Sue Ray Our president, Mrs Hylda Rawlings, has set a task, to introduce one of our past presidents, about whom you may know very little, to current DPHS members.
Derek Rawlings wrote a heartfelt obituary when Margaret died. He listed the many National and County societies in which Margaret played a very active role in and in many cases took the lead in. DPHS was honoured to have her as president.
Hylda feels, quite rightly, that we know a great deal about Dame Margery Corbett Ashby, Phil Lucas, Peter Brandon and, of course, Hylda herself. But have you noticed the gap? The Margaret Holt shaped space? To fill in the space we set off on A Quest.
As with all such quests one person suggests another, then another and so we continue. For my part, the quest has been an excuse to meet up with old friends (all properly socially distanced in these Covid Times), drink tea, meet new people who have all shown themselves to feel greatly indebted to Margaret and the friends who remain devoted to her memory. This is the story of ‘Searching for Margaret’: friend, enthusiast, eternal Student, expert in timber framed buildings, expert in church architecture, cook and entertaining companion.
Margaret was Sussex through and through. She would only listen to Sussex radio and supported the many varied historical societies that featured the name of Sussex. Having lived part of her early life in an old, timber framed farmhouse near Henfield it is easy to see that it inspired her initial interest. This interest was to become an all-encompassing passion, obsession almost, for the old buildings of Sussex and The Weald in particular. This interest led her to meet many like-minded people some of whom became her students and have kindly shared their memories. Crossing Margret’s path with a mild interest was a non event. See Ann Knowles account of her memories of Margaret. Margaret’s enthusiasm to learn as much as possible on all things could, and often did, lead to others developing surprising interests. Margaret loved to learn. Everything historical was grist to her mill. Wearing her trademark red lipstick and striped shirts she led endless groups of students on field trips studying timber framed houses, mainly those in Sussex but excursions to foreign parts were not unknown. However, her desire to understand the development of building techniques took her over the county border and on one occasion she visited Tewksbury with some friends. Joan Dutton describes how Margaret climbed out of the hotel upstairs bedroom window to better appreciate the hotel’s architecture. Click the brown links below to find out more from: 1. Kay Coutin (to follow in February) 2. Ann Knowles With all these pages 3. Joan Dutton (to follow in February) use the back button to return here 4. Hylda Rawlings, Story 1 and Story 2 (to follow in February) 5. Obituary, Derek Rawlings 6. Publications
Conclusion: I hope you have realised what a truly exceptional person she was and also that you know Margaret, as a person, a little better. DPHS has been so very fortunate in their presidents all of whom have brought their own distinctive, individual expertise and enthusiasm to aid and promote the society. We should count ourselves s fortunate to have known them and had the benefit of their extensive knowledge. Now it is possible for Margaret Holt to take her rightful place on our ‘Honours Board’.
My gratitude to those people who have gone out of their way to introduce me to Margaret and allow me to participate in their memories and laughter: Kay Coutin, Joan Dutton, Ann Knowles, Janet Pennington, Hylda Rawlings (aided by Jill Rolfe).