I believe I was a very fortunate child. I was well cared for and my
were well met. I lived in a disciplined environment and we children
respected what was expected of us. We sometimes muttered our
under our breath about our parents' decisions, but we were never
We were expected to go church with the family at 11 a.m. on Sundays.
walked there. I started with clean shoes because we had to clean our
shoes on Saturdays and we weren't allowed to shuffle in the leaves in
autumn on the way to church, but we could shuffle in them on the way
and my mother would do it too.
Sunday was busy because we went to Sunday School in the afternoon as
as church in the morning. I remember when I was small swinging my
legs and counting to while away the time during the long prayers.
However dinner on Sunday was a special meal and we always had a hot
meal cooked in the coal range. The roast meat and vegetables were put
the oven before we left and we returned to an appetising smell.
We weren't allowed to play tennis or cards on Sundays.
We were read to regularly, not just on Sundays, and I remember
from the Bible and "The Swiss Family Robinson".
The Botanical Gardens
When I was small we lived near the Botanical Gardens and 'nurse girls'
they were called then, (not baby sitters), were employed to look after
in the afternoon after school. They were girls from Christchurch
High School and I now realise that they liked taking us to the Gardens
they met boys from the Christchurch Boys' High School which was also
close to the city in what is now the Arts Centre. The girls would
the pram with them but let the rest of us run free through the
gardens as long as we didn't cross the bridge into the Hospital
We were disappointed about that as beyond the bridge there were an
and squirrels. However, we could be trusted to accept the limits. The
photo shows Margaret on one of these outings, wearing boots and a coat
a velvet collar and cuffs. Her hair is worn long in the fashion of
Margaret aged four on the steps of the 'Druids Mound' at the
Christchurch Botanical Gardens
Photo source Margaret Royds
Our meals were wholesome and everything was made at home. We had a
gardener who came to look after the vegetable garden and we ate home
food whenever possible. We were allowed to name one thing only which
disliked and we wouldn't have to eat that. I remember finding it hard
choose between junket and tripe, but I named tripe as I disliked it
more than junket. We didn't like mince, but it was always served on
Saturdays inspections and chores
On Saturday mornings we had our "Sergeant Major's Inspection" when our
rooms were checked by our father. Drawers and cupboards were
had to be improved if they didn't pass the test. The girls also had
clean silver on Saturdays, and the boys had to do the lawns. If it
wet the boys had a day off.
Times have changed tremendously with the need now for safety in
protection from strangers. We were allowed a lot more freedom. I can
remember at ten years old biking from Papanui to New Brighton beach
back in a group of three or four friends. When we had a holiday in
(another beach suburb) we were allowed to take our lunch and be out
day. We were allowed to go over the hill to Taylor's Mistake, but we
not allowed to take our 'togs' (bathing suits) there because the beach
not as safe. Otherwise there were no restrictions placed on us.
Quite early in our lives we were given an allowance and with it we had
service our bicycles, pay for our photography and trips to the
but our clothing was provided, unless we wanted something extra and
special. I saved for weeks to buy a pair of silk stockings. This was
training in budgeting and served us well as we got older.
The films we went to were silent films at first, followed by the
- many of them trial scenes. We liked going to the Crystal Palace
it had such a good orchestra.
My father was an ear, nose and throat specialist, and rode a bicycle
his consulting rooms and to the hospital to perform surgery.
Our family's first car was bought in about 1921. It was a Nash with a
top and side curtains. I began driving at fifteen and got my licence
seventeen, which was very unusual. None of my girl friends drove
fathers' cars. I took my mother to tennis and to meetings.
At other times we travelled by tram. When we lived in Riccarton we
get off the tram one stop before our street at the end of the section
walk the extra distance because it was cheaper. We had learnt our
budgeting lesson well.
My first school was the local school but when I was eight I was sent
private school called Rangi Ruru. We wore uniform to school at Rangi
and had to change into other clothes as soon as we arrived home. The
winter uniform was a blue flannel dress with a large white collar.
was cooler dress for summer. Once we reached our teens many girls
corsets or corselets under their uniforms to keep their figure in
Hats and gloves were compulsory on the street.
We had a set of best clothes for Sundays and special occasions and
wore a hat to church.
