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1920s & 1930s

1929-1938 Mimi Goddard RSCJ

On 19 September 1929, I went to Hammersmith, four days before my ninth birthday.   This was considered rather late for a child to begin school, but my sister Rita and I had lessons every morning with my father who had retired from the army by then, so we were well-prepared.

Mother Hutchinson

There were 10 forms in the school and Mother Hutchinson was headmistress.  Her room was at the far end of the top corridor.  Her door was always open, so she was able to watch over and keep control of much that was going on!  At the end of the day she would move to a nearby window to check our departure as we crossed the garden to the school gate.  At one time she asked the school prefects to watch our behaviour as we left the school premises.  Any rowdy or undisciplined conduct reported to her, resulted in the offender having her hat-band removed for a limited time.

Mother Hutchinson's high standard was maintained in all areas, especially for our studies.  She was our class mistress in the Sixth, and we had to work hard - we had to go to school on Saturday mornings for a three-hour test paper to prepare us for our final exams.  Younger children were taught by nuns, but we were taught by a group of very well-qualified secular staff.

Lessons and Trips

Religious teaching took place daily and was the responsibility of the class mistress.  It was always based on the catechism which we learned by heart.  I remember learning a great deal about the history of the Church and the lives of the saints and their apostolate from our history mistress who included their past as and when it came into our English and European history syllabus which she planned.  My devotion to St Thomas More was deepened by our pilgrimage to his home in Chelsea.

Every year we had a short retreat.  The one that remains in my mind today was given by father Dunstan Pontifax.  We turned our desks into little altars with perhaps a statue, and certainly holy pictures which were very popular at that time.  These altars were our 'out of chapel' base during the day.

We were very fortunate in having frequent exhibitions from time to time, arranged by the staff. I can recollect visiting the Royal Mint, the Headquarters of the GPO, the National Gallery and many other exhibitions. We were always well-prepared for these outings before we went.  We spent a whole day at Stratford with Miss Corvesor, and we much appreciated going to the old Vic -certainly Julius Caesar came alive for me and is the one play I clearly remember.  In the sixth class, Miss Stevenson, a member of the Royal Geographical Society took geography students to some lectures there.  These confirmed my hope to teach geography, but sadly this was not possible when I left school because of the outbreak of war.

Coronation of George V1

On 27 May 1937, with many other London schools, we gathered on the Embankment to watch and wave and cheer the magnificent Coronation Procession of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.  It was truly an unforgettable occasion.  I was standing next to Maureen Bodkin, the niece of Reverend Mother Bodkin.  She had joined us in the Sixth for a year from her school, the Sacred Heart Convent in Vancouver.  We exchanged our reminiscences of this wonderful event in our correspondence long after she returned to Canada.   

Note from SHHS: see here an interesting news film of the Coronation procession referred to above, that the Sacred Heart students attended

Games and Events

Most of all I enjoyed Games with Miss Bonser.  The school grounds were not very big.  I envied those of St Paul's Girls' that I could see over the wall.  We managed with what we had, playing netball, tennis, rounders and stoolball which resembled cricket but was more suitable for the space we had.  I had the privilege of being Games captain for two years.  Most Saturdays we had matches at home or away - even going as far as St Philomenia's at Carshalton.

Our school was divided into four groups, and we competed against one another in Studies and Games.  The names of the groups were St Helen, St Hilda, St Margaret (my group) and St Winifred.

Sports Day in the summer was one of the highlights of the year, and we prepared for it with general enthusiasm and much training.  Another annual event was the Bazaar in December which was held in the cloisters which was an ideal setting for our various stalls.

Looking Back

I remained at Hammersmith for 9 years and I can truthfully say that I enjoyed all my time there (I wept the day I left).  Looking back I appreciate with gratitude the all-round education I received and the joy which I have had over the years from many life-long friends made there.