Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/210

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CHAPTER V

1860–1870

NOTTINGHAM PLACE SCHOOL. BEGINNING OF HOUSING WORK

The removal to 14, Nottingham Place was one of the great crises in Octavia’s life. The housing work, with which her name is specially connected, was organised in this new home; and here began the regular co-operation of the sisters in the educational work, which they felt to be so important in itself, and which, as will be seen from the letters, linked itself on so happily to the work among the poor tenants of the Marylebone courts.

On the other hand, this period was marked by special troubles; which, however, led to the formation of new friendships, and the strengthening of old. Thus the value of her friendship with Mr. William Shaen, which had been realised many years earlier, was yet more fully appreciated, in consequence of the difficulties connected with the purchase of Ruskin’s houses; and the help, then begun, continued throughout his life. Her friendship with Mrs. Nassau Senior, the sister of Mr. Thomas Hughes, was increased by the ability which she brought to bear in the arrangement of the accounts for the houses.[1] A time of great despondency and pain, during Octavia’s first visit to Italy, led her to appreciate the sympathy of her friend, Miss Mayo;

  1. How difficult some of Octavia’s zealous workers found this problem may be gathered from the following story:—On one occasion she heard a stormy altercation going on between one of her collectors and a tenant, and found that the point at issue was whether the rent due was 6s. 11d. or 7s. all but a penny.

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