Scribe of Old Windsor
1932 – 2016
Knowledgeable authors of the calibre of Margaret Frances Gilson are not two a penny and are, moreover, the lifeblood of any local history group. Margaret Gilson’s sudden demise in February this year dealt a cruel blow to the Windsor Group of which she was a member for over twenty years.
During that time Margaret contributed a number of articles for “Windlesora”. Her writings were concisely expressed, well-researched, full of interest, and very readable. Her subjects all concerned Old Windsor, the village where, with her late husband Chris, she had lived and which she had loved for very many years.
Articles that flowed so easily from her pen included the Pennyroyal Alms Houses, the Crimp Hill Workhouse, St Andrew’s Church, Old Windsor Scouts, and the Beaumont Estate.
These were not all. In 1999 she published Buildings of Old Windsor which was very well received, then in 2012, she published A Sound and Happy School, a definitive and acclaimed om of St Peter’s Church of England School, of which she was Chairman of the Governors for thirteen years. The reviewer for Was |History Group wrote: “This is a delightful history, deserving of a readership far beyond the school; a sound and happy read indeed.”
Her activities were not confined to the written word. It was due to her and Chris’s initiative that in 1961 Windsor and Eton Opera was re-ignited following wartime cessation, the initial meeting being held in the Gilson’s front room. Margaret was also an active member successively of the Old Windsor WI and when that closed, of the WI in the Great Park.
Apart from her lecturing and teaching career in Derbyshire, together with her other interests, Margaret was an active member of the Arthur Ransome Society of which, as one of six trustees she sat on the South Regional Board. It is easy to see her attraction to such novels as “Swallows and Amazons” and “Pidgeon Post” which were written in a gentler age than our own.
The meetings of the Group will be much diminished without Margaret’s presence. She wasn’t especially voluble but when she did speak, occasionally with a whiff of controversy, which one suspects that with a twinkle in her eye, she rather enjoyed. Her remarks were always to the point and worth hearing.
Margaret is much missed as a sound and happy lady indeed.
John E. Handcock (Windlesora 32)