Staying on…

“The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough”. [From “Fireflies” by Rabindranath Tagore] 

Sometimes as a child, things just ‘are’….and they remain that way until later on in life. So it was with knowing that my mother was born in India, or more precisely Secunderabad. I also knew that Mum, along with a number of her siblings had been to Lovedale school, at Ootacamund. Imagining that I had time enough to ask, India became something I knew of, rather than about. The names were familiar enough, the stuff of family get togethers from time to time, and on one occasion made more real by me accompanying Mum to an old school reunion in London when I was about 13 years old. It is only now, as I go through boxes of photographs, letters and newspaper cuttings that the story begins to take shape, with but one living Aunt left to clarify things.

This is therefore my ‘version’, pieced together, fragmentary and nothing more than butterfly moments…… but a labour of love nevertheless.

Deolali. 1931 [L. to R. Na'ama: Sonny: Teedie: Maureen: Ken: Toodie (my Mum): Judy]

Deolali. 1931 [L. to R. Na’ama: Sonny: Teedie: Maureen: Ken: Toodie (my Mum): Judy]

The photograph above, taken in 1931, is of the seven children who were born outside the UK, and who attended Lovedale school. My grandfather was a military man, who I believe served for 26 years, attached to the Indian Army. After ending his career in the army he left India and moved to Coventry, leaving my grandmother there to look after the children. In June 1933 two of the children (Na’ama and Judy) returned to the UK with their mother; in 1936 Sonny followed, whilst in February 1939 the remainder of the children left India for the UK.

The school motto of ‘Never Give In’ has a certain resonance…

"The Lawrencian". (Lovedale, 1936)

“The Lawrencian”. (Lovedale, 1936)

Secreted inside the school magazine above is a cutting from the Times Educational supplement dated 10 October 1958, which marks the 100th anniversary  of the school. Amongst other things the article notes that…

“…(The school) owes its… name to… Sir Henry Lawrence. He first conceived  the idea of starting a school in a hill station, for the children of serving soldiers and ex-soldiers of the British Army in 1856….

…Sir Henry Lawrence was…killed a year later at the siege of Lucknow. In his will…he had expressed a desire that the East India Company might take care of the projected school…

…Trouble soon arose over the school’s ‘strictly Protestant basis’. The Madras Government was not prepared to assume the responsibility of running the school unless equal liberty was accorded to Protestants and Catholics alike in respect of religious instruction This was eventually agreed upon in 1859. Four years later it was decided to amalgamate the school with the Lawrence Orphans’ Asylum at Madras…..”

Lovedale School (1930's)

Lovedale School (1930’s)

“The stories of our ancestors become lost if we ask not why

All we are left with are faded photographs, and regret”  [JC. July 2013]

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2 responses to “Staying on…

  • Swappers

    Wonderful stuff as ever Johnny. Fantastic mix of the personal transformed into the universal making the parochial the human clay of all of us from a family archive.
    A small comment that I hope is not out of place but I notice the reference to Deolali and my family were very used to describing ‘bonkers’ behaviour jocularly as ‘Doolally Tap’ as in ‘He’s doolally!’ It wasn’t until I became an older man myself, I discovered the reference came for the armed forces hospital dealing primarily with shell shock in Deolalli that I knew from whence it came.

  • Prem Rao

    Hello, Mr Carroway, Some Old Lawrencians are writing an informal history of the Lawrence School, Lovedale. Would love to hear about your mother’s times there. Interesting too to see the 1936 version of “The Lawrencian” and the picture of the School in the ’30s.

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