Constance Linda Lucy's Diary: Part One

A drawing of a small boy in a kilt.
From Constance Linda Lucy's diary, Warwickshire County Record Office reference CR 4647.

Constance Linda Lucy (known as Linda) was 18 years old when she started this diary. She was the second of four daughters of Henry Spencer Lucy and his wife Christina. She was born in 1867, married Major St John Secker in 1902 and died in 1955 in Inverness-shire. She had no children.

The diary gives an insight into the everyday life of a daughter of the landed gentry. The Lucys were not very well off, but even so there were about nine servants in the house, plus a land agent, gamekeepers, coachmen, grooms, etc. Life revolved round visits to friends and relations, and friends and relations visiting Charlecote. The diary begins with an account of Linda’s youngest sister, Joyce’s illness when she was diagnosed with Scarlet Fever and was moved into the Gatehouse with their old nurse. She bemoaned the fact that because of the Scarlet Fever they had not been able to have their usual New Year’s Eve dinner and dance, and also that a number of visitors had been put off by the illness. However, there were plenty of balls and other events taking place in the neighbourhood, and Linda, her mother and eldest sister, Ada, travelled to Yorkshire at the end of January to a house party and attended more parties and hunt balls.

Parlour games

Evenings at home were enlivened by chess with Linda’s father or playing various parlour games, especially if there were visitors. Henry Spencer seemed to spend most of his time hunting and shooting, often with friends from Wellesbourne, and occasionally there is mention in the diary of Linda and/or Ada going hunting with their parents.

In February Linda, her younger sister Sybil, and her mother travelled to France, to Pau to visit her Aunt Louey and Uncle Will, Louisa and Alexander Bonar (her mother’s sister and brother-in-law).

Joyce, recovering from Scarlet Fever, stayed at home and their father decreed that Ada must stay behind to keep her company. The travellers then took the train to London, and then boarded a small steamer to sail to Bordeux. A good account is given of the rough weather and the sea-sickness suffered by all of them! Once settled in Pau, life consisted of At Homes and tea parties with what seemed to be a large settlement of ex-patriates, many of them ex-army. Very few French people are mentioned. Letters from home were much appreciated and Joyce sent drawings as well, including the one published along with this article of a small boy in a kilt.

I continue to give an account of Linda Lucy’s diary in part two of this article, including a particularly sad event.

The diary has been purchased for Warwickshire County Record Office by the Friends of the Record Office, and has been given the catalogue number CR 4647. This article was originally published in the Friends’ newsletter.

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