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Photo of Evelyn May Perry

Evelyn May Perry

Organiser of Physical Education
Birthplace Hampshire Dogsmerfield England Date of Birth: February 22, 1894 Date of Death: January 6, 1976


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) :
Evelyn May/Mary Perry

Gender: Female
Date and place of birth: 22nd February 1894, Dogmersfield, Hampshire
Date and Place of Death: 6th January 1976, Manor House Nursing Home, Gloucester

One of 5, only the girls survived.
Revd Roger Eustace Perry and Julia nee Leamon
Parents occupations
Anglican vicar
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:
Godolphin School, Salisbury 1901 census Godolphin History | Godolphin School

Chelsea College 1902-04? King’s Collections : Online Exhibitions : History of Chelsea College (
Teacher of Physical training in London and Dunfermline College of Hygiene and Phys Ed

Organiser of Physical training at Gretna

Place of residence at Gretna:
Not known
Marital status
None known

Positions held
Senior Inspector of Women ( HMI ) PT
Trivia / any other information:

Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Ida Webb, Challenge of Change, 1998

Dr I C MacLean The History of Dunfermline College of Physical Education

Blogs about the individual:
Websites about the individual:

Further links, notes, and comments:
King’s Collections : Online Exhibitions : History of Chelsea College (

From the Archives of Godolphin (



Evelyn May Perry 1894-1976


Evelyn May (Mary) Perry was born on 22nd February 1894 in Dogmersfield, Hampshire to Reverend Roger Eustace Perry and Julia nee Leamon.

Roger was the son of a surgeon from Hackford , Norfolk and Julia the daughter of  a gentleman farmer of Whitwell , Norfolk. Julia was one of nine children. ( 1881 census)

They were married on 26th August 1879 at Whitwell. The marriage banns tell us that Roger was 29 and Julia 22. Roger’s occupation at the time was Gentleman as was Julia’s father’s occupation. Roger’s father was a surgeon. 

Hilda Annie Stephanie ,the first of their 5 children,  was born on 26th December 1880 at Bishopton, Gloucestershire where the 1891 census informs us that Roger was the curate. 

In 1882 , the first of 2 sons, Henry Bernard was born whilst the family were still living in Gloucestershire.

On 22nd February 1894, Evelyn May/Mary arrived at Dogmersfield , Hampshire where her father was the incumbent vicar. She was baptised on 13th April, perhaps by her father. 

Muriel Stoughton  born on 15th February 1886 and Eustace Cecil born 1888 were also born in Hampshire.

In January 1891 , Evelyn’s father died  aged 41 at Aldham, Essex, leaving a  34 year old widow with a young family. By the time of the of the 1891 census taken on 5th  April  Julia had moved in with her brother in law , Dr Edward Verdan Perry, a 39 year old bachelor clearly of comfortable means at Dereham Rd , Hackford, Norfolk. The household comprised of a 22 year old governess employed to teach Julia’s children. Hilda now 10, Evelyn 7 and Muriel 5. Eustace Cecil was only 2. There was also a coachman, a nurse and 2 domestic servants. 

Henry Bernard is missing from the family 1891 census return, he appears on the return for the Cathedral school , Norwich.

There are numerous advertisements in the local press , placed by Edward between 1895 and at least 1906 for a “ good PLAIN cook” Norfolk Times 1897, “ a second chauffeur” , “groom”. All are brief and to the point. He needed a good plain cook again in 1901 so perhaps the 1897 one moved on. 

By the 1901 census, Evelyn as a 17 year old is a boarder at Godolphin School, Salisbury, Wiltshire. The school website tells us that this was founded  in “1726 from a bequest made by Elizabeth Godolphin (1663–1726) “for the better education and maintenance of eight young gentlewomen …”

The school was ‘refounded in 1890 by Mary Douglas so Evelyn would have been one of the first pupils. The school expanded to 230.

“Miss Douglas was one of the great pioneers in the education of girls and her belief in the right use of freedom, in the absence of petty rules, and in self-discipline has left its impression on the school for all time. “Godolphin History | Godolphin School 

From the Archives of Godolphin ( is a source of photographs of Miss Douglas and her staff in 1905.

Hilda , 20, is an English teacher at St Margaret’s Independent day and boarding school for girls at Bushey, Hertfordshire on her  1901 census return.

Henry, 18, is found living at home with his mother at 38, Hurlingham Rd, Fulham. Henry is a bank clerk. Julia is now 44 , living on own means. They also have  a visitor who is a fellow bank clerk of Henry’s.

Muriel now 15 can be found at the Draper’s School , Twickenham.

We know that Evelyn was on the staff of Dunfermline College of Hygiene and Physical Training from at least 1905 – 1907. The History of Dunfermline College of Physical Education, Dr I C MacLean, Appendix 11 “ College and Gymnasium Staff 1905 Staff – Evelyn Perry, Certified by Fraulein Wilke, Physical Training College, South Western Polytechnic.”

