5.1.4 Woodbarton Cottage

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Woodbarton Cottage was originally a stable and carriage shed and was converted for residential living by the Guild in 1922 and served as accommodation for several of the young men who were drawn to the Guild in the early days, often still suffering from the after-effects of their involvement in the First World War. Apparently, at one time five young bachelors were accommodated there, prompting the building to be named The Sorrowful Mysteries by the three young Gill sisters, after the five Sorrowful Mysteries of the second part of the Catholic devotional prayer form, the Rosary.

After Gill left in 1924, the young bachelors mostly drifted away and the cottage was occupied for a time by members of the Pepler family before they moved to Hopkin’s Crank. I am unsure what happened to it then, but it was owned by the Guild up to its dissolution in 1989. It was then purchased by Jenny KilBride and occupied by Ewan Clayton for many years. It now houses residents unconnected with the Guild.

Adjacent to the property is a barn made of darker brick.

The cottage’s most famous early resident was David Jones who pained a mural of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem (called Cum floribus et palmis – with flowers and palms); Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on the kitchen wall to celebrate the building being brought into us around Easter 1922. This was painted over in the 1950’s but rediscovered and restored in the 1982. It can be seen below with Ewan Clayton in the foreground.

So who were the five sorrowful mysteries? One was certainly Jones, another was Philip Baker, my great uncle, a carpenter, brother-in-law of George Maxwell and a Guild member from 1932 to 1939. A third was Dennis Tegetmeier, an ex-Trappist monk who became an illustrator, engraver, carver, letterer, designer and painter and who married Gill’s daughter (and one-time Jones’s fiancé) Petra. The fourth was Reginald Lawson, another young man scarred by service in the war; he was to become a Dominican Brother at the Basilica of Saint Sabina, mother church of the Dominicans in Rome. In his memoir, he records how the simple routines at Ditchling helped him recover from his trauma.

Bernard Baker

The fifth is not recorded, but I suspect may be Bernard Baker, brother of Philip Baker and so another great-uncle of mine. Bernard was with the Army Medical Corp in World War 1 and was one of the last to be evacuated from Gallipoli in 1916. His personality never recovered from the trauma, and he very rarely spoke for the rest of his life. He was however an able craftsman and worked for many years in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. He also spent much time at the Guild and played a large part in the building of St Rose and St Catherine in 1923, so he may well have been accommodated at the cottage. In later life, he always spent his summer holidays with the Maxwells; Jenny KilBride recalls him attending and coming alive at the annual St Dominic’s sports’ Day, when he showed an unexpected athletic prowess. Here is a photograph he had taken on the Brighton sea-front on one of these visits, looking very smart – he was always immaculately dressed. The gentlest and most unassuming of men.