Research: Dorothy Annie May Hunter (nee House)

My great grandmother Dorothy Annie May Hunter (nee House) was born on 2nd September 1913 in Gosport, Hampshire. She was the youngest of 4 known children; George Henry Alec (1907-1989), Andrew Mark (1909-1973), Lilian Alice (1911-1989) and Dorothy Annie May (1913-2001). Their parents were George and Emma Eliza House (nee Cook).

Dorothy was baptised on 19th October 1913 in Forton, which is in Gosport. I could not find an image for her baptism online, but what I do have access to, is her actual baptism card.

Dorothy Annie May House baptism

In 1919 the House family moved to Paull, East Yorkshire because George House (Dorothy’s father) was posted at Paull Battery. He had just discharged from the Royal Marines. My grandmother remembers her mother telling her a story that they got the train from down south, up to Hedon Station. They then rented a horse and carriage in Hedon, in order to travel to Paull.

Dorothy, her parents and her 3 siblings first lived at the Coastguard Cottage next to the Lighthouse in Paull. They then lived at Lakes Farm, which is situated on the back road towards Thorngumbald from Paull. My great grandmother (Dorothy) had once told my grandmother that the farm was only a small holding with pigs and chickens. George used to grow his own vegetables too, which meant they were self-sufficient. Dorothy used to name the chickens and see them as her pets, so she never ate them when they were used for food! One time she was feeding the pigs, whilst wearing her father’s coat. She hung it over the fence, but the pigs got hold of it and ate it!

lakes farm

It was from this farm that Dorothy and her three siblings would walk to Thorngumbald in hobnail boots, in order to go to school. This used to happen in all kinds of weather. They all used to be scared of walking down a road that is still there today called Dark Lane. At the age of 14, Dorothy left school.

The photograph below shows Dorothy stood to the right of her mother and her older sister Lilian. Dorothy will be around 13 on this photograph.

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Dorothy met William Hunter at a dance in Hedon. After seeing each other at the dances in Hedon, they started “courting”. One particular time William walked Dorothy home, one thing led to another and Dorothy became pregnant, which meant that they needed to get married. Dorothy Annie May House married William Hunter on 1st March 1930 in Paull. Dorothy was 16 and William was 24. Part of the marriage certificate is shown below.image-4

My grandmother told me that there was only one known photograph from the wedding, which showed the couple stood together outside the church. However, Dorothy, unfortunately, ripped it up because she didn’t like how she looked on it! We believed that the photograph was lost in history, until 26th August 2017, when my 2nd cousin showed me a photograph that his grandfather (Cec Hunter) once had. The photograph that we didn’t know existed is shown below.

From left to right; Vina Hutchinson, Lilian House (older sister of Dorothy), unknown (behind groom), William Hunter (groom), George House (the father of Dorothy, stood behind her), Dorothy Annie May House (bride), Emma Eliza House (mother of Dorothy), unknown.

William Hunter and Dorothy Annie May House Marriage.jpg

Years later, the couple returned to Paull church and took a photograph outside the same door. It can be seen below.img044 (3).jpg

Three months after Dorothy had married William, she gave birth to her first son, William Cecil Hunter on 14th June 1930. At this time the family were living with Dorothy’s parents, George and Emma Eliza House, at Lakes Farm in Paull. When Cec was about 6 months old, they moved into one room in a house on The Boulevard, which is a street which is joined to Souttergate in Hedon. A photo of the street is shown below.

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At some point when Dorothy lived on The Boulevard, she became seriously depressed. My grandmother told me that the reason for this was due to the quality of life she was living. The family of three were living in just one room that looked onto a brick wall, and William was always working in order to earn money. This was the first time that Dorothy had to support herself and a family without her parents there for her. 17-year-old Dorothy was at this time, out of her comfort zone. Dorothy often thought about throwing herself in front of a train at Hedon Train Station which was just a few metres away from The Boulevard, where she was living. She had had enough of waking up and seeing a brick wall all day and couldn’t handle the stress and hardship that life was bringing her.

Thankfully, Dorothy eventually forced herself through her depression and a within a few years, she became pregnant with her second son Harold Hunter. She was told by the landlord that they were to move out of the room because they didn’t allow more than one child there. They apparently didn’t want children running around all of the time. The family moved into two rooms at the Old Hall, on the corner where Fletcher Gate meets Thorn Road in Hedon. An old postcard of The Old Hall is shown below. The two rooms on right, on the ground floor, were the rooms where Dorothy and her family lived. Her second son, Harold Hunter was born there on 30th April 1933.

