Morcove School, Vivat Et Floreat, The Schoolgirls' Own, The Schoolgirl, Schoolgirls' Own Library, Betty Barton & Co.

Vivat Et Floreat"

Compiled by Sylvia Reed, a member of Story Paper Collector’s Digest, and an unashamedly hopeless addict of Morcove.
Page finalised 5th November, 2010.

Just ONE page on the Collecting Books and Magazines web site based in Australia.
See also
The Schoolgirls Weekly


Abbreviations: SO = The Schoolgirls’ Own; SGOL = The Schoolgirls’ Own Library, first series


2006 Introduction
Since this page appeared two years ago, I have obtained more literature and information about Morcove School and the girls. Now that I have to hand this added knowledge, I have discovered some inaccuracies. However, these can only be corrected with more knowledge and material available, so really, it is an ongoing learning curve. Three inaccuracies that need correcting are:
1. Morcove’s motto is Vivat Et Floreat.
2. School colours - orange and black - now an additional colour, blue. (SO 736)
3. Grace Garfield hadn’t quite reformed like previously thought. Grace - an unstable girl, alternates between right and wrong. She found herself in trouble again, over which Etta Hargrove suffers badly. Etta and Grace end up at Rosemount School. Things do come right for Etta, but Grace remains at Rosemount.

There were more girls than previously thought. The updated list is below, with an added comment on some of the girls.

Oh, to have been growing up during the 1920’s and 1930’s during the heydays of The Amalgamated Press. Morcove School, that grand boarding school for girls, was created by Marjorie Stanton (Horace Phillips). The stories were featured regularly in The Schoolgirl’s Own from 1921 until 1936.

Morcove School stood high up on a headland overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It caught the full force of the gales that swept across the northern coast of Devon. There were many treacherous rocks not far from Morcove, where more than once vessels have come ashore during a gale. Also there were many caves in the cliffs. This of course led to many adventures for the girls, with rescue operations from foundering ships and smuggling operations.

Morcove School was located on the north coast of Devon, facing the sea and a few miles away from the nearest town of Barncombe. Although the school itself was a fairly new building, it was built on the site of a much older establishment. Previous to the time of Henry VIII a monastery stood on the spot, but nearly all the buildings were pulled down during the reign of that King. A portion of the buildings which were left standing were turned into a Dame’s School in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, and this school continued for many years. Eventually, the remaining part of the old monastery and surrounding lands fell into disrepair, and sometime around the reign of George IV during a tremendous storm off the coast, the last remaining portions of the old buildings collapsed and the place was left alone until several years later, when the directors of the present Morcove School decided to build on this historic site.

The land belonged to the Earl of Lundy, who was a Director of the School, and through his efforts the School was built. There was some slight hitch in the proceedings with others claiming the land as theirs, but eventually the School was built and opened.

Morcove School was built in Grecian style, of white stone. There was the large main building, with north and south wings.

Main Building - the Form Rooms, Big Hall, Music Room, Dining Room and other school rooms.
South Wing - Dormitories and studies.
North Wing - Studies and other rooms, Miss Somerfield’s private quarters, and garden, kitchens and staff rooms.

The current Earl of Lundy was a Director of the School.

Barncombe was the nearest town to Morcove. It was a typical Devonshire market town, full of old-world charm and quaintness. With the exception of a few modern shops, the picturesque High Street was much the same as it was in 1835. Old-world houses and cottages, quaint, narrow streets with bow-windowed shops; the spacious market square complete with market cross. At one end of the town was the river that meandered underneath many bow bridges before joining the sea at a little bay near Morcove. Morcove School was serviced by the railway, ending at Morcove Road. The branch line ended in Barncombe, with the main line running to Exeter. The main attraction of Barncombe was of course The Creamery, scene of many happy half holidays. Barncombe and surrounds were, of course, the meeting places of some undesirable persons where their various nefarious activities were unhatched. Betty and Co of course, managed to unearth these mysteries and solve them.

The main story lines revolve around the Fourth Form, whose principal characters who were:

Betty Barton, Captain, a girl beloved by all, possessed all the attributes of the perfect Form Captain, without in any way attempting to be ‘superior’. Indeed, it would have been hard to find a girl more modest about her accomplishments. Betty was a good, all-round sportswoman and a keen worker in class. In every emergency she proved herself to be capable, calm and far-seeing. Betty was tactful and judicious, and perhaps because of her early struggles, a little old for her years.

