Salisbury and the Doves of Peace

Salisbury and the Doves of Peace

Salisbury is recovering from the recent poison attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter. The Cathedral, with the artist Michael Pendry’s inspirational flight of white paper doves soaring above the nave, is at the very heart of the process, spreading a message of peace and hope. Visitors are slowly returning to the ‘quiet mediaeval city’ or ‘the place where nothing ever happens’, to quote journalists in the recent months.
Our city has, however, coped with problems many times before.
Although sequestered in The Close, the first students knew about the many blazes in the city. Fire practice was a regular part of their lives and there are stories about perilous fire escapes in King’s House and in Wardobe. In 1901 a large and threatening fire burnt out a factory and destroyed buildings in the picturesque old Market Place.

In 1849 Salisbury suffered a severe outbreak of cholera and 192 people died. The city was densely populated and the open water channels were little more than sewers. Salisbury was known as ‘Little Venice’ until it was recognised that cholera was spread by water. The channels were drained, deep sewers were dug under the city in the 1850s and a piped water supply was created. There is no record of any college student suffering from cholera, but people remained fearful. Even in the 1880s, Canon Edward Steward, Principal of Salisbury Training College was concerned about the health risks associated with rubbish and stagnant water in The Close.

Fire and pestilence – what else? Salisbury has also known extreme weather conditions. The 1915 floods remain etched in the memory of the city. Continuous rain in the autumn had turned the five rivers into raging torrents and even the Cathedral didn’t escape the rising floodwaters. Clergy came into the Cathedral on horseback, whilst others moved across the nave by climbing from chair to chair. Such was the depth of water in the city that boats were used as ferries in Fisherton Street and Crane Street. Buildings that were damaged by the floods included the Infirmary in Fisherton Street and King’s House in The Close, home to Salisbury Diocesan Training College.
In later years students, including several from the Channel Islands, experienced the bitter winter of 1946/47. Heavy snow and power cuts swept the country for several months and rationing was still in force. It was a time of bleak austerity and of frozen hands and frozen faces, but one student (Kay Drake) wrote with passion about the Cathedral, ‘all filled with peace and love and grace ……in memory to be ever dear’.
As we sang in the Cathedral at the Reunion Service a few weeks ago, many of us lifted our eyes to the doves above us and rejoiced at their message of peace, optimism and reconciliation for our troubled world.

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Support for CRESS UK


We are delighted that sales from Inspired to Teach have enabled us to donate over £6,000 to CRESS UK for their excellent work in South Sudan. Thank you to everyone who has purchased a book or made a donation. We aim to continue our support by donating any  profits from our forthcoming book, We Will Teach!

Caroline Lamb from CRESS wrote:

‘Thank you to Inspired to Teach for all your support for CRESS – this has been mainly directed by educating two selected individuals.

The first is Francis Candiga – he is a children’s bible teacher and an evangelist. With money from Inspired to Teach sales, CRESS was able to send funds for Francis to pursue a degree. Francis wrote:

I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to pursue a Degree in Bible and Theology.Thank you so much Jenny and Anne. I feel your love for me even though you have not seen me personally. Though I still have two more terms before I finish, The Lord has truly blessed my time here at the seminary.

The second is Scopas Murye.

CRESS in South SudanScopas was recommended to the UK CRESS team as a promising South Sudanese student whose parents could no longer afford to educate him.  He had taken his O levels but could not continue with A levels. Scopas was top of his class in South Sudan and wanted to be a doctor.  Scopas is now studying for his A levels in Uganda.   Students like Scopas are very important to South Sudan, as they want to be doctors in a country where there are almost none. He is very grateful for the support’.

In addition, funds have supported the purchase of laptops and a sustainable agricultural programme for women.


Votes for Women

It is February 6th 2018. A quote from The Guardian review for Patricia Fara’s new book* takes us back to 1918: ‘One hundred years ago today, women working in hospitals, laboratories and universities throughout Britain raised toasts and burst into triumphant song as they celebrated being given the vote’. This was a tremendous step forward for women’s suffrage, although it was not until 1928 that all adults, regardless of gender, were given the vote when they reached the age of 21.

