RECENTLY The Press carried an interview with Eileen Goodrum.

Eileen, now 85, went to York’s Grey Coat School in Monkgate from 1940-46. Under the pen-name Helen Jackson, she has written a book  - Means of Grace - about her wartime years at the school.

She gave us several photographs of the school and its girls. We were only able to use one in our original piece. So here are a couple more.

The school had been founded in 1705 as a charity school for girls who had lost one or both parents. Its aim was to train them for domestic service - and it was still doing just that in the 1940s, when Eileen went there.

The Grey Coat she went to was, in many ways, a school out of time, she said. It was very institutionalised, and everything had to be done just so. The girls had to get up at 6.30am every day, do cleaning chores, and follow a series of daily routines. “For example, we were required to do everything in age order – eat, sleep, line up, walk in crocodile, knit, and so on,” Eileen said.

York Press:

Pupils at a 'sale of work' day held at the school in the 1940s to heklp raise money

As for the matrons who ran the school - they were firm but well-intentioned, Eileen said. But there was no affection shown to the girls who went there. “We were not there to be given affection. We were there to be trained as servants.”

Eileen passed her school scholarship, went to grammar school then university, and became a teacher.

Bit she lost touch with all her former schoolmates.

So if there are any other former Grey Coat girls still out there, we’d love to hear from you...

  • Means of Grace by Helen Jackson is self-published by Eileen Goodrum, priced £7.99. It is available from the Little Apple bookshop in High Petergate, from York Publishing Services in Hallfield Road or online from

York Press:

Eileen Goodrum with her book