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A rather too colourful view from Tower Hill

Date sent: 17 FEBRUARY 1908         

Sender: N/A 

Recipient: Miss F Whittington, Newbridge, Nr Newport, I.o.W 

Transcription: Wet day in London. 

The colourist of this “RAPCO” postcard view from Tower Hill wasn’t to know the meteorological conditions surrounding this particular posting, but you can’t help feeling they overcompensated for a wet Monday.

A postcard with a view of the White Tower over the wall of teh tower of london and with several trees visible.

The Regal Art Publishing Co were producing postcards by 1903, cashing in on the collecting craze. This familiar view of the Tower from Tower Hill has been closely cropped, removing many of the more precise dating aids.  The grimey walls of the White Tower are probably accurate, given London’s polluted atmosphere at the time, but that doesn’t explain its brick red north eastern clock tower.  The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula is similarly rendered.  Depending on the light, the stone changes from grey to a mellow cream, but even in a summer evening’s blush, not this brick red. Still postcard makers knew their market, and the label in the bottom right hand corner obviously satisfied their target audience.

A reverse of a Postcard's view from Tower Hill

And the lucky recipient? Among the various Whittington families on the Isle of Wight, Miss F is probably eight- year- old Dorothy Fanny. One of Frank and Elizabeth Whittington’s 11 surviving children, she was the baby of the family at Merstone Manor Cottage in the 1901 census. By 1911 the family had moved to Fry’s Cottage and 3 of her older sisters moved out, their places taken by 3 younger siblings. Her parents were both islanders, her father working as a farm carter (‘Ag. Horses’ in official terms).

There is some confusion in the 1911 return relating to the number of children produced by the couple’s 26-year long union. Initially details were entered along Frank’s line, then correctly re-allocated to Elizabeth – as per printed instruction.

Frank recorded 12 live births, Elizabeth 13 (possibly corrected); both agreed they had 11 living children, 2 having died. Evangeline (23) remains at home – presumably to help out with the ever-expanding brood.  Sons Oliver Frank and Charles Hilton, farm labourers aged 20 and 15 respectively, also. Eleven- year- old Dorothy Fanny has been joined by Joy Constance and Elizabeth May (9 and 7), while the baby is now 3-year-old Raymond. Further sleuthing in the 1911 Census, reveals Miriam Lottie (22), Daisy (18) and Elsie (14) still on the island but in service. Who and where is the eleventh child?

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