ABBEY SERIES SYNOPSES
Updated 7th May, 2016.
36. New Girls at Woodend (1957)
On the news that night they hear about the accident and the call for witnesses. They confess to Miss Rainey who arranges for them to be interviewed by the police. Their evidence clears the car driver Colonel Brandon, who invites them to tea to meet his daughter Brenda.
A former gardening mistress, Mrs Courtenay, nee Lisabel Durrant comes back to Woodend to teach for a few months, while her husband is overseas on business. She brings her baby Lisabel Rose with her. All the juniors love the baby, but it is Jean-Anne who spends the most time helping Mrs. Courtenay take care of her.
The juniors go riding with Mrs Courtenay. When Brenda drops out of a tree to tell the girls she is coming to the school with them, the horses bolt. Mrs Courtenay is taken unconscious to the Rose and Squirrel. Jean-Anne, drawing what she has learned, looks after the baby.
Brenda comes to Miss Rainey to confess that she was responsible for the accident. She is accepted into the school on probation. Later, she plans to take the juniors to look at her rabbits. Jannine, Bridget and Jean-Anne refuse, but Diane goes with her. Miss Cathcart, head of the parent school at Cliff End visits. When the school lines up for a parade of honour, the juniors and Robin, who has gone looking for them, are missing. They are punished by losing their round frocks.
Mrs. Courtenay recovers and returns to school in triumph. Miss Rainey decides that Diane should no longer be Junior Captain, and wants to appoint Jannine in her place, but Jannine refuses. However, as the story ends, it is clear that, should the head ask her again, she will accept the appointment.
37. Jandy Mac Comes Back.
Rosamund takes the two visitors to the Manor to surprise Jen, who insists they stay with her. Her husband is injured in an accident near their Yorkshire home, and she rushes off there with her baby and nurse. After a brief meeting with Joy's twins and other 'adoptee,' Maidlin, in the Abbey grounds, Jandy, Littlejan and Jen's other two younger children are swept off to Kentisbury by Rosamund, who arranges for Tansy Lillico to come and be company for Littlejan.
Littlejan and Tansy suspect that the chauffeur, Mr. Jackson, is plotting some crime. Rosamund arranges a birthday picnic for Rosemary Marchwood and all the other children, including baby Hugh Verriton, the Kentisbury's son. At the last minute, Rosemary is ill, and the Head Nurse must stay with her. Agatha, Tansy and Littlejan take charge of the rest, who leave in a car driven by Mr. Jackson. Disobeying Rosamund's strict orders not to leave the Home Park, he heads for the river bank, where his accomplices are waiting with a launch. They kidnap Agatha, Tansy, Hugh, his stepbrother Roderick and Mike Marchwood, leaving an injured Littlejan on the riverbank. Discovering that Hugh is the heir, they take him and Agatha, and abandon the others. Jandy Mac has seen the entire proceedings from a distance and rides frantically to alert the police. Littlejan is rescued and brought back to Kentisbury; later, Tansy and the two boys are found and brought back safely. After a long night of suspense, the kidnappers are arrested, and Hugh and Agatha brought home.
Lord Kentisbury makes Tansy and Littlejan a present of a horse each. Littlejan discloses that when her mother returns to Samoa, she will remain in England and go to the Wycombe school. Rosamund give Janice seven sapphires to have made into a ring, which, among other things, will remind her that her daughter will not lack for 'guardians' during her time in England.
38. Two Joans at the Abbey
The twins, in their search for a billet for Littlejan's pony, Chestnut, have found a tunnel in the Abbey grounds. They and Jansy explore it, and find themselves in the big barn at the next farm. All well versed in stories of the Abbey, they immediately recognise the figure of the Abbot, Michael, over the door. Returning through the tunnel, the group is trapped when Jansy pulls out a dangerous looking brick from the roof, causing it to collapse. A second brick falls and injures Jansy. Littlejan explores the tunnel, and is also injured in another roof fall.
