The OD Issue 3 - page 12

The tradition of Summer Holiday Diaries goes back to
the earliest days of the Dragon. More than a century on,
Dragons still create well-observed, illustrated records of
the summer holidays to share with friends and look back
on in the future. With that in mind, The OD delved in to
some holiday diaries of past generations and found a
remarkable picture of enduring childhood pleasures.
“On the morning of
October 20
1938 he was at
the Hymn in the Old Hall to
say goodbye to the boys. He
told them he was taking their
holiday diaries with him …
(he) then made his way down
the Hall through a crowd of
cheering boys, one of whom
slipped a late diary under his
arm.” Seven days later came
the sad news that the Skipper
had died at sea.
Since 1938 the role of
commenting on holiday
diaries was taken on by
various members of staff.
The wartime holiday diaries
Today Dragons’ holidays range from trips
in Britain to far flung exotic destinations
but although some trips may be more
luxurious now the same simple childhood
pleasures seem to be enjoyed. One C Blocker
wrote last year in Spain of a mountain
bike ride: “the best bit was that we found
a wild strawberry field. We attacked it and
started eating straight away…They were so
magnificently delicious that just the thought
makes me hungry.” Dragons are also just
as observant and expressive, as the same
diary demonstrates: “It’s night time, you
can see the silver glistening moon rising
above the indigo, reflective shoreline. It’s
going to be dark soon, you can see no clouds
or disturbance in the air. Everything is so
In his diary keeping notes the Skipper
had said: “I really hope, my dear Dragons,
that you will enjoy keeping your holiday
diaries and take a pride and interest in doing
them well.” And so they have for well over a
See overleaf for a few examples of mid-twentieth century holiday diaries
“Never put in ‘Got up
in the morning, had
breakfast and had supper
and went to bed’ (though
any important feast may
be described)”
they read included those of Lady Antonia
Fraser (OD 1944), who looked again at her
collection of diaries for
The OD
. “There
is only one from 1944, the summer I left
the Dragon, although I seem to remember
keeping them every holiday,” she recalled.
“My brother Thomas Pakenham, my
friends Lalage Mais (now Shakespeare) and
sometimes Felicity Wilding (Browne) seem
to have spent all our time at the Dragon in
the hols, swimming twice a day (was that
supervised?) playing tennis etc. Our family
hols were spent in Cornwall during the war,
at different places. Long journey in a troop
train. Troops taking every seat and sitting on
the floor, even in the lavatories! ”
The Dragon’s long history of diary keeping
has its roots in
The Log of the Blue Dragon
begun in 1892 by C. C. ‘Skipper’ Lynam
(Dragon Headmaster 1886–1920) to record
the voyages of his eponymous and much-
loved boat.
The Log
was published, with the
help of Frank Sidgwick (OD 1893), in three
volumes and incorporated sketches, black
and white photographs and some verse.
This set the scene for a particular style of
Dragon diary.
The Draconian
itself, which first
appeared in 1889, a number of diaries have
featured; The Boer War, First and Second
World Wars and the Spanish Civil War
all provided opportunities for ODs and
former staff to record their experiences and
send them back to the school. Their first-
hand accounts reveal some extraordinary
circumstances albeit often limited in specific
details due to wartime restrictions.
By the 1940s, Summer Holiday Diaries
had already been written by generations of
Dragons. First mentioned in
The Draconian
in 1891, they were introduced by Skipper
Lynam who read and commented on every
one with endless enjoyment. To begin
with he insisted on all illustrations being
drawn or painted as they would be “more
interesting” later in life. As time went on, he
relaxed these strictures, and photographs
became more acceptable, adding as he said,
“very much to the interest”.
The Skipper’s huge enjoyment of
these personal, detailed and idiosyncratic
records of family life, seaside holidays and
summer pastimes led him, 40 years after
the tradition had begun, to provide a list of
15 useful hints to guide Dragons in diary
writing. Reproduced opposite, these include
invaluable advice for all diarists including
the exhortation, “Never put in ‘Got up in the
morning, had breakfast and had supper and
went to bed’”.
The diaries played a poignant part in the
Skipper’s final departure from the Dragon as
he set off on a sailing voyage.
As C. H. Jaques relates in A
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