Baby Stella left on very top of Beacon Hill, Herne Bay, Kent: May 19th 1934

Those familiar with the Anthea Ring story, baby left at highest point on Steep Down, Sompting, Worthing, Sussex, in August 1937 will note the similarities here.


I am metaphorically donning my deerstalker and dusting down my magnifying glass as I am confident I will be solving this mystery in the coming weeks with the help of the database and cousin matching facility at AncestryDNA.

Like Anthea, baby Stella was left 50 yards or more from the established ‘footpath’ on the top of a hill. Like Anthea, Stella was completely concealed by undergrowth: cut grass, in this case.

Dorothy Bryant court case report
Dorothy Bryant court case report. Click to enlarge

In this case Stella (2 months old) was left apparently by her mother, Dorothy Mae Bryant, but my experience tells me that there may be more to this story than meets the eye. Reports at the time stated Dorothy had gone to the Red Lantern Picture House with a gentleman friend who was unaware her baby had been previously concealed on the hill.

When Dorothy returned she found her baby wasn’t there; it had been discovered by a walker, exactly as Anthea Ring was found 3 years later not that far away. Stella had been left comfortably and warmly dressed and wrapped in a woollen shawl.

Cinema listings, May 12 1934
Cinema listings, May 12 1934. Click to enlarge

In 1934, the press painted a very dim picture of Dorothy who was largely seen as malicious and uncaring which led to an eventual 6-month prison sentence being served at Holloway.

In Dorothy’s defence she had experienced tragedy in her family life, including the early death of her mother, and a father who was apparently overbearing and very strict. Dorothy was highly intelligent yet had been forced into various paid domestic appointments largely against her will. She’d fallen on hard times and seemed to have been of no fixed abode at the time of this abandonment. Dorothy had left her baby warmly wrapped up. Is it possible she’d been coerced somehow, too? Not something that seems to have been considered at the time…

I am confident I will be able to identify Stella’s father in time and confirm that her mother was Dorothy Mae Bryant. It’s incredible that answers are now absolutely achievable for those who had never dreamed they would be possible!

It is a privilege to be able to help Stella and her family in this quest. Like me, they feel Dorothy may have been misrepresented. A further uncanny coincidence, Anthea and Stella look very alike…

Julia x

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