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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Hastings Family

The Hastings’ family grave generally isn’t included on tours of Highgate Cemetery west but Dorothy Hastings' headstone is listed by English Heritage so I thought I'd share some information about her and her family:

William Granville Hastings and Florence Edith Keyzar married in Lambeth in 1890.  William was a sculptor who’d studied at Lambeth Art School and was later employed by Doulton as a modeller and designer, his specialities being classical and renaissance vases.  In 1889 the promising ceramicist was awarded first prize for one of his vases by the very prestigious Society of Arts and from there his career went from strength to strength: by 1889 he’d moved to Paris to work with Dalou and then went on to create a series of bas reliefs for the Edison Company illustrating the history of the phonograph.  In 1891, he accepted a fantastic opportunity to work as designer and sculptor for the esteemed Gorham Manufacturing Company in Rhode Island NY.  After arriving in Providence on 12 May 1892, he was joined by Florence, their first son Warren Granville and his brother (Richard) three months later.

William Granville Hastings

In 1893, the Hastings family welcomed another son into the world, William John, who was followed by Charles Henry in 1894.  The following year, on 05 February, Florence gave birth to a baby girl, Dorothy Florence, in Rhode Island.

The 1900 census records 5-year old Dorothy (known to her family as Dody) as living with her parents and brothers at 239 Morningside Avenue, Manhattan, New York.  However two short years later in 1902, tragedy struck and William Senior died suddenly in Mount Vernon.  His obituary in the New York Times stated that he’d succumbed to cancer of the stomach, aged just 34.

Florence and the children returned to London.  The years following William Senior’s death must have been incredibly difficult for them, both emotionally and financially, but was all too common when the head (and chief breadwinner) of any family passed away.  By the time the 1911 census was undertaken, the family had split up and were living in different locations.  Those who were able to find work did so:

Dorothy, then aged 16, was listed as being a ‘child’s companion’ while her two older brothers (William John, 18, and Charles Henry, 17) were noted as being ‘domestic gardener’ and ‘printer’s compositor’ respectively.  The three siblings lived together at 9 Carlingford Road in Hampstead.  Their mum, Florence, had taken a live-in job as a nurse to an elderly lady called Kate Bedford Raven at 212a West End Lane in Hampstead.  The youngest son (Donald Pierre, aged 11) was living in Watford under the care of the London Orphan Asylum, a charitable organisation that cared for children who had lost one or both of their parents.  I can’t find any documentation confirming where Warren Granville, the eldest, or Alfred Donald, the second youngest, were living or with whom at this time.  Alfred was 13 in 1911 – could it have been possible that he too was under the care of the London Orphan Asylum or another similar institution?

Three years later the wheels of World War I were set in motion and fate dealt another blow to the Hastings family.  Charles Henry enlisted and by 1916 was serving as a Private in the Royal Fusiliers’ 10th Battalion.  He was stationed in France and found himself in Gommecourt Salient, a small village en route to Calais.  Unfortunately, Gommecourt was on the frontline of the hostilities in that area and Charles was killed during fierce fighting in a nearby wood, aged just 22.  He, along with the 73,000 other servicemen who lost their lives there, is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Charles Henry Hastings

As an adult, Dorothy found work as a travelling sales woman within the fashion industry (her occupation is listed as “Commercial Traveller (Ladies’ Gowns)” on her death certificate) and had moved from Hampstead to nearby Hendon.  On 09 September 1932, Dorothy was admitted to hospital to have an abscess on her appendix drained but things didn’t go according to plan.  On 23 September, aged 37, she died in St George’s Hospital, the cause of death being a cerebral embolism resulting from the operation.

I’d imagine that her last couple of weeks were spent in agonising pain and while she never married or had children, at least she wasn’t alone when she died: her younger brother, Alfred Ronald, was by her side when she passed away.

