A Daughter of Winchester Find!

A neighbour recently loaned me a book which she thought would interest me because of a local history project I am working on. Actually the book turned out to have nothing at all about my part of Winchester but it was a fascinating read and one which I am really glad to have discovered.

A Daughter of Winchester by Jean Crossley is self published and is the memoire of Jean Wilson the daughter of a master at Winchester College. Jean relates the story of her family in the early years of the last century (Jean was born in 1909) and while her canvas is a small one it is beautifully drawn giving a real flavour of what life was like in the rather priviledged surroundings of the public school world.

The book is short and ends when Jean's father,Archie Wilson, dies very suddenly in 1922 of Diphtheria ending the comfortable life of the family in a College House. As I was reading I suddenly had a feeling that I had heard this story before. When her father died jean's mother was pregnant with her 7th child. The epilogue revealed that this seventh child, named Mary is now better known as Baroness Warnock. I realised that sometime ago I had heard a programme on the radio which featured Baroness Warnock speaking about the House she grew up in - http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/thehouseigrewupin/pip/0ayop/  which is now the specialist Music School at the local Sixth Form College (Peter Symonds College) and recalled the story of how her father, a Master at Winchester College had died before she was born.

A Daughter of Winchester really captured for me the city of Winchester in the early 1900s and I loved particularly the desciptions of the shops in the High Street and the hotels where dances were held for 'young ladies and gentlemen'. Truly evocative of a time gone forever.

1 December 2009 from Madelaine - the book thief

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