As we mark this centenary, we wonder about the students at Salisbury Training College. What did they think about the suffrage movement? Did they feel the winds of change blowing through Salisbury?

The passionate actions and militant campaigns of the suffragettes had made people aware of the injustice that women endured. In 1908, a visitor to Barnard’s Cross, the ‘second house’ of Salisbury Training College, recorded that ‘VOTES FOR WOMEN smiled a welcome from a notice board’. As intelligent and ambitious young women who had embarked on challenging careers in what was still very much a man’s world, the Salisbury students would have taken an active interest in what was going on. Topical debates took place between students at Barnard’s Cross and those at King’s House,
The suffrage movement was suspended during the First World War, with women supporting the war effort, often replacing men who had left their jobs and proving themselves equal to them in the workplace. ‘We could not carry on the war without them’ commented the Daily Mail in 1915. Women led medical research, developed military technology and designed weapons. They became nurses, doctors and ambulance drivers, and in Guernsey ‘conductorettes’ replaced the conductors on trams. Students from Jersey would have heard about the ‘Easter Eggs for Our Wounded’ appeal. The island contributed 70,000 eggs, to be distributed around military hospitals. Women from the Channel Islands joined those on the mainland to work on farms and in munitions and aeroplane factories. At College, students and staff were swept into the fervour of the times and threw themselves into voluntary work. They sent parcels to prisoners, knitted socks for soldiers and raised money for refugees. A student choir led patriotic songs at meetings and staff helped at the Guest House for soldiers.

The work that was done by women during the war was vital for the war effort. They revelled in their liberating experiences and rejoiced to be out of the house and away from traditional domestic duties. They were, however, expected to return to their lower level, poorly paid jobs when the war ended, or to return to domestic chores. In 1919 a Ministry of Labour pamphlet called on women to “help renew the homes of England” by cooking, cleaning and rearing babies’.. Women had had their taste of freedom and independence and it had been heady stuff. The world had started to change but hard days still lay ahead.
It was to be another 10 years before the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 gave men and women the right to vote at the age of 21.

* A Lab of One’s Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War by Patricia Fara

Rabbit Pie and Christmas Pudding!

Christmas 2017 is almost here! A time of joy, happiness and celebration for many.

Research for our forthcoming book ‘We Will Teach’, to be published in May 2018  covered the time of the Occupation of the Channel Islands by German forces during World War Two.

What was Christmas like  for the Channel Islanders at this difficult time? As always, they made the best of things.

Peter Girard was a Guernsey Headteacher on the island during the Occupation. Food was strictly rationed and after D-Day many people were near starvation. Peter Girard ensured that his pupils had regular helpings of vegetable soup. At Christmas in 1942  the school celebrated with a festive meal of rabbit pie and Christmas pudding. There was music on piano and drums. Christmas party hats were supplied by a local hotel which  ‘also gave whistles and noise makers which added to the hilarity’. Father Christmas even made an appearance, although as Peter Girard wrote: ‘It was very difficult to fill his sack’.

To find out more you will have to read our book! We wish our readers a Merry Christmas and peaceful,healthy year in 2018.

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We Will Teach!

During the past months we have enjoyed delivering several talks on ‘Inspired To Teach’ to history groups,WI groups, Rotary and other organisations across Wiltshire. We are looking forward to our final talk at The Salisbury Museum on October 4th, 2017 at 6.30. It will be a fitting finale to talk about the history of the College in our much loved former  College Chapel.

We are thrilled that through the sale of the books we have been able to donate a significant sum to support the ‘Cress’charity working in South Sudan. Copies of Inspired to Teach are still available from The Salisbury Museum Shop and from our website. It has been such an exciting past few years, meeting former students and their families.

We  now look forward to our next publication. The working title at present is ‘We Will Teach’! We are busy researching and writing about some of the many Channel Island students who trained to teach in Salisbury.

It was an enormous challenge for the young women to leave the island of their birth and cross the sea to England. The majority of  Channel Island students who arrived after 1905 lived in Barnard’s Cross in St Ann Street, Salisbury. This was a lively hostel with its own groups and clubs, and of course several rules!

