Ref NoD.1429
AdminHistoryBeatrice Christopher was born on 27 November 1892. She was the daughter of John Christopher, an agricultural labourer, and Ellen (nee Steel). By 1899 the family had moved to Witchampton where they had at least three other children. Beatrice does not appear in the baptism registers for Witchampton or Moor Crichel, the parish where John and Ellen were born and married, instead she was baptised at Long Crichel, 22nd June 1893. By 1910 Beatrice was employed as a servant by the Bankes family of Kingston Lacy. In 1912 she began to keep a diary in which she recorded poetry, prayers, recipes and proverbs together with brief entries recalling some of her experiences (D.1429/1/1). The latter include an illness which caused her to be admitted to the Wimborne Cottage Hospital at Easter 1912. It is clear that she and her fellow servants went with the Bankes family around their various residences including Kingston Lacy, Studland Manor House and 61 Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, London. Between 1914 and 1915 her diary entries are far more detailed. In March 1914 Beatrice was working in London and she recounts her various visits to landmarks in the capital. During the winter of 1914-1915 the servants spent time in both London and Kingston Lacy and she writes that she spent Christmas by herself. The same pattern followed in 1915: summer in London but with a return to Kingston Lacy by September. At Christmas five friends (Bessie Best, Rhoda Brown, Kate Campbell, Winnie Masters and Ada Pinhorn) bought her a postcard album (D.1429/2/2). She collected postcards from family and friends and from the places she visited. It was around this time that Beatrice met Elijah Foot of Derby, Corporal in the 2nd Sherwood Foresters. Although it appears certain that they were never engaged, Beatrice did visit the Foots in Derby during 1917. Foot was sent to France at the outbreak of World War One, from where he continued to send Beatrice postcards until the summer of 1918, when they stopped abruptly. Foot had been captured and held as a Prisoner of War in Holland. In November 1922 Beatrice contracted tuberculosis. She was in London at the time, while most of the other servants were with the Bankes family at Studland. She returned to Dorset but died soon afterwards. She is buried at Witchampton. The Witchampton rector, E W Baker, wrote in the parish magazine (D.1429/4/1): 'Great sympathy will be felt by many for Mrs Christopher and her son, and daughter in the loss of Beatrice, the elder daughter, who only came home to be nursed a week before she passed away, though she left home so many years ago. Many in the village had the kindliest remembrance of her.'.
CopiesDigital surrogate of the first two poems in D.1429/1/1
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