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 Post subject: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 01 Aug 2011, 09:12 
I know very little about Elinor's real life (I musy gen up on it all some time) and, given the frequent talk about the increase in rules in the Swiss era Chalet School books, it's made me wonder what Elinor's RL school was like?

How did it comapre and contrast with the Chalet School? What rules did it have? I know that it lasted only a few years, but given that Elinor's pretend school was so developed, I wondered if she applied any of her 'ideals' seen in the Chalet School to the Margaret Roper School (1937 - 1945 (I think))?


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 01 Aug 2011, 09:49 
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The Margaret Roper School began in 1938 and lasted for 10 years. It was a largely day school so a lot of the ideas from the CS wouldn’t have transferred and it was nowhere near as successful. EBD started the school after the death of her stepfather and the first two pupils were the two Griffiths girls to whom she’d been governess. These two girls were removed from the school fairly quickly after their mother discovered that instead of EBD, they were being taught by her mother. The school was “saved” by the threat of war which meant that many families moved to Hereforeshire as a “safe area” and joined the school, and that other local families decided to send their daughters to a local school instead of a boarding school. By 1941 there were 25 pupils, including small boys and 70 by 1945 but numbers fell dramatically after the war as did the class of the pupils.

The school had a very similar uniform to the CS – summer dresses were brown and white checked ginghams with flame-coloured ties. In 1944, the school performed The Youngest Shepherd as its nativity play, as the Chalet School had done 18 years earlier. The aims of the two schools were similar. However, the food, cooked by EBD’s mother, was apparently “awful” and the kitchens “filthy”, with 5 pet cats allowed to wander around as they pleased.

Helen McClelland says that the school was “wrecked” by the conflict between EBD’s writing and teaching and that, although EBD was a talented teacher, with a “gift” for getting on with individual children, she wasn’t suited to being a headmistress.


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 01 Aug 2011, 10:24 
I always see the CS as the fantasy of someone who ran an all-too-real, not particularly successful school of her own, and got a lot of her kicks as a writer from inventing a perfect school, with flawless organisation, waiting lists, dedicated staff, wonderful food, grateful pupils and parents etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 01 Aug 2011, 10:30 
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I think it's telling that the CS becomes much more of an ideal model after EBD's experiences with the Margaret Roper School :D . In the early years, Madge admits freely that she dropped a clanger by employing someone (Matron Webb) she hadn't interviewed, and tells the girls in no uncertain terms that the feud in Rivals was as much their fault as that of the Saints, but there's none of that sort of thing in the Swiss books.

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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 01 Aug 2011, 11:23 
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Alison H wrote:
I think it's telling that the CS becomes much more of an ideal model after EBD's experiences with the Margaret Roper School :D . In the early years, Madge admits freely that she dropped a clanger by employing someone (Matron Webb) she hadn't interviewed, and tells the girls in no uncertain terms that the feud in Rivals was as much their fault as that of the Saints, but there's none of that sort of thing in the Swiss books.


That's a very fair point Alison, I'd never quite picked up on that before, but it makes a lot of sense. Possibly why I prefer the earlier books! ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 02 Aug 2011, 21:56 
Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
I always see the CS as the fantasy of someone who ran an all-too-real, not particularly successful school of her own, and got a lot of her kicks as a writer from inventing a perfect school, with flawless organisation, waiting lists, dedicated staff, wonderful food, grateful pupils and parents etc.


Alison H wrote:
I think it's telling that the CS becomes much more of an ideal model after EBD's experiences with the Margaret Roper School :D . In the early years, Madge admits freely that she dropped a clanger by employing someone (Matron Webb) she hadn't interviewed, and tells the girls in no uncertain terms that the feud in Rivals was as much their fault as that of the Saints, but there's none of that sort of thing in the Swiss books.


But which first, do you think? Elinor started writing before she had a real school, so do we see in the school in Austria what she thought of doing in RL, and then she starts the MR School, and we see a 'perfected' school in the later CS years after her real experiences have a). not been very succesful, and b). so she creates a perfect shool where noting goes wrong (apart from near-death expereinces and so on!).

Or - did she try to put into action in her real school anything she'd written about in her books? We know the uniform was similar so that's a start, but were there any other things, like timetables (both learning and social), rules, meals, interior design ... ? Or was it compeley different?

Are there any photos of the Margaret Roper School anywhere?


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 02 Aug 2011, 22:15 
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I think Tuttsclump has a photo of Margaret Roper School - Lichfield House? on his website - the actual house as it is today though. Perhaps there are others - must have a quick peep....

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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 02 Aug 2011, 22:39 
Shivvy wrote:
I think Tuttsclump has a photo of Margaret Roper School - Lichfield House? on his website - the actual house as it is today though. Perhaps there are others - must have a quick peep....


Yes, that's a good start - are there any of the pupils and staff, or the classrooms?


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 03 Aug 2011, 09:07 
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julieanne1811 wrote:
Or - did she try to put into action in her real school anything she'd written about in her books? We know the uniform was similar so that's a start, but were there any other things, like timetables (both learning and social), rules, meals, interior design ... ? Or was it compeley different?


There's a group photo of the pupils and EBD (and her mother) from 1941 in Behind the Chalet School (BTCS) which shows the girls wearing gingham dresses with white collars and cuffs on the short sleeves, plus 3 boys. There are also quotes in there from several pupils and, in particular, the Cottam girls to whom she was governess and who became the school's first pupils.

