The previous post highlighted a painting which featured 'Doctor's Vennel'. This characterful corner of Lower Largo no longer exists in its original form but is remembered fondly by many. Found at 81a Main Street, tucked behind 'Court House', this former row of historic buildings was also known as 'Doctor's Wynd' and 'Court House Close' over the years. The 'Doctor' reference derives from the fact that the vennel was adjacent to (the still remaining) 'Goodsir' house, which was the home of Dr John Goodsir over two hundred years ago.
The above sketch of the vennel was created by Ken Lochead (1936-2006), the East Lothian-based watercolour artist, during the era when the Largo Pottery was located in these buildings. However, further back in time Doctor's Vennel accommodated four dwellings. The census extract below from 1901 shows the four households recorded then, between 'The Court' and 'Goodsir House'. At this time all four of the households were headed up by older, retired individuals - a former loom weaver, a former oil mill crusher, a former domestic servant and 74-year-old Isabella Lawrie (who lived with her net worker daughter).
Isabella Lawrie lived at the end of Doctor's Vennel for decades. Her dwelling was right next to the natural spring - located through the opening at the far end of the vennel (see photograph below from the book 'Seatoun of Largo' by Ivy Jardine).
Water emerged from the spring within a carved hollow in the vertical bedrock into a stone trough (a feature which remains to this day - see colour image further below). Having direct access to a natural spring that never ran dry made Isabella Lawrie (maiden name Sime) the ideal person to wash clothes for those without such an amenity. Indeed the 1891 census extract below lists her occupation as 'washerwoman' (as it also was in the census of 1871 and 1881). She was married to merchant seaman James Lawrie. Isabella died in 1912 aged 87.
In the late eighteenth century, there were at least three washerwoman in Largo Parish - each living next to a water source. In addition to Isabella Lawrie, there was Grace Cornfoot in Kirkton of Largo, close to the water pump at Church Place and Margaret Wallace, who lived right next to Pump Green in Lundin Mill. They probably all also made use of the communal bleaching greens that were common at the time.