Maria the Cook
Elizabeth Warren read in a local newspaper that Maria Kirchleitner celebrated her 100th birthday on 23 February 2004. Maria was Cook in Earl's Avenue from 1947 and moved to Grimston Gardens in 1952. Girls may remember asking her "What's for lunch, Maria?" and getting the reply "Wait and see!" She stayed until the School closed in 1967. We invited her to the reunion in Folkestone on 17 October 2004 as our Guest of Honour and she came marching in looking 20 years younger than she is, an example to us all.
With sadness we must report that Maria died on 28 February 2005, aged 101.
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Our dear Miss Kennedy died in April 2003 at the age of 93. She taught dancing, and Cecchetti ballet in particular, to countless St Margaret's girls as well as children from other local schools. Somehow we felt she was ours. After the School closed she formed her own school of dancing, and retired at the age of 80. It was wonderful to have seen her at several annual reunions in recent years.
Maureen was a regular visitor to Mrs Whiteside, later Mrs Smyth, living in Spain, and sent flowers every birthday until her death on 4 August 2005 at the age of 96. She was not really ill: just very tired. We sent a donation in her memory, and it will be spent on new hymn books for the Anglican Chaplaincy in Calpe.
Right: Mam'zelle Rothenbuhler in the 1990s.
SMOGS IN AUSTRALIA
An off-shoot of SMOGS, known as SMOGSOZ is comprised of Old Girls who meet for lunch from time to time: Caroline Hardy, Lynn Perry, Gillian Hindley and Monica Armstrong. Lovely idea. How about a SMOGSCAN in Canada, or SMOGSUSA, girls?
A STRANGE ARTICLE, AND A PRIZE-WINNING RESPONSE
As a few of you noticed, an article appeared in the Mail on Sunday of 1 May 2011, written by someone called Wendy Leigh. She wrote of a terrible school which she joined in September 1960 aged 12 as a boarder and was there for six years. She describes it as "an institution that crossed Colditz with Holloway Prison", with Radio Caroline blaring out 24/7. A Mr Payne washed the girls' hair, Panama hats were worn both summer and winter, and the same food was served for all meals throughout the day, whether baked beans or tinned spaghetti. The English teacher persecuted her because her mother had lodged a complaint.
There were two strange clues that make a link to St Margaret's: a photograph of young Wendy in white shirt, dark tie and beret, and reference to navy-blue uniform and being marched in 'crocodile' down Folkestone High Street. St Margaret's was the only girls' school in Folkestone in navy-blue. But if Wendy was writing about it, then not only is her description full of inaccuracies, it bears no resemblance to the happy, wonderful school we all remember with affection. Actually there was a Mr Payne, a dentist whose surgery was almost next door to the main school building in Earl's Avenue. Lovely name for a dentist.
Jennifer Bateman (our hostess at so many annual SMOGS reunions) decided to respond with a letter to the Mail on Sunday, and to our delight hers was the Prize Letter of the Week, winning a one-night stay for two in a luxtury hotel! This is what they published:
Boarding school was a real education
Wendy Leigh portrays her Sixties boarding school in Kent in a terrible light. Like Wendy, I went to a school in Folkestone, but my experience at St Margaret's was different to the spartan regime she describes. Mine was as near to Malory Towers as you could get. The food was excellent, with a cook very fussy about what she would serve to 'her girls'. Bullying was minimal, and on Saturdays we were allowed out in pairs. However, like Wendy, we were banned from browsing in Woolworths. For entertainment, we had a record player, a radio and, on Sunday, the cinema. It might have been the same town but Wendy missed out on a very enjoyable educational experience.
Congratulations, Jennifer. We salute you! And we are glad you enjoyed your prize. Jennifer and her sister stayed at Hartwell House near Aylesbury, Bucks. which she describes as being like 'Downton Abbey', waited on by butlers.
Greetings from the Milton family in Australia. L-R: Greg, Molly, Barbara, Sue. June 2011.
Here is our Janet King (now Janet Elliott) who has decided to semi-retire at the age of 77 from her rare herbs and plants business. Her clients have included HM The Queen, the London School of Pharmacy, the Eden Project and TV's James Wong, presenter of 'Grow your own drugs'.
Carolyn Anderson (on the left) lives in Trinidad, and enjoyed a visit by Sally Pounds in February 2012.
Here is a newspaper cutting showing a letter from Jennifer Bateman. I am sorry the print on the other side of the paper shows through -- Daily Mail paper standards are not the highest!
