Pippa (Nicky)

Mary Patricia (11) b. 1907, always called Pippa.
Pippa's first home was at Kingston near Newcastle, where her father was assisting the Officer Training Corps. She can remember the enormous grassy banks in this garden, and it was probably now that the nanny joined the family whom the adults always referred to as Jemima Puddleduck.
Then the family was living in Aldershot and Pippa can remember being with their nanny when they saw King George Vth, Queen Mary, Prince Edward and Princess Mary. It must have been at the end of the time at Aldershot that her father, then a Major in the 1st or 2nd Battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers, retired from the army.
The family then took a 14 year lease of Winkenhurst.

Pippa's greatest pleasure as a child was wandering around the fields of the farm at Winkenhurst, enjoying the birds. Sometimes she was accompanied by the black spaniel Podge, sometimes she was with her father, but very often alone. She has no memories of playing with dolls, or of 'games' with her sisters. She says they did not go to many parties and were 4 rather shy children. She says that because she was solitary she was not useful to Anne and Wilma, and they would turn more to Betty for ideas about something interesting to do.
One of the joys of Winkenhurst was riding the pony called Joe. Joe's real job was to walk round and round in the courtyard outside the kitchen, pulling a long pole, and therby pumping up water from a deep well under the house.
Now more formal education started, and the first governess was Mrs. Bissett, a large bright lady with canary coloured hair. A very happy arrangement was made whereby Mrs. Bissett slept at Wellshurst, another house just across the road. Mrs. Bissett must have suffered from rheumatism or some pain in her back, because Pippa can remember the Lady ironing her sore back with a hot iron.
There were very many governesses. One only stayed a day and did not even unpack her suitcase because 'Pips and Bets were so awful'. It was Miss Knight who was locked in the loo by the girls - presumably Pips and Bets. She managed to attract Wilma's attention as she wandered by in the garden, and begged her to unlock the door, but Wilma said she would get into trouble with her sisters if she did that.
When the 14 year lease of Winkenshurst ended in 1925, Pippa was 18 years old and Bets was 16. Bets, Nancy and Wilma went to school in Lausanne, but Pippa travelled with her parents on the continent, staying in hotels. She says they had lost money on the farm, buying when prices for everything were high, and being obliged to sell when prices were low.
It was at this time, when the other 3 sisters had gone to Lausanne, that Pippa was supposed to be keeping an eye on the beloved rope ladder, and she was for ever thereafter blamed for its disappearance.
The Master and Lady stayed on the continent from September 1925 to March 1927, and spent time in several places, of which Pippa remembers Italy and especially Rome best. For the first Christmas the whole family was to ski at Chesieres. The Master had not skiied since he was a boy and hurt his ankle on the first day. Pippa can remember how the rest of them had a marvellous time skiing, and how every now and then they would catch a glimpse of their father looking rather forlorn in the distance.
The next Christmas they were at Chesieres again, and John Galsworthy's sister and her son Owen were there too. In the summer they took a villa in Austria beside the Worterzee, and had a boat house on the lake. Master hired a sailing boat which he named William and Mary. Gran (Florence Bruce), Aunt Mabel and Sparkie, Gran's maid came too. Aunt Lil also visited, and it is from this summer that all the sisters had memories, either guilty or happy, of having been on the raft on the lake just as Aunt Lil slowly swam up to it. They all jumped off the other side so that Aunt Lil's side was high in the air. Another time they each sat on a corner, weighing it down so that no raft was visible.
During this period both Pippa and Aunt Betty spent a period with different families in Munich.
In 1927 the family settled down in England again, and went to live at Edwardston. The Tods came back in the summer holidays and in the autumn term started at Manor House, Oxted, Surrey.
Pippa went to the Allenswood school in Wimbledon, a well known school where she studied French and home science. She remembers that one of the two headmistresses was a sister of Mallory of Everest fame. After that Pippa had a variety of jobs, mostly in London, going back to Edwardston at the weekends.
She was employed by Thomas and Henry Lunn as a courier, escorting groups of tourists - mostly to Italy. She can remember being very alarmed when someone lost his passport and she had to hand over her own passport as a hostage. She also sold silk stockings, going by invitation into private homes. One of her godfathers was General Foot, a contemporary of her father in the Inniskilling Fusiliers, and Pippa was employed to visit homes to persuade people to buy milk from his farm at Berkhampstead.
It was through Hugh and Freda Grace, great friends of Aunt Lil, that she met her future husband, Oswald Flecker. The Graces thought that Pippa would be a most suitable wife for Oswald, whom they had met when he was a housemaster at Marlborough, where their sons Oliver and Raymond were students. These three formed a strong friendship and went abroad together.
It was in the summer of 1932 that Pippa went to a dance at Horsham that Oswald was helping to organise, the event being planned by Freda Grace who was there too with the rest of her family. After that Pippa went to Scotland with Uncle Reg and Aunt Aline in their caravan, and Oswald was in Scotland too with friends. Oswald wrote frequent letters, and asked Pippa to marry him several times before she agreed.
Pippa did not meet Oswald's parents until after they were engaged. The meeting of both sets of parents and the engaged couple took place in a London restaurant. There a waiter accidentally spilled a dish over Pippa's dress, and Pippa's kindness to the waiter quite won the heart of her future mother in law.
The marriage took place on March 25th, Lady Day. Lent was more strictly observed then, but on Lady Day there was some relaxation of the rules. Even so one of the guests said that she would only come because it was Lady Day, but please could she have just tea.
On the morning of the wedding Oswald sent Oliver Grace over to Elmshurst, Uncle Reg's home, where the bridal party was staying, to give Pippa a loving and encouraging letter. The bridesmaids were Anne, Wilma and Frances Sherwood, wearing dresses of spring green, which they hated.
It was an amazingly hot day for March, and when one of the two little pages, Jim Bolton and Dan Farson, allowed the very long train of cream ring velvet to touch the ground, it became stained with melted tar! The wedding dress was off-white and Pippa carried dark red roses, Oswald having a dark red rose in his buttonhole.
The service was taken in the Christ's Hospital Chapel by the school chaplain the Bishop of Croydon, and the reception was in the Dining Hall. There were nearly 1000 guests. Pippa never saw the lovely display of wedding presents laid out in the ********** Room. Just as she was about to see them a whole column of boys was also brought in for a viewing. So thereafter Pippa never really knew which things had already been in the house and which ones were presents.