Part 1: Our childhood at Wootton—Philippa Hill
Joan read the "Wodetone" book and suggested I wrote about our childhood, particularly life on the top floor. I have tried to do this but I have not been able to give a real picture of my dearly loved sister Joan, her warmth, her love and care for other people, her unselfishness, the skill she gave to the things she did, never spiteful, mean or prone to anger. She never complained or grumbled when I meanly landed her with those unwanted jobs. With only a year between us, Joan and I were brought up like twins. We were very close and happy with each other's company; we did everything together and were not always helpful when our mother invited other children to come and play with us. Joan was the "good" twin and I was the "naughty" one, shown up at Christmas time when at the bottom of my Christmas stocking I would find a lump of coal, and Joan's had that desirable orange.I was also labelled clumsy, which I turned to good use when it came to carrying things up and down the many flights of stairs or carrying cups of tea. Joan would always be asked to do it, the "willing horse" as ever. Their only success was with my handwriting -1 am left-handed but I was taught to write with my right hand (however I draw with my left). Having said we were not always keen on children being invited to play with us. Our cousins were different - we eagerly looked forward to their coming to stay: Charlie and Teddy Hey-cock, Jean Fraser and Ken Dacre.
We also, on several occasions, joined the Heycock family's summer holiday on Lough Derg in Ireland. They lived in Dublin at that time, Uncle Morris being chief brewer at Guiness. Charlie and Teddy were beloved friends (Bobby was too young to join in) but we looked up to Charlie especially: his broad grin, his love of wild life - birds above all - his skills as a fisherman, which included tickling fish, his taxidermy and Wol. Wol, his pet owl, went round with him everywhere on his shoulder. Wol had fallen out of a tree, and, too young to get back up again, had been rescued by Charlie. Life on Lough Derg, messing about in boats, fishing, rioting and pillow fighting upstairs at night, was all quite a change from our rather more staid life at home, and greatly enjoyed by us both.
Charlie went up to King's, the year before the war (at the same time as Maurice). He kept his landlady well supplied with ducks, which he netted silently and skilfully along the Backs at night. His death in the Western Desert during the war was a terrible loss to both of us. Ken Dacre became a fighter pilot, flying Mosquitoes, and was also killed in the war to our great sadness.
Our parents loved each other deeply and Wootton remains an idyllic memory of a happy home where the sun always shone. This was not chance. Mummy spent much of her life making it so. It became part of her creative skill, her work of art: the most hospitable, gracious and beautiful home, renowned for its parties and dances, always filled with visiting relatives and friends, added to which were Rhodes Scholars who needed a vacation home, and, during the war, stressed-out airmen and soldiers on leave - many from Canada.
For us, those imaginative children's parties gave delight as it did to all who took part in them. At Sylvia's wedding reception in Sherborne Castle, Eddie Digby came up to remind me of their magic - the cellar turned into fairyland, with a pool lit by tiny floating nutshell lights, filled with candle wax, fairy money to buy moccasins (made by Mummy for all!) and above in the passage a real gingerbread house which had been made at Harcombe, the local domestic science school, with a frightening real witch (Katharine) inside.
As for the dances, we were not allowed to join in, because girls were not allowed to "come out" until they were 18; however, we watched, enchanted by the little glass candle lights that lit up the path outside, and the glade hung with many-coloured Japanese lanterns.
Mummy's fairy play took months of preparation. We all had parts. Joan, I remember, arrived dressed as a gnome, inside a large red snail shell pulled by Padda, the Dalmatian. Her words as she climbed out were "I'm tired of this wearisome carriage". We all loved taking part.
Many other events took place at which we both wanted to be flies on the wall. One such was the annual rook shoot, organised by Daddy for the tenant farmers - an all-male event, followed by a splendid supper in the big drawing room. Joan and I leant out of our top window as far as we dared, craning to hear speeches that caused uproarious laughter - we failed in this but no doubt they would have been entirely unsuitable for our ears. These were followed by Farmer Miller from Bowshot singing old country songs and the others joining in the choruses.
Although there was a big gap in age between Katharine and Diana, the pre-war children, Joan and myself, born in 1919 and 1920, and Honor, born six years later, we were a united family if rather too noisy - Mummy had a bell she rang when the decibel level rose too high at table.
Joan and I spent much time and devotion on horses, ponies and dogs. Added to those at home, each year, to our joy, a pair of hound puppies arrived, sent out "to walk" by the Cat-tistock Hunt. It became one of Kersy's jobs to look after the dogs, walking, feeding and caring for them - it had been one of her duties at Sherborne Castle where they bred Dutch Barge Dogs.
Kersy was our dearly loved governess - how fortunate we were. She came to Wootton late in life and taught us and then Honor. Kersy stayed on until she died, beloved by us all. Apart from looking after the dogs, during the war she did many jobs she saw needed doing round the house, including darning old and worn-out sheets, towels etc., and looking after Maureen, a little 3-year old evacuee child whose mother had returned to London. She also did washing, ironing and mending for a family with seven children at Partway Cottage.
Kersy came from the west of Ireland, the daughter of a Protestant minister. Her brothers, who emigrated to New Zealand, kept in touch all her life but as far as I know they were her only living relatives. Kersy had taught the Phelips family who had owned Montacute for generations, but when times grew hard and there was no male heir to inherit, the Phelips famih had to move out and sell Montacute. Kersy moved to the Wingfield Digbys at Sherborne Castle, where she taught Joanna and Lydia. By our good fortune, our parents, close friends of the Wingfield Digbys, were able to offer her the post of our governess. We had not particularly liked our previous French governess, but Kersy was all we could ever have wanted. She had a gift for love of her pupils and though it would have been quite out of order for her to kiss and cuddle us, we returned the love. Somehow we understood the British public school tradition of not showing our feelings in public, and being told when small, not to be "cry-babies". It left us both, I think, not good at sharing times of trouble with each other, and later with our own families.
Kersy had quiet authority and I can never remember wanting to play her up or disobey her. We were taught by the system called "The Parents' National Educational Union", PNEU for short. Syllabus and books came each term, and exam papers set to be marked by them at the end of term. At the time, not only were wealthy girls in England not sent to boarding school like the boys, but there were huge numbers of children in remote parts of the Empire and on distant farms in Canada, Australia and New Zealand whose mothers taught them at home because there were not schools to send them to. The PNEU was invaluable to many. Mental arithmetic and learning by heart featured large. We learnt a poem, a chapter of the Bible and a psalm every term.
I will try to describe our day, but of course this changed as we got older.
We started before breakfast in our parents' bathroom where we sat clutching our bibles. Daddy was mostly dressed and shaving himself with his cut-throat razor whilst Mummy had already got out of the palatial bath and was dressing discreetly behind a very large bath towel. Daddy chose what we were to read from our bibles aloud to them. It was usually a good story from the Old Testament, which he then expounded to us. Largely I believe to make sure we did not believe in the word truth of the Bible. (His mother's family were Plymouth Brethren.)
Early days: Breakfast and lunch were eaten at a small table in the dining room with whoever was in charge of us at the time. When we were old enough we joined the grown-up dining table. Tea was served upstairs in the schoolroom, and at supper time the nurse maid brought up one of Lillian's delicious soups in the little brown pots with lids, and we sat by the schoolroom fire and listened to the radio, usually popular music on records or occasionally some famous comedian like Harry Lauder.
