Thursday, 21 February 2019

7. Annabel & Patrick Dott, WWI & the Cottage Colony: 1917 to 1919

On 19 June 1917, the Rev William Patrick Dott was appointed one of the temporary chaplains to the Forces, a post he held for the rest of the War; he seems to have been an honorary chaplain for a year or two after the War ended.  He and his wife Annabel moved to his new post at the military camp at Blandford in Dorset.

The Rural Dean, in his address to the congregation at Patrick's induction to the living of Woodside, Croydon, said that the camp frequently consisted of 18,000 men and
The drafts from the Royal Naval Division, Crystal Palace, usually went to this camp on leaving the Palace, as did the men of the RAF.  Mr Dott had a hut in camp, and considered his duties a glorious opportunity for good work.  His experience and knowledge of men won him the confidence of the lads, and they would come to him almost at all hours of the day and night with their troubles and difficulties, and ever found him sympathetic and practical.  He received the special thanks and recognition of the Chaplain-General, Bishop Taylor Smith, for his services at this camp.  [Norwood News, 3 October 1919]
Annabel was clearly shocked and dismayed at the rural poverty in Dorset.  She wrote of it with great feeling in her article for The Nineteenth Century and After in February 1919, in which she was describing the scheme that was being set up in Goathland for a cottage colony for disabled officers.  She advocated the involvement of ex-officers to improve rural life:
There are so many ways in which country life could be made happier: the use of machinery to save drudgery, better lighting to lessen the dullness and darkness, electricity harnessed for both purposes, larger returns won by intensive culture, the organisation of better transport, a higher standard of living, more amusements, sports, and above all a reformation of the housing system ... 
Monotony is the bane of country life; it causes the seven devils of gossip and spite, envy and slander, narrowness (one of the meanest of the devils) and hopelessness; and emptiness, the mother of them all ... 
It is in the winter that the dullness is most deadly.  The long, dark evenings must be filled ... 
Have I dwelt too long on mere amusement?  The dullness of the country has been like a miasma sapping at rural life.  One has actually to live among the agricultural labourers in one of their small inconvenient cottages, as the writer has done for nearly a year, near a great Camp, to realise how little of recreation they have.  The fields are fenced with hedges, there are not many open spaces for all comers, hence the great need of a village green.  In the narrow, overcrowded living-room of the average cottage there is no privacy, there is not even much room for a guest and a stranger.  In many villages there is no resident squire, and often the vicar, handicapped by the anxieties of a small living, and the depressing isolation from the society of his equals, sinks into an apathy that has not the energy to start fresh schemes outside his special duties ... 
Here she speaks of the measures she considers necessary to improve rural life:
every house should if possible have water laid on (even if the supply is an adjacent well, a hand pump will raise the water to a cistern in the roof) and that a kitchen sink is essential.  Very few, scarcely any, gentlefolks realise what it means on a rainy, muddy day to draw every drop and carry it to the house, and afterwards empty the dirty water outside the cottage; small wonder if it is thrown close to the door until the fouled ground becomes a fertile breeding place for germs.  Cupboards in each bedroom, so that the Sunday clothes may last longer by being carefully stored; cupboards in the living-room to hold a supply of groceries and enable more economical buying; damp-courses and double walls in exposed situations to give dry and healthy dwellings ...
... no special technical training is needed to know that proper space in the living-room and three bedrooms in a family cottage are essential for bare decency
Transport, she felt, was of great importance:
a motor-'bus service ... would be a great advantage to the women of a district.  It would lessen the hardships of distant shopping, and it would bring chances of social life and the opportunities of seeing relations and friends to those who now lead needlessly drab and narrow lives ... 
Lighting is another important rural matter.  The dark roads make traffic difficult if not impossible after sunset, and during long evenings when there is no moon it is not an easy matter for old people, women, or delicate folk to get about.  One of the attractions of the town is the brightly lit streets ...
But Annabel and Patrick's most immediate and pressing concern was their feeling – which they shared with very many people – that something must be done for servicemen disabled in the War.

These three webpages – Historic England's overview of Domestic Housing for Disabled Veterans 1900-2014, an interview on the Digging In website with Louise Bell, First World War Diverse Histories researcher at the National Archives, and an account of the history of the Enham Trust – are just a selection of websites to give an idea of the efforts being made and the thought being put into the problem before and after 1918.  

Annabel and Patrick felt they must – and could – do something themselves.  They decided to donate the nine cottages of The Orchard in Goathland to be a "cottage colony" for disabled officers and the nucleus of a County scheme.

Annabel and Patrick devised a threefold scheme, which they laid before the Lord-Lieutenant Sir Hugh Bell (father of the celebrated Gertrude Bell) in January 1917.  It comprised housing, occupations and education. 

As regards housing, officers and their families were to be able to live comfortably in a suitable house at a nominal rent – 5 shillings per week was suggested – to cover repairs.  

As regards occupations, they wanted the disabled officer to have a choice.  Suggestions included poultry rearing, fruit growing, bee-keeping (for heather honey) and small cultures including medicinal herbs.  The North-Eastern Railway Company had granted a lease at a peppercorn rent of a piece of ground near to The Orchard, upon which foxgloves and other herbs could grow in the semi-wild.  High hopes were entertained of weaving, which it was thought might become a village industry (this was a cherished dream in the Arts and Crafts Movement at the time).  The Dotts had enlisted the help of Professor Aldred Farrar Barker (1868-1964), Professor of Textile Industries at Leeds University, who had offered the guidance and help of his department. 

As regards education, the Dotts hoped that the county would raise a small fund that would supplement other grants available to disabled officers to educate their sons.  They felt it was very important that a boy should be able to go to his father's school and that "a girl should receive such an education as may qualify her to earn her livelihood professionally."  This part of the scheme remained in abeyance.

Their scheme was announced in October 1918.  The Yorkshire Post of 19 October carried a piece under the headline "Provision for Disabled Officers – A Model Scheme at Goathland."

The thoughts behind the scheme can be found in a long piece by Annabel published in the February 1919 edition of the monthly review The Nineteenth Century and After.  In it we can see Annabel the reformer and campaigner, with a deep concern for the working men of Britain and the men disabled in the War.

She began with a rallying cry, a quotation from the King: "We have to create a better Britain."  She paid tribute to the working men of the country who fought in the War, in typically vivid and blunt language:
It is so easy to point to the profiteers, to the shirkers and skulkers in every class.  The scum always rises to the top but a good housewife knows that it is when the pot is boiling furiously that the scum can be skimmed off and thrown away ... 
If we want to fight alike Revolutionists and Reactionaries, we shall do it by forgetting class and our own self-interest, and remembering that we are all English together
She spoke of the need for leadership and that it is to the young returning Officers that the country must look for the same qualities in peacetime that made them successful leaders of their men in the War – but she envisaged a changed society:
The leader who will gain followers is the leader who brings hope ... The privileges of wealth, position, education, influence never carried a heavier responsibility than today ... 
... money-making is important, but the money made must be shared more equally in future ... 
... Such an opportunity to strengthen and build up the country and the Empire has never come before, and may never come again.  The Government realised this when Sir Richard Winfrey, the Secretary of the Board of Agriculture, brought in his Small Holdings Colonies Bill, asking for 80,000 acres as a start to provide land for the discharged and disabled soldiers; this 80,000 acres will be only a beginning of what is needed ...
Her suggestion was that it is in the countryside that the disabled Officer can find a way of using the leadership skills he had learned and shown in the War to help build up a better Britain. "Rural reconstruction" would give an opportunity for men who could not bear the stress of town life to recover some strength and vigour and also to benefit the countryside. 

It is here that she describes the ways in which country life could be so much improved – and it is noticeable from the quotations I gave earlier that Annabel does not have a nostalgic view of the possibilities for rural life.  She looks to the use of machinery, electricity and motor transport and her view of farming is prescient:
the future prosperity of agriculture in England lies in the big farms worked on scientific principles ... and in small holdings and intensive culture.  The medium-sized farm worked in a somewhat rule-of-thumb fashion without sufficient capital must be eliminated, it will not be able to hold its own in the coming competition.
And in these comments we can find a foreshadowing of the work of rural development programmes:
Hitherto small cultures and village industries have been largely in the hands either of cranks or of uneducated people; no one has quite realised the possibilities that may lie before them.  Organisation, the use of better materials, good transport, and business ability brought to bear on securing the right markets might open a very different future
She goes into detail on the subject of the possible occupations – and she is blunt on the need for a new mindset.  She suggests that an officer with an orchard on the edge of a town could buy one of the numerous camp huts that would soon be for sale, set up a storehouse, and jam-boiling room, and a shop – "the War has killed snobbery."

She deals with poultry farming ("urged almost ad nauseam" but success is possible with the right business choices); with fruit growing; bee-keeping; fish-breeding; rabbits; a nursery of saplings, ideal for officers who cannot give constant attention; handicrafts; basket-making – she advises growing one's own osiers; and glove-making.

She is passionate on the subject of entertainment in country life.  She speaks of the need for villages to have the equivalent of a village green where the children can play – a field should be bought, or donated "but it must be close to the largest group of cottages or in an easily accessible spot."  Country sport, she felt, was too much for the rich:
Fishing, not poaching, must be made easier for lovers of the rod, and why should not many of the golf links be open to all on payment of a small fee, at any rate in the evening?
The long, dark evenings could be filled with dances, whist drives, lectures and classes, all of which could do with the support of officers and their wives.  
Another pastime too much neglected in the country save in the great houses is acting.  We all love it.
An open air stage can easily be created – pageants for children and adults can be staged.  In Pickering 
a delightful small pageant was given by the townsfolk in the grounds of their ruined and historic castle.
Where there is a village hall, plays could be arranged in the winter, "a time when they are still more needed."  "Morris dancing is sometimes smiled at as the fad of a few enthusiasts" but why should not children 
in the National Schools be taught to dance three days a week instead of the usual daily drill and Swedish exercises?
It was with these thoughts in mind that Annabel and Patrick offered The Orchard as the nucleus of a County scheme.

