Wednesday 27 July 1988

From A Humble Cottage To A Stately Home, News


Ken Doel has made good use of his retirement to achieve a lifetime's ambition - to get into print.

He has written a book about his experiences as a young man during the 1920's and 30's called: "From A Humble Cottage To A Stately Home" which is published today [1st July 1988].

He was celebrating the publication day at Warminster Library with a morning session autographing copies.

Ken, who also took up oil painting when he retired, and is a member of Warminster Arts Club, said: "I have been interested in art all my life."

"I suppose the book has taken me the better part of three months to write in longhand before I had it transcribed into print by several different people."

"I feel rather pleased it has got off the ground - we are extremely pleased with the orders that have come in."

Orders for the book, which illustrates stark contrasts, came in even before it was published.

His childhood was spent in the small village of Horningsham where his father was a gamekeeper on the Longleat Estate, living in a cottage with no electricity, no flush toilet and no piped hot water.

There was little in the way of furniture, no washing machines, no vacuum cleaners and no carpets, only coconut matting, lino and handmade rugs.

His greatest expectation as a child was the Sunday School trip by charabanc every August to Weymouth, and another highlight for Horningsham schoolchildren was the annual party given by Lord Bath in the cellars at Longleat House during the Christmas holiday.

At school the playground was a rough stone-strewn area where weeds grew, which became a mud bath when it rained.

At the age of 14 he started work as a hall-boy at Longleat House for £18 a year, where he could see the grandeur enjoyed by those who could afford a lifestyle above his own social standing.

Ken recalls the generally quiet lifestyle of the Fifth Marquis of Bath, broken by periods of frantic activity during the winter pheasant season.

His book, with a foreword by the Marchioness of Bath, is published by Wylye Valley Publications.

Roger Burton, Bristol Evening Post, 1 July 1988.