Ruth Pennyman

Born: Ruth Constance Dorrien Knight was born 1st December 1893. Her father was Rev. Francis Henry Greville Knight who was curate of Ottery St. Mary in 1899 when he was preferred to the rectory of Dogmersfield. In 1892 at Langport, Somerset, he married Constance Lucy Dorrien-Magens from London.

 

Educated: St. John’s Wood Art College in London.

 

Married: In 1926 Ruth married James Beaumont Worsley Pennyman of Ormesby Hall

 

Family: They had no children.

 

Home: Her family home changed as her father changed his position from Ottery St. Mary to Dogmersfield to Upton Pyne. After her marriage, she lived at Ormesby Hall for the rest of her life.

 

Known for: Ruth Pennyman was a poetess and a playwright and a woman of radical views. In 1931 she joined her husband in a scheme to provide work and support for unemployed iron miners and their families in East Cleveland. James Pennyman rented some land in the area around Boosbeck and Margrove Park which the miners worked as allotments. Ruth Pennyman organised a sewing and knitting workshop in Boosbeck and helped the composer Michael Tippett to write the libretto for “Robin Hood” a new opera which he composed especially for Boosbeck. Ruth Pennyman encouraged people who were actively involved in the arts to come to Ormesby Hall where she staged plays. Shakespearean plays and some of her own works were performed there, with casts that included local working class amateurs as well as professionals. During the Spanish Civil War, Ruth became concerned about the fate of child refugees from the Basque region and arranged for some of them to stay at Hutton Hall.

 

Died: Ruth Pennyman died on 17th March 1983.

 

Further Information: “The last Pennymans of Ormesby: the lives of Jim and especially Ruth Pennyman of Ormesby Hall, near Middlesbrough” (volume 2, 1944-1983) Mark Whyman and Bill Hugonin (2009):  “A Suitable Climate: The Basque Refugee Children at Hutton Hall” Peter O’Brien (2009)