Thursday, 21 February 2019

6. Annabel & Patrick Dott in Yorkshire: from 1909 to 1917

On 7 June 1909 Patrick was inducted Vicar of Dringhouses, York, by the Bishop of Beverley.  

Dringhouses lies just outside York, near the Racecourse.  By 1909 the once agricultural village had become a favourite place for the merchants of the city and was described ten years later at Patrick's induction in Croydon as a "fashionable suburb of York".  This was a great change from Woodstock, but Patrick's time at Dringhouses was very much taken up with mission work outside his parish.  

In the announcement of his appointment, he was described as the temporary secretary for the medical missions department of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.  While at Dringhouses, he was joint honorary secretary to the newly-formed Diocesan Board of Missions, and was active as a speaker – for example, at the Hull Missionary Exhibition in 1909 and at the York Diocesan Conference in Middlesbrough in 1910 – and as an organiser.  He took the evening service at St Ninian's, Whitby, at the first S.P.G. Summer School for 300 to 400 clergy, who were coming together "to spend the week in prayer and study on behalf of Foreign Missions, and also for social intercourse".  

His work in Whitby, and the affection that he and Annabel evidently had for the area, must have played a part in his donation of a sanctuary lamp "of antique design" to the chapel in St Michael's Church Institute.  (St Michael's church was demolished in 1977.  The Institute was, according to the Whitby Gazette of 8 November 1912, in Grape Lane, in a 
commodious and substantial structure in Grape Lane, formerly occupied by Messrs Frankland, Thornton and Simpson, solicitors, and adjoining the Whitby Cottage Hospital
He took part in the full majesty of services in the Minster – he was among the surpliced clergy at the Memorial Service for the late Archbishop of York, Dr William Maclagan, in September 1910 – but he also went out into the moors, preaching at the Glaisdale Harvest Thanksgiving in 1913 (Choral Evensong, Free Tea, Concert & Dramatic Entertainment, and a Dance with a Supper provided).  

He was Chaplain for two years running to the Sheriff of York – first to Mr F Cammidge in 1911, and then in 1912 to the prominent businessman Henry Ernest Leetham, who lived at Dringhouses.  (Photographs of his house, 'Aldersyde', can be seen here on flickr.)  In this way, said the Rural Dean in Croydon in 1919, Patrick
became interested in municipal affairs, educational work, and served in important capacities on the Charity Organisation Society.
However, Patrick and Annabel suffered a great loss in the early months of their time at Dringhouses.  Like her mother, who had been 39 when Annabel was born, Annabel had become pregnant late in life.  Annabel was delivered of the baby a few weeks after her 41st birthday – and, sadly, this announcement, intended for their friends back in South Africa, was placed in the births column of the weekly magazine called South Africa on 23 October 1909:
On the 18th inst at Scarborough, the wife of the Rev W P Dott, Vicar of Dringhouses, York, a daughter (prematurely stillborn)
Annabel was not in good health after this – perhaps she was not in good health during the pregnancy and that was why she was by the sea in Scarborough rather than in York when she went into labour – and she must have needed time away from parish duties to recover from the loss of her only child.  She spent the time in the North York Moors.

Perhaps she had visited Goathland with Patrick at the very beginning of their time at Dringhouses – the Summer School at Whitby had included, according to the Whitby Gazette of 18 June 1909, a trip to Goathland for the participants "so that they could see the moorland scenery".  It is clear that she took a great liking for the Goathland area.

Bulmer's Directory of 1890 described it as a sort of secret Eden, opened to the outsider by the railway in the middle of the 19th century:
The beautiful and secluded vale of Goathland was, previous to the construction of the Whitby and Pickering railway, a terra incognita to the outer world
By 1890 the village housed hotels as well as the old rural industries, and a "few scattered, well-built, modern houses" had been built by well-to-do people looking for a country retreat.  The village had continued to grow in the twenty years that followed.  The 1911 census shows a population of farmers, a gamekeeper, local trades, lodging houses, hotels, and the comfortable middle class.  Then as now, it attracted tourism, as did the railway line – Bradshaw's Railway Handbook of 1896 speaks of the railway from Pickering to Whitby passing 
through the most picturesque scenery ... the vales of Newton and Goathland present a wild country, with bold ranges of rock on either side.  These glens add much to the interest of the trip along the railway.  
Whitby was a major resort and Goathland took its share of the visitors.  Its golf course – "the most original golf course in the world," according to the vicar in 1913 – was an attraction.  (This fascinating webpage with its description of the course – the broken windows, the flying golf balls – is not to be missed)

It was while Annabel was convalescing that she had the idea of building in Goathland.  It is not clear whether she began with a plan to build a country house for herself and Patrick, or whether her first idea was to build a little group of cottages intended to be let.  In the event, she built nine cottages and a house and most of them were completed during the year 1912.

