Constance Emily PARKER 
- Born: 29 Sep 1878, Rowledge Farnham
- Died: 29 Sep 1955, Clevedon SOM aged 77
Julius Jottings No 2 April 1900
Constance Emily, born at Rowledge, September 29, 1878; educated at Winchester High School, 1893-97; Classical Exhibitor at Somerville College Oxford, 1897; 1st Class Classical Moderns, 1899 (the first at Somerville for seven years).
Address: Somerville College, Oxford.
JULIUS JOTTINGS. January 1901 No 1.
Dear Mr Editor,
University life is a most enjoyable phase of existence, and one often very erroneously pictured by an outsider. One who has not yet learnt to distinguish between Oxford and Cambridge, Girton and Somerville, must beware of trusting to the accounts of those who have small experience of it but large imaginations, and, above all, should be warned against the account given by L T Meads in her last book, The Girls of S. Wode's, which presents a wondrous confusion between a student's life at college and a seminary for young ladies. Passing over the amusingly erroneous conceptions that have been known to be entertained, we will try to give some idea of Oxford life.
The first impression upon coming up is that the students are divided into two classes, the seniors and the "freshers" with the link of the comparatively insignificant "second years" between them. The fresher! What memories of that first term beseige her when, two years later, she has passed into the upper ranks - chaos, the alarms, the new experiences with which the very first day was crammed.
On our arrival, after having an interview with the principle and our respective tutors, we began to unpack, and then, accompanied by a senior, made our first acquaintance with Oxford shops. There are several articles of furniture to be bought for a student's room, which might be termed "necessary business" - things not in themselves indispensable, but eminently desirable. We have each won room, which serves as study and reception room during the day, and as bedroom at night, and much ingenuity may be expended in effecting the trans-formation. The bed, which is very low and narrow, is turned into a sofa by rolling back the blankets, placing the pillows at either end, and covering the whole with coloured chintz or tapestry, while a view cushions greatly add to the effect. Everything pertaining to the toilet is concealed behind a screen or curtain, and one or two ornamental chairs, a key table, bookcase and pictures, ad lib., complete the furnishing.
The next day, Sunday, is sometimes an alarming ordeal for a shy fresher who has not yet learnt her way about the corridors. In the morning some kind-hearted senior escorts her to the Cathedral, which is much frequented by students, especially on the first Sunday of term, when the Dean always preaches.
After lunch she is expected to be "at home" to receive calls from the seniors. They come by ones or twos and even more, until she begins to doubt if there will be chairs enough for all to sit upon. They talk to each other as a rule, while their hostess listens in respectful silence, all racks her brain for some original subject of conversation, till after some 10 minutes they depart, leaving the bewildered occupant of the room with visiting cards indeed in her hand, but a chaos of faces, voices and names before her mind. Among the first callers is the senior student, who is always a scholar and one of the oldest residents of the College; she has multifarious public duties, and informs us that to her, all woes and grievances must be carried for redress. During the ensuing weeks the fresher is feted. After luncheon she goes out to "coffee" a somewhat formal proceeding, when one or two seniors invite three or four freshers to their room. On Sundays teas are the most popular, and of these the great feature is jam, provided by the hostess for the occasion - in fact, it constitutes a Sunday treat, as it takes too long and is too sticky for weekdays. At 9:30 or 10 o'clock after the day's work is done, the cocoas begin, a most welcome break between books and bed. Here the etiquette is to be remembered, as laid down in one of our college poems, is that, however late the senior may be in her preparations, it is the freshers part to apologise, and her duty to keep up a flow of conversation until at the end of the entertainment she is half out of the door, and under no circumstances to attempt to shake hands.
But do not imagine we spend all our time in such festivities. We worked most of the morning from nine o'clock till one, with breaks for lectures given at various colleges in all parts of the town, all for coachings with a tutor. The majority of the students follow the men's degree course, consisting usually of a short course of classics, followed by "finals" in some special subject, which occupies from two to three years.
