Life in the 1930s

During the 1930s a number of the events, traditions and structures that were to mark the college for a number of years began.

Academic Life - students were expected to do work hard and to do well. A number of University prizes were attained during this period.

 

Finance - At this period students (or their families) were expected to pay their own fees. Raymond George remembered being appointed as a 'sub tutor' to assist students with their Greek for a small sum.

The student day - the day began with the sound of the junior porter bringing round the men's shaving water. Breakfast was followed by morning prayers in the Chapel. Lectures, supervisions and seminars would fill the rest of the morning. 4pm tea was served then evening prayers, formal dinner then more work until 10pm when the college gate was locked.

 

Pubs - informal gatherings at 10pm in student's rooms for discussion and conversation - an invaluable place to shape ideas.

The College Play - an annual tradition, highly rehearsed and much looked forward to.

 

Meth. Soc. - from the earliest days encouragement was given to form the strongest of links between Wesley Church and Wesley House. University students who were Methodist formed themselves into Meth. Soc. and all Wesley House students were allocated to a Meth. Soc. House Group and often hosted them in their rooms for discussion and fellowship.

Ecumenical - these were the earliest days of the ecumenical movement and relationships between Wesley House and the other theological institutions in the city were cordial. 'Exchange of Halls' saw dining exchanges. Wesley House students took part in the Cambridge evangelistic campaigns in the summer months to towns around the country.

 

Preaching - students from Wesley House travelled widely to lead services in a variety of Methodist Churches on Sundays. A Preaching Card Index (now sadly lost)  built up over years gave students invaluable advice - 'Chatteris 1935 - They like us to travel by bus, or be willing to stay Sunday night - best of all, because after the service Young People's "Padre's Hour' can be visited. The train leaves at 7.37, which after a 6.30 service is a bit of a rush.'

 

Sermon Class - Wednesday nights between tea and evening meal the entire college turned out to the Chapel where one of the students preached a sermon which was then criticised in the large lecture room. By common consent a potentially terrifying experience.

 

Voice production - in the 1930s an important figure of college life was the venerable and bearded figure of Father C.M. Rice an Anglican priest who offered voice production classes on a fortnightly basis until his death in the 1950s.

 

Student Governance - Every year a student was elected as House Chairman and a weekly meeting would take place between that student and the Principal. House meetings were also held and a wide range of matters both mundane and weighty were discussed - 'January 14th, 1930 - Dr. Hughes wished to intimate, through the Chairman, his feelings on a certain matter. He had noticed recently a tendency on the part of men to wear slippers as they prayed. He hoped that in future they would see to it that these slippers were not on their feet when they entered the chapel.'

 

March 13th, 1933 The following declaration was made by 17 of the 20 members of the House present, 'That we will in no circumstances engage as combatants in warfare.'