Where was Dorothy Richardson born?

Scott McCracken

I have been contacted by the Vale of White Horse District Council who ask if I know where Richardson was born. I discover I don’t exactly. Gloria Fromm’s Biography is not specific. Dorothy Richardson lived the first few years of her life in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, on the Crescent next to Albert Park. By the 1881 census, the family had moved to Worthing in Sussex because of her father Charles Richardson’s financial difficulties. I put my ex-colleague who lives in Abingdon onto the case. A Swift scholar, he shows the acuity one would expect and a remarkable adeptness at sleuthing. Not put off by my misdirections, he comes up first with an article about the sale of the Richardson’s family business, which turned Mr Richardson into a gentleman of leisure:   From the 1871 census he finds that Charles and Mary, her mother, are living in Marcham Road, which runs into Ock Street where the shop was. He then obtains the birth certificate, which just says ‘Albert Park’ as date of birth. Afterwards he spends some time pondering the ethics of looking into the back gardens of Park Crescent to see if anything matches up to the family picture in Fromm, which features Dorothy as a baby. Very quickly, however, the search bears fruit. After consulting the Abingdon town archivist, he discovers the house is 18 Park Crescent, now owned by Abingdon School. It has already been suggested for a blue plaque in the Autumn 2001 Newsletter of the Abingdon Area Archaeological and Historical Society. It turns out this is not the house in the picture, which he speculates might belong to the grandparents. According to the Abingdon town archivist, the photograph looks as if it was taken at the back of one of the houses in Marcham Road. The Park Crescent house would have paid ground rent to Christ’s Hospital, which has an archive, which it may pay to investigate. However, that will have to wait until I can get down there. If Charles Richardson rented the house from the house’s owner, it may reveal nothing at all.

About cultpol

Dorothy Richardson fan.
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