Our greatest treat came when we had an hour with our Mother after tea. Sometimes we played with (and destroyed!) the treasures in her treasure cabinet, but mostly we curled up on either side of her on the sofa and Mummy read to us, sharing her own childhood delight: stories full of fairies, witches and ogres, and magical delights, often in beautifully illustrated books by Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. There were also books like Alice in Wonderland and those by E. Nesbit. Mummy herself had had to hide under the piano to read when she was a child to escape from her mother who considered it a shocking waste of time for girls to read.
Daddy's role was different. He did things with us that he enjoyed himself. Katharine pointed out that Daddy had brought us all up as boys: hunting and fishing - even occasionally shooting. We went stalking in Scotland once - Joan shot a stag but I failed to do so. Famously, in answer to a reproof that he was encouraging his daughters to be too dashing when they went hunting, he replied "I would rather have four brave daughters than five white rats". Hunting was always a dangerous sport - there were disasters to both horses and their riders; falls from horses were frequent, and being temporarily knocked out by a head injury quite common. But the ethos amongst sporting parents was interesting - they felt ashamed if their little boys did not "go" as well as the little girls!
Daddy bought our ponies and horses, and bought the best, his maxim being "what you want is worth paying for, what you don't want is dear at any price". Our most beloved, Spider, a blue roan pony, taught us all to ride and loved hunting days. Faster than most of the hunt horses, Spider kept up in the front of the field, and would not hesitate if pointed at a five-bar gate - but equally Spider knew how to deal with the banks, so common in Cotley territory. I have my suspicions about William the groom's statement that "there ain't no favourites in this 'ere stable".
I think Daddy had a special love for Joan, who looked the most like his mother, but again it would not have been a kissing and cuddling sort of love. He hunted with us, taught us how to fish, involved us with wild life, knowing about birds, sharing his passion for beautiful Dorset and its protection, service to the community, and his great ideal of working for the Empire, to give people justice, education and eventually self government. He was excruciatingly honest. During the war, as Army Welfare Officer, Justice of the Peace, County Councillor and Captain of the local Home Guard, he applied for his petrol ration exactly the right amount, which was always cut by a third because everyone applied for more than they needed, and it was expected that they would. Daddy never changed, but grumbled about it when it was cut! At one stage, as a land girl, I milked our five cows, carried the milk down from the cowshed on a yoke with two buckets, brought it to the dairy, skimmed the milk and made the butter in our churn. Daddy would only allow us our ration of 1 1 A oz a week, the rest had to be sold! Mummy and I not so honourable, got around this, in part, by making very creamy soft cheeses, which were accepted. We also salted and "cured" our own pig in the outhouse - nothing was said about sharing that with the public.
From his mother, who had been Miss Fraser, daughter of a linen draper from Ipswich, Daddy valued his Scottish ancestry - added to which the house was constantly full of clan relatives, particularly those from South Africa, successful sons of the Ipswich Frasers, their children and grandchildren. We also felt we were Scottish and took great delight in the long summer holidays when Daddy took a large shooting and fishing lodge, usually in Scotland, sometimes in Ireland, but always in romantic scenery. Coulin, near Torridon was the most memorable, but Stornoway Castle, taken cheap during the slump, provided great entertainment. Built by Lord Leverhulme the soap king, it was enormous with a ballroom swathed in dustsheets and a large picture of the Rape of the Sabine women presiding over the dining room. We proposed that Larcombe our butler should have roller skates to get from the servants' quarters to the front door - it took so long to walk. One evening, Joan and I heard screams of laughter coming from the servants' hall and rushed to see what it was about. It was Larcombe clad in a sheet, dressed as the ghost of Stornoway Castle (1) - they were enjoying it too! Larcombe, a local Dorset man, who had risen at Wootton from boot boy, took his position as head of the servants' hall seriously. He pronounced he did not like venison and would not eat it. Lilian the cook therefore, when in Scotland, carved a bit of venison off outside the room, and he was always presented with his own plate of "mutton".
The saga of moving the whole household up to Scotland each time needs telling, and it fell to Mummy. First a huge list of food items was sent to the Army and Navy Stores to arrive by rail in hampers. All the food, bar porridge oats, which were bought in Scotland, came this way. The two stately family cars, driven by the two chauffeurs, set off by road with Mummy. Daddy, Katharine and Diana. The rest of the party - Joan and I and the household of Larcombe, Lilian the cook, kitchen maid and housemaids with much luggage - got on the Southern Railway train at Axminster, transferring everything onto taxis at Waterloo to get across to King's Cross. Bliss for us was the night sleeper journey to Inverness and breakfast in the Grand Hotel there.
In retrospect I realise how Mummy must have hated it. The lodges were filled with sporting relatives and their wives and sporting friends and their wives. The wives had nothing whatever to do and nowhere to go. Mummy had to entertain them and, though picnics were popular, it often rained. We loved every minute - we sea-fished, fished, walked and went to beautiful beaches to swim. We both had our Bentham & Hooker books to paint in new wild flowers. Joan was in her element, finding unexpected rarities up mountains and by streams -I relied upon being shown them so I could paint them in too.
Mummy was able to get out of Daddy's last two fishing and shooting holidays. Joan and I and Lord Roche, a rather philistine law lord Fraser relative, set sail for Iceland in 1938, home to some of the best salmon fishing. Transport was by boat or Icelandic pony and fish were plentiful, but war threatened - Chamberlain's "Peace in our Time" - and we cut the holiday short.
The second adventure, for which Daddy booked Tongue, in the very far north of Scotland, was given to Maurice and me to run. By 1959 we no longer needed those hampers of food or transport for the Pass household. The Tongue cook was talked into doing some of the cooking and there was a vegetable garden.
Born and bred in unspoilt and beautiful countryside, with a father who inspired us with love for it and its natural history, the whole family were hooked lifelong. We followed the country pursuits available where we lived, fighting not only for the countryside but also for our particular love, be it birds, beasts or flowers. Joan's love of wild flowers was with her all her life. Our education held much that is no longer available to most children. We had a book called "Life in pond and stream" which we followed up by happy outings with small fish-nets to catch sticklebacks, millers thumbs, tadpoles to be raise into frogs, dragonfly larvae, water beetles and the like. We brought back flower specimens to identify them, and were taught how to identify different sorts of trees and bushes, drawing the leaves into sketchbooks.
Joan soon roamed the countryside on her own, searching for wild flowers, already aware so many were in rapid decline. The wild daffodils, which had filled the fields on both sides of the stream down to Charmouth, were already retreating to fields upstream where pickers had not destroyed them. I remember her excitement at finding what was probably the last plant of one that had once been common, the narcissus biflorus. She treasured the rare patch of vernal snowflakes that grew in the goyle between Conygar and the Parks, already under threat from Charmouth pickers. She transplanted a small patch to a suitable spot in the woods below Westover, but never told us where. I have looked for it but never found it.
Mummy's Guide and Brownie packs formed the high spot of the week for the children of the village and for us. As well as earning badges and "good deeds for the day", there were variations - like Halloween parties with ghost stories and bobbing for apples, and Kersy teaching some to swim, in our rock garden swimming pool, walking round the edge with the would-be swimmer in a canvas harness strung from a pole.
Daddy had been to the first training camp for future scoutmasters run by Baden Powell after the First World War. There was much emphasis on camping, putting up tents, collecting sticks suitable for lighting outdoor fires and lighting them with one match. By the 30's Daddy no longer ran his own troupe and had become County Commissioner for Dorset and Inspector of Camps, numerous in the summer on his own fields and all round the area.