A SURPRISE FIND IN THE LODGE!
At the 2013 Reunion in Hythe, Susan Shepherd told Caroline Thomas that in the entrance hall of the Lodge in Grimston Gardens (now flats) is a large wooden board listing the girls that went on to University each year. On her way back from the reunion and a visit to Miss Warren, Caroline went to investigate. The front door was open and there was the board, under the stairs. She took some photos of it, and here they are. Susan's friend Peter, who lives in one of the flats, is proud of the board, and wants SMOGS girls to come and view it any time as the front door is always open. He is going to mount it properly on the wall. So it is in safe hands and much appreciated. Thank you, Susan, for organising this.
A famous journalist publicised her case and there was a flood of support for her. Eventually Langworthy lost the case and had to pay Milly and her daughter damages. The daughter, Gladys, was born in 1883, and was sent to a much respected school for ladies. Tony knows which school because a descendant of Gladys still has a book she won as a prize at the age of 13. The front is inscribed St Margaret's Folkestone, 1896, Drawing Prize, Advanced Class, Gladys Langworthy.
Tony has also discovered an announcement in the Folkestone Herald of 20 August 1898 which gives the names of the St Margaret's pupils who passed the art examinations that year. It lists Bertha G. de la Mare (one of the Founder's nieces) who passed Model Drawing, and Gladys Langworthy who passed in Light and Shade. There is also mention of Alice Renford in Freehand Drawing, whose memories of Miss de la Mare the Founder are recorded in my book about our school, now on the SMOGS website.
St Margaret's moulded Gladys into a most eligible bride for the 10th Viscount Molesworth whom she married in 1906 at the age of 23. The following year she was presented at Court, and Tony sent me a photograph of her in full-blown Edwardian Court dress, as you can see above.
Tony wants to research further into Gladys' education at St Margaret's and I have told him about the boxes of archives in the Heritage Room at the Folkestone Library. When his book gets the go-ahead, he plans to go down there and delve, as indeed did I and Miss Warren when researching my book about our school.
MEET GLADYS LANGWORTHY
Dr Tony Nicholson, visiting Fellow of Teeside University, found our website while researching for his book. It is about a late Victorian scandal known as 'The Langworthy Marriage'. A young girl called Milly was tricked into a sham marriage by a very rich man called Langworthy who then discarded her when she was pregnant. She took him to court and it dragged on for years.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ROSEMARY VOISIN
Rosemary was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2014 New Year's Honours List for services to the Island of Jersey. We are proud of you, Rosemary.
Miss Warren's father's coat
Jennifer Bateman is a member of the Kent Costume Trust who study and preserve historical costumes. Their website is thekentcostumetrust.org.uk
Miss Elizabeth Warren donated her father's coat to the Trust via Jennifer. He was Mr Brisbane Warren and it was made to measure for him in 1910 to keep him warm when travelling home by train to Amersham from London meetings with the Entomological Society. He lived in Switzerland to study butterflies from 1912-1919 and took it with him but at the age of 81 he found it too heavy to wear. When he died Miss Warren converted it into a fashionable maxi-coat for herself. When she too found it too heavy to wear she donated it to theTrust.
We now have a small group in Tasmania, consisting
of Monica Armstrong and Valerie Bainbridge.
Valerie's son Chris Moy had shown her our website
but she longed to meet someone who had been at
our school. He contacted Caroline who searched the
database for someone living within reach, and she found Monica, who had lived with Caroline's family at 60 Shorncliffe Road for a while because the school's dormitories were full.
Monica rang Valerie and visited her on 19 February 2021, together with Chris and his partner Kim. No COVID restrictions in Tasmania!
Chris wrote to Caroline: "I was most fortunate to be present at their get-together and I'm so glad that I was able to share in Mum's joy at being able to renew their delightful, shared memories. Thanks to Google (street view), they were both able to "walk" around their old haunts in Folkestone (and Hythe) and discover many of the changes since they both lived there. Monica and Valerie weren't at St Mags at the same time, but just as you and I had suspected, they also had much in common and connected very quickly. They discussed the things that were different and the things that were the same from their respective years at the school: the staff, the girls, the facilities. They explored the stories and photos from your website and book. They also discussed their respective lives since their school days and how they both ended up in Tasmania, Australia, for it reminded them both of the Kentish 'Garden of England'. Both are looking forward to meeting again."