The years of World War Two were particularly hard for the students,as many of them had arrived before the Occupation of the Channel Islands.The were unable to return for several years and communication with home was difficult: just one letter of 25 words via the Red Cross every six months.

Writing this book has given us the wonderful opportunity to visit the islands, which we did in October. We received a warm welcome and very helpful support. Further visits are planned before the book is published-hopefully in 2018.

We welcome any information or stories about the Channel Island students who trained in Salisbury. 

Fresh Inspiration

It is exciting to be writing again! Our latest project is still in its infancy and our research is on-going, but we hope to have our next book completed in 2017. It will be a ‘follow on’ from Inspired to Teach, in the sense that we have not yet quite finished with the history of the College and those who attended it. Having already touched on the Channel Islands and the significant link that they had with Salisbury, we are now exploring this further. Did you know that a student arrived from Guernsey as early as 1847? How did she find out that teacher training, then in its infancy, was available for women in Salisbury? Why did she want to be trained and where did she go from Salisbury?
For well over one hundred years, a steady stream of students crossed the sea and found their vocation in Salisbury. Many subsequently returned home and made lasting contributions to island schools. Former students from Guernsey were evacuated with their schools to the mainland for five years whilst the islands were occupied during the Second World War. In Jersey, where the schools were not evacuated, former students carried on teaching, amidst challenging conditions.
There are tales to tell and we will follow up a number of people who are just names to us, but our research will help us to tell their stories and to set them in the context of their time and their island homes. The Channel Island students are an important part of the history of the College and deserve recognition. Similarly, the influence of the College in The Close on education in those southerly islands just off the coast of Normandy, needs to be recorded and celebrated.
We are looking forward to the challenge of the new book! Please contact us if you have any interesting stories or useful contacts. You can leave us a message here, or email us:

Jenny Head :
Anne Johns :

Two memorable visits

It was a memorable and moving experience to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate on August 7th 2015 in memory of Jack Reynolds, my great uncle, who was killed near Ypres on August 7th 1915. He was 28 years old.

A few days later, with the First World War still very much in my mind, Anne and I visited the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Boyton, seven miles from Warminster. We knew that Canon Edward Steward, Principal of Salisbury Training College from 1891 until 1909, had subsequently become rector of the parish of Boyton with Sherrington. We also knew that his son Arthur had been killed on active service in the First World War. On entering the church, we noticed Arthur’s name (Revd A Steward) on the Roll of Honour in the porch. I felt drawn to investigate further.

Arthur Steward initially envisaged his career as being that of a soldier and on leaving school he joined the Norfolk Militia, rather than going to university. He served in the Boer War and was discharged in 1902. He then attended Magdalen College Oxford and whilst studying for his degree was a member of the Officer Training Corps.  Following that, he entered Wells Theological College to train for ordination.

Arthur married Miriam Carver, whose family lived at The Moot, Downton in 1912. Their wedding was at St Andrew’s Church, Laverstock, where the Revd Stanley Baker (college chaplain at this time) later became the vicar. After working as a missionary in Johannesburg, taking his wife with him, Arthur returned to this country in 1915 and became one of the few combatant priests in the British Army. He was initially a 2nd Lieutenant in the Special Reserve of Officers of the Royal Field Artillery, but later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and trained to become a Balloon Officer.  Arthur was killed in 1917, the day before his daughter’s first birthday. He was 35 years old. He is, like my great uncle, buried in a cemetery near Ypres. Had I known this, I would have gone there a few weeks ago.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Boyton is beautiful and in a glorious rural location. The former rectory, where the Stewards lived, is next to the church. Students loved going out to visit them there, receiving a warm welcome and a taste of home. Much of the glass in the east window of the church comes from Salisbury Cathedral and is part of that collected by the Revd. Stanley Baker, who was a friend of Canon Steward.

The tragedy that hit my family one hundred years ago was similar to those that shocked and saddened countless other families across the world. The story of Arthur Steward, son of the much loved and respected Principal of Salisbury Training College, helps to bring that home.