Maidlin and Rosamund visit, and Littlejan persuades the twins to show the adults their find. Joan joyfully reclaims the Abbey Tithe Barn, and the farmer, John Edwards, is happy to yield possession. Jen, making an unexpected visit from Yorkshire, welcomes the Barn in typical fashion, playing her Morris pipe while the others dance. Jandy makes a flying visit from Scotland to "inspect Littlejan's bandages", and is reassured that her daughter has settled very happily at the Hall.
A month later, as preparations are under way for a Hamlet Club party to welcome the barn, John Edwards discovers an Abbey bell, Cecilia, who rings out her first welcome to call dancers to the party. Joan Raymond gives Littlejan a green dancing frock, matching those of the twins and Jansy. She presents Jandy with the book of pictures of Littlejan which Jack Raymond has made for her to take away with her. Littlejan makes it clear that she has already imbued the Spirit of the Abbey, and Jandy is once again reassured that her daughter will be well looked after during her time in England.
39. Abbey Champion (1946)
Littlejan is to stay on at the Hall and to go to school at Wycombe with Jansy. Maid gets married. Rachel and Damaris, Jansy and the twins were her bridesmaids. Miss Macey and the Hamlet Club queens attend as well as the Camp Fire Girls.
Littlejan talks to Mary Dorothy about the Hamlet Club, saying that none of the senior girls are interested in it any more and the dances are stale. Mary persuades her to talk to Joan, who suggests she talks to the President about the problem. Jen is upset because Kenneth is not recovering from his car accident in Yorkshire. She decides to return to Yorkshire to be with him. Mary Dorothy goes with her to help.
Littlejan sees the President. They decide to organise a weekend dancing school with a teacher from London and to revive a traditional Folk Play, first performed at school, during Maidlin's reign, and including St. George, the Fool or Slasher or Doctor or Priest. Tazy Kingston, who once shared rooms with Joy, Joan, Jen and Cicily at a Cheltenham Folk Dance School, and now Mrs Thistleton, is the weekend school teacher. Littlejan has the idea of the Hamlet Club presenting Margia Lane with a gold medal to mark her 21 years of playing for the Club. There is a dance evening with a procession of queens. The Folk play is performed at Christmas, to loud acclaim. A second weekend school, featuring a repeat performance of the play, is set for the end of the Christmas holidays, but postponed when Jansy develops chickenpox and Littlejan quarantines herself to help look after her. A one-day event takes place at the end of January.
At a party held in the Tithe barn in February, Littlejan is selected as the new Queen, and chooses marigolds as her flower. She is crowned, with Jean as her maid. Rosamund has twin daughters Rosabel and Rosalin. Maidlin has twin girls Marjorie Joy and Dorothy Rose. Jandy Mac has a daughter Cecily Rose.
40. Daring Doranne (1945)
Doranne meets Marius and Maureen hints that Aunt Dora Anne has a different name and has a strange visitor. Doranne tells her aunt about Maureen and Marius and her aunt tells her about Mr James, her lawyer.
Doranne goes out for the day and comes back to find out her aunt has died. Gwen comes from
Rainbow Corner to stay with her for company. Mr James tells Doranne that she has been left
a large estate including Rainbows as well as the cottage Dunoon. Doranne and Gwen drive
out to Rainbows and while eating the gooseberries are caught by the caretaker Alexander
Duffy. Marius Doring is brought over from the aerodrome to vouch for her identity. He
tells her that her aunt leased out the aerodrome for five years and asks to continue to do
so and build a village for the airmen and their families to live close by.
41. Elsa Puts Things Right (1944)
Then Nancibel receives a letter that her other grandfather, Sir John Seymour, had left her twenty pounds in his will, which means that she and Polly can now start up the shop. At first, Nancibel wants to call it the Seymour Arms.
