Mrs Becher's Diary


The Bucks Enquiry

‘I don’t see why I should do Mrs Dunn’s spring cleaning for nothing’ – idle words spoken by a Girl Guide were responsible for an Enquiry held in London under Dame Helen Vaughan & the resignation of a very keen District Commissioner, etc, etc.

It had been agreed that a good test for the Housewife’s badge would be for a guide to turn out a room in a private house. Mrs Dunn had very kindly consented to allow the test to take place in her house. It happened that she was not very popular with one of the Guides & the fact that it was the season for Spring Cleaning, called forth the thoughtless remark. It was of course repeated & Mrs Holme, Sec to the Guide’s Committee told a fib with the object of covering up the episode. Somehow it all came out and grew in importance & the Chairman considered that as truthfulness was essential to the Girl Guide movement, it was necessary for Mrs Holme to resign. She agreed to do this & a Committee Meeting was called to which the D.C., Mrs Eyre, was asked to be present and receive the resignation.

At the meeting, Mrs Holme refused point blank to resign & made it all very difficult. Mrs Eyre unfortunately lost her temper & asked for the resignation. It was all very painful and not a little awkward.

We felt that we were due an apology from Mrs Eyre, who feeling thoroughly ashamed of herself gladly offered to do this & a meeting was called to accept the apology.  Very few of the Committee turned up, but all went as planned. Mrs Holme meanwhile appealed to influential friends & this caused many Committee members to stay away. Still the matter grew & Lord Dawson of Penn, & Mrs Elliott, (wife of the Bishop), took up the cudgels on behalf of Mrs Holme. The Vicar also threw in his weight on her side – he was not fond of Mrs Cuthbert, our Chairman & she was not one of his Parishioners.

Another G.G. Committee was called & without asking our consent or approval Lord Dawson appeared and calmly took the Chair. He asked us individually, (one after the other), Mrs Holme being present, whether we wished her to resign. Fear and awkwardness made most of those present reply indefinitely. I replied that my views had not changed & that I had no intention of discussing private G Guide affairs when an outsider was present.

The meeting proved unsatisfactory & Lord Dawson threatened Police Court Proceedings – the charge being defamation of character or libel against all members of the Committee.

Spending some hours of a lovely sunny day in Kings Wood, there came to me a complete solution to the problem. That evening I offered to go and see Lord Dawson – I explained my scheme to him & added that I was perhaps the only person who could approach ~ the Committee & that if he persuaded Mrs Holme to accept the conditions, I thought that I could deal satisfactoriIy with the others.

He called it a machiavellian scheme & promised that if I succeeded, the matter would be closed & he would be satisfied. The suggestion proved acceptable to everyone & a meeting was called & everything went according to plan. I had a letter from Dawson corroborating his promise & all seemed well.

But apparently there were other interests at work. The bishop’s wife had a long felt grievance against Mrs Eyre, & Lord Dawson – in spite of his promise was not content to let the matter drop. Apparently things went on seething below the surface. More trouble was made & the next thing that I heard was that a Bucks Enquiry was to be held in London under the Chairmanship of Dame Ethel Vaughan.

Purposely, I feel certain, I was not invited to be present. It would have been awkward for one who was going to give evidence and my name was suppressed.

The result of the enquiry was the resignation of Mrs Eyre, the District Commissioner. It broke her heart for the time being, for her whole life was bound up in the Guide Movement. The shock may have been indirectly & in some small measure responsible for the death of the baby she was shortly expecting. Another result was the change-over of our local Guide Committee from Beaconsfield to the High Wycombe District.