Madame’s Pioneers: Christabel Lawrence

Christabel was one of Madame’s very early students in Hampstead. She taught drill and games at Wimbledon House School, which three of her older sisters: Penelope, Millicent and Dorothy Lawrence had founded. In 1888 Christabel was in charge of the school cricket team. She was reportedly scathing in her criticisms of the girls and said: girls whose absence from cricket practices result from their innate frivolity, going to riding, bathing or even playing tennis.

Christabel was very involved with the establishment of a Hockey Association for women. After the first England trials, organised by Miss Johnson of the Molesey Club at Neasden on 30th March 1895, the Misses Lawrence, Johnson and Jamieson held a meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a Ladies Hockey Association. (Hockey was introduced in the Autumn Term 1895 to Madame’s college which, by then, was at Dartford.)

Although neither team could be described as representative an English v Irish match was held on 10th April 1895. After the game, Christabel, together with the Misses Johnson, Guinness, Tatham and Jamieson, met in a tea shop in Brighton to make further plans for an Association. At this meeting Christabel volunteered to be the first Honorary Secretary and Treasurer and her offer was accepted.

Christabel’s obituary in the Roedean School Magazine dated 1952, recorded that: Mrs Cope Cornford was also present at the first formal meeting of the Ladies Hockey Association on 23rd November 1895 when she represented Wimbledon House School, which is now Roedean School. It was she who obtained permission from the A.E.W.H.A. to form the Sussex team which caused the whole question of County Teams to be discussed.

Christabel married Mr Cope Cornford in 1898 and, unusually for the time, continued to teach after her marriage. Christabel was made an Honorary Life Member of the A.E.W.H.A.