In February 1931 an article in the Lincolnshire Echo welcomed the revival of the Valentine during the previous three or four years. The writer then reflected
“ How different , however, are these lovely sentimental messengers from the crude and rather repulsive caricatures which did duty in early Victorian days and which died a deserved death!”
In 1882 The Lincolnshire Chronicle reported : [in Alford]“St Valentines day, with the postal officials, was this year, as usual a busy one. Judging by the bulky mail bags and messengers bags, swollen out to enormous dimensions, the votive offerings, indicative, let us hope , of requited tender passion, were exceedingly numerous.”
The above adverts for Valentines in Victorian Alford made me wonder what they looked like. The first things that come to mind are the traditional chocolate box victorian card with a loving verse.
Personally the Comic Valentine promised in the second advert seems a much more interesting option.
The cards below are from 1875 , they are sometimes known as “Vinegar Valentines” , it is easy to see why.
My favourite find for the satirical Victorian Valentine verse was in the 1875 publication:
Love Lyrics and Valentine Verses for Young and Old
To a Cod-eyed Spinster
The very last that I should take
To Village church or minster,
For purposes connubial,
Would be a cod-eyed spinster.
I’m fond of cod for dinner,’tis
With me a favourite dish,
But I shouldn’t like to own a wife
With eyes just like a fish.
Time’s hourglass now is running low,
So be no longer jealous,
Make way for younger girls and cease
To hunt up us smart fellows.
I’d sooner marry a giraffe,
Hedgehog, or porcupine,
Than from the female sex select
A cod-eyed Valentine.
Happy Valentines Day
This is Dorothy’s last letter home following her war service, it is really just a short note from Paris where she was having a ball. After her 4 years of service in WW1 Dorothy returned to Alford but, by then a very independent young woman, she quickly headed to London. In July 1919 the Joint Women’s VAD Committee granted her a scholarship for training in X Ray work and , in 1920, she sat her examinations in Radiography and Medical Electricity at Guy’s Hospital. She frequently stayed at the VAD Ladies Club in London . Dorothy worked as a Radiographer at the Royal Free Hospital where she met radiologist Dr Dulcie Staveley. The two colleagues shared a flat in Gloucester Place for many years before retiring to live at Ivy House in Alford together.
25th April 1919 28 Rue de Pontlieu, Paris VIII
My dearest Father
Never mind about the money it can’t be helped. I have borrowed £15 from Colonel Robinson so will you please send him a cheque for that amount.
I am having a ripping time here Paris is as full as it can be. I am going to see Tommy Sandall this afternoon and we may go out on the binge to-night. Yesterday morning I shopped and yesterday afternoon we went to the Louvre and the Pantheon. The former is in a terrible muddle as the treasures have only been brought back since armistice and nothing is where it was before. Last night we dined with the Robinsons: they had a party.
Best Love to you all
Your loving D
16th April 1919 HMB
My dearest Father
I don’t seem to have had any news of any of you for ages but I dare say you might say the same thing of me. I have been up to the eyes in work. I have got two Belgian nurses in the service and I am teaching them as fast as I can and doing a lot of clearing up, and making lists to simplify their work, and it is somewhat fatiguing.
However in a weeks time all will be over. I am terribly sad at leaving and wish I had been able to go on to Brussels with them, but they still don’t know when they will move: it may be next month or it may be June or July. As they once declared we should be there by the middle of February it’s a case of: I shall believe they are there when the train arrives at Brussels. However it no longer effects me as my hospital career ceases next Wednesday: I shall have just completed my four years foreign service. I have no word from you when or if the Indian family are coming home, or if you are servantless or if the others have recovered from”flu”.
I leave here on Wednesday morning and go to Paris to join Fraser where we shall stay until Sunday when we go to Boulogne and cross. Then we have to stay a day or two in town for BRCS formalities and I must get a rag or two of “civvies” and I hope to be home about the 4th May. Did you send me some money by the way , and how much, as it hasn’t reached the bank yet? If you want to write to me after the 23rd my address is c/o Lieut-Colonel Robinson. 28 Rue de Ponthieu. Paris VIII till the 27th.
The weather is very variable, lots of rain at intervals and very windy.
I really must dry up now. I am knee –deep in packing and so forth.
Best love to you all
Your loving daughter
29th March 1919 HMB
My dearest Mother
I hope by the time this reaches you the invalids will all be convalescent. You have indeed had a visitation. It is very bad luck on you all especially with your domestic troubles as well. I hope your cold and cough are better too.
You may expect me home about the beginning of May I think. I will wire you the precise date when I know it. We are all leaving by driblets through the month of April. We have already got seven Belgian nurses here and more are coming. I have got one in the Electricity and am teaching her as hard as I can.
Will you ask Father to send my allowance out as usual please and may I have some money for travelling expenses, parting presents etc. please. I am perhaps going to Paris for three or four days on my way home, but I am not sure yet. It depends whether Fraser’s uncle and aunt who live there can do with her. If she goes I shall go, but if not I shall return to England direct. The men are full of grief at our departure and openly confess a great preference for English nurses, as also the doctors!!
When do Robin and Molly expect to go back to Canada. I hope I shall see them before they go. Have you any news of the Indian travellers and their movements? I’m so glad you liked the lace: I thought it might do to put on a dress or something like that, and I ‘m glad M was pleased with the brooch.
I have been out several times on Sundays to see the paper chase ( a species of the BEF hunt) all the men ride and there is a meet at some spot and then 4 “foxes” men with paper in bags, lay a trail and are given a certain start. One is the Master with a horn and other are hounds and they track the foxes by the paper scent and have a good cross country run and every hunter about 1 and half hours riding. There is always a large following and we often get a car or ambulance lent us to follow in which is ripping fun. Then we have tea at some mess, Remount, Cavalry Indian Gunners or some old place and then come home.
I must dry up now
Best love to you all
Ever your loving Dorothy.