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Victorian life at Hawkshead

A descendant of the Porter family, whose relatives lived at Hawkshead House a century and a half ago, has been researching life in the area in the 1850s and has written a detailed account for this site.

Sonia Addis-Smith’s ancestor was David Porter who was a chimney sweep then became a self-made London property developer and social reformer for the condition of chimney sweep boys in Victorian times.

His son David Charles Porter leased Hawkshead House, part of the Royal Veterinary College, in the 1860s where the family lived.

His children went to New Zealand where they were explorers, surveyors and settlers. A mountain pass in the Southern Alps was named Porter's Pass, now a well known ski resort.

Sonia, who lives in Bedfordshire, has been researching North Mymms for some time and has collected a lot of information in connection with her family.

A collection of 36 letters, which travelled between North Mymms and
New Zealand, is now archived in the New Zealand National Library (the
equivalent of the British Library).  They form part of a large collection of Porter Papers, all of which Sonia has transcribed. Extracts from the North Mymms letters have now been formed into a report for this site.

Her report ends by quoting a letter explaining why the family left North Mymms: "Hawkshead is a very damp place and I think does not suit the family well."

June 30, 2001

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