"Well, said Mary Seton, about the year 1860 - Oh, but you know the story"
Manuscript of the song 'The Girton Pioneers' (1876-84)
Public DomainManuscript of the song 'The Girton Pioneers' (1876-84) - Credit: A.E. Tuthill publishers

Here, Mary Seton begins to tell the story of the founding of Fernham which (with some concessions to the fictional stance which Virginia Woolf adopts in A Room of one's own) is the story of the founding of Girton College.

Girton, the first residential women's college in Britain, was established in 1869 by Emily Davies (1830-1921) and Barbara Bodichon (1827-1891).

A song entitled 'The Girton Pioneers', was composed to commemorate the first students of the college who took University exams. The words are a parody of the words of the song, 'The British Grenadiers', and they are sung to the same tune.