First World War: Work with refugees in Folkestone

At the 1915 Old Scholars’ Association AGM Ivy Weston gave an account of her work amongst refugees arriving at Folkestone, which was reproduced in Bootham magazine, December 1915. Whitsuntide, the Old Scholars’ Reunion, was a joint event between Bootham and The Mount (the Quaker girls’ school in York). Below is a summary of Ivy’s account.

She mentioned that Folkestone was the main port of arrival soon after the outbreak of war. A War Refugee Committee was set up, and arrangements were made to meet all the boats, which were coming from Ostend, Calais, Boulogne, Flushing and Dieppe. Due to the numbers of refugees arriving the committee asked the Government to send some help. The Government paid for food and train tickets to London or any central depot, and the Corporation lent them a large building that had been a grammar school. People from across the country sent gifts to supplement the necessities that were being provided. The committee started providing food (coffee, sandwiches, biscuits, milk and apples) at the harbour, as people were so hungry when they arrived. They fed as many as five or six thousand people per day at the busiest times. Ivy mentioned the team of eight or ten volunteer sandwich cutters, who “reached such a stage of perfection that they could turn out a thousand sandwiches in an hour”. She talked about how “when the boat was in the people seemed to sweep over you like a rough sea; panic-stricken people who came straight from Ostend, straight from the horrors, and not only hungry people but starving; in many cases some of them had walked through Belgium to Ostend, many carrying babies.”


Heritage Open Days

11/9/15 – Please note, the Saturday tour is now fully booked.

Once again we are running tours of the observatory for Heritage Open Days 2015. There will be one tour on Saturday 12th September and one on Sunday 13th September, both starting at 12.45pm. Click here for full details. Tours must be booked in advance with Jenny Orwin (

Photograph in Bootham School Observatory. One of the students shown is looking through a telescope.
Bootham School Observatory

Bees captured in ’54’ garden

With the bee wall planned for school, and bees in the wider news this summer, this story about the capture of a swarm of bees seems timely. Lynne came across it as she was indexing student magazines. It comes from a student magazine called ‘Bits’ and is from the July 1978 edition.

“After lunch on Wednesday, Mark Wakefield was quietly gardening in ’54’ garden, when some bees suddenly seemed to go wild, covering the whole vegetable garden.” Graham Mounsey, Tim Pearson and Mark Wakefield watched as the bees gathered on Tim’s broad beans. Graham took a few photographs, and Mark found a book about bees, and read up on how to catch them. “A veil and gloves were recommended, so a little later Mark was clad in Wellington boots, tracksuit, gloves and a pillowcase for a veil.” Tim gave directions from the wall, as Mark shook the bees into a seed box, and put another box on top. John Gray, the Headmaster, was then told about the capture of the swarm. He lent a hive to keep them in and supervised the transfer of the bees to the hive. “Next year Mark may be selling honey, although whether it is cheaper than John Gray’s remains to be seen”.