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School Empire Tours Record 1927-1939

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3011FFF

Scope and Contents

A collection of photographs, by various photographers, relating to School Empire Tours, probably compiled by Miss Margaret Best. All the prints are captioned and some also have dates and places written on the back in Miss Best's hand.

It should be noted that most of the images show groups of the participants, either before setting out or in the country concerned, but there is very little to show their activities - the 1932 tour to Canada is the best in this respect. It is clear from the S.E.T. Committee Minute Books that many other photographs, and some films, were taken on the tours, but the only examples of these are in the form of 108 lantern slides from the 1929 tour to New Zealand. There are no photographs of the following tours: West Indies 1935, India 1939 and Canada 'B' 1939.


  • Creation: 1927 - 1939


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Margaret Mary Best (widely known as 'Maggie') was born on 6 October 1872, the eldest daughter of Lieutenant Colonel George Best, who succeeded his cousin as 5th Baron Wynford at the age of 65 and died a year later. She was active in various local bodies in Dorset - Cottage Hospital, Red Cross, Arts and Craft - and from 1915 to 1918 was a clerk in the War Office. From November 1919 to March 1920 she visited India, where her brother was a Forestry Officer. In 1925 she became Honorary Secretary of an experimental School Empire - Tour Committee which organised a visit to Australia in 1926-27. This was sufficiently successful for a permanent Committee to be set up. The Chairman was Dr Montague J. Rendall, and Miss Best was the Honorary Secretary. This body organised 24 tours between 1927 and 1939, and 21 of these are represented by the photographs.


1 file(s) (46 images in 1 file)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The photographs were originally in an album, but this suffered from a flood in the library basement in 1980, as a result of which it was discarded. All the prints survived, but some are badly stained. The original captions were all noted.

Related Materials

For further images of the 1929 tour to New Zealand refer to Y3089S. For Margaret Best's scrap-book (with photographs) of her visit to India, 1919-1920, see Y3022Z. For Best's Public Schools Empire Tours Record see RCMS 22/42.


Best's career is more fully described in: Simpson, D (ed.) (1978), 'The spirit of a lion and the appetite of a robin: Margaret Best and the School Empire Tours', The Royal Commonwealth Society, Library Notes, New Series no. 226, p.1-7.


The captions and additional notes are not always reliable - see note to 8-10, 22 and 28. The photographs have therefore have been checked against other records of tours such as the list of participants and itineraries and the Minute Books of the Tour Committee in the Society's archives. KS.


Best, Margaret Mary, 1872-1941

Includes index.
2003-03-28 12:18:07+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom