January 5th 1936

Dairy sub-note: 2nd [Sunday] after Christmas
1066. Edward the Confessor died

Went to Versailles with Mlle Henreitte. Pierre came home for a few hours. Took Pierre back to Saint Germain in the motor-bike with M Jean. Saw Paris at night.

Diary entry January 5th 1936

January 4th 1936

Dairy sub-note: 1806. Cape of Good Hope taken by the British.
S.R. 8.6, s.s. 4.4

Went up the Arc de Triomph & Eiffel Tower. Bought Roast Chestnuts. Went to the “Dôme” for tea. Wrote a card to Dordor*.

*Dordor was what Peggy called her Grandmother.

Diary entry January 4th 1936

Diary footnote, accompanying a photograph of a Bulldog: The Bulldog. His ferocious appearance belies his gentle disposition. He belongs to the Mastiff family, of which breed he was originally a smaller variant, suitable for bull baiting. He had to be low to the ground, to get under the bull’s lowered horns and fix him by the nose. The shape of his jaws gives him a tenacious grip, difficult to shake off, and his powerful neck, chest and shoulders form an important part of his fighting equipment.

January 2nd 1936

Diary sub-note: 18. Ovis and Livy died*

Went skating. Saw Mrs Schlund’s friend. Saw “Boucles d’ore”** (Curly Top). Had letter from Anne Harrison & Mrs Miller. Wrote to Anne Harrison.

*Ovid and Livy were famous Roman historians and poets. Ovid wrote the metamorphoses, which tells the story from the creation through to the death of Julius Caesar in 44bc. Livy also wrote about creation and the origins of Rome.

**Boucles D’or was a film starring Shirley Temple – aka ‘Curly Top’.

Diary entry January 2nd 1936

January 1st 1936

Diary sub-note: New Year’s Day. Bank Holiday in Scotland
Dog and Annual Motor Licences renewable 1909. Old Age Pensions inaugurated. Moon: First Quarter, 3.15pm.

“7.30 got up. Took Diane out. Went to the Bastille & Musée Grévin with Mrs Schlund. Pierre’s friend came. Had on the wireless after dinner.”

Diary entry January 1st 1936

Peggy’s younger years

Despite Peggy’s entry for December 27th her diary doesn’t start properly until January 1st, so in the meantime I thought I’d provide a little background about her life.

Born on February 22nd, 1920, in London, Peggy was brought up by her parents, Sylvia Hughes d’Aeth (pronounced Death) and Edgar Newgass, who had shortened his name to make it a little less Jewish (we think from Neugasser).

Sylvia was an only child and a champion archer who grew up largely at her family home Keele House, now Keele University, which was sold to the nation to pay death duties. Edgar was a self-published poet, born in Langton Green, in Kent. He was a ‘senior’ member of the Christian Science ‘church’ and a regular contributor to their world-wide journal the Christian Science Monitor. He had a motorboat called Fantasy, which he mostly kept moored in Teddington, having been built in Tough’s boatyard in the opposite Wharf. One day he sailed it to the Isle of Wight and moored up in a harbour for the night. The harbour-master came to him late in the evening and asked if he would not mind sharing the mooring, as he was getting short of space. Edgar agreed and his mooring-buddy turned out to be his younger brother, Harold! Harold had a family, including two daughters, and spent the last decades of his life in Stafford House in Dorset, now owned by Julian Fellowes, writer of Gosford Park and Downton Abbey. Fellowes went to Webber Douglas drama school, which Peggy had attended around 30 years previously!

Peggy had a younger sister, Joy, and another sibling who would have been a middle child, but didn’t survive pregnancy. Sylvia was forced to carry her deceased child to full term and give birth naturally, due to Edgar’s religious beliefs. They divorced when Peggy and Joy were young – a rare thing to happen in the 1920s/30s – with Edgar going on to marry one of Peggy’s nannies. The sisters had several nannies, provided by each of their parents.

Peggy was sent to various boarding schools, including Claremont Fan Court in Esher, which was started as a girl’s school called Clear View, by Christian Scientist families wanting to “establish a school for their daughters that advocated the seeing of good in all inspired by the principles of Christian Science.”* The other schools Peggy went to would have been C of E, including Luckley (now Luckley House School) near Wokingham, and Roedean, a well-known and prestigious school in West Sussex, which she attended until she was 11. Being dyslexic she failed her exam to the senior school. Children with dyslexia were labelled lazy or stupid back then. She was very sporty as a child, whereas her sister Joy was more arty, and became an artist in later life. Peggy went to drama school, as mentioned above, before WW2, and became a chorus girl afterwards, until she married and had her son (my father).

*taken from https: http://www.claremontfancourt.co.uk/mission

This photo of Peggy (right) and Joy (left) was published in the Daily Mail on January 7th, 1924
Peggy – second from the top on the ladder – posing by ‘Fantasy’

December 27th 1935

“Went to France, Paris via Dover – Calais with Mrs Schlund. Met Pierre.”

Peggy went to finishing school in Switzerland, so we thought her trip to Paris just after Christmas could have been a stop-off en route to her new term in January. We are assuming Mrs Schlund is Peggy’s chaperone. We don’t know who Pierre is.

Diary entry December 27th 1935

Introduction to the diary

Diaries used to contain scores of general information preceding the calendar. My mother says she used to carefully choose her diary for the year based on what the initial pages provided. As you can see in the photos, Peggy had a wealth of knowledge at her fingertips in her 1936 school-girls diary.

Peggy filled in some of the Personal Information section, notably updating her height in pen to document an extra half an inch! One piece of information missing from the diary is her birth year, which was 1920, making her 15 years old at the beginning of 1936. Had she not passed away in Spring 2016 she would have been 100 this year.

In the ‘Memoranda’ section Peggy wrote a list of birthday presents she intended on buying her friends, including playing cards,a pad for telephone messages and flapjack. The ‘For Presents’ list appears to be presents she would like to receive. ‘A gold ring with E.N.’ would make sense, as her first name was Elizabeth – she called herself Peggy as a shortening for her middle name, Margaret.

After what looks like some doodling or puzzle-solving, there are some blank spaces that appear to have previously had photographs stuck to them. The first caption says: “King Edward VIII (then Prince of Wales) January 1936 (taken April 1935).” Peggy was rather obsessed with the King, referring to him throughout her diary as ‘David’, a name that he was known as within his family. His full name was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David. Her obsession may explain the caption for the missing photo on the next page, which has been crossed out: “Sweetheart let’s grow old together”.