The most popular subject at present is Modern History; the most envied, Philosophy, both of which are considered one of the best possible trainings for all varieties of profession, especially for those who intend to take up any form of social work. The afternoons are taken up with hockey, tennis, boating (for those fortunate people who can swim the requisite distance), cycling and walking. Often there are concerts or outside calls to be paid, and so the time flies till work hours begin again, followed by seven o'clock dinner. This is the one formal and lengthy meal of the day at which punctuality is expected. After assembling in the Common Room, we descend two and two to the dining hall. The Dons sit at the high table at one end of the room, to which every night different couples are called, and they are expected to put forth their best powers of conversation, for which purpose it is convenient to have studied the papers.
After dinner is the time for meetings of the various societies - sometimes the hockey or boating committees wish to consult their clubs, or there is a debate, a literary meeting, or a working party which unfortunately, is not appreciated as much as it might be. There are also choral and orchestral societies in the town which meet once a week, while on Saturday evenings we have music among ourselves.
The chief object of admiration in college to the freshers are the "seniors" and, as they class, they are distinctly alarming, more from the halo shed around them by their superior position than from any innate haughtiness. They are very kind, and do their best to make new people feel at home without being patronising. In times past they have been known to be one unapproachable, and even crushing, but they have softened during the last few generations, and now the only fault to be found in them is, perhaps, too great a leniency to the precocious freshers. It is said that the present generation are not as retiring in disposition as might be wished, but they are exceptionally hard-working, we are as the custom in the past was for a student to get as much amusement as possible out of her first year, until her playtime became curtailed by public duties and more advanced studies.
As the fresher develops into a second year she loses her lightheartedness with regard to work, and when she enters her third year the dread thought of "schools" looming close at hand spurs her to greater exertions. The school term is a very exciting one for its victim's; everyone takes great care of us, and we undergo a system of fattening up by means of poached eggs for breakfast, and beef tea in the middle of the morning. The Warden pays frequent visits, recommends a tonic, and discourages overwork. No cocoas are indulged in, but we retire to bed instead at 9:30. The week before the examination we are sent away to some bracing place, free from all books and college "shop". Then on the fatal day we are escorted to the schools by a crowd of friends, and up the steps follow a seething mass of pale and anxious looking undergraduates, dressed in the requisite black coats and white ties. Then with the ensuing viva voce one's course at Oxford is run.
From first to last the life is filled with interests of every kind - hard work, energetic play, and friends both outside and in college. There is, of course, little time left for taking part in outside work. Visiting at the infirmary is part of the programme of Sunday afternoons, and then we have our settlement, the Women's University Settlement at Southwark, and a University Mission both in India and South Africa. It is easier, however, to give our interest to these than any very substantial help, but several old students have taken a personal part in the work after leaving Oxford, while some have lately started a new settlement in Birmingham themselves. The fascination of Oxford, with its old college buildings and gardens, its water meadows and spires, can only be realised by those who have lived there, and perhaps even more to us than these is the privilege of being able to hear and come in personal contact with the greatest speakers and thinkers of the day. If the University of authorities did not work with us, and for the most part admit us to equal privileges with the men's colleges, our work might be very different in width and interest; as it is, they not only tolerate our presence, but entertain quite a friendly spirit towards us, which is very pleasant to experience, and one of our many causes for gratitude.
Dear Mr Editor
Elsie T. Stevens.
Constance E. Parker.
Agnes E. Brewin.
Julius Jottings. No 7 April 1902.
Miss Constance Parker has resigned her post at the Winchester High School, and is now Classical Mistress at Bedford College, London.
She did not marry.
Parker Constance Emily of St Brigas Northover-road Westbury on Trym Bristol spinster died 29 September 1955 at Mount Pleasant nursing home Clevedon Somersetshire Probate Bristol 18 November 1955 to Eleanora Mary Almond spinster and Andrew Murray Urquhart solicitor.
Effects L25381 14s 8d
Ref: National Probate Calendar
Parker family images courtesy of R Waight 2015
1. Census: England, 3 Apr 1881, Rowledge Vicarage Farnham HAM. Constance is recorded as a daughter aged 3 born Rowledge
2. Census: England, 5 Apr 1891, Rowledge Vicarage Binsted E Hants. Constance is described as a daughter aged 13 a scholar born Binsted
3. Census: England, 31 Mar 1901, Binsted Alton HAM. Constance is recorded as a daughter unmarried aged 23 born Hampshire.