Our parents treated the household, both indoors and those outside, grooms and chauffeurs (I am not sure when they became "drivers" instead) with trust and affection. The saying "he was a hero to his valet" well fitted our father, and our mother's care and consideration led to no feeling of "upstairs and downstairs" about our home. Grandfather Pass's art and craft rebuild of the kitchen area gave the house a large bright kitchen and servants' hall on the ground floor. The kitchen hatch, close to the large state-of-the-art kitchen range made for a very short walk for Larcombe the butler to carry dishes into the dining room. We ran in and out of the kitchen visiting Lilian the cook or getting the dog food, but our particularly favourite place was the butler's pantry where Mr Moore, the under-butler, could be found. He smoked (not, of course, in our house) and saved his cigarette cards for us which we stuck into books. I considered them exceptionally beautiful, and at one time could name at least 20 Derby winners. He also, from his newspaper, cut out and saved for us that first great serial for children, Rupert Bear.
Mr Moore lived in the West Lodge with his family. His wife also helped in the house as sewing woman. An intelligent man, he had been trained in one of the great houses, but became fed up with the demeaning job of ironing the newspapers each day.
I have wanted to write about our mother, a wonderful, gifted person, who gave so much love, not only to us but to so many people as well, but it has been difficult, so perhaps I will start by describing her background. She has been my role model all my life and she was Joan's too. She was not a saint, but saints are difficult to live with. She never preached but found strength in religious beliefs which included mystics of all faiths, including Buddhism. For some years she belonged to the World Council of Faiths. Sadly this inevitably became political and I think petered out.
The Heycock family status was not very high in the snobbish Cambridge of the 1880's. Grandfather Heycock, a brilliant chemist, metallurgist and lecturer, had a small shed laboratory behind Sidney Sussex (2). With the "rush to the altar" when, belatedly, the fellows of colleges were allowed to get married in the 1880's, Grandfather Heycock looked for a wife; he fell in love with a girl he met skating in an elegant dress trimmed with swansdown - Carrie Sadler, daughter of the squire of Purton.
Charles Thomas Heycock came from a family often children, five boys and five girls, of whom he was the youngest but also the only clever and studious one. The family came from Braunston Manor in Rutland, and Charles was brought up there.
Bobby Heycock believes that Charles's oldest sister Emily, and his brother-in-law William Morris Fawcett a Cambridge doctor, brought him up and paid for his education.
In those days you could only get married by asking the permission of the father of the bride. It was only granted if the suitor had enough money or success in a profession to "keep the bride in the state to which she was accustomed". The other Heycock brothers, uneducated and without professions, failed to get married, so Charles was the only one to marry and have a family. I discovered many year later from my mother-in-law that snobbish Cambridge had another cause to give Carrie Heycock low status. The squire of Purton had married his housekeeper - in Cambridge terms Carrie was the daughter of a cook. This dreadful stigma had been kept from the children, who fortunately belonged to the new young world of Cambridge's "Period Piece". I brought this story to our mother. Her response was typical of her. At first she declared it was totally untrue and then hesitated, and went to look at old family letters, finding references she had not taken in before, particularly concerning her mother's brother who had died young. He had been sent to a public school "so no-one could throw stones". Mummy, realising it explained much about their upbringing repeated it to her sister Bertha. Bertha, beloved "Aunt B", had come to live at Wootton during the war. Also characteristically, Aunt B was most upset and said "If our mother did not want us to know, I do not want to know" and that was that. From my sister Katharine I gather that Grandmother Heycock had an important role amongst the new "rush to the altar" wives with families to clothe and not much money. Apparently she was the only one who knew how to use a newfangled invention, the sewing machine. She gave lessons to the young wives who wanted to learn how to use it. Mummy had her own beloved sewing machine, which she used all her life, a Wilcox & Gibbs chain-stitch one. Wilcox & Gibbs lost out - their chain-stitch machines are now museum pieces - and the market was taken over by Singer.
In fact, both our mother and Aunt B gained much from their mother's practical teaching. Mummy's lifelong love of embroidery sprang from home, her artistic flair poured into our party dresses (not always appreciated by us - "did your clever mother make that?") into smocking and eventually her "Dorset Feather Stitchery". This she demonstrated to a great many Women's Institutes in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, as well as sending parcels out to South Africa, Canada and New Zealand, which included her book, instructions, materials and transfers. These brought considerable income to the Dorchester H.Q. of the Women's Institutes, which sent out the orders. She even had a stall at the Festival of Britain. Taught by her mother how to make bead bags, beads were another of her skills. She passed on to us how to make bead daisy-chain necklaces, and at one stage made moccasins with bead decorations.
Bertha and Olive, with Grandmother Heycock's instructions, made their own dresses, poring over the latest fashion magazines from France for their ball-gown designs. Grandmothers own skill came to the fore in making theatrical garments for many plays she and others put on for their children to perform. When we were children, various beautifully made period costumes still graced our well-filled acting box in the top floor passage.
Bertha and Olive learnt some cooking at home (3). Grandmother's recipe made the best chocolate fudge I have ever tasted. Mummy taught us how to make it, and made it in great quantities, sending elegant little boxes of it off instead of Christmas cards. They also made other sweets - for example brandy snaps, filled with whipped cream, which, meanly, they served at undergraduate teas, enjoying their collapse when clutched too tightly by nervous undergraduates. Mummy took cooking lessons during the First World War; these came in handy later, when she not only used her skills to teach her guides camp cookery, but acted as cook, on occasion, for Daddy's scout camps. An avid reader, Olive Heycock - with an original, independent and highly intelligent mind -had little formal education. She hated school (the Perse School for Girls, newly created for the daughters of academics who wanted a good education for them). She was taken out of it - instead her parents encouraged her musical talent. She was a gifted violinist and was sent to Germany to study under Joachim. Her most prized possession was an Amati violin. With Olive's Cambridge background came an interest in good conversation, culture, love of the theatre and, later, a passion for Russian ballet. She also attended open lectures given, as they still are, by the University.
The Heycock homes were relatively small, but well placed. (Grandmother Heycock said "No-one who is anyone lives over Hills Road bridge".) Fitzwilliam Street and St. Peter's Terrace were both terraced houses. The Fitzwilliam Street one extended over Peck's the Chemist's shop. If they were naughty or made too much noise they were threatened with Mr Peck. The children were much in awe of him with his skullcap, long white beard and his window full of mysterious bottles of different coloured liquids. The shop was close to Ad-denbrooke's Hospital which faced Trumpington Street just to the south of it. The next Heycock move was to St. Peter's Terrace at the top of Trumpington Street. It had a good garden and was much more up-market. We stayed there at times when we were small, and I can remember feeding the ducks on Hobson's Brook.
