Mary Garthorn Angus Harfield was born on Shark Island, Sydney Harbour, NSW, Australia on 28 Feb 1889. Her father was a Northumberland farmer who married her mother in Melbourne in 1880. Her mother was born in Kent, England. Sadly she never knew her father as he died exactly a month before her birth. He worked on the animal quarantine station on Shark Island, employed by the government. As the family were left fatherless, her mother brought Mary and her two brothers back to England, where the children were fostered out to relatives, Mary being sent to her father’s relatives back in Northumberland. After a spell in Canada with more relatives, she returned to London in 1910 to take up nursing training with St. Bartholomews Hospital
. At the outbreak of WW1, she nursed wounded soldiers in the 1st London General Military Hospital in Camberwell, London
. She married her husband, Douglas Harry Bernard Harfield, in Kennington, London in 1915.
In the words of her granddaughter-in-law:
“My husband spent several school holidays with grandmother Mary during the early 1960s at her home in Penselwood, Somerset. He remembers her love of archaeology and was taken on fieldwalks around Cadbury Castle. In 1962 she wrote an article that was published in the Somersetshire Archaeology & Natural History Society’s Proceedings, Volume 106, entitled ‘Cadbury Castle’. We doubt whether she was academically qualified with regard to archaeology, but it is obvious that she held a healthy interest in the subject, in particular the ‘Camelot’ theory. He remembers her being very embittered by the fact that she was never given the recognition she deserved for her theories and discoveries at Cadbury Castle. Her contemporaries were Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Geoffrey Ashe and Leslie Alcock. She died in Penselwood in 1970.”
Post by Linda Bourne Hull, who is married to Mary’s grandson!
Edited by Megan McPherson
Photos of Mary Harfield from The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), Wednesday 26 July 1967, page 4, 5, provided to us by Linda Bourne Hull from family archives.
Photo of map of Cadbury Castle from Wikimedia Commons.