The article in The Vote of 22 April 1922 quotes her as saying,
At that time it was almost impossible to buy land in Goathland, practically the whole of it being in the hands of the Duchy of Lancaster and one or two big landlords.  I at last discovered a small building plot where I built my own house, and later I obtained a field which was converted into an orchard and garden, and on which nine houses were built.
However, according to Percy Ward, a local photographer who lived in one of the houses she built and who wrote in an article on the subject for the Goathland News in October 1976, she began with the nine cottages and built her own house later on.

And how could she afford it?  Where did she and Patrick find the capital?  This is a question that recurs throughout the story, when it is clear that they had large sums to spend on buying, building or renovating property.  I can't claim to have any answer.  

Of course, Patrick always had his stipend.  At Dringhouses (assuming the value of the living had not changed since Bulmer's Directory of 1890) Patrick's income was £160 a year, plus residence.  They did not, sadly, have the expense of children.  They probably had savings.  They will have inherited money when their surviving parent died.  Annabel had inherited some money when her mother died in 1903 – the gross value of Mrs Hall's estate is given (in the National Probate Calendar index) as £521-8s.  (The annual average earnings in 1908 were £70).  Mrs Betsey Dott's Probate value – she died on 1 June 1911 – was substantially more than Mrs Hall's, at £3,227-3s-6d, gross.  I don't know the terms of her Will, but her estate was probably divided between her nine surviving children.  

Perhaps Patrick and Annabel were personally frugal; perhaps there were other inheritances; perhaps they borrowed money on mortgage when necessary.  As to how they spent their money on themselves, we know that they had at least one holiday "on the Continent" and that they kept a car and employed a chauffeur to drive them in the 1920s and 1930s.   (In 1922 the local newspaper reported that the chauffeur had been in a minor traffic accident in Uckfield, and in the spring of 1937 the Rectory chauffeur witnessed Annabel's Will).  Annabel and Patrick did not leave large estates – Annabel left just over £3,000 in 1937 and Patrick just over £1,000 a year later.

(I will leave the reader to play around with possible modern equivalents for these sums, perhaps using a website like the Bank of England's inflation calculator.)  

Annabel had decided to take on the building project in Goathland herself and so set herself to master the subject.  Agnes M Miall's interview describes how Annabel studied to achieve this – and also reveals Annabel's views on women's abilities and on treating workmen as human beings:-
She read technical books on cottage-building, plumbing, drainage, brickmaking and joinery, and worked at the examination papers set for clerks of works until she began to feel that she had the subject at her fingers' ends.  She also acquired what she considers the essential art of giving directions to workmen in technical terms. 
"It is no harder than learning a new language or the violin," she assured me, "and I can say from my own experience that it is fascinating,  The great thing is to master the subject so thoroughly, both theoretically and practically, that you can test the workmanship of your labourers and know whether it is well done.  The only other qualification is to be able to handle men.  Labour troubles?"  She smiled when I hinted that builders' workmen have an inconvenient habit of striking.  "I have never had any labour troubles.  Pull with your workers, treat them not as hands but as men, and they will respond by giving you good service. 
The great thing is to try with all your might to be just.  The men appreciate this very keenly.  And always,"  Mrs Dott emphasised more than once, "always abide by their trade customs, even when they tell against you.  If there is any dispute, call up three or four men, find out the usual practice in the trade regarding the contested point, and adhere strictly to it.  In addition pay Trades Union rates (and a little more), with a half-penny an hour above for specially good work, and you ought not to have any difficulties whatever with your men."
Agnes M Miall's interview appeared under the headline "The Work of a Woman Builder" and does not explicitly state that Mrs Dott was the sole architect of the house and cottages.  In fact, I understand it has recently been discovered that Annabel may have consulted the celebrated York architect Walter Brierley at some point.  He was certainly involved in 1917/18 in the conversion of the cottages for occupation by the disabled officers.  We know for certain that Annabel drew up plans for herself – the plans received by the Council on 20 December 1912 were "for a dwelling-house at Goathland, for Mrs Dott, the plans having been prepared by that lady".

