PISSARRO AT HEWOOD
Lucien Pissarro (1863-
Initially they rented a cottage at Fishponds, Coney’s Cottage, but it was in very poor condition. Local gossip has is that Lucien’s wife Esther, hired a car from Tommy Parrett who lived at 1 Hewood (now known as Molly’s Cottage). Hearing of the Pissarro’s need for alternative accommodation, Mr Parrett was able to tell them of a cottage at Hewood which was available for rent from the lady owner, Miss Langdon. Lucien and Madame Pissarro moved in and were later joined by their daughter Orovida (also a capable engraver) to assist her mother with the household and the care of Pissarro who was increasingly frail. It is said that their relations with the landlady became strained because the Pissarro’s had the temerity to take down some of her nice prints and put works by Camille Pissaro in their place.
The view of the hamlet was obscured by hedges, so Lucien would sit outside painting,
although by this time he was nearly blind, and had to be wheeled out in his chair.
He painted the lane which ran outside the gate – a painting which now belongs to
Rochdale Art Gallery, `Muddy Lane, Hewood’. The thatched cottages on the right,
now Steppes and Hewood Cottage, appear in another painting `Phippens Cottage’, which
was sold in the last decade. Another view of Hewood `Above the Valley, Heywood’
(1941) is in the Government Art Collection and during the years of the Thatcher administration
hung in the office of the Chief secretary to the Treasury, William Waldegrave. Lucien’s
last painting, completed in 1943, was of the farm at the bottom of the Hamlet, Lower
Hewood Farm -
Lucien Pissarro died at Hewood in July 1944, just after D-
With acknowledgements to Sarah Hudson’s article in the Wessex Journal, David E Langford `in the footsteps of Lucien Pissarro’ Dorset Magazine June 1997, `Lucien Pissarro’ W.S.Meadmore, Constable 1962
Diana Bradley who also lived at Hewood until recently recalls:
‘When I first came to Hewood in 1960, there were a number of people here then who
remembered the family well, though none are left now. Mrs Kitty House, neé Beer,
who died a year or two ago in her nineties, worked as housemaid for the family. Mrs
Pissarro drove a car when they first came, for which they rented a garage across
the road. The locals took good care to keep out of the way if they met her on the
road. Lucien died in July 1944. The local layer-
First published in the TVT newsletter in Summer 2000. Reproduced with kind permission of Mrs J Down.
Donald Hutchings lived in Hewood during the war and has vivid memories of Mr and Mrs Pissarro:
‘When she hit the back wall she knew she was in.’
History will not forgive me if I fail to mention Hewood's most notable resident who came to the safety of Dorset with his family to escape the bombing in London. He was the world renowned artist Lucien Pissarro. His daughter Orovida was also renowned as a water colour artist and his wife did woodcuts for the capital letters at the beginning of old type documents. I do not know how old he was. I think he must have been in his seventies, but he was out on what is known as the Common at Hewood, no matter what the weather was like, nearly every day painting views of what must be one of the most beautiful areas of the world. If you doubt this you should see it by sitting on the stile alongside the wall of Hill Cottage. Failing that, try standing at the crossroads at Hedgestock. To my knowledge he could speak no English. His wife was a lovely person who managed everything, including terrorising the whole area with her driving. They had, I think it was, an old Wolseley from the late twenties or the very early thirties. It was Cream and Brown with yellow six spoked pressed steel wheels. The good lady was quite diminutive and even sitting on cushions could barely see over the steering wheel. She quite often returned with earth and flowers from the hedgerow on the running boards. Fortunately I don't think she ever got the car above second gear so you could hear her coming in time to seek the safety of a gate, or climb up into the hedge.
My uncle, Sam Perrott, with whom my brother and I stayed during our time of evacuation early in the war, had a wooden garage in a field he owned at the back of his house. He rented it to Mrs. Pissaro and we regularly had to renail the back of the garage on as she would misjudge her distance. When she hit the back wall she knew she was in.
My uncle ran a milk collection business and was quite a character in his own right.
Lucien Pissaro died at Hill Cottage, Hewood. I was not there at the time but I understand at his funeral access through the farmyard of Hewood Farm was denied by chaining the gate. As I understand it was to do with some ancient law that states wherever a body was given path it became a public right of way. It must have made it very difficult to get the coffin to the road as the ground there was very steep and rough and you also had quite a wide ditch to get over. As I say, I was not there at the time so you would have to get confirmation to prove it fact.
I used to cut the grass on their three lawns for the princely sum of sixpence (today's equivalent is two and a halfpence.) I was 12 years old.
Many thanks Donald for this wonderful account. You can read Donald’s other memoirs here: