Proposals for Constance Masefield's handwriting.

For the original article - "Puzzles: Crowdsourcing Constance Masefield's handwriting" , CLICK HERE.

 Just to remind what it is about:

John Masefield became Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 1930. He married his wife Constance in 1903. It isn't clear when he met Leila Rendel and Phyllis Potter, who together developed what became the Caldecott Community (established in 1911); but the Caldecott Association Collection held in the Archive and Study Centre has 26 letters from John and Constance to Leila, or both Leila and Phyllis, which date from April 1914 to April 1920. These have been steadily transcribed by Caldecott Association member Eileen Northam. We can usually work out what John Masefield's handwriting is hiding, but Constance holds her meaning close to her chest - perhaps only really intended for people who already knew her well enough to know what she was saying! 

In any event, we asked for help with some particularly difficult and/or contentious words and phrases. Few have been courageous enough so far to attempt to essay meaning from the glyphs below, but among these is Judith Stinton, whose extensive work in archives and in particular around Dorset writers, and Homer Lane and the Little Commonwealth, allows for the flights of imagination and creativity which archives require to really come alive and make sense. For more about Judith and her work, have a look at her Common Heritage website.

Francis Wardale has also put his mind to the puzzle. Have a look at his website - - and you'll see how the creativity and imagination come in.


1. The  place from which the writer, Constance Masefield, wrote a letter addressed to "Dear Miss Rendel", which is, typically, for Constance, undated. sa ca acn 01 01 19a

We know from other, more legible letters and online sources that this is Lollingdon, which is to say, Lollingdon Farm in Cholsey, Berkshire, to which the Masefields moved sometime around 1915/16. Really...would you have guessed "Lollingdon" from this piece of handwriting?

 2. Undated letter, written from 'Hill Crest, Boar's Hill, Oxford', addressed to "My Dear Leila". Constance writes "Isobel was with me 10 days ago. Her school is X & I think she finds herself in it, & is happy." In the image below is "her school is X &" - what is X?

sa ca acn 01 01 25a

 Judith's suggestion:


3. Written from "Boar's Hill Oxford", addressed "Dear Leila" and signed "Yours aff C.M." this letter is also undated. Husband John is away in America, and Constance writes "I sit here & muse -. I have a long list in my X & they all deserve it." The image below contains "a long list in my" - what is the X?sa ca acn 01 01 26 a

 Judith's suggestion:


4. Constance then comments in the letter that "they" still believe they can beat Germany and are "making no effort to X the German people." Any ideas?sa ca acn 01 01 26b

 Judith's suggestion:


5. This is a long one, from the same letter: Constance asks for a "really good" arithmetic book for "persons from 7 to 10 or so". She emphasises that it must be "good print & really good. I'm tired of XXX". The first word in the image below is "tired". What is the rest of the sentence? [note: It's probably not "spinning memes infantrymen inside"]sa ca acn 01 01 26c

 Judith's suggestion:

"of beginning sums not ? inside"

6. And finally, at the end of that letter, Constance refers to the death of Leila's grandfather, imagining that he "died like a Patriarch full of years & " - humour? We've debated this ca acn 01 01 26d

 Judith and Francis both suggest

"honour" (which makes a great deal of sense in the distant outline of the flowing hills and downlands of her handwriting)



Day One of PETiTathon2015!

Day Two of PETiTathon2015!

Day Three of PETiTathon2015!

Follow-up of PETiTathon2015!

1. "Seeking the MVT

2. "Report on visit to Barns School, Peebles & Dunnow Hall, Cheshire", by Frank Mathews: Transcribed!  

3. "Crowdsourcing Constance Masefield's handwriting: Update!"

4. "Thanks, Stats, Feedback and Correction"

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