Polly Linton could never have been anywhere but next to Betty, for she was the captain’s dearest chum, and would stick to Betty through thick and thin. Vivacious and fun loving, she was always ready with a jest and a jape. Loyal but rather impetuous, Polly sometimes blundered, but for the cool wisdom of Betty to guide her. She was known as The Madcap, and thoroughly deserved the name, though she could, when necessary, be very serious.

Paula Creel was the amiable and elegant ‘duffer’ of the Fourth, beloved by all and the constant butt of the other Fourth Formers. Paula’s passion was dress and she was by far the best dressed girl in the Form. Paula was a staunch supporter of Betty. She had plenty of money and was generous to a fault. She could not pronounce her ‘r’s’.

Naomer Nakara was the girl queen of a tiny kingdom in the desert country of North Africa. At Morcove she was an incurable ‘tease’ and seldom out of mischief. Naomer was a close friend of Betty and Polly, and shared a study with them. Her chief diversion was the harmless teasing of Paula who, however, had a very real affection for the dusky queen. Naomer was not very brilliant at work or at games, but she was certainly the life and soul of the Fourth. Her English at times was rather weird and wonderful.

Tess Trelawney was the talented Fourth Form artist. Tess was a quiet, reserved type of girl who loved nothing better than to sit and sketch. Well liked by all the girls, who respected her ability and admired her charming modesty. Tess’s best friend was Madge Minden.

Madge Minden was also an artist - at the piano. As a piano player Madge had no equal in the school, although she was very modest about her accomplishment. Madge was rather sedate in her manner, with a clever face and large, dreamy eyes. Madge was a girl who said little but thought a great deal. A very dear friend of Betty and Polly and Paula, she was always welcome in Study 12.

Helen Craig, popular with everyone, was the only daughter of a wealllthy widower, to whom she was passionately devoted. A very charming girl indeed, with an intellect above her years and a genius for entertaining.

Cora Grandways was undoubtedly the most unpopular girl at Morcove. She earned her unenviable reputation by constantly being the cause of strife and unhappiness throughout the school. The fact that she is was so disliked did not worry her, she was proud, reckless, arrogant, ready to descend to any depths of deceit to attain her ends. She had always been against Betty and Co, and even when she was almost alone in her dislike of the Study 12 chums, she still retained her proud but spiteful hatred of Betty & Co. Cora was tall and very dark, with an arrogant bearing; on very few occasions did her better nature show itself. On more than one occasion she came near to expulsion as the result of her reckless acts. She had few friends, but her chief ‘toady’ in the Fourth was -

Ursula Wade, a mean cringing, spiteful girl, looked upon with contempt by the Form. Whereas Cora was at least a girl of spirit, Ursula was merely crafty; she was an incurable sneak and had been involved with Cora in many acts of spite against Betty and Co.

Dolly Delane was Morcove’s only day girl. Her parents lived in a charming cottage a mile or so from Morcove along the Barncombe Road. Dolly had been nicknamed the ‘Doormat’ because of her willingness to do for others. A very likeable girl, moderately good at games, and popular in the Form. As befitted the daughter of a one-time farmer, Dolly knew all about the country, and adored animals of all kinds.

Pam Willoughby was one of the nicest girls in the Form and a great friend of Betty and Polly. Pam was a fine type of modern girlhood - tall, athletic and clever. A girl of taste, with a love of beautiful things, her study was packed with little treasures. Pam was dark, with a vivacious and enchanting personality. She was good at games and a very fine pianist. Her people owned a famous country seat called Swanlake, some twenty miles from Morcove.

Note: I believe there are more girls than listed here, however I do not know of them at this stage.
Some of these girls made a fleeting appearance, some stayed longer, some stayed from the beginning of the series, or came shortly after. The core group of girls are the Study 12 Coterie, consisting of Betty Barton, Polly Linton, Naomer Nakara, Paula Creel, Madge Minden, Helen Craig, Pam Willoughby, Judy Cardew, Tess Trelawney, and Dolly Delane. Dolly seems to disappear in the later Morcove stories. There are a few girls just on the ‘outside edge’ of the Coterie, however they have friends of their own. These girls include Elsie Ashby, Etta Hargrove, Eva Merrick, and Ella Elgood. The latter three girls are known as ‘The Three E’s’. Elsie Ashby came to Morcove later on. There was a problem between Elsie and Tess, howevert this was successfully resolved.

