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Dorothy BARTHOLOMEW Obituary
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16 July 2019

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Preview Entry
16 July 2019

Please don't submit copyrighted work; original poems, songs or prayers welcomed. reviews all Guest Book entries to ensure appropriate content. Our staff does not correct grammar or spelling.

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
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 Memories & Condolences
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November 17, 2012
Remembering with gratitude an inspiring teacher at Queen Anne's School Caversham
December 5, 2011
December 2011
Miss Bartholomew appointed me as her Head of History in 1971. She was challenging to work for and staff and girls worshipped her. Dorothy was a devoted and diligent Godmother to my daughter Penelope who still talks of her stays with "AD" in The Close when she was in her teens. Rest in Peace.
Bruce Burnham
October 28, 2011
Miss Bartholomew was my headmistress at Norwich High in the sixties. An outstanding person and one who had a very positive influence on my life and that of my sister. The older I get, the better I understand that. I shan't forget her.
October 14, 2011
Funeral Oration for Dorothy Bartholomew

Dorothy Bartholomew will be known to some, or many, here as Miss Bartholomew, and to others as Dorothy- she was, in either description, my aunt. She was an inspired person, inspired by the desire to educate girls, amongst other things, and drawing that inspiration from her Christian faith and membership of the Church of England, but one thing that she was not was meek and mild.

Dorothy was a strong character, and sometimes a stern one, and it is Dorothy as a person that I am drawn to refer to. Others will have rightly spoken of her hard work and commitment to the causes that were so important to her- education, Christian Aid, the Larkman School in Norwich, the poets John Clare and Henry Vaughan and I am sure many others.

I want to reflect on the person that Dorothy was to me, and to our family. Like me and my sisters, she was raised in the Methodist Church, and she was the youngest of 3 children born between 1906 (my father) and 1913 (Dorothy herself) in Clapham, South London. It was of course a very different world then, with Lloyd George having just introduced both the first Old Age Pension in 1906, and with it the very idea of retirement, the idea that people could have some state support when they were too old to work. Her parents were hovering between skilled working-class and lower middle class to use those blunt terms; my grandfather being a bookbinder’s gold finisher, putting the gold-leaf inlay into leather book bindings, my grandmother a court dress-maker, who was fiercely aspiring for her youngest daughter’s future. It was she who pushed Dorothy to apply for a scholarship to the Greycoats School, next to Westminster Abbey, and it was she who by all accounts seemed to study the curriculum with Dorothy, in all probability a bright woman denied the opportunity to reach her own fulfilment due to being born at the wrong time. When Dorothy decided to have confirmation classes at the Abbey, her mother was apparently delighted. From there Dorothy went on to study English at London University. Dorothy achieved fame, if not fortune, early by becoming Assistant Head-girl, and when on matriculation she told her improbably-named headmistress, Miss Dorothea Chesham-Strode, her intention to become a teacher she was told “You could do some worse thing than teach.” A clearly ringing endorsement of the profession, from one who should, after all, know!

Dorothy went to her first teaching position at Queen Anne’s Caversham, a sister school of Greycoats in Berkshire. After some years she moved to Oxford High School as an English teacher where she found herself pitted against a class of very feisty girls (a number of whom are now well-known to us on stage and screen) who greeted her by having turned their desks round to face the back of the class. Ever one to take on a challenge, it seems that Dorothy decided that that was how they would be taught for the rest of the term. Dorothy also was keen to take some credit for match-making with T.S.Eliot, and his second wife Valerie. It seems that Dorothy was instructed by her then headmistress to “Teach them some poetry” so she introduced Valerie’s class to Eliot’s work with “The Journey of the Magi”, and Valerie then asked “If he had written anything else?" This gave Dorothy her cue for the rest of the year’s work. Valerie left school and went on to work at Faber & Faber where Eliot worked as a publisher and she became his secretary, and.... you know the rest.

From the time that Dorothy’s father, our grandfather, moved into our own home, she had regarded our family home as hers also.

Talking with my sisters, a common memory of Dorothy was her arriving for every family Christmas in a car stuffed with presents, Yuletide greenery and a Norfolk turkey. This was in the days when turkeys were much less available than now, and when a Norfolk turkey was something quite special. Then between Christmas and birthdays there was the unexpected delight of receiving a book-shaped parcel addressed in her spidery-hand, only to find that it was the latest from the Children’s Book Club. I became an early expert on the Battle of Britain, from that source. Another strong feature of family get-togethers was Dorothy assembling nieces and nephews, and their children, with whom she produced memorable dramatic events in front rooms ranging from The Mad Hatter's Tea Party to Snow White and Cinderella. Bay windows became proscenium arches and curtains became cloaks, and the events stayed fixed in her large family's memories.

When I spoke to a friend, who is an Anglican priest, about the difficulty that I was having in formulating the words that I wanted to produce about Dorothy, I went further to say that I wanted to make a loving tribute, but one to the real person, and not to a plaster saint. I explained that Dorothy could have a sharp tongue, a testiness, and that I saw this as probably coming from a sense of impatience and was there anything that he knew about the theology of impatience. Well, my friend is also a counsellor, and his first response was a very psychotherapeutic “What an interesting question!” before he referred me to the prophets of the Old Testament, never known to suffer fools gladly.

I never had the opportunity to check with Dorothy if she herself would object to being bracketed with Amos, Ezekiel, Elisha and all the rest, but I think that if I had she would have smiled and probably accepted it as an honour.

I am now a Quaker, and in the Quaker tradition there is an expression called “holding someone in the light”, when others might mean thinking of that person, or praying for them. So I would invite you to join with me in holding Dorothy in the light for a moment, while also hearing that reassurance from Mother Julian of Norwich that “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

Richard Bartholomew
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