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Miss Lillian E Vobes

2010 reunion

A ilian Emma Vobes was born in November 1883 and attended Albany High School in Brighton and the Brighton Pupil Teacher Centre. She went on to University College, Wales at Aberystwyth in 1903 and gained a BA Honours degree in English.

Miss Vobes joined the Pupil Teacher Training Centre in Lewes in September 1906 and was appointed Principal in September 1910. When the Lewes County School for Girls was created in 1913 she was appointed the first Headmistress.

Miss Vobes resigned in 1935 and moved to Aberystwyth to look after her deceased sister's children. She died in early 1944 at the age of 60.

Miss Vobes - An Appreciation

2010 reunion

At ten years old I found Miss Vobes awe-inspiring. She looked down from a great height and her gown swept the floor. The funny little lift of her brow suggested that patience with the stupidity of the young was sometimes difficult.

I do not remember being particularly aware of her during the next three years. At thirteen one does not realize that the school of which one is a member is a young, an experimental community, and that its Head is something of a pioneer. But I began to find her interesting because of the new ideas she threw out. A scripture lesson might turn into a talk on astronomy or she might make one suddenly realize the world outside, as when Allenby entered Jerusalem. Then there was her sudden reference to the phrase, "Whose service is perfect freedom," and I began to have some faint idea of paradox and of the importance of service.

It was as teacher of English rather than as Head Mistress that she began to make me aware of her quality of mind and spirit. She was thorough, she was liberal, and she was stimulating. As awe decreased affection grew, and her particular combination of sympathy and humour was bracing. I think it was not until I was in VIA that I understood what qualities she valued most, and she herself summarized them in the lines she wrote in my autograph book:

"In things doubtful, liberty; In things essential, unity; In all things, charity."

To her Old Girls, Miss Vobes was a personal friend who, in a busy life, gave generously of her time and vigour, both in letters and hospitality. Her counsel was wise and her interest unfailing. It became increasingly easy to know her as a person and to appreciate her judgment. She would talk of gardens, of pictures or of books with her characteristic mingling of zest and discrimination. Not that she was academic. These interests were an enrichment of life, but the love of one individual for another, especially in the home, was a primary value, and this was clearly shown when she retired.

As a schoolgirl I did not realize her leadership and was quite unaware that the happiness of our school life and the absence of stress and strain depended largely on her gentleness, strength and vision. Looking back, I find it easier to see and understand these things. Even so, each one of us who knows something of her personal debt to Miss Vobes must find it impossible to grasp what she meant to the hundreds she influenced, and yet, when I heard of her death it was this thought that she lives so vividly in the lives of so many that I found comforting. It is, I believe, the best memorial to her.

Kathleen Vinall.
School Chronicle 1945