Queer Places:
Rise Cottage, 10 Westenra Terrace, Cashmere, Christchurch 8022, New Zealand
Karori Cemetery, 76 Old Karori Rd, Karori, Wellington 6012, New Zealand

Henrietta Dorothea 'Effie' Pollen (1879 – November 8, 1934) was the longtime partner of Mary Ursula Bethell, a New Zealand poet. Ursula Bethell called her consort and the relationship lasted over 30 years. They lived as expatriates for many years and didn't return to live in New Zealand until they were in their 40s and when they were able to establish an independent and private domestic life. Bethell's wealth created an idyllic context for the relationship, and their domestic and creative life was protected by her class position in the affluent Christchurch suburb of Cashmere.

Bethell wrote most of her poetry during the period of her relationship with Pollen, describing their home, garden and life together, and she was devastated by Pollen's death.

Bethell joined the Grey Ladies, an Anglican women's community in London, and that's where she meets Effie Pollen in 1905 when she's 31 and Pollen is 26.

When Pollen returned to New Zealand, Bethell followed and from 1910 she lived with her mother in Saint Albans, Christchurch, continuing work in the parish. She went back to London for wartime work between 1914 to 1918, and the two women settle back in Christchurch from 1919 where Bethell purchased Rise Cottage at Westenra Terrace on the Cashmere Hills. They live at Rise Cottage until Pollen's death in 1934 when Bethell moved back to Webb Street in Christchurch, which is one of the family properties. She died in 1945. She's buried in the Bethell family grave at Rangiora. Effie Pollen is buried at Karori Cemetery with the Pollen family.

Effie was the daughter of Dr Henry Pollen from Ireland, and Kathleen Burke from Napier. She had one younger sister. The family had lived in Gisborne where Effie was born until they moved to Wellington where Dr Pollen established his medical practice and his residence at Boulcott Street in a house which has been moved now to the corner of Boulcott Street and Willis Street, and which is today a restaurant.

Effie's mother died in 1894, and Dr. Pollen died during the influenza epidemic in 1918. They were buried in the family plot at Karori, and that was where Effie was then subsequently buried after her death from a brain hemorrhage, aged only 55 in 1934.

Effie and Ursula met in 1905 when Effie become involved with Ursula and begun to live with the Bethell family. In their subsequent life living together at their home in Rise Cottage, Bethell calls Pollen her little raven. In a poem called "Grace" she writes:

I have a little Raven
Who brings me my dinner,
Her tresses are raven,
Her tresses are raven,
She brings me my dinner -
But not by a brook.
She feeds me, she scolds me,
She scolds me, she feeds me,
I'm a hungry old sinner,
She brings me my dinner,
She cooks it in the kitchen
Beside a cookery book.

While guarding their privacy, they did invite friends to visit, including homosexual men. The bisexual artist, Toss Woollaston was a friend, and also the wealthy homosexual poet, Charles Brasch was a friend, and Walter D'Arcy Cresswell visited, and various other people, so they were not isolated despite the private nature of their relationship.

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  1. http://www.pridenz.com/queer_history_ursula_bethell_transcript.html