Gilbert and Annemaria, Mya for short, determine to meet her. On his journey to Priorsbury
Gilbert meets Nancibel in the marshes and offers her a lift. Mya also blurts out how the
grandfather left Nancibel twenty pounds out of spite to her father, and Nancibel rushes
off very upset.
Nancibel tells Elsa how she felt when she found out Elsa was operating her grandfather's ferry. Elsa is distressed by this and Nancibel apologises. She leaves the ferry unsecured and it slips its mooring and floats away. The girls have to walk round home, which is a much longer journey than the ferry trip is, and Nancibel misses her bus home. She stays the night with Elsa, who offers to share the ferry operation with her. Nancibel decides to stay with Polly, but she and Elsa become friends.
Robin comes to meet her, bringing a letter from her South African uncle offering her an annual allowance. Nancy and Polly decide to call the shop 'The Nance and Polly" . Nancibel visits Summerton and dresses up like her ancestress, giving Gilbert ideas about the future, but he soon realises that with Robin around, Nancibel's affections are already firmly fixed elsewhere.
42. Robins in the Abbey
Rosamund and Maidlin, each with their twin babies, greet Joy at the Hall. Maidlin and her family move into The Pallant. The twins and Littlejan find Michael, the companion Abbey bell. Joan Raymond's third daughter is born. Jen and Kenneth leave on a long trip, which will complete his recovery from his accident and allow Jen, too, to rest. Ivor Quellyn and a cousin, Rob, a painter with a strong musical bent, arrive during the Hamlet Club's party in Joy's honour.
Robin tells Ivor and Rob her plans to divide the property between herself and Gwyneth fach. She returns to Quellyn to prepare for her mother bringing her injured father home.
Joy, Ivor and the children return to New York. Rob visits North Wales, then Scotland. He pays flying visits to the Abbey, to paint. Littlejan regularly gives both Rob and Robin news of each other.
Jen and Kenneth return in time for Jean's coronation. Rosamund has just had a second set of twin girls. Robin and Rob attend the coronation, but have no private conversation. Rob flees to Europe, leaving arrangements for an exhibition of his paintings in the hands of agents. It is clear to the Abbey clan that he is shying away from declaring his love for Robin.
Robin's father dies, and her mother becomes seriously ill. Littlejan writes to tell Rob, but he arrives at the Hall two days before he could possibly have had her letter, driven, he said, by the feeling that Robin needed him. He goes to Quellyn and they become engaged. Their honeymoon trip is to the Abbey. The Hamlet Club dances in their honour, Jansy teaches her first dance to the Club, and Joan announces the birth of Jen's twin boys, Christopher and Bernard.
No. 43 Margery Meets the Roses
44. A Fiddler for the Abbey
The first evening of the weekend school passes uneventfully, but when they return to the Hall, Joan Raymond is waiting to take Littlejan to York where her brother Alan has to have an operation. As Littlejan's maid, Jean should automatically deputise for her, but the same evening, Jean is called away by her mother. This means that she, too, is unavailable to teach in Marigold's place, though this is a relief to her rather than otherwise.
Jansy and Nanta go to tell the Hamlet Club that the rest of the school is cancelled, but the others want to dance for an hour, at least. They ask Jansy to tell them where they go wrong and she does so. After the first couple of dances, the dancers, led by Tessa and Phyl, persuade Jansy to continue to teach them for the rest of the weekend school. By previous arrangement, and not knowing what had happened, Jen calls at the school to teach one dance. She later reports on Jansy's teaching to Mary, Rosamund and Maidlin.
Tessa and Phyl persuade Nanta to come to school as a cookery student after her sister's wedding the following Spring. Mary Dorothy publishes a new book. Marigold returns. At the next Hamlet Club dance Jansy is selected as the new Queen. She chooses lobelia with white diamonds on the train. She is crowned, with Nanta as her maid.