Their gift was accepted.  Sir Hugh Bell made his own financial contribution to the scheme and the celebrated York architect Walter Brierley was involved in the conversion of the cottages to fit the needs of the disabled officers.
Annabel gives a short description of the cottages – with the footnote referring readers who wished for more details to her illustrated article on the subject in the Architectural Review of April 1918 (I have not obtained a copy of this article so I can give no further information) – and she remarks of the furniture
The furniture is largely old oak collected from the countryside, the gathering of years, and towards this the Lord-Lieutenant provided £1,000, the rest is the gift of the donors of the houses. 
 She describes the garden in some detail:
The garden is immature yet, for trees and clipt hedges grow slowly in these windy spaces, but within a few years the foundations now laid will develop into a beautiful and dignified garden.  There are paved walks, and two flagged courtyards between the blocks of houses; one has a sundial with a motto copied from an old Dales farm house; in the other is a well-head after the Venetian fashion, on one side of which it is proposed to inscribe the names of the naval battles, on another side – France and Flanders – on a third side the far-flung battle line – Africa, Egypt, Gallipoli, Italy, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Salonika – on the fourth side facing the road 'Te Deum Laudamus'; while cut deep with the rim is the dedication 'God gave them a great thing to do, and they did it.'
Save one Officer, who being blind came from St Dunstan's [now called Blind Veterans UK], all the Officers now settled at the Orchard were sent by Mr Don Wauchope, through the Ministry of Pensions.  Any disabled Officer wishing for further information is asked to apply to Mr Don Wauchope, Imperial Association for Disabled Officers, Columbia House, Regent Street, W1 
We who have not fought must not shirk when it comes to giving – and the best we can do is not good enough.  We must remember the trust our dead have left us – to stand by their maimed comrades and "to build a better Britain."
By early February 1919, the Sheffield Daily Telegraph was reporting that six officers were in residence.  By 27 March, the Yorkshire Post said that the settlement is now "practically complete":
All cottages have been allotted, and eight officers with their wives and families are now, or shortly will be, in residence, and a start has already been made towards achieving the three-fold object which the generous promoters of the settlement had before them – the housing and occupation of the officers and the education of their children.  
Some degree of training had been given to the "settlers" through the Ministry of Pensions before they entered into residence, and lectures and demonstrations now being given on the spot in gardening and poultry rearing mark the beginning of instructional courses, ultimately to embrace a useful range of village industries, of which, it is hoped, the residents of the Goathland officers' settlement will be the pioneers, and the source of inspiration and example for the surrounding countryside ... 
The North-Eastern Railway Company have given land by which an extension will be possible of the existing Orchard, and so meet the needs of an officer who desires to specialise in fruit growing.  A further extension is now urgently wanted for another purpose.  One of the officers, blinded in action, wishes to take up sheep-farming on scientific lines.  A small piece of land, about 27 acres, adjoining The Orchard, could be acquired for £600.  The land has been used for sheep.  This is an opportunity for a generous Yorkshire man or woman to assist in an interesting Yorkshire experiment in the care of our disabled officers.  The land would, of course, be held by the trustees.  Mr Don Wauchope, Colombia House, Regent Street, London, W.1, would be glad to furnish particulars.  Mr Wauchope is an old football "blue" and international player, and is nephew of General Wauchope, who fell at Maggersfontein in the South African War. 
The Ministry of Pensions and the Executive of the King's Fund are also much interested in the Goathland scheme ... It is thought that big landlords and small, would be willing to assist in the patriotic movement by giving land on a longish lease, say 14 or 20 years, where the freehold cannot be given, preferably with buildings on it that could be adapted to small houses.  Another suggestion is that owners of great country houses for which they have no pressing use might consecrate them to a humane mission ...
Andrew Ramsay Don Wauchope (1861-1948) was Secretary of the Imperial Association for Assisting Disabled Naval and Military Officers, so it was apparently this organisation that was initially co-ordinating the foundation of the cottage colony.  Subsequently, a trust must have been set up, as when the houses were finally sold it was on the instructions of the Trustees of the Goathland Homes for Officers.  (Not, as Percy Ward thought, the Red Cross.)

This stone tablet commemorates the Dotts' gift.  

By May 1919, Annabel and Patrick had returned to Dringhouses vicarage – but they were not to remain there long.  At the end of September, Patrick was in his new parish of St Luke's, Woodside, a rapidly growing suburb of Croydon.

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

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