In 1904 Walter Brierley (1862-1926), known as the Lutyens of the North, had been the architect of the school in Patrick's parish of Dringhouses.  He also designed, among many other projects, County Hall, at Northallerton, the extension to Acklam Hall, Middlesbrough, and Thorpe Underwood Hall near Great Ouseburn.  

It has to be said that it seems that Annabel was rather unorthodox and eccentric in her methods – or perhaps nowadays viewers of Channel 4's 'Grand Designs' would say thorough in her methods – as we can see from a piece in the Yorkshire Evening Post of 21 March 1921, which reports her as saying
In order to choose where the windows should be placed in one room I had all the four sides shut off from the daylight when it was under construction, and I used to go there at dawn, noon, and twilight and make openings here and there so that I could tell in which position I could get the best light.
According to Percy Ward, the builders
had a frustrating time, as Mrs Dott changed her mind every time she paid a visit from her home in York ... Later on, Mrs Dott built a house in the village but by this time the builders were fed up with her constant changes of plan and did not bother to inform her that no arrangement had been made for a staircase leading to the second floor.  This problem Mrs Dott solved by obtaining some old railway sleepers and had a staircase built outside.
It certainly must have taken the men some time to get used to working to plans drawn up by a woman – or it would be more accurate to say, in the terms of the time, a lady – and to find that she was also in charge of day-to-day operations must have been fairly startling.  Annabel was without doubt unconventional and later events show that she could be rather slapdash in her approach.  However, I notice that Percy Ward seems to be unaware that Annabel herself had drawn up the plans for approval by the planning authorities, and was also unaware of Annabel's preparatory work to train herself up to be able to do this.  I do wonder how much the village stories about Annabel had taken on a life of their own over the years and how much they were affected by the press portrayal of her in the 1920s as an eccentric, perhaps even silly, woman, who was an anomaly in a man's world.  

The plot that Annabel found for the house for herself and Patrick was on the road up to the church – it is the house after the Fairhaven Guest House, which in 1911 was the home of Captain Richard Smailes, a steamship manager.

The Yorkshire Evening Post article says that the house (the photograph above shows it today) had ten bedrooms and four sitting-rooms.  I don't know if this is correct.  By 1921 Annabel had become somebody that the press considered good copy, and I have found stories about her repeated in newspapers across Britain and even Australia.  It's impossible to say how accurate they are.  I think The Woman's Leader interview (16 July 1920) with Agnes M Miall is likely to be fairly accurate because she knew the interviewer, and I think that is also probably true of the piece in The Vote on 22 April 1921.  

Certainly Annabel must have achieved quite a saving by being her own builder, and she apparently later made a profit on the house, which must be the one that Agnes M Miall refers to when she says
one house was sold as a country cottage to a rich York manufacturer for the high price of £2,000
The land Annabel bought for her little development of holiday or rental cottages is referred to in reports of Whitby Rural District Council meetings as "the Mortar Pit estate", on the northern side of the village beyond the Vicarage.  

[This 1888-1913 O.S. map is reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland from their excellent Map Images website.  It shows the Mortar Pit estate (top left corner) before Annabel's cottages were built]

Here is Agnes M Miall's account in The Woman's Leader.  In the interview, she does not mention the house built next to Fairhaven, but seems to conflate the house with the cottages:
Then Mrs Dott had the opportunity of buying a piece of ground at Goathland, and in 1910 undertook the great adventure of building a group of cottages on it.  She made her own plans for the houses, intending to get a builder to carry them out, but this plan fell through because the man refused to employ local labour. 
"And I wanted my Goathland houses to be built by Goathland men," said Mrs Dott.  "Well, there remained only one thing to do, and that was to put them up myself.  So I gathered together the bricklayers, masons, and joiners round about and explained to them what I wanted to do.  I said frankly that I wasn't an expert builder, and that they could cheat me in a hundred ways if they chose.  But I'm glad to say that only two did – out of thirty-eight."
I've been able to track Annabel's progress through reports in the Whitby Gazette.

At the time of the census on 2 April 1911 she had been living at The Hunt Hall, a house on the open moorland south of Goathland above Wheeldale Beck, which she and Patrick (who was that night staying in a hotel in York) had evidently taken as a country retreat.  At the beginning of September, Whitby Gazette's list of visitors to the town shows that Annabel was staying at the Station Hotel in Sleights.