This indicates that she between 1901 when we saw her at Godolphin  School and 1905 she must have spent time studying to become a PT teacher. In “ The Challenge of Change in Physical Education by Ida M Webb 100 Chelsea School 1898-1998” Evelyn has a paragraph dedicated to her in chapter Foundation 1898-1929. King’s Collections : Online Exhibitions : History of Chelsea College (

Here we learn that she was appointed as Assistant at the Carnegie Gymnasium Dunfermline on leaving Chelsea College.  It also tells us that  Evelyn taught in schools, pupil teachers centres  and colleges in London. The 1911 census corroborates this as it finds her employed by London County Council as a teacher of physical training living at 45, Cyril Mansions, Battersea with a fellow employee who is a science lecturer plus a housekeeper. 

At this time Evelyn’s mother is living in 9 rooms at 51 Dukes Avenue, Chiswick with son Henry 29 , a bank clerk and daughter Hilda 30 a teacher.

The same census for Muriel aged 25 finds her living alone, a domestic science mistress for cRoydon Education Committee. Unusually no address is included on the form.

We go on to learn from Ida Webb’s book that in 1916-1917 Evelyn was appointed by the War Office to HM Munitions Factory, Gretna as organiser of physical education. This must have occurred by the first half of 1917 as there are numerous press reports of Gymnastic displays at the Borders Hall, Gretna from May 1917 onwards , Evelyn is usually mentioned although occasionally her name is incorrect for instance Parry. This is where we also learn that she had a joint organiser, Miss Bonner. 

Following the Royal visit to the Factory in May 1917 the following report appeared in “Dumfries and Galloway Standard – Saturday 19 May 1917”


… last visit before luncheon, the Border Hall, a spacious used for assembly purposes. It is capable of accommodating over a thousand persons, and is very ingeniously arranged so that spaces running along the whole length of each side can be screened off for smaller balls and classrooms, and still leave large hall in the middle, in which the time of the visit numerous company girls were engaged, with great spirit, in course physical exercises, much to the apparent interest the royal party. Miss Parry and Miss Bonner, the instructresses, were presented to the King”

In July 1917 Evelyn was involved in yet another display, this time as a fund raiser.

Dumfries and Galloway Standard – Saturday 14 July 1917

“GRETNA connection with’ Scotland’s Red Cross week a number of entertainments wore hold in Gretna, organised under the direction of Lady Johnson-Ferguson of Red Cross vice-president for that district. Wednesday a display of gymnastics, games, and dancing was given in the Border Hall by munitions workers, under the direction of Miss Perry and Miss Bonner. The performance was excellent, and proved the great interest taken the girls in the Swedish exercises and various dances, English and foreign, for most of which national costumes were worn. (>n Friday moat successful ball was hold in the Border Hall, which over were present. The military band from camp, by kind permission of Lieutenant-Colonel Monk Mason, played music for dancing. Among those present were Sir Edward and Lady Johnson- Ferguson Springkell; Sir Edward Pearson, Lieut.-Colonel Monk Mason “

Evelyn obviously had an important role to play. We also know that she probably played hockey for the Factory team. A visitor to the museum thinks she has identified Evelyn on the back row of a hockey team photograph wearing a scooped tunic – a sign of an instructress . There is also a hint of the Dunfermline College badge. This could also possibly be Miss Bonner, her fellow trainer. 

It is not clear what Muriel and Hilda did during the war. The 1918 electoral register for 51 Dukes Rd, Chiswick lists Muriel. Henry was a Captain in the 13th ( County of London) Princess Louises, Kensington Battallion. On 6th November he was killed in action in France aged 34 and is buried at Valenciennes ( St Roch ) Communal Cemetery. He was mentioned in despatches.  http://www.cwgc.orgSon of the late Rev. R. E. Perry and of Mrs. Julia Perry, of 51, Duke’s Avenue Chiswick, London. Born at Gloucester.” With a personal inscription of “ He was proved and found worth”

Emotionally the death of Henry  must have been hard on the whole family which now consisted of just the three sisters, all teachers, and their mother.

We know that in February 1918 , according to Ida Webb in her book, Evelyn became an HMI PT so she cannot have been at the factory when her brother was killed nor can she have been there much longer than a year. From the same source we know that she later became the Senior Woman Inspector of PT.

Uncle, Dr Edward Verdan Perry OBE ,died in 1929. It is not evident why he was awarded an OBE nor why there is  no mention of family members in Probate. A newspaper report of his death gives us an insight into the fact that he and his father gave continuous service as medical practitioners to the local community for 82 years.

The 1939 register for Hilda places her in Northampton as an “assistant mistress science”, similarly Muriel can be found at Brunswick Square, Gloucester lodging with a clerk in holy orders and his mother. She is also listed as a teacher.

The 1939 register is not evident for either  Julia or Evelyn. 

Ida Webb does tell us that Evelyn served as the Chelsea Old Students’ Association representative on the first Governing Body of the College from 1947 to 1952.

Julia died in August 1954 in Berkshire , aged 97. Probate was granted to Muriel and Evelyn, spinsters.

The 3 sisters survived into the seventies. Hilda lived until 1970, Muriel until 1977 and Evelyn until 6th January 1976 at Manor House Nursing Home, Gloucester. She died aged 92 leaving an estate worth £36,970.

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