Douglas Pass found classics at Harrow boring and had not done well there, much to his father's disappointment comparing his to the greater successes of his Fry cousins. Douglas did not like his father, an elderly man by then, ambitious for his son but unable to share his interests. Possibly his father's archaeological interests were shared. Alfred Capper Pass's collection of Paleolithic stone tools from the River Axe and other Dorset sites are to be found in the Bristol, Dorchester and Devizes museums; his work on Silbury Hill was way ahead of his time - instead of digging holes in it looking for treasure, he examined the moat and its surrounds. By the time Douglas got to Cambridge his father had died and he was free to choose the subjects that interested him and would help him to run the Bedminster, Bristol, tin-smelting works (4). This did not deal in pure tin but in the extraction of tin from residues of all kinds. He studied chemistry and metallurgy, his tutor being the metallurgist whose speciality was alloys - Charles Heycock. Inheriting considerable wealth, he kept a horse in Cambridge, roamed the countryside and had a good social life, finishing with a First to the surprise of his relatives. Douglas bought his first car - a de Dion Buton with hard tyre
and it was Olive's proud moment to be seen arriving to watch the Bumps at Fen Ditton in it. They were married in King's Chapel, the first marriage there for 50 years and an important Cambridge event.
Grandmother Pass, wanting her son to take over the Wootton Manor when he got married, built herself a dower house, Thistlegate, close to the Tunnel, and moved there, leaving the Manor with all her furniture, pictures and decoration. It included her servants, which must have been very intimidating for a young woman from a small Cambridge home. Olive Pass soon got rid of the fierce-looking housekeeper (to be seen in the family album) and thereafter ran the house in a more personal manner, with a head housemaid instead - but it was many years before she could redecorate the house in her own way. During the First World War of course there was no question of doing so.
For one member of the family, five years younger than me and the youngest, memories of her childhood are far from idyllic. Now called Hannah by her choice, Honor Matilda (Matilda after a great aunt) was left out of much that we did. She tells of watching out of the nursery window, longing to join in and be part of the goings-on of her older sisters down below, and not being allowed to join in. She even remembers watching the funeral of the ham from up above!
The person she looked to for support, the person who would help and do things with her— her ally in the family—was Joan. Joan understood her loneliness and her longing to join in, Joan was the person she would seek out from her room in the nursery, to be found in ours, the schoolroom next door, the person to help her when she needed it. To Honor's misery and frustration she was frequently laid low with, and confined to her bed by, sickness—with a complaint which at that time was called acidosis, supposed to be caused by too much animal fat. This added to the grown-ups' feeling she should not join family expeditions, with Joan trying to get her into them. On one occasion an expedition was planned for an evening visit to Long Lane to see glow worms. Honor had had a bad night and told Joan about it; she remembers Joan warning her not to tell the grown-ups, knowing that they would stop her joining if she did. Honor saw the glow worms!
Later, when we were older and we all went to Scotland for the summer, it was Joan who took Honor out in a boat and taught her to fish.
Youth hostelling became very popular in the years before the World War 2; youth hostels were set at suitable intervals for walkers and you brought your own food and cooked it there. Having herself been taken by Katharine to some Scottish hostels, Joan took Honor and Honor felt very privileged. (Katharine remembers Joan on their youth hostel trip. They had a couple of hours to wait for a ferry. An old lady was cutting and stocking her corn, so they joined in and helped her. She invited them both back to her cottage, and by way of thanks gave them tea with scones and jam, telling them her two sons were at work but would be back later.. When they had eaten their scones, the old lady offered them some more. Katharine would have accepted, but Joan said there would be none left for the sons to eat when they got home, so they refused.)
Joan's integrity, her unselfishness and quiet consideration for others shine through in all our memories.
Part 2: Horses—Katharine Fortescue
During the First World War there was only one horse in the Manor stalls - the driving cob "Tommy". He was an active bay with a docked tail who did all the necessary journeys (for the car was laid up since there was nobody to drive it). Wakely had been called up though I do not know in what guise as he returned safely. His engineering skills, rare at the time, must have been used somewhere.
Tommy also mowed the lawn, wearing leather galoshes to stop his shoes marking the grass, though later in the War the lawn was used for hay and grazing sheep. Occasionally in those years we were driven to Lyme. In those days we used the "Old Lyme Road" across the face of the cliffs below the golf course. This long ago fell into the sea and even the footpath is now used with difficulty. Outside we had Jane the donkey, who was really an assistant nanny, very patient and gentle with us and Victory, my mother's hunter, who had a foal.
After the War, when Wakely and William Evett (my father's batman) returned to the village, the car was used again and the stables contained three hunters. These were formally inspected by us and fed on carrots every Sunday after church. They were never worked on Sundays. This inspection of the horses was described in "Les Malheurs de Sophie" in Poland before the War and was evidently an ancient custom. It was later abandoned to give the men here time off.
I learnt to ride on Jane, the donkey, and always adored it. As soon as he returned from captivity my father bought Spider, a roan Exmoor pony, for us, on the recommendation of a Roche uncle whose children had ridden her on a farm in Devon. A bit much for us at first, she was a remarkable pony, taught D and me to ride and jump and would keep up all day with the big horses out hunting and jump most of what they did. She lived till after the Second World War and gave pleasure to innumerable children and adults. William Evett taught us to ride, army fashion, with the reins in the left hand (of course where he had learnt the right hand was needed for sword or lance!). We wore soft felt hats, and gaiters on our legs and though we fell off, of course, we never broke anything or hurt ourselves in any way.
We used to ride Spider in the local shows - she won endless prizes. That was before the day of horse boxes so they were truly local events. She would not have a chance in a show today. She loved being shown and really put on a great act. However she loathed artificial jumps so show jumping was not on. She was always tricky to catch and only William could do it.
As time went on the number of horses increased and then a horse box was added so that my parents could more readily hunt with the Cattistock and not just the local Cotley and Seav-ington. William had two underlings, a capable man and a lad. He was never a great or bold rider himself but could handle and get tack onto anything, however wild or unbroken.
The stables consisted initially of two loose boxes and three stalls. This was later rebuilt to four boxes and one small pony stall and box in the middle, and the "coach house" outside was turned into two more boxes. There was also a "donkey house" outside by the game larder. The ponies were out at grass most of the time and must have been a job to get in and clean for riding - especially Seagull who was a gray. Next to the stables was the harness room where a tortoise stove kept the place warm and dry and heated a small kettle for making linseed mash, compresses etc. and no doubt also cups of tea.
The Manor horses were always beautifully turned out, and because of his skill in this respect William became barber for most of the village, sixpence a time!
The loft was a glorious playground for children though a fairly dangerous one with a lethal chaff cutter and other horrors. We used to make housed in the hay and catch spiders for our green tree frogs to eat when there were no flies about. Diana fell down the hay chute, which we did not know existed. A little voice came up from eight feet down saying she had fallen on hay and was quite alright. On inspection I discovered a cupboard below in the stables and let her out. She was always the daring one -1 was more cautious!
When the Second World War came all the horses were put down or given away. It broke William Evett's heart, he had given his life to them. Only two ponies were kept, one for use in a trap and old Spider for children to ride. The horse box was given to the army.
PH 'Joan and I spent many hours playing in that hayloft, always warm from the horses below and smelling deliciously of hay. Katharine's passion for and knowledge of horses made her our expert. She taught us much about horses and riding and we greatly admired our elder sister. Joan rode well and loved the horses as we all did, but I do not think she was ever horse mad.'
PH 'Mummy sometimes hunted with us, looking most elegant in her side-saddle outfit, complete with top hat, kept on with a veil. However, accidents from riding side-saddle were frequently more serious than from riding astride, and after a bad fall with concussion, she gave up. She did not like blood sports in any case and had only ridden to please Daddy (1). We were taught to ride astride, and had strong bowler hats for hunting.'
