Dorothy Little was the second to last housewife at Hoar Oak Cottage and the last housewife at The Mines Cottage. The story of her life at these two cottages was captured in a poem written by her friend Mollie Hawcutt. It has been shared with The Friends by Dorothy’s son David Little and with the permission of Mollie Hawcutt. The poem is transcribed below but if you click on this photo of Dorothy at Hoar Oak Cottage you can see a video of her Grandaughter Louise Holman (previously Smith) reading the poem.
Poem about Dorothy Little by Mollie Hawcutt
She was last by the Mines, almost last at Hoar Oak:
her cottages, broken shells, crumble and ache for what they have known,
homes, with a story to tell.
Cob, slates and plaster nearly all gone,
Only some stones remain
To remind us of shepherding, echo the song
of life which will not come again.
Hoar Oak was first, a house then tin-faced;
three bedrooms, a privy, a kitchen range.
No water laid on but a tap nearby,
(that was the place where it never ran dry)
whilst shepherding, living as one with the flock:
Then, the sheep were their life, the sun their clock.
A cart came each month with goods from North Molton:
Large sack of flour (she baked her own bread.)
Turves were cut, sticks were gathered, tasks never forgotten,
there was always a fire in that grate blacked with lead.
When they moved to the Mines
there was still love and laughter.
They could hear in the house when Barle Water ran high.
She washed clothes in a boiler tub down by the river,
and walked to Flexbarrow when her tap ran dry.
They were happy days then, which time cannot alter;
But progress was coming, it did not pass by.
On route to Cow Castle few glance at the hollow
fenced off, with a notice which says “Do not climb”
for the old shepherd’s cottage there is no tomorrow,
Daisies now carpet the house by the Mines
Mollie Hawcutt belonged a Writers Group and often would go and do readings for local groups – church, WI, etc. and some years back had an exhibition of her photos and poems in Barnstaple called the Lens and Pen Exhibition. Mollie’s daughter Sue will be working with The Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage to bring this exhibition to life once again by digitising the exhibition materials and making them available through the website. Mollie also appeared in a well know local book from the North Molton History Society when Judy McCarthy included some of Mollie’s collection of Exmoor poems and photographs. More information on this link.
Thanks go to David Little, Mollie Hawcutt and Louise Holman (previously Smith) for permissions to use the material on this page.