Talking to Dorothy Mary Foote (nee Foster)
23 August & 29 November 2001
Dorothy was born 15 December 1909 in Yew Tree House, Whittington and died 27 December 2004 at Haunton Hall (Nursing Home); she married Archie Foote in Whittington in 1936. Archie was born 2 October 1905 and died 11 March 1981.
- Dorothy was the youngest of 4 girls by 14 years. Her sisters were Gladys Emily, Amelia Hellen, Winifred Violet. Her elder sisters where born in Lichfield, where their father, Frank, had his building business. [Editor’s note: Frank and his family moved to Whittington in around 1906]
- Dorothy’s mother, Hannah (known as Annie) kept a sweetshop at the front of Yew Tree House [Editor’s note: now the Downes & Daughters) – it later became a general stores. The garden at Yew Tree House went back as far as the bend in Chapel Lane. There were two cottages on the corner with Chapel Lane – a blacksmith & a tailor, who used to sit on a platform in the window.
- Frank Foster had his workshop in the building which is now the Social Club.
- Aunt Nell was her father’s eldest sister who had mothered the family on the death of their mother. She was married first to a gamekeeper by the name of Greenwood and they lived at Yew Tree House. Mr Greenwood, who drank too much and died early.
- Tom Bates who farmed Green Farm with his two sons, Edwin and Alfred, had lost his wife and came courting bearing gifts of eggs. Tom Bates became Aunt Nell’s second husband and she moved to Green Farm. (This is probably when her younger brother, Frank, moved to Yew Tree House.)
- When Tom came to retire he returned to his childhood home – the house on the sandstone opposite the Police Station and the Dog. There had been a bakery behind the house when Tom lived there as a boy, but the property, owned by the Levetts of Packington, had become run down. Although the Levetts would not sell the house, an arrangement was made whereby Uncle Tom and Aunt Nell were allowed to renovate it and make it their home. Uncle Tom only lived 12 months after he retired, but Aunt Nell stayed in house. Her next door neighbour, De Falbe, had commissioned from a London-based company, installation of gas for his home and asked Aunt Nell to provide accommodation for the man who came to install the gas, George Howard.
- Subsequently, she was invited to London and staid Aunt Nell returned with her hair bobbed. George Howard subsequently became her third husband and Aunt Nell moved to London. Frank didn’t approve. Dorothy remembers being invited to London and going to tea dances. Aunt Nell had two modern step-daughters. She outlived this husband too. She remained living in Southfield, but eventually had a fall and lay all night with a broken thigh. She then came back to Whittington and lived at the Dog with her brother Frank.
- Frank Foster became the landlord of The Dog after Frank Sturgess and when the family moved, Dorothy’s sister Amelia remained at Yew Tree House running it as a shop. Amelia subsequently married Conrad Leach, an architect, but continued to run the shop. When Conrad altered the house, they found shoe-making equipment. [Editor's note: Mrs Leach lived and worked at Yew Tree Cottage for over 40 years]
- In 1936 Dorothy married Archie Foote and lived with him in Birmingham for a while. They farmed near Aberystwth for a while and in 1955 they returned to Whittington, so that Dorothy could help her sister run the shop - Conrad Leach had died.
- The Footes bought Green Farm around this time (mid 1950s), and Dorothy continued to live there until 1999.
- Mr Thomas Bates farmed fields remote from farmhouse (opposite Swan, Noddington Lane, Elford Road, off Vicarage Lane, Tamhorn Park) Threshing machines came from Hintons of Hopwas. There was a Rickyard for threshing cereal. Cows were milked by hand. There was a cowshed by the road. The Farm went down to Post Office.
- During 1st World War Green Farm was commandeered by the military. Educational Officer had quarters here. (Dorothy’s eldest sister married his son).
- Just before 2nd World War Green Farm was developed by J R Deacon and turned into a residential property. A Fradley farmer who relocated due to the development of Fradley Aerodrome was the first occupier after development.
- Nurse Darby lived with sister. She came for a month, and stayed 50 years.! May was maid for 45 years. She went to live with Nurse Darby in Brereton. Then rented flat Tamworth Road. Then May lived in warden controlled flats in Whittington.
- Mrs Moore lived in the cottage opposite Green Farm, where she raised 21 children!
- The trough that is now used as a planter on Main Street came from Bit End Field, when it was pasture for cows.
- The Lawley family lived at Old Hall for a time. Chambers bought it, but overstretched himself in borrowing.
- There was a Walnut yard belonging to the Hall where Babington Close is now. Tempests gave a tree – a sapling walnut – growing in Green Farm.
- The Dog had two yards – a tack room and pig sties and stable yard. The Hunt came and stabled horses (perhaps six). “walk puppies” for the hunt.
- Chauffeur to the Corns lived in black and white cottage on Green – opposite April Cottage.
- Laundry cottage was bought by the Grays.
- Col Longstaff bought Whittington Lodge.
- The Dyotts owned the Old Police Station. Mary Dyott was Richard’s grandma. He was born Richard Shaw, and changed his name in order to inherit Freeford. Mary ran the Sunday school.
- Whittington House was owned by General de Falbe – he had 3 daughters presented at court and kept a full staff.
- Squadron Leader Colquhoun then bought Whittington House around 2nd World War, Elswick House was the servants’ quarters.
- The Dewes lived at Whittington Court next to the Church.
- Billiard Room on back of Institute – was organised by Dorothy’s father, Frank Foster.
- Thomas Spencer Hall was opened by Lord Cieff.
© 2016 Whittington History Society