Old Hall.jpg

After living at The Old Hall, Dorothy and her family moved to a house down the main street of Hedon, St. Augustine’s Gate. The postcard below shows how the street looked in the early 1900s. The building to the left of the man stood in the street was owned by Thomas Wright Hunter (Dorothy’s brother-in-law). It was known as Clubhouse and was a place for men to go and play snooker. There were two snooker tables, one upstairs and one downstairs. Two houses to the left of the Clubhouse is where Dorothy and her family lived for a couple of years. It is now 10 St. Augustine Gate, Hedon and is an Insurance shop. The Clubhouse is now Larard’s estate agents.

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My grandmother told me that when Dorothy returned to Gosport in Hampshire, where she originally came from, she would visit family. Dorothy had an uncle called Mark House. He was what in those days people called “Deaf and Dumb”. This term referred to any deaf person, despite their intellect. Dorothy had learnt sign language in order to communicate with him. I thought that this was a very thoughtful idea and a story which demonstrates Dorothy’s patient, determined and caring character that we all knew and loved.

Dorothy had a few occupations over the years. She worked as a barmaid in the Kings Head pub in Hedon. During the Second World War, she used to clean people’s floors in the Hedon area. Dorothy used to also go potato picking when it was the harvesting season. This was a very common job for people in and around Hedon. On the 1939 Register, Dorothy’s occupation is recorded as Unpaid Domestic Duties. Dorothy would have been doing the potato picking at this time and all the way up to the 50s, as there is a photograph that shows my grandmother in a potato picking waggon. Below is a photograph of some potato pickers. My great grandmother is on the bottom right of the photograph. My great-great-uncle, Jack (John) Hunter is stood on the far left.

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Dorothy’s brother-in-law, Thomas Wright Hunter was quite a wealthy man. He owned various properties in Hedon, including the fish shop and the house next to it. Dorothy and William were to rent these two properties. William did not want to move from their current house, so on their moving day, he stayed sat in his chair. Dorothy started to move everything with the help of her brother-in-laws. Everything had been moved out of the old house and into the new house, except my great grandfather and his chair. At this point, he had to give in his stubbornness and carry his chair down the street to the new house!

Fish shop house, which was 36 Fletcher Gate, was first owned by Mr and Mrs Morrison, who lived next door to Bill’s mother on Lambert Park in Hedon. Dorothy and William both lived there with their 3 boys. Dorothy would steal some of the potatoes out of the back of the fish shop. The Morrison’s eventually retired and Tom Hunter bought the fish shop and the house next door. From then on Dorothy ran the fish shop which was 38 Fletcher Gate. Tom only asked for the rent and said that she could keep the rest of the money that was earned there. Dorothy ran the fish shop for a very long time. It was called Hunter’s Fish Shop. The photo below shows the fish shop and the house in 2016. The fish shop is still a fish shop, and the house is now a hairdresser.

38 Fletcher Gate (Fish Shop) and 16 Fletcher Gate (Fish Shop House).PNG

In 1952 Dorothy became pregnant, but at the time she didn’t know that. One day she decided to go to the Doctors, as she had started to feel a little uneasy. The Doctor replied with something along the lines of “Mrs Hunter, there is nothing wrong with you. You are pregnant!” In 1953 my grandmother was born in the front room of the fish shop house. As my grandmother got older, she used to help out at the fish shop, by making patties etc. This went on until my grandmother was a teenager.

Dorothy and her husband William moved into 13 St. James Close, in Hedon. They were the first people to live in the newly built house.

As Dorothy and William got older, they decided to downsize and move into 68 Draper’s Lane, Hedon. They were the first people to live in this bungalow. The photo below shows the bungalow in 2009, which was 8 years after Dorothy passed away.

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On 24th June 1982, Dorothy’s husband William sadly passed away. This was, of course, a very upsetting time for her and the family.

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Dorothy and William on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

I remember my great grandmother Dorothy, or as we referred to her, Grandma Dot. She was a very caring and interesting woman, who had worked very hard throughout her life. After nursery on a Wednesday, my grandmother used to pick me up and take me to my Grandma Dot’s house, where I would eat my dinner – a sausage roll, sandwiches etc. She would put headscarves down just in case I made a mess all over her floor (I never did!).

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My cousin Owen, Me, my brother David and Grandma Dot.

Dorothy sadly passed away on 2nd March 2001 in Hull, East Yorkshire. I still remember that horrible day, despite only being 5 years old. I remember being very upset as I ran around to my grandmother’s house, where Dorothy had been staying. She had been there for a week, before being taken to the hospital. I remember holding her headscarf up to my face and being upset whilst my grandma, grandad, mum and dad were trying to explain where she had gone. A very upsetting day for a lot of people.

Dorothy was buried on 9th March 2001 in Hedon Town Cemetery. She was buried with her husband, William Hunter. There is a headstone which I am yet to photograph.

Thank you very much for reading,
Tony.

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