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Boarding school girls find letter to Santa posted nearly 100 years agoOctober 27th, 2014
A letter to Father Christmas which may have been sent nearly 100 years ago has been discovered in a girls’ boarding school chimney.
The hopeful note from ‘Haly H’, which has now been restored, asks Santa for Tell England – a book by Ernest Raymond about a public boys’ school, first published in 1922 – along with an evening dress.
Found in one of the boarders’ bedrooms at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls after raven chicks got stuck in the chimney, the mysterious letter has sparked the imaginations of current students.
And Jemima, also 10, added: “The book she asked for must have just come out and everyone wanted to read it.
“We want to know everything – what this room used to be, what the school was like then.
“It must have been really different.”
As the girls start thinking about their lengthy Christmas wish-lists, which feature dogs, a piano and roller skates, Haly H’s modest requests have also made them appreciate what they have today.
Erin, 10, said: “Back then they weren’t as fortunate as us.
“It makes you feel really lucky.”
HMSG, which was founded in 1892, moved to its current site in Hereford Road, Monmouth, in 1897.
Maintenance worker Andy Beddoes, who was cleaning up after the ravens fell into the bedroom in School House, was vacuuming inside the chimney when he reached up and felt the fragile note resting on a ledge.
The 50-year-old said: “I pulled it out and saw it was a folded bit of paper and because I’m curious, I tried to read it.
“I could see ‘Dear Father Christmas’ and the dress bit but that was all.
“It’s a lot cleaner now but you still can’t find a date on it.
“I was just surprised really that it hadn’t been destroyed. I found it tucked up on the top ledge – it’s quite a lucky find.
“It’s really interesting to think about the history of this place.”
While the letter remains very much discoloured and brittle, most of Haly H’s words are now legible.
It reads: “Dear Father Christmas, are you coming to see me again in two weeks’ time I suppose?
“Tell Mummy I want a book, Tell England, and an evening dress.
“Love, Haly H XXX”
‘Daddy Xmas’ is written on the other side of the note.
Liz Price, Housemistress of School House, says the boarders are now desperate to stick their hands up every chimney in the school to see what other treasures are hiding in them.
“The girls were so excited about the letter,” she said.
“They kept saying ‘can we put our hands up all the chimneys to see what else we find?’
“I think reading something like this makes them appreciate what they have more.
“You can tell them until you’re blue in the face about how people in the old days didn’t have as much as they do today, but actually reading this letter and seeing that all the girl asked for was a book and a dress made it more real.
“It’s actually made them think about the history of their school too.
“It’s incredible we have been able to read it.
“It’s quite magical really – especially for the junior girls who all still know Father Christmas is real.”
The letter and a new copy of Tell England are to be displayed in a frame on the walls of School House.
In The Press