Life in the Hall

War work was a central component of student life, from rolling bandages and stitching stretchers, cleaning the lodgings of Belgian refugees, organising parcels for prisoners of war and undertaking farming work during Long Vacation. The December 1915 volume of The Brown Book - the journal of college news for alumni - notes that during the summer term, Principal Jex-Blake invited wounded soldiers convalescing in the Town Hall each week across to LMH for tea in the gardens.

The war was to have a profound effect on women’s rights and education; in 1919 women were awarded the vote and in 1920, the University finally recognised women as full members of the University.

1918 Cherwell picnic

Pictured above: photograph of students enjoying a picnic by the river Cherwell c. 1917 [LMH Archives, Album 3]


On the Front

Former students and tutors undertook a wide variety of relief work abroad.

Kathleen Courtney (LMH 1897-1900) travelled to Corsica to aid the plight of Serbian refugees who had fled following the Austro-Hungarian offensive of July.

Margaret Skipsworth, Tutor in French from 1915-1947, was a member of 'The Friends' War Victims Relief Committee' in the Marne and Meuse in Northern France, nursing and re-housing refugees.

Eleanor Lodge helped to oversee canteens outside Reims offering respite and food for French soldiers.

Juliet Mellor 1916

Juliet Mellor [LMH 1899]; photographed above, alongside a Red Cross ambulance, was awarded the Military Medal and an M.B.E for her service as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War


Students Joyce Bishop and Bena Rowe writing in 1978 recalled the way that news from the front was relayed back in Hall;

The first Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Elizabeth Wordsworth (1840-1932), in a letter dated February 16th 1916, mentions a lunch she has had with the Master of Balliol and describes her feelings following her visit;

“It is rather sad to have a fine College like Balliol dwindle down to 25 or 30 men, one wonders when this awful war is over, how far the old University life will return to its old channels.” [Wordsworth papers, bundle 3, letter 84] ]

The Brown Book, December 1978, p.47

Outside the door of the dining Hall by the Toynbee entrance, always the appallingly long casualty lists posted daily, so often bringing news of some irreparable loss to one or other of us-indeed as time went on, news of some loss to almost each of us [The Brown Book, December 1978, p.47]


Wordsworth letter 1916

Pictured above; lists of personnel on the front and those missing from ‘The Brown Book’, December 1916. Also included are examples of war work undertaken by members

by Oliver Mahoney, LMH archivist