Music makes the world go round

‘Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything’.  Plato

What would the world be without music? This week I have experienced such a range of different music. My enthusiastic grandchildren practising their clarinet and flute for end of term school concerts; my husband improving his scales on the flugalhorn he received for Christmas and thankfully becoming more tuneful each day; the magical musical mix at The Larmer Tree Festival-a joyful occasion full of fun and energy.

An enormous contrast to this was at the dentist, when I had the option of listening to music to drown out the drilling. Brahms Requiem was sublime and the Monteverdi Vespers calming-it certainly helped.

Last night I accompanied a friend to the local Odeon Cinema to see  the Andre Rieu concert – streamed  live from Maastricht. It was wonderful to see and hear so many people finding happiness and relaxation in music.

Music was always  an important part of College life. In 1841, Martha Gibson,the first student, wrote about how she enjoyed ‘singing instruction’. There were always strong links with the Cathedral, a choir and an orchestra, concerts and performances.  Several students became excellent music teachers in schools, fostering a lasting love of music in the children.

Every year  hundreds of former students return for the reunion in Salisbury Cathedral and raise the roof by joining together to sing our wonderful College hymn-‘Angel Voices ever Singing’. It is inspirational!

We would love to hear what music means to you and about your musical choices and memories.


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The History Festival

The History Festival

It is a hot, sultry evening and I am sitting by the open door listening to pigeons in the trees and to the distant hum of traffic from the road. The air is motionless and the outside thermometer  still registers   25.5 degrees at 8.15pm. How glad I am that it was not quite so hot for last week’s History Festival!

The Chalke Valley History Festival is a remarkable occasion. It is such a privilege to hear some of the historical literature ‘giants’ of our time talking about their work and exploring and explaining the ideas behind and around what they have written. The programme is enticing and it is hard to know what to miss out. Then there is the temptation of the plethora of historical books that can be bought. Don’t miss this unique festival. Clear your calendar for a week in June! Set in the unparalleled beauty of the Wiltshire-Dorset border, it is an event to entrance, to savour and to remember.

The Festival is of course about books and, yes, Anne and I were at the Festival again. ‘Inspired to Teach’ was on the ‘local’ stand in the Waterstones tent and we also had it for sale in our tent,  together with a small selection of old photographs. We certainly attracted some attention and we enjoyed meeting people and made useful contacts. We are so grateful to the Chalke Valley History Trust for sponsoring us. It was very special to be there and to know that the story of our College is now safely rooted in local history.

The aim of the History Trust is to promote the understanding and enjoyment of history and to improve the teaching of history in schools. What are your thoughts about this? If you love history now, did you come to it late or was it the result of having an inspiring (that word again) teacher?

What will I remember most from the 2015 Festival? Maybe it will be Waterloo, as described by the compelling father and son duo of Peter and Dan Snow …or perhaps the talk by Kate Mosse, whose love affair with Carcassonne, where she felt that history was ‘alive’, led to three historical novels …  or maybe it will be the fascinating talk about Downton Abbey by Julian Fellowes, who was returning home to draw the final FINAL episode to a close that very night – no secrets were divulged!

Book Clubs

Do you belong to a Book Club? I am fortunate in belonging to a lively group and we enjoy reading a range of books. All clubs seem to be different, with some having quite a serious grading system of the books, which I wouldn’t like-especially if it was a book which was special to me. We take it in turns to suggest a book and this has resulted in me reading several books,including science fiction, which I would never have read otherwise. It would be interesting to know about how different Book Clubs are organised.

There was no Book Club as such at College, but as English Lit. was my main subject, I can still recall many books which I read  with great pleasure. Two lecturers were very keen Hardy fans and organised brilliant trips to ‘Hardy Country’ which brought the books to life. Far From the Madding Crowd is still a favourite book. I love the characters and the way Hardy describes the Dorset countryside.

The main College library was always  a hive of activity but the upper library was a calm,tranquil place with an armchair by the window overlooking a beautiful copper beech tree. The tree is no more, but this is where we have worked on our book for the last two and a half years- thanks to The Salisbury Museum-so appropriate!

It would be interesting to hear about other Book Clubs – so please get in touch and let us know about yours. What is your favourite book and why?