Lichfield House is a large Victorian house which had been the home of another school. We drove past it when we were in Hereford recently and it's very large. At the time Helen McClelland wrote BTCS it was a hotel with 12 bedrooms and now it's divided into flats. EBD bought the building after that school closed down but not as a going concern, as all the pupils and staff moved to an established school in Hereford (not like the CS collecting pupils from other places). To make ends meet, EBD and her mother took in lodgers while the school was running.

By 1938 the school was advertised as a boarding and day school, although BTCS doesn’t mention whether any pupils actually boarded. It reads as if most of them were day pupils (from local families who didn’t want their children at boarding school during the war or from families who’d moved to Hereford because it was a safe area) so there wouldn’t be a “social timetable”. They did, though, have concerts, folk-dancing, pageants in the garden, exhibitions and to places of historical interest, school songs and plays (which were often publicised in the local paper).

There were two princesses at the school during the war – from Abyssinia – and McClelland says it appears the school did attempt to practice the ideas of international co-operation and religious tolerance that are so important to the CS.

There were “endless grumbles” about the food cooked by EBD’s mother, rather than a Karen or a Marie, and meals were described as “awful”. For most of the school’s life, food would have been prepared during rationing but the kitchens were said to be “filthy”, so bad that there were rumours of complaints to the health authorities. One teacher resigned and set up her own school in Hereford in competition to EBD.

McCelland says that EBD undoubtedly attempted to base reality on fiction and that this must have led to disappointment as the Margaret Roper School wasn’t anywhere near as successful as the CS. EBD was often late to lessons, usually because she was writing, and one pupil is quoted as saying “Poor old EBD. We ran rings around her”. McClelland does say though that the school did some good work and that it “filled a need”.

That’s all from BTCS and that’s most of the detail in there. At the time of her stepfather’s death, EBD was travelling from Hereford each day as governess to the Cottams. After he died, this would have meant leaving her mother on her own all day so it was agreed that the Cottams would come into Hereford for lessons instead and the school grew from that. I do wonder how much of an ambition EBD had to run a school and how much of it was down to the situation. McClelland says that she was very enthusiastic about it at first but that later she lost interest; something which she represents as a character trait of EBD. It seems that although the ethos of the school was similar to the CS, in practical day to day terms, it was very different.


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 03 Aug 2011, 10:37 
JB wrote:
One teacher resigned and set up her own school in Hereford in competition to EBD.


The disloyalty of it! Now imagining Miss Slater setting up her own school across the road from the Glendower House CS branch, to the dismay of all. :D

JB wrote:
I do wonder how much of an ambition EBD had to run a school and how much of it was down to the situation. McClelland says that she was very enthusiastic about it at first but that later she lost interest; something which she represents as a character trait of EBD.


That's interesting, if we think of Madge as being in the same situation initially - there's no suggestion (although EBD could easily have put one in) that Madge has always longed to teach or have a school of her own, it's simply that she needs money to live on, she also has a frail dependent whose needs take precedence, and the the CS is the means to an end. But because this is a particular kind of fiction, Madge turns out to be a born teacher and natural Head, inspiring the girls with love and respect, despite her inexperience, and the school becaomes a thriving business in which she doesn't lose interest, even after the reason she starts it is no longer relevant.


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 03 Aug 2011, 11:25 
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Miss Browne, on the other hand, packs it in the minute she comes into an inheritance. She sells the school during the holidays, and by the sounds of it doesn't ask very much for it, and doesn't even wait to say goodbye to the pupils and staff, which says something quite depressing about what she found running a school to be like :( .

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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 03 Aug 2011, 21:13 
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I'm sure one of the GGBP reprints has an article about the Margaret Roper School but I cannot remember which one at the moment, will try to remember to have a look later.

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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 04 Aug 2011, 09:57 
Elle wrote:
I'm sure one of the GGBP reprints has an article about the Margaret Roper School but I cannot remember which one at the moment, will try to remember to have a look later.


Oh - thank you, Elle. When you let us know I can go hunting!


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2011, 16:22 
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julieanne1811 wrote:
Elle wrote:
I'm sure one of the GGBP reprints has an article about the Margaret Roper School but I cannot remember which one at the moment, will try to remember to have a look later.


Oh - thank you, Elle. When you let us know I can go hunting!

It's 'Three go to the Chalet School' which has the article as it was dedicated to the staff and students as a farewell gift. There is a picture of the students taken in 1941.

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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2011, 16:29 
Thank you!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 30 Sep 2011, 13:54 
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I'll have to go hunting for that. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 05 Jan 2012, 21:45 
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There's a programme on Margaret Roper/More's education on BBC4 at 10 tonight.

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 Post subject: Re: Margaret Roper School
PostPosted: 26 Jul 2012, 11:50 
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Yes, the girls who talked to Helen McClelland for her book BTCS, weren't very complimentary about the school, apart from the younger Cattam girl.

Like what has been said up-thread, there isn't mention of children boarding but the book does mention old ladies staying there as lodgers.

Quote:
'Elinor's old ladies' for most of those who came at various times to live in Lichfield House (the school) were elderly women. Some were to remain for years and to become an integral part of the household


This was done to provide extra income, but perhaps also provide EDB & her mother some form of company as well?

It's also mentioned that the girl's who first staeted at MR (the Cottams) were removed because their mother had found out that EDB's mother was teaching the elder girl (and presumably other students) in a year when she was studying for the School Cert.

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