Daddy had only one form of sartorial vanity, and, one might add, extravagance - hunting clothes. Whenever possible he avoided trips to London, Cobbett's "Great Wen" to him, but he went up with us for this outfitting. We always stayed at Brown's Hotel, and set forth with him to Saville Row, heading for the best breeches and bootmakers; there we were measured and tailor-made quality breeches ordered, jodhpurs being added at a later date. Mummy went shopping. She got her beautiful evening dresses made up by named dress-making houses in London, always her own choice of artist-designed materials in the subtle colours available at the time. We loved trips to London. They started with catching the early train, Southern Railway, at Axminster. Then a magnificent breakfast in the dining car - white tablecloths, uniformed waiters and piping hot food from the kitchen. The dining car echoed with the loud voices of the upper class first-class passengers also going up to London -many for the day - often County people known to our parents. Daddy's other London extravagance took him to Jermyn Street, where the best cheeses in Britain could be bought along with Yorkshire hams.
Part 3: Family life at Wootton—Philippa Hill
This part is more concerned, not only with our mother's life, but also the family's life at Wootton and how we grew up. With the advent of the First World War and the terrible losses of men, patronising pretences about "the pretty little woman who must not bother her head about such things" rapidly disappeared. Women took over the men's work and did it just as well.
Douglas Pass, keen territorial soldier from university days, soon left home as a captain in the Dorset Yeomanry. Katharine remembers seeing them embark at Weymouth, bands playing, colours flying.
Olive Pass, who now had two small girls, took over the running of the house, the gardens, the estate and life in Wootton village. She also kept an eye on Douglas's business affairs, and the Bedminster works. Known to her sister Bertha as the "nettle-grasper", Olive, the able manager, emerged.
Captain Douglas Pass, with the Dorset Yeomanry, was posted at first to Egypt. From there they set sail for Gallipoli. With poor management and indifferent generals in charge, this disastrous campaign saw thousands of British and Australian troops slaughtered on the beaches and Captain Douglas Pass was one of the "missing, presumed dead". There was little hope because the Turks took no prisoners. Granny Pass and Olive supported each other in their grief, and both, deeply religious, prayed for a miracle, holding on to that little ray of hope that the word "missing" still allowed. It was many weeks before their prayers were indeed miraculously answered. Douglas had been captured by the Turks and was a prisoner-of-war. A small sample of officers had been taken to Ankara to be shown to the Turkish leader, Mustafa Kemal, and then imprisoned in central Turkey, at Afion Kara Hissar.
Another prisoner-of-war joined them there - George Dacre (1) a dashing young airman, who was the first person, as it turned out unwisely, to try dropping a torpedo from his plane, a light biplane. It appears that the torpedo was too heavy for it and it ditched in the Sea of Marmora, where, single-handed, he had flown to attack the Turkish fleet.
The prisoners were able to make contact through the Red Cross, and it was through the Red Cross that, later, parcels were able to get through, including books. Certainly Douglas read the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire there, a truly massive tome. Letters, both from home and from Turkey, had to be strictly limited in length, the Turkish censors being few in number and their English limited.
Olive set about finding and contacting the wives and families of the prisoners-of-war and took charge of communications. She ran a newsletter containing all the families' letters to make the best of the limited number of lines allowed, and sent round any letters that got through from Turkey. KEF says: 6 Our mother had a secretary with an old typewriter to help her with her work. Miss Senior operated in the study and later taught me lessons for a short time daily -just reading and writing'. With the help of a primitive duplicating machine the newsletters were published. Any news about the progress of the war would, of course, be censored but a little could be got through from a "wife" whose address was "Codin House, Thislet Terrace". As well as the newsletter, through the Red Cross, increasing numbers of parcels were sent to Afion Kara Hissar. K says: 'Food parcels sent by Fortnum and Mason were so defective that no food was ever bought from them again for the rest of my parents' lives! Daddy learnt Norwegian while a prisoner and gardened. He did not play cards.'
Olive maintained these services for the three remaining years of the war to the immense gratitude of those concerned. A magnificent but massive silver tray, engraved with their signatures, stood on the dining room sideboard for many years, till, after the Second World War, when there was no one to polish it, Mummy decided to get rid of much of the silver, offering it to us all first. I think Joan took that massive silver tray, but there was little competition for it!
Further wartime memories from KEF: 'No electricity because Taylor, a rare trained electrician, was called up. Wakely too, as a trained driver, so no car. One old cob, Tommy, did all journeys and work, managed by old Bowditch. "Nanny" kept an eye on us but did a lot of housework. We had a much-loved Belgian refugee Serafina as nursery maid. My mother had some responsibility for the Belgian refugees; billeting? Some worked on the estate planting young trees. There were two women gardeners, Miss Belshaw and Miss Woodcock, who grew fruit and vegetables in the walled garden. This must have been unheard of before the war. (Was White (Ada's father) head gardener?) I do not remember that we were short of food.'
At the end of the war, with unbounded joy, the prisoners-of-war were set free, tempered a little as far as Mummy was concerned by the news that Daddy was bringing his pet wolf back with him. Fortunately it got no further than their first stop in Egypt - not welcome in hotels there was nowhere to keep it. Reluctantly, Daddy left it in a zoo there.
Mummy's rejoicing at Daddy's return knew no bounds, but she told me once that one of the hardest things she had to do in life was handing over the reins again, after running all Daddy's affairs for so long. It was achieved by agreeing spheres in which the other took an interest but no part. They lived in much love and harmony this way, and, although sometimes disagreeing, I never heard them quarrel.
Katharine and Diana had been given love, interests and a great deal of freedom, but I suspect without a father around they had got rather out of hand. Indeed, both parents started putting this to rights and set about stopping their children from quarrelling. Discipline returned. Katharine had a fierce temper and used to lash out at her sweet, innocent, little sister Diana; she was severely punished for it, until her parents noted that little Diana was watching her sister's punishment with something akin to glee. Paying attention to this they realised that their dear little innocent was deliberately goading her sister to fury in order to see her punished. After that they both got punished on such occasions, to excellent effect.
At last Mummy was given the opportunity she had longed for, to begin redecorating the house with her own artistic taste and flair. Daddy gave permission to do up one room a year, with unrestricted funds. She set to on the Little Drawing Room (see the front cover)- already the most interesting room in the house, with Georgian features, its plastered ceiling, dark Cuban mahogany door and beautiful Adams-style marble fireplace. She bricked up the east window to provide an alcove for the magnificent flower arrangements she did each week, based on Dutch flower paintings, and arranged in one of a pair of "dubbed" famille-vert Chinese vases. They were filled with water by her under the stable tap in the yard and then arranged in the flower pantry. After many years, an insurance man came round, and pronounced the vases to be very valuable, and Mummy reluctantly stuck the two vases away on a high shelf in the Morning Room.
The wallpaper, Mummy's Queen Anne walnut desk and the Knowle sofa (backed with a piece of genuine Italian velvet renaissance embroidery) were all reproduction, but ordered by her, and of such high quality that they became works of art. Chinese wallpaper, popular in great 18 th century houses, would always have been an expensive luxury. Mummy found this one, of flowering trees and birds, in the Victoria and Albert Museum. She got Slade students to reproduce it on panels made to fit the room, and loved her wallpaper so much that it topped the list in the back passage of what to save in case of fire!
