Who was she, and what was she hiding?

 Her personality grew more and more severe.  She seemed to believe she was some type of royalty.

A splendid corset and lingerie factory once existed in Sutton-Under-Brailles, England.  What was remarkable about these undergarments was that they were surgical quality with various types of support offered for medical conditions or injuries.   These corsets were not dour-looking but were quite feminine and attractive with the addition of frills, ruffles, bows, and lace.

A couple, the Allens, had gotten the idea to start up this enterprise.  They were most private and secretive, but they were also very good at their endeavor.  They received backing from a parent company in America, Burger Brothers.

What soon became bizarrely apparent was that the female of the couple had an unusual personality, bordering on mean.  Dorothea Allen was a severe taskmaster, a perfectionist, often hand-counting every stitch on a finished piece, also measuring seam and selvage, with a ruler, scowl on his face.  She was shrill.  While demanding perfection from employees, she did not even pay them well.  

Her personality grew more and more severe.  She seemed to believe she was some type of royalty.  She required that employees who came into her office walk backward out of the room.  She and her husband, Robert Allen, lived the good life, traveling, going on cruises, and dressing to the nines.

Sometimes they splurged on a Christmas party for their employees, but there was a catch—only those employees who had met a certain quota were invited to attend.  When these employees came to the party they were not allowed to talk to their two bosses, unless they were on a pre-approved list of special people.

Everything seemed marvelous for the couple until Robert died in 1965.  Dorothea went rapidly downhill.  Not able to accept his death, she had spells of pretending he was still alive and left lit cigars about the house for him.   The corset business suffered from her neglect and the American parent company figured out a way to force her out.  She then had a car accident, and after that, she never left the house.  She depended on a housekeeper and a groundskeeper for her well-being.

As she whiled away the days and nights, she systematically went through things in the house and removed every trace of anything that had clues to her past.  She cut people out of photographs and tore up and burned documents.

What had the couple been hiding?  Who were Dorothea and Robert Allen?

When Dorothea died in January of 1990, authorities could not figure out who heirs of her vast fortune could be.  Some alternate names for Dorothea Allen came up, one from a vaccination record that she failed to destroy—but these alternate names did not pan out. 

When the mystery appeared on a TV show in1996, her photograph was recognized by a childhood sweetheart—a war pilot.  He contacted the show to tell them that she was Dora Brammer.

Imagine that fussy Dorothea was actually Dora, born the child of a steelworker in England in 1895!  When grown, she then started up her relationship with Robert Allen, who was actually already married.  His wife would not grant him a divorce so Dora and Robert ran off together and set up their own household in Sutton-Under-Brailles.  Soon after, they started up their business, Spencer Corsets in Banbury.

When Dorothea’s true identity as Dora was verified, due to the information supplied by her childhood sweetheart, over seventy relatives, heirs to her fortune, were located. 

Each heir received the equivalent of $40,000.

–SMH

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of It Rises from the Pee Dee. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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