, thus developing their own self-assurance and confidence. What more could you require from an education?
Let us return to the journal of the mentor’s mentor:
I iced Ricky’s Christening cake this evening for tomorrow, which is also Barry’s twenty-fifth birthday, so he can share the cake even though it has a Stork on it! I iced it all in white and wrote on it, Rhoderick Dion, August 14th 1955. A Peach Blossom moth came into my room and was fluttering about and a green cricket has just hopped onto the wall.
August 14th is introduced as “A Great Day! Barry’s birthday and Ricky’s Christening”:
Sand Martins were flying over the garden as I sat on the rock wall with Ricky in my arms waiting to take him to be christened. He was wearing the robe I made for Barry’s christening, and, I think, was the tenth baby to wear it, since besides Barry and Jane, Jill, John and Diana Fowler, and Brother’s David, and Julian, it has also been lent to several other babies.
He, Ricky, was baptized at Compton, during the children’s service, and given his full names, Rhoderick Dion, and the hymns for the service had been chosen to fit a christening. All the children were enchanted and were allowed to turn and face the font for the actual baptism, drawing near to see the baby, who behaved like an angel. He tried to seize the shell in which the holy water was drawn from the font, and afterwards, as he lay a moment in Mr Burdett’s arms and the Rector looked lovingly on his little face, he lifted his baby hand and touched Mr Burdett’s cheek. I felt a stupid lump in my throat and the sting of sudden tears in my eyes.
Jane had taken Julian:
…with Aunt-like wisdom, into the Church before we arrived, in case he was somewhat overawed, but Julian was only interested… Pointing to the lectern, he said, “what is that big bird?” I wonder how many children of two and a half would notice the eagle on the lectern?
Gran’s mood is depressed the next day, partly through “reading in loneliness and deep sorrow in my room”. She adds:
I shall not record the reason for today’s sadness, for it touched me, I suppose, indirectly, but the bravely hidden hurt of one very dear to me, was not hidden from me at all, and the hurt was mine also… Barry brought me Viper’s Bugloss from Farley Mount this morning. I was in no mood to paint it, for I need tranquillity and a quiet mind, besides a clear head, for painting.
In contrast, she ends her entry for the following day thus: “A wonderful day, and I felt all the better for it, and soon recovered after a good meal and a hot bath”. She and Barry had spent the day in the familiar surroundings of her beloved New Forest, cycling and walking for ten hours in total. Dad showed her several new species of sedge and rush; they found at Hatchet Pond over one hundred flowering Bog Orchids, and, at Beaulieu Road, several Marsh Gentians, one of which she “lovingly picks”, to paint. But still, it appears, she has not seen a Dartford Warbler.
There is more pleasure for Gran on the 18th:
When I reached home I found that Jane had obtained her long-playing record of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, which was part of her twenty-first birthday present from me, and which had been on order for some time. On this record the Symphony is played by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Paul von Kempen, and, I think, about reaches perfection, for even the faintest whisper of notes can be clearly heard. It is beautiful.
Jane, the following day, learns that she has passed her Finals in Anatomy and Physiology and on this day also, Mr Summerhayes and Dr Young call in at The Ridge to present Gran with her slide of the Epipactis leptochila, taken by Mr Kimmins. Diana Fowler’s copy of Wild Orchids of Britain, held at the house in readiness for his visit, is signed for her by its author.
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 1)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 2)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 3)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 4)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 5)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 6)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 7)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 8)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 9)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 10)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 11)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 12)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 13)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 14)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 15)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 16)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 17)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 18)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 19)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 20)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 21)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 22)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 23)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 24)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 25)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 26)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 27)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 28)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 29)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 30)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 31)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 32)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 33)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 34)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 35)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 36)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 37)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 38)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 39)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 40)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 41)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 42)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 43)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 44)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 45)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 46)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 47)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 48)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 49)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 50)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 51)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 52)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 53)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 54)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 55)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 56)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 57)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 58)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 59)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 60)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 61)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 62)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 63)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 64)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 65)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 66)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 67)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 68)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 69)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 70)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 71)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 72)