Elsie Ashby
Betty Barton
Hazel Baynard
Audrey Blair
Freda Blair
Judy Cardew
Mary Cavendish
Esther Carlow
Jemima Carstairs
Bluebell Courtney
Helen Craig
Paula Creel
Hetty Curzon
Rozella Danton
Dolly Delane
Edna Denver
Fay Denver
Elsie Drew
Ella Elgood
Sybil Farlow
Hilda Fawley
Linda Faye
Hilda Flone
Diana Forbes
Brenda Fordyce
Grace Garfield
Cora Grandways
Etta Hargrove
Monica Holden
Trixie Hope
Pat Lawrence
Jess Lingard
Polly Linton
Biddy Loveland
Lucy Lyddon
Althea Marshall
Eva Merrick
Madge Minden
Elsie Mordaunt
Katey Murray
Stella Munro
Naomer Nakara
Cissy Norton
Norah Nugent
Brenda Ravel
Zillah Raine
Teresa Tempest
Tess Trelawney
Bunny Trevor
Ursula Wade
Lorna White
Pam Willoughby

Some of these girls featured regularly as background figures. Occasionally a story revolved around them, but not to the extent of Betty and Co.

Also featuring from time to time, is a girl named Joyce Marshall of Gorselands Manor. She is fun loving, rather dubious, ‘racy’ sort of character. Joyce plays a background part for some of the Morcove stories, and has mixed more than once with Audrey Blain and Cora Grandways. She is their ‘Type of Girl’, ready for a bit of illicit fun. If you are aware of the social history of the 1920’s and 1930’s, you will really understand these girls!.

Judy Cardew is a fascinating character. She is previously known as Judith Grandways, the girl who made good long before she became aware of her true identity. How this happens I don’t know. Perhaps someone out there has the answer?

Miss Somerfield B.A. F.R.G.S.

Fourth Mistresses over the years
Miss Ruth Redgrave B.A.
Miss Everard >>>
Miss Mildred Massingham B.A.

Temporary Mistresses
Miss Kitten - A bad lot, indeed
Miss Mabel Cunliffe - A scheming mistress who set out to ‘get’ Miss Redgrave, but due to the efforts of Betty and Co, did not succeed.

Head Girl Ethel Courtway. More than once trouble was also made for her, one story line in the form of an impostor named Agatha Drew. There were several story lines involving the other Forms in Morcove, however, as this article refers mainly to the school, surroundings and the Fourth, I will not digress at this stage.

The girls, especially Betty and Co, were extremely good friends with Lady Evelyn Knight, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Lundy. As previously mentioned, they live at Barncombe Castle. The Earl and Countess, with their daughter Lady Evelyn, threw open the castle and grounds several times a year for various charity events, in which Betty and Co. were heavily involved. There was no snobbery or pretentiousness at all with these people, which was perhaps why they were loved by all classes. The class system was very much apparent in those days, and it came to light in several of the Morcove stories.

Leonard Shields, the illustrator of the series, managed to make the girls come alive, against a background of the magnificent scenery, be it Morcove School itself, or moor land; sea shore; ruined buildings; in Barncombe itself. It makes you feel like you can jump right into the picture and take part of the story.

Leonard Shields died in Putney, January 1949. He lived until his mid 80’s. He was an illustrator of many other publications as well. It is interesting to note that although Naomer was a black North African girl, she is illustrated as being white, with long dark hair tied back. Evelyn Flinders, illustrator of The Silent Three stories, also illustrated a few of the stories.

An addiction to the Morcove stories started in 1969, when I read my first Schoolgirls’ Own Library. I quickly came to like the Manorcliff Stories by Hazel Armitage, of course not knowing at the time that Manorcliff was a spin off from Cliff House. The addiction grew over the years, especially as I gained more knowledge of The Amalgamated Press, that the authors were actually men (such amazement), with the discovery of the first series Schoolgirls’ Own Library, and subsequently The Schoolgirls’ Own and The Schoolgirl. Actual collecting of The Schoolgirls’ Own and The Schoolgirl didn’t begin until the mid to late 1990’s, with the initial reading of my first Morcove story in the mid 1990’s, about 65 years after Morcove ceased to exist!

