Sunday, 8 November 2009

Betjeman and Bristol

Letters from John Betjeman to Bryan Little, rescued from a skip a few years ago. Click on images to see large.


  1. Did you find them in a skip? he writes exactly as I would have expected him to.

    I love getting a real glipse of the past in snippets like these. we are now in contact with 'our chateau' owner - and there is a mystery lady!

  2. But what was Bryan Little doing in a skip?

    Hard night on the tiles?


  3. Best phrase "measly 10 guineas"...

  4. Well, JB addressed the first letter to 'my dear boy' which was possibly what he called everyone he had affection for, but Mr Little could have been pretty young. Ten guineas (£10 10s, or £10.50) in 1954 would have been worth quite a bit. I believe you could then have bought a week's groceries for ten bob (£0.50). I can't speak from actual experience of managing a household budget - I was only aged 2.

    So Betjeman lived in Wantage? News to me.


  5. PS - I'm also pretty certain there were no skips in 1954 except the ones little girls did in the playground!


  6. I did find them in a skip, Anji; along with a large pile of other docs, photos and watercolours. It all seemed such a dreadfully wasteful thing to have done, getting rid of them that way.

    Quite, Chrissie!

    I suspect that Mr Betjeman was a bit of an adept at playing the amiable chap, Liz. It sounds almost self-parodying...

    I just looked it up, Lucy...

    60. Mr. Carr

    asked the Minister of Labour the increase since April, 1953, in the average weekly earnings of manual workers.

    § Sir W. Monckton

    The average weekly earnings in the last pay week of October, 1953, of all manual workers in the industries covered by my Department's six-monthly inquiry are provisionally estimated at 160s. Id. the ten guineas are over two quid more than an average weekly wage, which ain't that bad.

  7. These are fabulous, Dru, though the correspondence in the next post is more fun, perhaps. What else was in the skip, I wonder? Bryan Little wrote probably the best history of Bristol - a really fine historian. I love JB asking him casually if he knows who could 'do Yorks'...