YEARS OF DESPAIR
In the fall of 1900 and early 1901 Georgina's friends were beginning to worry that she was not answering any of their correspondence. This was the beginning of months of despair for Marie Toulinguet. It is not known how or exactly when her throat ailment began but there was a hint of something being wrong in a postcard to her sister Janet in England in September 1901. The breakdown of her well trained voice must have been devastating at the height of her career.
In the later part of 1901 Georgina left Milan and for a while stayed at the nursing home where her sisters worked in England. It is not known the extent of her convalescence but after a long rest there she made a comeback, not as an opera singer, but as a concert artist. From cards and letters to family and friends over the next three years there seemed to be many ups and downs in her life and periods of depression.
In the early summer of 1904 sisters Lucy and Janet felt a change of scenery would be beneficial for their sister so they planned a vacation home to Twillingate. They arrived August 24 at St. John's and continued on to Twillingate the next day by S.S. Prospero. The next two months were spent among her relatives and friend, resting and enjoying the serenity of her beloved home. On November 17, Georgina and her sister Janet would leave St. John's on the S.S. Damara for Liverpool and then to London.
It appears that Georgie returned to the nursing home for a while with her sister Janet. The realization that her voice would never be restored resulted in periods of depression and heartbreak. It was about this time that she was introduced to Lady Henry Somerset who had established Duxhurst Farm Colony for Women and Children in 1895. Duxhurst was a self-sustaining work farm with a large manor on 180 acres. On these beautiful manor grounds vegetable, orchards and flowers were grown and tended by the patients as part of their rehabilitation and therapy. Georgie was accepted into the Colony and adjusted well to country life. It reminded her of her childhood days at Twillingate and she knew how to care for hens and chickens and loved animals of all kinds. She developed a great interest in flowers and became quite knowledgeable about horticulture. She enjoyed picking and drying large bunches of lavender and became affectionately known as "The Lady of the Lavender".
It is believed that Miss Janet came to nurse at the Duxhurst Colony hospital in early 1906 to be near her sister. She was well liked there and would later become nurse in charge. Over the next two decades Georgie would spend various periods at Duxhurst. On July 20, 1915, the Colony was commandeered by the War Office for a Red Cross hospital, to be used for convalescing soldiers. All qualified nurses, including Miss Janet, were kept on to nurse the casualties. Georgie stayed on with her sister doing general chores.
Georgie resided at the Duxhurst Colony as late as 1920. Lady Henry Somerset died in March 1921 and Georgie lost a trusted friend. During the summer she returned to Twillingate, after an absence of sixteen years, to visit her sister Rose, but after a short stay she returned to England.
On October 1, 1925 Georgie's sister Susan died in Kent. Three years later in 1928 Miss Janet died at Meadecroft, England. Janet had been Georgie's sole support and now she was alone in England and unable to manage financially. With the help of a lawyer and the financial support of her sister Kate S. Putzki in Washington, D.C. arrangement were made for transport back to Newfoundland. In the early part of 1929 she returned to Twillingate to reside with her aging sister Rose in their old family home.
Georgina, known as 'The Lady of the Lavender', picking hugh bunches of lavender.
Duxhurst Colony Farm, Surrey, England
"The Lady of the Lavender"
Georgina at Duxhurst Farm Colony, England.
Georgina's sister, Janet Stirling, Nursing Sister at Duxhurst Colony Hospital.
Georgina's sister, Janet Stirling, Nursing Sister in England for over thirty years.
Convalescing World War I soldiers
Convalescing World War I soldiers, St. Hilda's cottage, Duxhurst Farm Colony Rehabilition Centre, Reigate, Surry.