45. Guardians of the Abbey (1950)
Meanwhile, Damaris finally consents to see Daphne who announces that she is to marry Richard David Dandy, an American, known as Dicky D. Elsa is to marry Sir Rodney Barron, the colonel's son. Damaris is cross with Daphne for abandoning dancing but Madame Roskova is supportive.
At Christmas, Joan sends Rachel material to make the monk's robes which she will wear as Abbey Guide. She sends Damaris one of Robert Quellyn's pen and ink drawings of the Abbey. Sir Robert Duncan drives Rachel and Damaris to the Abbey and they are installed by Mary Dorothy who has had their living rooms decorated for them.
While Rachel soon settles into her role, there is less for Damaris to do, and she becomes understandably depressed. With a view to cheering her, Jansy and Littlejan take Damaris to the meadow by the gatehouse and show her the crocuses planted by Mrs Watson. This gives Damaris the idea of turning the meadow into a garden and everyone gives her cuttings from their own gardens. Maidlin also brings them two kittens, Miss Nigger and Angel (later Rory). Understanding her need for occasional complete solitude, Joan gives Damaris the key to the Abbot's private sanctuary, which is not open to tourists. Dicky Dandy pays for the paving stones for the gardens. Damaris finds the Abbot's private chapel beyond the sanctuary. Joy and Ivor and their family return from New York to find the Abbey meadow transformed into a garden.
46. Rachel in the Abbey (1952)
Joy meets Benedicta again and Benedicta is offered the job of working in the Abbey garden as Damaris's assistant. She will live with Mrs Puddephat in the village, but first of all, she goes to stay with Gail for three weeks while her brother Jimmy is overseas.
Captain Fraser comes to the Hall to collect Littlejan to take her back to Ceylon to help her mother with the baby. Jansy is very upset that Littlejan has to go, and Rachel comforts her. Littlejan has one last night in Mary Dorothy's room. Rachel is given the nickname of Abbot. Benedicta goes to Kentisbury Castle for the day and meets Rosalind again.
Miss Macey has retired and the new head, Miss Raven, is making changes. She has replaced Mademoiselle with an "English" French teacher, and ruled that henceforth, girls in the sixth form must wear skirts instead of tunics, except for gym and games. The sixth rebel against Miss Raven's changes but Rosalind refuse to join in (Jansy isn't sixth form yet). Rosalind, with the support of Jansy as Queen, persuades the Hamlet Club to support the new head and give the lead to the rest of the school. The new French teacher, Miss Verity, turns out to be the niece of the 3rd Hamlet Club Queen, Marguerite Verity.
The farm horses bolt through the Abbey grounds, placing Damaris's garden in danger. Benedicta succeeds in diverting them, but is injured. Damaris is practising dance steps in private (actually in the Abbot's sanctuary, where no-one can see her). The twins go to school, where Elizabeth is hailed as a welcome cellist in the school orchestra but Margaret, though accepted, is "just another violin". This is hard for her, since, playing the higher pitched instrument, she has always taken the lead when playing trios with Elizabeth and their mother.
On her 18th birthday, Rosalind is chosen the next queen of the Hamlet Club; she also learns that her sister Virginia, and Jen Marchwood have had babies the same day, and she is to be godmother to both. She and Jansy take a twin each as maids. After her crowning, Damaris tells Rachel and Benedicta that she has regained "that special movement"; she will be returning to her career in ballet.
47. Dancer from the Abbey
On a visit to Bell's Farm next door, Brian and Benedicta examine a bowl in a field which animals use as a drinking trough. The members of a tea party held by Jen at the manor visit the Abbey and are excited by the story told by old Mrs Edwards. The story goes back several generations and reveals that Ambrose himself left the bowl, part of the Abbey church font in the field in an attempt to hide it from King Henry's men who had destroyed the Abbey.
Damaris works hard but is upset when Rachel asks her after a musical evening at the Hall whom Damaris thinks Brian comes to visit. Damaris is forced to face her feelings for Brian, when Rachel suggests that is Benedicta that he visits.
After completion of Damaris' training, she and Rachel head north to their old farm. It is there that Damaris decides that she cares enough for Brian to give up her dancing career. Brian is summoned and proposes to Damaris.
Damaris' first performance is eagerly awaited and she is given a standing ovation as she leaps on stage for the first time. Brian is overwhelmed by the response to Damaris' return.
The next morning, Damaris is back home at the Abbey dressed in shorts and working in her garden waiting for Brian's visit and convinces him that she is ready to give up her career with a June wedding.
48. The Song of the Abbey
At Kentisbury, Rosalind meets Bill and Patch Kane, who have come to announce their marriage to Rosamund and Geoffrey. Patch will work in the Kentisbury nurseries while Bill returns to the Navy.
The Hamlet Club crowning and party go ahead as scheduled, and only the school knows of the compromise. The Club presents Rosalind with a sapphire ring in appreciation of what she is doing. Mary Damayris' farewell performance is announced. Carry Carter tries to enlist Joy's help in getting a ticket, and receives a withering refusal. The girls see Tessa there, but are relieved to find that her mother had bought their tickets as a surprise.
Damaris and Brian are married. Rosalind meets Derek Grandison. He visits the Hall and the Abbey. Rosalind and Lady Joy play his violin sonata. He is inspired to compose a piece for solo violin and small orchestra depicting the Abbey history.
Tessa receives her queen's medal at the beginning of the Autumn term. The relationship between Rosalind and Derek grows gradually as work on the Song of the Abbey progresses. Just before Christmas, Patch Kane gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
The violin sonata and the Song of the Abbey are premiered before an invited audience in John Grant Grandison's home in London. Both are well received, and Rosalind's future as a soloist assured.
Rosalind and Derek's relationship strengthens and deepens through the Spring. They announce their engagement and their intention to start married life in Rainbows Village.
49.Two Queens at the Abbey
Jansy has been on a Spring cruise with Hamlet Club President Cicely Everett and her family. On her return, a conversation with her mother suggests she may well marry Dickon Everett in time. The Hamlet Club has a party to honour Littlejan and Len. Rosalind comes to help play for the dancing wearing a very new engagement ring.
Margaret is appointed leader of the school orchestra. The other strong contender, Jennifer, really wants to go on with music and can only do so if her godfather will help finance her training. He needs to see her in a leading position and playing solos before he will consider this. Once she understands, Margaret asks Miss Howard to appoint Jennifer in her stead. The decision is not easy for Margaret, but is made more acceptable by her peers' open appreciation of her action. She finally becomes leader when Jennifer goes on to more specialised training in the Autumn.
Lindy Bellane needs to escape the attentions of Sir Konrad Abrahams. She and Littlejan flee to Step Down. Donald Robertson follows them there and repulses Sir Konrad on Lindy's behalf. She and Donald eventually become engaged.
As feared, Phyl puts her own needs ahead of the Club's at all times. The twins assume more and more Club responsibilities. They are rewarded when the Club elects them as Twin Queens; they will be the Buttercup and Daisy Queens.
Jandy Mac arrives in England the day after Littlejan gives birth to a son, Ian. Len is badly hurt in an accident in Antarctica; once he is moved to Sydney, Littlejan and Ian go to him there.
Jansy becomes Head Girl. Less than a week before May Day, Margaret develops chickenpox, and the Coronation is postponed. Len is coming to London for treatment. It's not certain if the family will arrive in time for the postponed celebrations, but as the procession of Queens files into the Hall, Littlejan slips in and takes her place in the line.
Joy speaks of her delight that Littlejan chose to have her baby at the Hall. As the book [and the Abbey series] closes, Littlejan reminds her that, regardless of where they may live, ... "The Abbey is home to all of us; this house and the Abbey - it's all the same! Oh, Aunty Joy! Surely you know that - you and the Abbey - it's home!"
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