Dorothy Margaret Bramley, Botanical Illustrator

DOROTHY MARGARET BRAMLEY 1921-2015:
Botanical Illustrator


It was in 1977 that Dorothy and her husband Don (a keen geologist), joined the Doncaster Naturalists’ Society. As a keen botanist and gardener she gave regular illustrated talks both to our society and other local community groups. She served as Doncaster Naturalists’ Society President from 1990 to 1992. In 1982, to encourage local natural history recording and research projects, the Doncaster Naturalists’ Society commenced the publication of its journal The Doncaster Naturalist, with Dorothy editing its first ten issues (1982 to 1989).

Dorothy was educated at Salt’s Grammar School for Girls, Saltaire, Bradford and subsequently became a graduate of the celebrated Leeds College of Domestic Science, irreverently dubbed the Leeds ‘Pudding School’. Her contribution to the war effort was as a Government adviser, demonstrating to women’s groups on how to cook thriftily and eat healthily during those days of wartime food shortages. Later she worked for the national ‘Mass Observation’ social research project which for the first time monitored the lives of ‘ordinary people’, the archive of which is maintained at Sussex University.

Settling in Doncaster in 1955, Dorothy worked as a Domestic Science teacher initially in Rossington, then at Oswin Avenue, Balby and finally Balby Woodfield School where she became Deputy Head.

Botanical Illustrations: The Society also published studies of the natural history of Castle Hills (1990), Wadworth Wood (1993) and Austerfield Quarry (1995). Not only were these edited by Dorothy, she provided numerous illustrations, mainly botanical line drawings. She also provided botanical illustrations for the society’s book on Doncaster’s Living Churchyards (2000).

She was a regular attender at Sheffield University extramural courses on botanical illustration run by Valerie Oxley. From these she joined the Three Counties Botanical Illustration Group in Retford, exhibiting annually at Retford Library. She later started her own botanical illustration group which regularly exhibited at Bawtry Library.

Dorothy contributed colour illustrations of Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis and Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera for the award winning ‘Wild Flowers of the Peak District‘ by Patrick Harding and Valerie Oxley (2000) and in 2000 and 2005 her illustrations of Wild Service tree (Sorbus torminalis) and the Tree Lupin (Lupinus arboreus) appeared in the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union Bulletin.

Other interests: Dorothy became deeply involved with family history studies, being one of the founding members and for a time, President of the Doncaster Family History Society. She was a keen needlewoman becoming one of the legendary ‘Doncaster Broderers’. She was also an enthusiastic member of a local ladies choir and in her teaching days was keen on sport, excelling at tennis and badminton.

In March 2011 the Doncaster Naturalists’ Society held a reception at Doncaster museum to celebrate Dorothy’s 90th birthday.
Dorothy was a prolific painter and after her death her family chose which paintings they wanted to keep and donated the rest to Doncaster Naturalists’ Society, which are illustrated below.


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