Trusthorpe Hall is a late Georgian manor-house, built about a mile and a half from the coast near Mablethorpe. I think some 'three families had owned it before my father purchased it in 1907 and gave it to my mother as a seaside home for our large and ever-increasing family.

When summertime came around near the beginning of the century, our parents, the children, Nanny and under-nurses, servants and general staff, plus all the luggage, embarked at Derby station, filling an entire coach of the Midland Railway. At Firsby station the entire coach was shunted on to the loop coastal line, with no inconvenience to the occupants. When it eventually reached Sutton-on-Sea, some two-and-a-half miles from Trusthorpe and our nearest station, the 'Woodiwiss' coach was received with ceremony by the Station Master, and the family, staff and luggage were packed into the waiting carriages and transported to Trusthorpe Hall.

The only members of the staff who did not travel by train were Dakin, our coachman who first came to father as a stable boy when he was 16, and Harry, who lived with his family in a cottage in the grounds at Trusthorpe and looked after the gardens, aided by two lads, while his wife kept an eye on the house in~ the family's absence. Dakin came down by carriage and pair, putting up at Newark over night on his way down.

As Trusthorpe was the only childhood home I knew, it may have -held more magic for me than it did for some of my sisters. Being the youngest of our family, I was not yet born during the glories of the summer migration, but was the only one to be born at Trusthorpe soon after the old home in Derbyshire was sold, and we had taken up permanent residence in Lincolnshire. My birthday was a warm spring day with wistaria blossom clustering round the windows of mother's bedroom, filling the place with its delicate fragrance. Newton, my only surviving brother amid a galaxy of girls, was to be my godfather and chose my name. He was later killed in the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 at the age of 19. He had been named after Sir Isaac Newton, a distant relative of our paternal grandmother.

Trusthorpe Hall

When the First World War broke out, most of our staff left to join the Forces or to do 'war work'. The gardeners and our four coach horses joined the army, and the loss of the horses broke Dakin's heart. He took over the gardening, after his own fashion, and the care of our four cows and the chickens, which were kept to provide the household with milk, butter, cream and eggs. Four of my older sisters left home, one to join the Women's' Army Auxiliary Corps, and the other three to work in London, taking over work that had previously been done by men, to release them for the fighting Forces. Mother, in her practical manner, trained the older girls left at home to help her carry out the household duties.

My sisters also helped at the army canteen at a large camp nearby, and in the afternoons several of the young officers would come over to the house to play tennis and have tea with the family. Mother also held musical evenings in the drawing-room for their entertainment. One young major, who was a talented violinist, later married one of my sisters. Several of the boys enjoyed playing the piano and singing, and mother was an accomplished harpist. During those evenings my sister Sheila and I would creep from our bedroom to sit on the bottom of the stairs outside the drawing-room door to listen, the liquid music of the harp filling some of my earliest memories.

Trusthorpe Hall

Between the two wars we continued to live at Trusthorpe with a skeleton staff, and some of the girls helped mother to run the home. One of them had the questionable pleasure of acting as my nurse-governess until I went to school

.By 1924 father was driving his own car, and decided to buy a Standard 14 for the use of the family. He employed a gardener and arranged for- Dakin to have driving lessons, and sent him to be fitted for a chauffeur's uniform. Dakin received these new instructions with a snort, submitted to the driving lessons, but when, he took any of us out in the car, he would chug along, gazing at the road ahead between the ears of phantom horses, encouraging them with his familiar 'clucking' noise from time to time.

He obstinately refused to use his feet on any of the pedals, but manipulated the choke, which was a short lever attached to the steering wheel, advancing or retarding it, depending on whether he wished to increase or diminish the speed; then, of course, he had the hand-brake when he wanted to stop !

I think he liked the car best when he cleaned her, hissing through his teeth as had been his custom when grooming the horses. He never came to terms with the car and, as the girls in turn learned to drive, he gladly relinquished his onerous task, and his uniform disappeared! As our gardener had left, Dakin returned to his gardening duties, and continued to look after the cows and chickens, and to carry out his bell-ringing at Mablethorpe church on Sundays.

He and his family lived in one of the estate cottages about half a mile from the house, where his wife did all the family weekly washing. This was transported to and from the cottage in a basket hamper on three wheels, which Dakin towed behind his bicycle. The hamper provided many joyful rides for us children when it was empty.

It always amazed me that Dakin managed to manipulate the engine that pumped water up from the artesian well to the tanks in our stable tower, to feed the water system of the house by gravity, and to start the motor mowing machine, both being temperamental to say the least. Somehow he would get them going amid fumes of blue smoke and bluer language! Gone were the days when Prince, our grey-and-white donkey, sedately pulled a large mowing machine up and down the lawn, his hoofs shod in galoshes to prevent him marking the turf with his feet. He considered this his proud and rightful duty, but if my sisters tried to ride on his back, he would gleefully tip them off over his head. Prince's galoshes still hung on the tool-shed wall until Trusthorpe Hall was sold in 1946, long after he had gone.

I was away much of the time between the two wars, at first at boarding school, and later in London training to be a nurse. By this time most of my sisters were married.

In 1940, during the second world war, a German aeroplane jettisoned some bombs in the garden and the field behind the house, but did no damage to the house and its inmates, except for a few broken windows. It was soon after this that the Army decided to take over Trusthorpe as an army site. They erected two hideous Nissen huts in the garden, one over the rosery, and the other over part of the big lawn, each to house 50 men, while 25 officers were billeted in the house.

During the war years I was in London during the early blitzes and later with the Army in the Middle East, Sicily, Italy, and Austria, and did not see Trusthorpe again until after the war. I had gone up to visit old Mrs. Dakin who had out-lived both my parents and her husband. She still lived in their cottage as father had given them free tenancy for their lives. She told me that when she was nursing Dakin after he had his stroke, he insisted on having his bed placed so that he could look out through his window across the fields to the Hall. "I like to keep an eye on 'er", he would say.

Later I went on to look at the old house. She had certainly suffered great and strange changes, but 1 hope that she still gives pleasure to some people. When I last saw her, the paddocks and stables had been converted into a thriving holiday caravan site, and the house had become a country club, with bottles of wines and spirits arrayed on the delicately-carved white wooden shelves in the old drawing-room, which had previously been graced by mother's collection of Dresden china!


We'd never, never miss the bus
That into town would carry us
On a brief shopping visit.

How sad that it should come to this,
That having now no bus to miss
We never cease to miss it!


Trusthorpe Hall by Helen M. Woodwiss - Lincolnshire Life 1980 - Mr. and Mrs. Dakin were Mrs. Boot's grandparents

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