Over the mantelpiece hung the Orpen portrait of Mummy with her flame red hair, and in the fireplace below sat the first black and white Wemyss Ware pig (2), alongside the log box. Over time, its ears had received considerable damage, but disaster struck one evening when Betty Dacre (who was a great friend of the Bowyer family) leaning against the mantlepiece, put her foot through it, and declared she had only just touched it. This caused Paget Bowyer to laugh so much he nearly choked. The replacement pig, plus piglet, was not quite so beautiful.
Our parents wanted their family to be well educated, and to this end, sent us to boarding schools at 13, their preferred school, Downe House, near Newbury, a happy choice. Run by Miss Willis, it did not aim to train girls in traditional fashion solely for marriage, encouraging instead further education, careers, music, fitness, even sport. We led a spartan existence, starting with the school being perched on a windy hilltop above Newbury, its windows open all the time, nullifying the odd radiator scattered here and there. Sponges froze in the washbasins, and in winter the staff got the whole school outside to do warming-up exercises before breakfast. Miss Willis, advocate of fresh air, caused many passengers on the Newbury to London train much discomfort by throwing the train windows wide open whenever she travelled. No one, so far as I know, was ever the worse for the cold.
The three of us who were sent there, Katharine, Diana (after starting at Abbot's Hill) and myself, enjoyed the school's stimulating and academic atmosphere, its eccentricity and the variety of after-school clubs and events available; these were run by those dedicated and brilliant teachers who lived in the school, because, like so many, they were unmarried, having lost their fiances in the First World War. We made lifelong friends there. Downe attracted the children of Oxbridge academics, diplomats, MPs, doctors and teachers, the world Mummy had been brought up in, and which, probably without her realising it, coloured the upbringing of her daughters. Unfortunately, Mummy, without considering her material had ambitions of another kind for her daughters, ambitions she had not sought for herself.
Daddy's and Mummy's close friends were the Wingfield Digbys of Sherborne Castle and the Mintern Digbys. They knew each other well, and Mummy was encouraged to see her daughters groomed to rise in society.
Joan was sent to Abbots Hill, a more ladylike school than Downe. Diana had been sent there first and had not liked it so followed K to Downe. Joan, a more biddable Pass daughter, was unhappy there but would not have dreamt of complaining. She made no permanent friends there, and it did nothing for her self-confidence. Her real friend was nearer home, Joanna Lepage from Wootton Rectory. Joanna, a delightful person with a broad grin, and strong religious principles, joined up as a nurse at the beginning of the war. She tragically contracted meningitis and died - a devastating blow for Joan, who never again had such a close friend. Honor, fortunately, went to Sherborne, a much happier choice.
With Digby encouragement, Mummy decided her daughters should be presented at court and do some of the London Season. Katharine and Diana flatly refused, but Joan and I, less strong-minded, learnt how to do court curtseys, and had elegant gowns specially made for us, with ostrich feather fans and long white gloves. Presentation at court was already on the verge of collapse because of the huge numbers who wanted to be presented. The Queen had to sit there for three days whilst the giggling mass was brought up one by one, being presented to her by someone suitable who herself had been presented at court. It had become a lucrative affair for impecunious titled dowagers who were paid large sums to introduce rich American girls wishing to enter British "Society", involving them in the expensive London Season. We were duly presented at Court and went to one or two balls, but we clearly did not fit in; Mummy, who had little support from Daddy in her efforts, gave up, and we returned happily and with no regrets to our more earth-bound Dorset existence.
The gathering storm clouds of war destroyed this archaic way of life. They also destroyed the idealistic dream, widely held by the young, that a League of Nations could end wars forever. Daddy raged at their blindness when we could all see Hitler was rearming Germany and setting about the destruction of the German Jews. It was Hitler's treatment of the Jews that swung the Peace Movement - indeed many of those young people set about getting Jews out of Germany, especially the children. The Government, with the recent depression in mind and with their head in the sand, only allowed those Jews with jobs on offer to come to Britain (3). As the situation worsened, many dedicated people organised trainloads of children out of Germany, many of whom never saw their parents again. With the help of British Jewry homes were found for these children. Katharine, married to Dick Fortescue, and by then with her own small family, took in Thea, then aged 14 - a most happy, rewarding and life-long relationship for both of them. Thea eventually married Wally Woodford, Paget Bowyer's friend.
After Dunkirk there seemed no chance for Britain's survival - we had no defences left. This led to the family's wish that one member of the family should be free - in the event, a sad decision for Honor, but it seemed the right thing at the time. A Canadian school in Toronto sent Sherborne School an offer to join them. With only a few days notice for a decision, Sherborne School asked parents if they wanted to take up this chance. With no time to spare, Diana Reader-Harris, later headmistress of Sherborne, set sail across the dangerous submarine-infested Atlantic Ocean with a small party of girls including Honor. Our parents had kept in touch with one of our old Rhodes Scholar visitors from the past, Larry Bonny-castle. Now married and living in Toronto, the Bonnycastles willingly offered Honor a home. In spite of much kindness, it was a sad time for Honor. She felt deprived of her family, cut-off form sharing their deprivations and useless to help in the war effort. Fortunately when she was 17 her heart's desire was answered - she was officially allowed to return and spent the last year of the war working at Bletchley.
This started with life on the top floor of Wootton House with Joan, but has turned into a contribution in praise of our parents - so I will end this page on that note. After the war, Arthur Powell came back from the war to continue as our parent's driver. Unfortunately he developed a serious heart condition and was forbidden to drive. Daddy could be seen setting off for his fishing on the Frome at East Burton with Arthur as passenger!
3. A.V. Hill, my future father-in-law, began a desperate rescue of Jewish scientists, many well known to him, and sought jobs for them not only in Britain, but in universities and establishments in America, Canada and Australia—anywhere he had contacts. As Royal Society Secretary and Nobel Prize winner he was well placed to do so.
Most of our favourite places to play, apart from the three magical lime trees beyond the tennis court, were round the ponds. Described in the old sale catalogue as "two stretches of ornamental water" the ponds were already silting up, but for many years there was still a boat on the upper one. I remember giving a ceremonious funeral to one of our home-cured hams which had gone bad. K, D, Joan and I solemnly took it over to the island in the boat, and hung it up there.
In the 19 th century, the previous owner of Wootton House, Miss Luttrell, had driven round the ponds every day in her donkey cart, to feed the swans.
That donkey cart became the "pram" in which we all, as small children, were taken out, pulled with care by Jane the donkey. Our mother had a most unsuitable pet, Buffles, a bulldog from a line of original fighting bulldogs. Buffles was not popular because he was known to bite people. However he went too far one day, when he decided to attack the underside of Jane the donkey, who was pulling the donkey cart with Joan and me in it round the drive. Not surprisingly poor Jane took off in terror, with us behind in the cart. After that Buffles was put down.The donkey cart survived our ravages, and can be seen in photographs still being pulled round the drive with our children in it. I became its owner when the house was sold, and gave it to an appropriate museum in Tiverton. The ponds must have been created at the same time as the beautiful stand of beech trees were planted at their top end. These, always smelly underneath because of the noisy rookery above, started to die in the 1940s and 50s. Beeches have a relatively short life, likely not to be more than 200 years.
At the far side of the lower pond a large spring bubbled up through - the wishing well. Many people including those from the village, came there - as we did - to wish, dropping in bent pins or pennies. You were not supposed to tell your wish to anyone or it would not come true. I can remember the moment when I realised that the wishing well only had a chance of working for you if you wished for something that was likely to happen - it was a waste of time wishing for things like a pet penguin which I had previously set my wishful heart on.