The first Morcove story I read I found initially very hard to get into because of the intricate details in the writing. I persevered and eventually found that reading the stories made me relax and concentrate entirely on the story, instead of my mind wandering elsewhere whilst reading. At the same time I was reading the Cliff House stories and for a while I could not choose between the two. However, Morcove won the day and from then on I am a full blown addict of Morcove.

It is rather like a social history lesson, reading the Morcove stories. Cora Grandways and Pat Lawrence own motor bikes with side cars. That would be an impossible situation nowadays. Also the use of certain words that are never heard of today, like crone, nigger,

Pam Willoughby is my favourite character. Pam is the only child of Mr and Mrs Willoughby, of Swanlake. Swanlake estate is a small world of its own, the actual lake consists of two thousand acres, and there are several small farms incorporated in the estate. Mr and Mrs Willoughby are true country people. They will not be found abroad in the depths of winter, nor do they follow the social life of many gentrified people. Mr Willoughby works side by side with his men on the farms, in all weathers. Mrs Willoughby has the upkeep of the house and gardens.

Pam is a tall, serene girl, who dislikes any kind of snobbishness or ostentation. Any troubles she manages to hide behind her serenity. She will go out of her way to help others in need.

I am also extremely fond of Paula Creel. Paula is genteel and well mannered, even under the utmost adversary. I don’t believe she is the duffer as is portrayed. Paula, also an only child, is daughter of Colonel Creel JP and Mrs Creel, and lives at Weir Hall, a beautiful Elizabethan manor house in Somerset. Her Grandmother also resides with the family. Paula is an absolutely loved and adored member of the Study 12 coterie, although in the beginning she wasn’t. Paula is starting to see the good in Betty just prior to her being saved during a very bad thunderstorm by Betty. Paula goes on a picnic to Cove Castle, accompanied by Cora, Ella, Judith, Ursula, to name a few, and is left behind when a huge thunderstorm interrupts their picnic. However, Betty chances to come on the scene after returning from a goodly errand. As a result of this rescue Betty becomes very ill, but of course recovers. From this time onwards, the friendship is cemented on both sides. The Morcove Election

Paula cannot sound her R’s. Young readers of today would find her way of speech absolutely unintelligible but I can relate to it because of my English background. Her ‘Bai Jove’s; and ‘You Widiculous Cweature’ ‘I am a weck, a wuin’ have me just enthralled, as does the brilliantly portrayed interraction between Paula, her best chum Naomer Nakara and Polly Linton. Paula’s whole vocabulary to me, belies her ‘duffer’ image, as a duffer would not have any knowledge of big words such as Paula uses. Paula is also a member of Morcove’s Guide Company, of which Miss Redgrave is Guide Captain.

Jemima Carstairs also fascinates me. I read some of the Cliff House stories featuring her, and then was able to purchase. When Jemima Came to Morcove, by L. E. Ransome, a stand-in author, who wrote quite a few of the Morcove stories under the name of Marjorie Stanton. Jemima, after appearing in this story, and suffering at the hands of Ursula Wade, was transferred to Cliff House School. Jemima has a brilliant, sharp as a tack brain, disguised behind a duffer like fašade.

Note: The Guide Company seems to disappear in later Morcove stories.

Memorable Stories
When Pam Made Morcove Wonder
Study Against Study
Morcove’s Casket of Mystery

Morcove stories published in The Schoolgirls’ Own Library.

Here are a few examples of the Morcove stories published in The Schoolgirls’ Own Library. These were originally published in The Schoolgirls’ Own, and subsequently re-printed for The Schoolgirls’ Own Library, both of which were printed by The Amalgamated Press from 1921 to 1936.