1911 must have been the year of preparation.  1912 was a busy year.  On 19 January 1912, the Whitby Gazette reported that Mrs Dott's plans for eight cottages at Goathland had been approved ("Mrs Dott's house windows to be made to comply with the law").  According to Percy Ward's article, the conveyance of the Mortar Pit estate to Annabel and Patrick was dated 26 March 1912.  On 10 May 1912, the Whitby Gazette reported that at the meeting of the Whitby Rural District Council a letter from Mrs Dott was read out – she was asking for the sewerage arrangements to be improved by the Council.  On 20 December, the Rural District Council was told that plans had been received "for a dwelling-house at Goathland, for Mrs Dott, the plans having been prepared by that lady".  (They were approved and passed).  On the 27 December, in a list of building works completed or approved in the area during that year ("In the rural district, building has gone on apace"), the Gazette recorded that five of Mrs Dott's eight houses had been finished and three were in the course of construction, a cottage was to be built for Mrs Dott on the Mortar Pit estate, Goathland, and that a stone house at Goathland, for Mrs Dott, had been completed.

In the spring of 1913, Annabel's contact with the Council was on the subject of sewerage.  On 11 April, the Gazette reported that the Inspector of Nuisances (Mr F Lawson) had told the Council that 
The sewer on the Mortar Pit estate was extended some two hundred yards, through Mrs Dott's property.  I propose to extend this sewer some 70 yards further, and treat the sewage with a settling-tank and automatic filter (Fiddian).  This section takes the sewage from that part of Goathland bounded by the Wesleyan Chapel, Mrs Dott's, J Sleightholme's [Rose Cottage], and the Vicarage ... The sewer has been extended to Mrs Dott's house (above Captain Smailes' house [Fairhaven]) 183 yards, under my supervision.  Mrs Dott paid for this extension
But on 2 May 1913, the Gazette's report shows that the sewage problem was not quite yet resolved – Mrs Dott had written to the Council 
complaining of the discharge from drains near her house at Goathland.  The inspector ... said the drain had been extended to Mrs Dott's property, and he asked the Council's permission to continue the drain, which would do away with the complaint ...
And now the work was finished.

Whitby Gazette, 4 July 1913
Supper – On Thursday night, last week, a supper to celebrate the completion of the erection of some new property for Mrs Dott, wife of the Rev W P Dott, Dringhouses, was held at Goathland.  There was a good gathering of workmen, and an enjoyable time was spent.  The principal toast of the evening was given by Mr Randolph Jowsey, who proposed the health of Mrs and the Rev Mr Dott.  At a convenient moment, occasion was taken to present a silver watch to Mr George Harland, the youngest member of the firm of Harland Brothers, Glaisdale, who had charge of the masons' and joiners' work in the new buildings.  The plastering work was done by Mr R Jowsey, Whitby
Randolph Jowsey advertised in the Whitby Gazette as a Plain & Ornamental Plasterer.  At the time of the supper party he was nearly 62 years old; the 1911 census records him living at 9 Well Close, Whitby with his wife and daughters.  I think the Harland Brothers of Glaisdale must have been George and Thomas Harland and that George Harland was the respected figure, immensely knowledgeable about local history and dialect, who was often quoted as a source in historical and architectural matters in later years.  His memoirs The Queen of the Dales: Anecdotes of an Octagenarian were published in 1970.  Percy Ward states that 
some of the joinery was the work of two local men, Messrs Sleightholme and Dowson; the latter living at Prudom House.
Agnes M Miall wrote (with some exaggeration, as there were Whitby and Glaisdale men working on the cottages)
So the cottages were built, ten of them, entirely by Goathland men, and both the men and the bold woman builder were justified by the fact that when the houses were completed people came from twenty miles round to see them.  A further compliment was that one house was sold as a country cottage to a rich York manufacturer for the high price of £2,000 ...
Annabel gave the cottages the name The Orchard.  Nowadays it is known as The Orchards.

What were Annabel's intentions when she built The Orchard?  She intended to let them, presumably to people wanting to spend a holiday in Goathland and perhaps also to people rather like herself, who wanted a country retreat or who needed to live for a time in the country air.  They were furnished (Percy Ward: "Mrs Dott then furnished the Orchard houses with old furniture from 'sales', etc.  I expect she called her purchases antiques!!") and had a shared garden of some two acres.  She had an advertising brochure printed – when Percy Ward wrote his article in 1976 there was still a copy of the brochure to be seen in the village.

