Notebook Of Real-Life ‘Mary Poppins’ Who Founded Nanny School Is Uncovered After 125 Years


SWNS_NORLAND_DIARY_005This manual written by a real-life ‘Mary Poppins’ when she opened the world’s most famous nanny school has been found – after 125 YEARS.

The notebook was penned by Emily Ward in 1892 as a ‘spoonful of advise’ to the new starters at Norland College.

Norland went on to become an elite training school for nannies hired by the wealthy, royalty and oligarchs.


She created the school for nursery nurses in distinctive uniforms to be employed by wealthy families to take some of the pressure off mothers.

Emily kept a note book which doubled as a diary and training manual which laid out her vision for the academy and what is expected of all students.

The notebook, which has been seen for a century, has now been found in a dusty box in an attic at the college’s current HQ in Bath, Somerset.

It states how the institute was a chance for “the better and more educated class of women to enter the ranks of domestic service”.

The world famous Norland nannies.
The world famous Norland nannies.

It includes letters, press clippings and entries which date from May 14th 1892 through to November 6th 1919.

The fragile pages contain personal insights into the college at its original site at 19 Holland Park in Notting Hill in London in Autumn 1892.

The black leather bound A5 book contains over 120 pages of first-hand accounts of the founding days of the college, or Norland Institute as it was first known.

In the excerpts, Emily Ward tells of the challenges of starting an educational establishment to train young women in the new profession of a nanny.

SWNS_NORLAND_DIARY_004Today nannies learn how to deal with paparazzi – but the study included: ‘Needlework, Hygiene, Fröbelian instruction and Hospital teaching’.

The fees for six months of training were £36 residential and £25 non-residential, which would be £3,200 and £2,200 respectively at today’s prices.

Salaries were £20 for first year, with an increase by £2 for next 4 years – £1,800 at today’s prices.

It was lost for years but the notebook was found by a lecturer at the college, Elizabeth Kerry, who was sorting out old boxes at the college’s site in Bath, Somerset.

Norland founder Emily Ward.
Norland founder Emily Ward.

She said: ””When Norland College was moving to Bath a group of us packed up non-sensitive documents and files.

”I had a box of artefacts and just put the box in my loft at home. Whilst sorting out my paperwork recently,

”I stumbled across the box; it was the first time I have really looked at what is inside.

”Amongst all of the items was a leather bound book, with pieces of newspaper sticking out of the sides.

The notebook
The notebook

”As soon as I opened the first page and saw the handwriting and the date ‘1892’ I thought ‘Oh my goodness, this is Emily Ward’s notebook.

”I gently packaged up the book and brought it into the college for the team to see.”

“There has been a great deal of excitement about the notebook.

”The pages are very delicate in places, but there are so many pages of information and cuttings from those early days, which are so precious and valuable to us.”

In 1892 Ms Ward’s dream became reality, with five pupils enrolled in the centre at Holland Park, Notting Hill, London.

SWNS_NORLAND_DIARY_013Stating her ambitions for the training college, Ms Ward wrote: “To supply the public with ladies as trained nurses for young children.

“To form a new occupation for young women whose circumstances do not enable them to undergo the long course of professional training essential to a successful educational career.”

According to the book the school ”to the mother means freedom from some of the most wearying anxiety that comes with the care of children, more leisure for her own recreation; pleasure in the company of an educated equal and the help which comes in working hand-in-hand with another bent on the same object.

Prince George is looked after by a former Norland nanny
Prince George is looked after by a former Norland nanny

“To the nurse it means a home where the ordinary domestic virtues of no special market value are appreciated – a position of confidence and trust, a healthful life, and above all, the sense that the character of a future generation is to a certain extent, in her hands.”

The book says: “The Nurse works with and not instead of, or for, the mother.

“To the mother it means freedom from some of the most wearying anxiety that comes with the care of children, more leisure for her own recreation.”

SWNS_NORLAND_DIARY_018The current principle of Norland College, Dr Janet Rose, said: “Before that time, the role of the ‘children’s nurse’ or nanny was a last resort job, if you had exhausted all other options.”

Ms Ward’s immaculate handwriting detailed the names and addresses of people wanting a nursery nurse – from Chelsea, to Somerset, Manchester and even Moscow.

It shows Emily held a series of ‘drawing room’ meetings in wealthy areas of London, to gain interest from local families and hospitals, where the students would work.


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