Rosemary Sutcliff’s diary entry for May 10th 1988. Covers May Tree or hawthorn.
May 10th Tuesday. Went along for the ride when Ray took Mrs Prosser home. The may all coming out along the lanes. Joan collecting my earrings and a white shirt for dying grey in Chichester today. Should be back in half-an-hour or so.
© Anthony Lawton 2012
The may refers to the ‘may tree’, or hawthorn. The blossom appears on the tree at the beginning of May in the south of England. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, “until the calendar was changed in 1752, hawthorn would be in flower for May Day, which used to be 11 days later than it is now”.
At the May Day celebrations people and houses used to be decked with may blossoms or boughs (‘bringing home the may’) which were traditional decorations, associated with the woodland spirit known as the Green Man.
I think of her writing this always in bed at night – I sometimes sat there when she did, as I recall. However, maybe my memory plays tricks, for this entry is apparently written during the day (‘Joan will be back’, from shopping, ‘in half-an-hour or so).
(Posted again, original two years ago; comments kept)
April 20th Wednesday. Jane arrived at 10.30 and we set off. A lovely day and would have had a lovely run, but I still haven’t got rid of the car sickness after all, so felt wretched from Petersfield onward. We called for lunch with James C at the Quaker place, lovely old home, much of it 15th & 16th Cent., but myself lunched on brown bread an a cup of tea. Had a rest and then did the remaining dozen miles with no problem and felt alright from then on. Got to the G’s at tea time & watched Magdalene having her indian dance lesson (enchanting) while we had tea.
Went off (driven by Jane) to the Rawlinson dinner. This in full cherished evening dress and in my new Posh Frock, which I am not altogether happy with. Dinner by candlelight surrounded by dons and fellows with their ground down dinner jackets and their guests (mostly more dons and fellows). After the Loving Cup had been around, Tim took me for the ten minute break into the chapel around the Canterbury Quad, which was cold but lovely, with sky full of stars & a new moon to bow to, and then back to finish dessert and port for another hour and a half, sitting in different positions and with different partners. Talked Greece most of the time with the Chaplain on my left & the Classics man on my right, both of whom were very nice to me. Oh, I mustn’t forget the scent of rain battered hyacinths of window boxes in Dolphin Quad.
© Anthony Lawton 2012
This will have been a formal dinner at an Oxford University college – note the ‘dons and fellows’. Reference to Canterbury and Dolphin Quads suggests this will have been St John’s College. According to Wikipedia, Canterbury Quad is the first example of Italian Renaissance architecture in Oxford. It was completed in 1636.
… Everything in the garden bursting while you look at it …
Source: Rosemary Sutcliff’s personal diary, March 1992
Rosemary Sutcliff always remarked on June 23rd, Midsummer’s Eve, in her diary. She called it her official birthday (I cannot recall why). Some diary entries from the day book that was current when she died in July 1992 also note that it was the day of the birth of her mother:
June 23rd Thursday. Midsummer’s Eve & just what Midsummer’s Eve ought to be but seldom is. Continue reading “Midsummer’s Eve | Rosemary Sutcliff’s official birthday |1988 Diary | “Just what Midsummer’s Eve ought to be but seldom is””