I have found two advertisements for the cottages in 1915 in the To Let columns of the feminist periodical, The Common Cause (predecessor to The Women's Leader).  We don't know when Annabel's commitment to the cause of women's equality began, but she was evidently a reader of The Common Cause in 1915:-

Common Cause, 27 August 1915 
GOATHLAND, on the Yorkshire Moors.  Houses furnished with old oak.  5 bedrooms, 2 reception, Bath.  Attendance if wished.  Garden.  Golf - Mrs Dott, Orchard, Goathland 
WELL-FURNISHED SMALL HOUSE on Yorkshire Moors to Let for nine months.  Warm, well built, sanitary certificate; S. aspect, 5 bedrooms, 2 sitting.  Bath.  Near station, shops, and golf links.  Low rent to careful tenant. – Owner, Dringhouses Vicarage, York
Annabel designed the cottages to be as labour-saving as possible.  They would have appealed to middle-class people who could not afford much domestic help at a time when work in the house was very demanding of time and labour.  She laid particular emphasis on "fitment furniture", that is, built-in or fitted furniture:-
Great care was taken with the planning to save labour, a point in these servantless days; and most of the rooms have fitment furniture, some of oak, others of teak and fine old mahogany, 
she wrote in an article in the journal The Nineteenth Century and After in February 1919, and she was quoted in The Vote as saying
My first aim all through has been labour-saving, and many of the bedrooms are arranged with fitment furniture, wardrobe cupboards with oak or mahogany doors, chests of drawers built in to form dressing-tables and washstands, and the rooms arranged to save stairs.  
(Percy Ward: "Also fitted in were an assortment of items which had taken her fancy such as old bed posts")

Agnes M Miall in The Woman's Leader commented that Annabel, 
like every woman who knows how much work a house can make, believes in designing homes so that they do not exhaust an unnecessary ounce of the housewife's energy and temper; and from this standpoint particularly she believes that there is a future awaiting the woman builder. 
The Yorkshire Post on 19 October 1918 reported – and the words sound very like those of Annabel herself – that
The houses are built in pairs, but no two are alike.  They have thick stone walls, wide mullion diamond-paned windows, red roofs of old hand-made tiles.  They are of the best type of the old-fashioned cottage farmhouse.  Most have five bedrooms, each a big living-room, and nearly all a second small sitting-room, well-appointed kitchens and bathrooms, with a plentiful supply of hot water and hot linen cupboards.  
As with the house she built for herself and Patrick, light was an important consideration and she paid attention to the aspect of the rooms.  The Vote reports her as saying that 
Each house contains a big living-room, a chief bedroom, both of which face south, whilst the kitchen, larder, coal-cellar, guest-chamber, and bathroom face north
Annabel made good use of recycled timber in the cottages' construction.  They were built with 
heavy oak beams; several tons were procured when a bridge built a century ago on the Egton road needed repair, and they are massive and black and the pride of the cottages [Annabel's article in the Nineteenth Century and After, February 1919]
The "fitment furniture of oak or mahogany" had "a touch of the sea, for some of the wood was taken from the late King of Portugal's yacht, after it fell into the hands of the big ship-breaking firm at Vauxhall, and other timbers of oak and mahogany came from a disused whaling yard at Whitby." [The Vote]

According to Percy Ward, "some of the timber came from a Church in York which was being demolished, beams, panelling, and carved timber."

Agnes M Miall was enthusiastic on the subject of the fitment furniture – a feature which would have created a great deal more space in the rooms, saved dusting and polishing, and presumably made for a more airy, modern feel:  
[Mrs Dott's] description of these furnishings makes any woman's mouth water for one of her Goathland homes.  Imagine window-seats, inglenooks, screens and cupboards fitted into the most convenient places ... In the bedrooms, dressing-tables with drawers of all sizes built in underneath and washstands with boot cupboards fitted below, awaited the lucky families who took possession, and there are polished floors, doing away with the necessity for carpets.  If the day ever comes when all homes are built on the Goathland plan furniture removers will be forced to go out of business.

This photograph shows The Orchards today.  Anyone curious to see more can easily find the online advertisements for Sundial Cottage B&B and Curlew Cottage (holiday rental), which give views of the rear of those properties and of their interiors.  There have been many alterations to the nine cottages over the years and the shared garden established by Annabel was eventually divided between them. 

Very many thanks to 
Elsie Smith, a Trustee of Goathland Village Hall, who supplied me with the Percy Ward article
Past and present occupants of The Orchards for their kind help
Dr Elizabeth McKellar for information on Walter Brierley.  The papers relating to Walter Brierley's involvement in the project in 1917/18 and possibly before can be found in the Borthwick Institute Atkinson-Brierley papers

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