Paula Creel’s Cousin
Brenda is a cousin of Paula Creel. However, Paula does not know her very well. Brenda comes to Morcove, but she is not what she seems!
SO 82-87, SGOL 139

The Wedding at Morcove
Diana is rather unpopular with the Fourth. Miss Redgrave, Fourth Form Mistress, is to be married to a distant relative of Diana’s. Because she is not involved in the wedding party, she causes trouble in a big way.
SO 414-419, SGOL 653

The Mystery Servant of Morcove
Audrey Blain is one of the early Morcove pupils before she is expelled for wrong doings. She returns, disguised as Florrie Blair, a ‘tweenie’ at Morcove. Betty & Co became suspicious of her, and they discover that she and her parents are running a smuggling racket between the Continent, Gull Island and the mainland around Morcove. The Blains have come down in the world, and they are trying to re-make their fortune.
SO 280-284, SGOL 507
To Morcove in Secret
Naomer, is back in her country, Nakara. However, she is pining for Morcove and her friends, so she decides to leave Nakara and return to England in secret. She smuggles herself on board a ship bound for England. A Mr and Mrs Norton, who are not what they seem, take Naomer under their wing when they realise that she in possession of some priceless jewels. Naomer realises what they are up to, and ‘jumps ship’. These jewels become the centrepiece of the story, that also involves Betty Barton, the scheming Cora Grandways and Ursula Wade.
SO 174-179, SGOL 295
Ethel Courtway’s Rival
This is a slightly different story, as it centres around Ethel Courtway, Morcove’s loved Head Girl. Enid Marchmont arrives at Morcove. Enid is superficially ‘nice’ and soon takes nearly everyone in with her saccharine act. All except Betty Barton, and Ethel, who knows Enid and her secret past….
SO 265-269, SGOL 471

The Girl Who Fooled Morcove
Cora Grandways takes centre stage in this story. Cora returns at the beginning of Term a ‘changed person’. Everyone, except Polly, accept that she may have mended her ways. Is Cora reformed, and why is Polly suspicious of her?
SO 363-366 SGOL 617

The Girl Morcove Suspected
Mary Cavendish is a new comer to Morcove. She is a very nice girl, but there is an air of mystery about her, especially the hoard of gold coins that she keeps hidden. There is also a relationship between her and Carla Vansittart, of the Fifth Form. Mary frequently visits an old tower that sits precariously on the edge of a cliff not far from Morcove. Betty & Co set out to discover what is happening. Cora Grandways becomes friendly with Carla, although it is not generally accepted for girls to be friendly with the Fifth! She does this, hoping to feather her own nest.
SO 247-250 SGOL 427
A Second Chance at Morcove
Helen Craig, who becomes a member of the Study 12 Coterie, arrives at Morcove. Her father is looking for a house suitable to buy, within the Morcove district. Cora Grandways, who is not at present a pupil because of misdemeanours, chances to discover this fact. Her Uncle Luke, who is desperate to sell his picturesque but badly run down mansion Watermoor Grange, entices Cora to become friendly with Helen Craig, hoping that Helen can persuade her Father to purchase this mansion. In the meantime, Uncle Luke needs to get Cora and her sister Judith accepted back at Morcove, which he does. Judith Grandways refuses to return, as she is now a reformed person. She realises what her Uncle Luke is about, and will have nothing to do with the nefarious scheme. But, Cora returns!
SO 170-173, SGOL 279
Driven From Morcove
Grace Garfield destroys a valuable antique dress that belongs to Polly Linton’s Mother. The dress is to be used for Morcove’s tableau at the Old English Tea Garden that is being run by the Earl and Countess Lundy at Barncombe Castle. Grace gets Etta Hargrove blamed for this act, and Etta is asked to leave Morcove. Grace thinks she is in the clear, but then her conscience gets the better of her.
SO 397-404 SGOL 639
Morcove’s River Holiday
Paula takes the Study 12 coterie friends to stay at her house, Weir Hall, during the holidays. They arrive to find that Colonel and Mrs Creel are having trouble with the unpleasant neighbours, who have just moved in across the river. Mrs Creel’s very trusted little maid Gracie is accused of stealing from the daughter of these unpleasant people. The girls befriend Lionel, who related to these neighbours. He is a thoroughly charming fellow, and he is also suffering at the hands of his unscrupulous relatives.
SO 440-444, SGOL 681
When Morcove Started a Shop
Miss Somerfield decides to open a Fancy Shop in Barncombe to aid the needy. Monica, a relatively new girl at Morcove, is elected to be the Fourth Form representative for this Shop. Unbeknownst to Monica, her Aunt Margaret also opens a Fancy Shop, in order to gain a small living, as she is of reduced means. This brings trouble to Monica in more ways than one, with Ursula and Cora rearing their ugly heads to make trouble.
SO 260-264, SGOL 463

The Morcove stories are well worth a read. If anyone would like to try a read, please contact me (Sylvia) diamond2@iinet.net.au

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