1890 - 1902: Early Years
1890 Fausset Maher Baker was posted to Malta. He grew up in Dublin where his father was a Doctor; his mother was a Huguenot descendant but she died in childbirth when Fausset was only 18 months old. He graduated at Trinity College and joined the RAMC (Naval section) in 1880. He was posted to Malta in 1890 and promoted to Surgeon-Major in 1892.
1891 Fausset married Emily Frances Amys at the Savoy Chapel Royal on 21st October (Trafalgar Day). Emily grew up in Epping where her father was a solicitor – he married ‘the boss’s daughter’. The Amys family came from North Suffolk & South Norfolk.
1892 Silvia Marguerita Fausset Baker was born in Valetta on 27th December. Baptised at the Malta Garrison on 29th January 1893
1894 Arthur Amys Fausset (aka Peter), Silvia’s brother, was born on 29th September
1897 Family returned to the UK; Fausset’s health deteriorated and by 1900 he had retired
1901 Census: Living in Plumstead, near Woolwich (Silvia’s name not included or was incorrectly inscribed as Lilian)
1902 Fausset died of ‘paralysis’ in Virginia Water on 10th March. Silvia & Peter were sent to live with their Uncle & Aunt in Dublin for a while.
1903-1912: School Years
1903 Silvia sent to the Royal School in Bath where she was known as Silvia Fausset Baker. She boarded there for 8 years.
1905 Attends the annual Lord Mayor of London’s Children’s Party, dressed as Violet (The Sphere 14th Jan)
1906 Her brother went to Wellington College prep school.
1911 Census: Silvia (student) was at Thorn Lodge, Burgess Hill, Sussex where her grandmother lived.
Gained her Higher Cert with distinction in Art; awarded Kingdom Scholarship £50
Rather than Art School, enrolled at the Academy of Dramatic Art (later RADA)
1912 Her grandmother, Adelaide Amys (nee Windus) died on 28th February
1913-1932: Student Life & Work
1913 Peter went to Sandhurst and by the Autumn of 1914 was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Indian Army
1913-14 Acting in ‘rep’ in Edinburgh and Bristol, usually under the name of Sylvia Fausset
1915-16 Joined the Old Vic, then run by Lilian Baylis who produced mainly Shakespeare plays (to the backdrop of WW1)
1916 Slade School of Art under Professor Tonks. As an Artist & Author she used the name Silvia Baker but, whilst at the Slade, she may have just used her surname, being the custom of female students at the time.
At some point, possibly when she went to art school, Silvia moved to Alfred Place in South Kensington which was the home of ‘Uncle’ Charles, whose wife had died in 1914.
Silvia began to sketch animals on an almost daily basis at London Zoo around this time.
1918 Silvia’s mother was living at Woodlands, Cavendish Rd, Sutton, Surrey but subsequently moved to Menton on the French Riviera (where it was warmer and living was cheaper).
1921 Silvia’s brother married Flora Jane Evans in Karachi (then part of India)
1933 Silvia & Athole were engaged in January. They probably met through the Rothenstein family. Their marriage took place at Chelsea Old Church on 6th April; hence, Silvia became Silvia Hay. They rented a flat (from Gilbert Ledward) in Edge Street, off Kensington Church Street.
Athole Hay was born on 17th October in 1901. His father was Athole Stanhope Hay, who served with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. His mother was Caroline Cunard, grand-daughter of Samuel Cunard who ran the first British transatlantic steamship mail contract. Athole went to Eton and Oxford (but may not have completed his degree). He collected art and worked at the RCA, where he became Registrar in 1932.
1935 Athole and Cecilia Dunbar Kilburn set up Dunbar Hay Ltd (to encourage young artists to work in industrial design)
1936 ‘Uncle’ Charles died in Mentone (where he went to live, having retired in the early 30’s)
1937 Silvia’s elderly mother moved back to London and died in hospital on 23rd November. Her funeral was at St Mary Abbots, Kensington
1938 Tragically, two months later – following a fall, Athole died on 24th January; his funeral also took place at St Mary Abbots, with a private interment at Eckford Church in Roxburgh.
Silvia was desolate and, with no immediate family to turn to (her brother and his wife were stationed in India) and with the threat of impending war, she took herself abroad in what was to become a six year odyssey around the world.
She also became a Roman Catholic which was not a popular move – her Dublin relatives were staunch Protestants (and her in-laws were Episcopalians[?]).
On 8th April, aged 46, and described as an ‘artist-explorer’, she departs for Tangier. But she was restless and reverts to Paris, followed by Portofino. Then returns to London intent on finding a flat or studio but everything in London reminded her of the past. Instead, she decided the ‘only way to escape from this loneliness was to travel and fall in love with places, and so escape from myself’.
1938 In December sailed to Jamaica where she stayed with friends for a few months.
1939-44: Around the World, part one
1939 With a friend called Susan, she went to Panama for ‘several weeks’ and then on to Los Angeles, arriving on 29th May. Spent six months in Hollywood but, unfortunately, didn’t keep a diary whilst she was in California.
(September: outbreak of war in Europe)
1940 Arrived in Bali – which was forever her dream place. Stayed for 10 months until the end of October when she was encouraged to head for British Empire territory because war brewing in Asia. Ship to Java via Lombok, then on to Singapore. In Surabaya for the Chinese New Year (27th January).
(September: Japan & America become embroiled in WW2)
1941 Arrived Rangoon, January. Sailed across to Calcutta where she ended up in hospital with acute appendicitis. (Her brother was back in the UK, having retired from the Indian Army, on health grounds, approx late 1940).
1942 Convent School, Darjeeling Hill station. In March, went on a 5 day journey from Calcutta to Srinagar (Kashmir), by train & mail buses.
1943 Poona & Delhi
1944 Bombay & Goa
In October, departs for the UK, from Bombay by sea; Arrives Liverpool on 16th November
1945-50: Around the World, part two
1946-48 December, Sailed from Marseille to Tahiti via Martinique and Panama. Return journey via Panama and several months in the Caribbean
1947 (Indian Independence & Partition: 15th August)
1948 Silvia’s brother, Peter, died in Sussex on April 10th (when she was in Jamaica)
1949 Cyprus (possibly for a year)
1950 Several months in Southern Spain (Torre Molinos)
1950-1970: Last Twenty Years
Lived in Vicarage Gate, High St Kensington
Several key friends died
1968? Moved to a Catholic Nursing Home (?) in Bath
1970 Died on 12th October at 39 London Road, West Batheaston, Bath;
Cremation 16th October, at Haycombe Crematorium, Bath
Requiem Mass 20th October at the Carmelite Church, Kensington Church Street
Probate 1st December
Note re Silvia’s second name:
On documents and shipping lists it is spelt variously as
Marghuerita, Margharita, Margherita, Margarite and Marguerita.
I have used the latter version which is shown on her death index and probate certificate, as well as on a codicil (1968) which she has signed as Silvia Marguerita Fausset Hay.