Mrs Harvey- the poker-wielding matron of St.Mark’s

Short one this week- still quite busy.

Speaking of maids, I thought I’ll introduce you to a very special person among the early St.Mark’s staff- Mrs.Harvey. She was the head of the servants in St.Mark College and a long-time employee of the Coleridge family. Coleridge’s daughter, Cristabel, mentions her in Memorials of St Marks College. She was a vigorous person, somewhat of a substitute mother to the young men of the College. It is said that once there was a rumour of burglars in the school and she, being a lady of eighty at the time, would walk the corridors with a fire poker in her hand checking under beds just in case. When asked about a ghost that supposedly was haunting the College halls, she would respond that ‘me and master never allowed nothing of the sort’. She must have been a fearless person, with her feet firmly on the ground.

Photo0998

The old lady in this picture is her; this image is also one of the oldest in our collection. She was a kind lady, but she knew her stuff and ran the household and the servants well. Funny, how we know nothing of the kitchen maid, but we know who Mrs Harvey was, what she was like and what she looked like. History is a fickle element, remembers some and forgets the others. And how about you? Will it remember you or drop you into the sea of oblivion?

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