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COLUMN: PG’s Tips - ‘Wortham’s Doreen Wallace was a pretty remarkable woman’

Diss, Norfolk. Pete Gillings with the scrap metal robot ANL-141231-110951001
Diss, Norfolk. Pete Gillings with the scrap metal robot ANL-141231-110951001

For those of you who don’t know we had a very unusual local by the pen name of Doreen Wallace.

She was not only a social reformer and grammar school teacher, she was also a well respected author.

Her first novel Barnham Rectory was published in 1934, her last published in 1976.

Anyway, as I said, Doreen Wallace was only her pen name, she was in fact married to Rowland Rash in 1922, a well-known local farmer at Wortham.

They had three children. I remember, when I was a young teenager in the early 60s, I used to earn pocket money picking peas at their Wortham Manor.

Between the wars during the agricultural depression she was a leading campaigner against the tithes. This lead to an impounding of her stock in 1934.

A siege then followed complete with a train load of Hitler’s and Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts arriving in Diss followed by a train load of Metropolitan Police from London.

All this pushed her into bankruptcy as the Second World War was about to start.

She wrote a book about it, one of more than 50, and called it The Tithe War.

If you leave Diss and go past Wortham Church, in about half a mile you’ll come across a monument commemorating the Tithe Wars.

She was alive at the same time of some remarkable women including Queen Victoria, Edith Cavell, Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Margaret Fountaine and Emily Pankhurst to name a few. All in all she was pretty remarkable herself.

She died on October 22, 1989 aged 92.

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