Katharine tells me that old ladies from the village told her they used the wishing-well water to combat eye troubles. She says belief in the curative powers of wishing-well water for eye troubles is common to many springs and wishing wells.This well, a large spring, took on a new life in the 1950s, becoming the house and village water supply. Our parents asked Maurice to join them, as a trustee of the estate, which often meant meetings with the then agent Theo White and themselves, an involvement he greatly enjoyed. Th Manor water supply came from a shallow spring on Stonydown. It ran through the gardens and under the road to the stables and house. In wet weather the tap water turned a murky brown. Daddy had long realised that the wishing-well spring would be a far better supply, but samples he had sent for testing failed, due to E Coli and other impurities. Maurice, being a scientist by trade, realised that the very cold water could only have come from a deep spring, and the impurities were getting into it from the nearby farm. They therefore waited for a good dry spell when no pollutants were coming across the way, and then submitted samples. The results were all that they could wish, the samples passed as excellent. A brick structure was installed to hold the pump, sadly destroying the wishing well, but at last providing a plentiful supply of water for the Manor, the nearby farms and the village. The old Stonydown supply, given a large new underground storage tank, was piped under Long Lane to give running water to the Abbotts Wootton farms which had previously relied on well water.
A battle ensued between the old and the new guard, with our mother delighted to have an ally for modernisation in Maurice. On previous occasions when she had wanted improvements to make a better life for the wives of Wootton Fitzpaine, the two men had ruled out her suggestions as too expensive, pointing out that anyway country women had managed alright before and would not expect anything more. Now she wanted the installation of running water, and inside loos and baths, not only on the farms but in all the cottages in the village. As this, by now, involved the creation of cess pits as well, Daddy and Theo White came up with their usual response of its being too expensive, and what was wrong with the present arrangements of village pumps, wells and standpipes against yard walls? In the end, Mummy and Maurice won the day, in part because new regulations on dairy farming required clean drinking water for cows.
Daddy ran the estate in a beneficent way, but always with the intention of making it pay its way. He brought in many farm improvements: field drainage (there were many marshy fields in the Marshwood Vale), installation of milking parlours, the repair and upkeep of farm and cottage buildings. Most of the work was accomplished from the Estate Yard using a workforce expected to be jacks-of-all-trades when needed. There was a painter and decorator, a carpenter, a plumber, a tractor-driver and two or three foresters.
Trees were Daddy's life-long passion, and he planted woodlands around the estate, including an oak wood, Bowshot, which was felled to improve cash handouts when, after his death, the estate was broken up. He planted very special trees near the house and in the field, and in old age walked round frequently to visit them. When Schedule B came in, a land tax on all land whether in use or not, Daddy was faced with a problem, because he had large tracts of unfarmed land, as befitted a sporting estate, the largest being the Wyld Warren, a beautiful place, home to many rare plants. There were also both old and newly planted woodlands, largely on the north-west part of the estate. He solved it by letting large areas to the Forestry Commission on a 999-year lease. After the war, rents were fixed and for many years could not be put up unless improvements like new plumbing or major building repairs were made. The Blackmores at the Old Forge below Tempest proudly showed me their well (I think in the 1980s) which they said had never run dry and was their only water supply.
Another man, to the disgust of his wife, let his house in Fishpond run down so badly that the stairs had fallen in, the roof leaked and there was not bath or loo. All left because he was determined to keep his rent at the half-a-crown a week he had started at many years before!
One curmudgeonly old farmer, who shall be nameless, was fed up with his old wife who had become severely arthritic and so no use. He would willingly have sent her to the knackers if he had been allowed to. He refused to pay for the installation of running water and plumbing in the farm house; every washing day the poor old lady had to carry buckets of water from the stand pipe in the yard to the far corner of the kitchen where stood the large metal cauldron (originally typical in all the farm houses) and light the fire under it.
In this well-watered landscape dowsers were used for the siting of new wells. They had much knowledge, of an empirical sort, of the underlying geology. There is nothing magic about those little bits of stick - some people can do it and others can not. After all, elephants have the ability to know where to dig for underground water, a vital survival skill as far as they are concerned. Theo White's clerk to the works, Mr Milton, came with him often when sites needed viewing. He had the ability to dowse, and I have watched him using his stick to trace where drains lay. It took him far less time than poking about.
Our parents were the most generous of people. One of Daddy's precepts which I have valued is "Never lend money, either give it or refuse it". I suspect he usually gave it. Of the estate, Wootton receive much and in many ways, including the village hall. Having originally owned Charmouth foreshore, Daddy gave it to Charmouth Parish Council. He also gave them their playing fields, and land for the tennis courts in Lower Sea Lane. (The tennis club was run for a great many years by the three Miss Whittingtons, who kept a small dame school in Charmouth. They dictatorially said "No-one from trade" could join the tennis club.) He supported many many causes, including the Fairbridge Society in Australia which in the end turned out to be not so noble as it made itself out to be. Much was given to Enterprise Neptune, helping to buy the farms which allow us all to enjoy that wonderful walk from Golden Cap to Charmouth along the cliffs. He also gave them Lamberts Castle and much of Fishpond. Mummy also gave Coneys Castle to the National Trust. I cannot list their generosity - it was continuous and largely unknown to us.
The grandparents were central to all my visits to Wootton. Grandfather I remember at the start of the day taking the dog/dogs for a walk and talking to the estate agent/manager, the early morning smells were those distinctive cowy damp smells of the area and in later years the smell of silage also wafted in. The sounds were the noisy chatter of rooks. We seldom looked in on Grandfather in his study/gun-room with a big cat (leopard?) skin over the back of the sofa(?) and the smell of pipe smoke. That was his special area and really out of bounds for children. We saw him mainly at mealtimes when he recited numerous stories to keep us all amused. As one who never remembers a story, it is a source of astonishment to me that some people can come up with as many stories as our grandfather did. Meals at Wootton were quite something with a variety of dishes for breakfast (Grandfather always had salt on his porridge!) and rather a lot of home produced cream and butter. I think that I always held a special place amongst the grandchildren as my hair was much the same colour as our grandmother's was when she was young and I was always referred to as 'Copper Knob' - this saved a confusion with having too many Philippas in the family.
Grandmother was around doing things with us grandchildren much more. I think that we all did a bit of feather stitchery with her, but there was also the cooking - fudge, toffee and brandy-snaps. Oddly enough, I recall wandering in and out of the grandparents' bedroom, perhaps in later years when Grandmother was having an afternoon nap, though I remember it as in the early mornings. I certainly remember Grandmother's little books with sayings from various religions or philosophies for life, which she read quietly to herself up in their bedroom. In the Little Drawing Room, there was also the Treasure cabinet with a variety of clockwork toys that would cause a great deal of excitement on the Antiques Roadshow nowadays. Fans, beads to thread and curious artifacts long forgotten by me, but perhaps remembered by some of the other grandchildren. And, of course, there was the TV and Wootton had one long before the Fortescue family. I would watch it for hours, particularly show jumping.
Away from Wootton, there were the expeditions to plays and the ballet in London and most important, shopping expeditions. Clothes we bought in London did not always meet with my mother's approval, I may say!
Another special person much loved at Wootton, was Aunt B. Visits to her home at Dolphin House were very exciting with so many stairs going up and up and the cuckoo clock with its long pendulum hanging so far down. I stayed there once along with Aunt B's granddaughter Caroline and I don't remember much except picking plums, which I think we reached climbing up the wall, so they may well have been in the neighbour's garden! I think that that was also the holiday that we used the old lookout hut as our changing hut at the beach and it is of course still there.
Kersy was another vital part of the Wootton scene. I did lessons with her at one stage and it was certainly great fun. I got very good at my times-tables, which are now partially forgotten and I find this quite curious when I once knew them so well. I can remember doing squiggly patterns with a pair of compasses and I also learnt a Psalm by heart. I remember it quite well to this day, but best of all, I remember a rubbish rhyme. It went something like this, though I have no idea about the spelling :-Koy manero, Kilto Karo, Koy manero Koyme. Pirn strim stramadiddle , laribone a rigme rigme a bullina dimma Koyme. May be it was something in gaelic, My computer is very upset by it! Amongst her many jobs, Kersy seemed to end up in charge of feeding the dogs. The food was cooked up in one of the back pantries and it smelt disgusting. The other back pantry had the cream separator in it which was a fascinating thing to us children.
Wootton House was very special and parts of it were almost unknown. We used to venture up to the attics to find the dressing up clothes. They smelt very musty and I rather wonder whether they were also moth-bally. I never went out on to the roof, though I think that my brothers did. Down below there were the Wootton baths, which were also a source of interest with their extraordinary plugs and water that often came out brown. Many generations must have weighed and measured themselves on the scales that was in the main bathroom and subsequently went to Sylvia at Wrackleford. A room not so often used was the Big Drawing Room with its array of trophy heads. I never did sort out all the animals, though I once found a curvy horn in a desert in Africa and thought that it was sort of familiar, like one of the Wootton heads. The grand piano was in the Big Drawing Room and I remember playing chop-sticks on it on many occasions. Later on, when I was learning to play properly, I would sit in that room playing for quite long spells.
Outside, there was the garden and really all the surrounding countryside. I went exploring with my brothers and even before the great 'Hill clean-up' we would go all around the ponds and visit the stepping stones and wishing well. We had strict instructions to keep away from the silted up ponds. The same applied to the old swimming pool in the Rock Garden. My brothers caught newts in the swimming pool and more recently, young from the farm have rescued frogs. I have photographs of Tom and me with umbrellas of what appears to be giant hogweed, but I have no recollection of being blistered by it, so perhaps it was one of the other giant gunnera. Beyond the Rock Garden was Conegar and there we found various shelters underground that were perhaps something to do with the home guard. Nearer the house, there was the old summer house to play in and we made our own houses in the bamboo and under the Lime trees. Across the road were the Walled Garden and the Spring Garden with the most wonderful smell of Wallflowers in the spring. I keep dark red scented Wallflowers going here at Lyme, but I collected the seeds from next to the walled garden at Wootton, so I feel that they are the 'real thing'. One of the joys of going to the Walled Garden was visiting the glass houses and sniffing the amazing smell of fresh, growing tomatoes and eating them straight off the plants tasting like they smelt.
It is now more than 130 years since Alfred Capper Pass came to Wootton Fitzpaine. His granddaughter Katharine still lives in Wootton village as does one great-grandson Tom. The Hill family come to visit regularly at Rushay and Stable Cottage, and the Kennedys still have a holiday cottage near Tempest. Greenlands, at Monkton Wyld, is the home of a great-great-granddaughter Sophy and her family, and her brother Richard and his family are just over the hill in Axminster. With me also nearby at Lyme (when in New Zealand I always said that if I were ever to return to the UK, the only place where I would live would be West Dorset) there are a large number of the family still connected with the area. The family interest in the Natural History of the area is very strong to this day, Mark having done serious botanical surveys and I some less serious ones, but some comprehensive otter surveys. Sophy's daughter Anna is already involved with the junior section of the Dorset Wildlife Trust and Sophy herself has appeared in a book on Dorset Women. What would greatgrandfather ACP feel about a member of the family described as a 'cider maker'? I must also mention my sister-in-law Elizabeth(Twig), because she of all the family has fought for our corner of West Dorset by working first as the Parish Clerk and then more recently as Chairperson of the Parish Council. Without the likes of her, I dread to think what indiscriminate development might have taken place in our special corner at Wootton.
There are none of us at the Manor, but that is also in good hands. The house is much loved and has been up-dated to fit modern requirements with a large family kitchen and family dining area leading out to a nice enclosed garden area. The Park trees are kept going where possible, but there has been a tremendous amount of new planting and various areas have been completely redeveloped and landscaped. There is even talk of tackling the Ponds. The 'young' bring all their friends down from London for weekends and holidays and hopefully in the near future there will also be the next generation of grandchildren around to love the place as we did and as the Bradburys do. My only sadness is that the stables have not been filled with horses again!
1. KEF suggests an alternative: 'Mahatma Ghandi, who was much in the news at the time'.
2. When we got back to Cambridge in 1945 (Maurice returning to get his degree), I once sat at dinner beside an elderly and rather undistinguished fellow of King's who pronounced "I knew your grandfather, a very nice man although he was only a chemist".
3. In contrast to this, Maurice's grandmother, Florence Keynes (nee Brown), lived all her long life without even learning how to boil an egg; the Manse at the Bunyan Chapel would have had a cook, and Mrs Brown ran a small school in order to help their family finances.
4. When his father died in 1905, Daddy inherited Capper Pass and Son, a thriving metal-refining and tin-smelting works in Bristol. Alfred Capper Pass's enterprise and intelligence had moved non-ferrous metal refining from empirical guesswork to scientific skill. He started to make his fortune out of ancient lead and tin slag heaps in the Mendips and Cornwall, using his technological skills to extract and refine copper, lead and tin from slag heaps, residues and low quality ore, soon becoming a major supplier of solder. A.D.P followed in his footsteps, enlarging the building and finding new markets for high-quality tin and tin alloys, in an increasingly competitive world. In our childhood they were importing quantities of low-grade ore from Bolivia. A.D.P appointed a university friend as his managing director. Paul Gueterbock, of German extraction, can be seen in the Cambridge University Shooting Eight along with A.D.P. and A.V. Hill. Paul fought through the First World War and survived, refusing to change his much-reviled name. He proved outstanding, both as a chemist and managing director. Later appointments of brilliant and innovative chemists kept Capper Pass and Son ahead of competitors for many years. Daddy, driven by Wakeley, travelled from Wootton to Bristol for meetings. The route included the old Fosse Way across Somerset - long, straight but dangerous in those early days when priority markings on crossroads had yet to arrive! The full story of Capper Pass and Son is told in a privately published book by Bryan Little called "Capper Pass. The First Hundred and Fifty Years".
1. KEF says: 'I think you have ascribed latter-day thoughts on hunting to our mother. She may have had such thoughts in later life but certainly not in early days. She loved riding and made many friends. She went out twice a week with Catistock or Cotley throughout my youth.
1. George Dacre married our father's cousin Betty Fraser after WW1
2. The Wootton Wemyss Ware pig lives on, being the inspiration for Griselda's choice of career. Griselda made a Wemyss Ware cat for us to give to Betty Dacre on her ninetieth birthday—it took pride of place in her retirement home. Sylvia Wingfield Digby was delighted with her wedding present of a cabbage rose cat.