I had fine hair which was worn long until it was cut when I turned
At Rangi Ruru we had drill, mainly marching, with Captain Farthing.
was unusual. We played tennis and netball and also hockey for which I
in the A team. The problem with hockey was that it was played in very
schools and it was hard to arrange matches against other schools
Cathedral Grammar which was a boys' school, and Christchurch and
Girls' High Schools.
I really enjoyed swimming and lifesaving. From October to April we
the Teps (Municipal Tepid Baths) used by many schools. Along the side
separate cubicles where we changed in privacy. After swimming we
walk fast back to school in a croc (crocodile) to get warm.
For swimming we wore navy blue knee-length baggy costumes with a
bra like a camisole.
My father grew up with six sisters and believed that girls and boys
be treated alike at home, so my sister and I were always allowed to
family discussions. I believe I was very fortunate in my upbringing.
had security, but a good measure of freedom.
Margaret Thompson (nee Whetter) - born 1913
As a child I always knew what was expected of me. My parents set
for us and expected us to grow up with a sense of responsibility.
Margaret seated, aged seven, with her brother Neil and her little
Photo source Margaret Thompson
My parents came to New Zealand from Britain as my father who was a
practitioner had the opportunity of going into partnership with his
who was a doctor in Christchurch.
My mother was a very systematic person and felt that the household
be well managed, especially as the surgery was at the house. She had
in the house from the beginning. My father thought that she must have
as she had come from a family where there was domestic help. She took
loving care of the family, especially nursing the children when they
World War 1
My father served in World War I with the Argyll and Sutherland
because he had qualified in medicine in Edinburgh. I remember his
from the war - someone I knew only by name and by photograph. I used
put a little vase of mignonette beside his photograph.
The influenza epidemic
Soon after his return he was frantically busy as New Zealanders were
the influenza epidemic. Kempthorne and Prosser regularly sent
medicines to the surgery. During the epidemic my mother had aspirins
give to people who came to the door and said they were ill.
The house and consulting rooms
We lived near Latimer Square which was a medical precinct at that
If patients were members of a charitable Lodge they paid no more than
a crown for their visit, but private patients paid five shillings. My
mother always kept half crowns and other change in her desk in case
patients did not have change. My father did not have a nurse or a
My father gave anaesthetics when his cousin performed surgery.
We always had two maids, one who lived in and one who came by the day
the cleaning. The live-in maid was always called Miss Rix, as my
did not like the use of Christian names. She had her own room and
bath in a deep bath in the washhouse.
We would put out our shoes for her to clean until we had fashion shoes
different colours - black, brown and navy blue. We cleaned these
Meals were cooked at home, with the main meal midday. My father would
be called out in the night, so he would be given a cooked breakfast in
We had to eat a little of everything, even what we disliked.
I was not expected to do any work in the kitchen and learnt to cook
the two weeks before I was married.
Our outer clothes were bought at Ballantynes and our underwear was
a dressmaker who came to the house.
I started school at a state school. When I was ten we went to England
me to meet our relatives, and then I attended Rangi Ruru private
my last two years were as a boarder at Columba College in Dunedin. I
enjoyed this experience, especially the extra emphasis placed on
I had learnt and enjoyed playing the piano from quite a young age.
At Rangi Ruru I learnt ballroom dancing. The house, built for the
Tahu Rhodes, had a sprung floor in the ballroom. The dancing teacher
played the violin to provide music, and whacked us around the legs
bow if we made a mistake.
My mother was a great walker and took us walking on the Cashmere Hills
in the Botanical Gardens or on the beach at Sumner every Saturday. We
to play croquet on a croquet lawn at the back of the house. In the
evenings or holidays we played charades and card games and table
My father did not like driving. He employed a man to care for the car
wash and polish it every day. He wore a white coat in his role as
On the third Friday of the month my mother held her "At Home" which
that friends knew she would be expecting to entertain people to
tea and they could come without a specific invitation.
When my mother called on anyone she would leave one of her own
cards and two of her husband's, as was the custom. She carried these
special case. A silver tray was placed in the hall to receive the
Receiving them was a mark of acceptance in a social group.
I had a very pleasant and comfortable home as I grew up. There was a
relationship between my parents which meant we had a happy home.