Dorothy Hastings’ monument is a very beautiful art deco relief, in which her face is framed by a bobbed hairstyle that was so fashionable in the early 1930s.  Her arms are crossed upwards in front of her and to the left is a large lily and drapery.  To the right are three strands of wheat and above her head is a bird in flight.  The material used is cast concrete and it was listed by English Heritage on 11 January 1999.  The monument was designed and created by Dorothy’s youngest brother, Donald Pierre (a promising sculptor in his own right) and the inscription reads:

DIED 23 SEPT 1932

Donald’s own blossoming sculpting career was cut short after he, by horrible coincidence, died following an appendectomy six years later in 1938.  He’s buried in the same plot as Dorothy, along with their mother Florence (who had until her death in 1940 outlived her husband and three of her six children), Donald’s wife Clara and their son Julian.  The inscription on the footstone reads:


3RD DEC. 1871 – 8TH JULY 1940

14TH JUNE 1899 – 9TH DECEMBER 1992

29TH JAN. 1930 – 2ND OCT. 2002

(Incidentally Donald's daughter, Eveline Dorothy (an artist), was named in memory of her mother's aunt Eveline and her father's sister, Dorothy Florence)

Further Notes on the Artistic Talents of William Granville and Donald Pierre Hastings:

William Granville
William’s first commission after moving to the US was to design works for display at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.  He then created a number of public statues, including four Abraham Lincoln sculptures in Bunker Hill (Illinois), Sioux City and Jefferson (Iowa) and Cincinnati (Ohio).  He also created Liberty Arming the Patriot in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, as well as the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment Monument on the Chickamauga National Battlefield.

The company that employed William Senior, the Gorham Manufacturing Company, was one of the biggest American manufacturers of elegant and highly prized silverware, as well as being a foundry for bronze sculpture.  It must have been incredibly exciting for William to have been offered a job in America working for such a well-respected company at the young age of 23.  But then to be fair, Gorham were lucky to have acquired such a talented employee as William Granville Hastings!

William Senior was an enthusiastic member of the Providence Art Club and served on the Board of Managers between 1895 and 1898.  Records show that he was Chair of the Friday Night Entertainments committee, he regularly exhibited his art at the club and took it upon himself to oversee 'the unique and artistic decoration of the Grill Room'.  He appears to have been a rather charismatic individual and people who knew him remembered him as being “a picturesque character and an entertaining fireside speaker”.

Donald Pierre
Artistic talent appears to have run in the family but it almost never happened for Donald, whose sculpting career only really took off after he lost his office job working as a representative for a company called Compton’s, where he was tasked with overseeing the Officers Training Cadets’ account.  This redundancy was the shot in the arm he needed to pursue his passion full time and for the remaining nine years of his life, he produced an impressive body of work including:
  • a set of Stations of the Cross for St Wilfrid's Church in Brighton (his first commission);
  • a roundel relief portrait of Catherine Gladstone on one of the three-sides of the Gladstone Memorial Fountain in Flintshire, Wales, which commemorates the marriage of Catherine and Sir William;
  • Various ecclesiastical pieces in the Church of Our Lady, St. Alphege's at Bath, St. Nicholas's, Kingsway in Manchester, St. Paul's in Haringey (consisting of seven figures, including two angels, St. Paul, St. John and St. Mellitus);
  • A commission by Tussards to do a series of heads, including the jockey Gordon Richards;
  • An ambitious exhibition entitled 50 Celebrity Portrait Busts, which he held at the New Burlington Art Gallery in 1934, for which he persuaded an impressive variety of personalities to be his subjects, including Flora Robson, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Ivor Novello, Ralph Lynn; Fred Perry, Bunny Austin, George Lansbury MP, Sir Stafford Cripps; John Drinkwater, Walter de la Mare, T.S. Eliot, Sir Malcolm Campbell, Gordon Richards and Eileen Joyce.
Donald with some of his modelling subjects

The sculptor Nigel Boonham regarded Donald as being a leader in the movement of semi-trained amateur sculptors operating professionally in the last century and some of his work is housed in the Leeds City Art Gallery collection, as well stored in the V&A.  Donald was passionate about Highgate Village and became the Secretary of the Highgate Preservation Society in 1938.
Copyright © Sam Perrin May 2013

All family photographs (with the exception of Dorothy's headstone and the family footstone) are the property of Ken Hastings, who has been incredibly generous in sharing this information about his family with me.  Thanks Ken!

Ken Hastings (
Death List of the Day, NY Times, 16 June 1902:

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting and well-researched. This certainly brings the headstone to life. Poor Dorothy - rather a melancholy life! I'm glad she is remembered through the listed headstone, something I am responsible for getting listed back in the 1990s when I did the initial survey of Highgate Cemetery. Please feel free to enhance the official List entry on the National Heritage List for England, via the Historic England web-site. Thanks.