Thursday, 28 February 2013

A glimpse back in time..

I love to live in an old house, and I say “old” loosely because for many people it has a different meaning. To me, old is anything pre 1930, but I know for many, it has to have been built at least a century before that to be classified as really old! I am always really interested to find out the history and about the lives of the people who have lived in a house before us, and love to imagine a family from a hundred years ago carrying out their day-to-day lives in what is now our home. You may recall a television series which first aired in 2011 called Marchlands.* I loved that, not only because I really enjoy a good ghost story, but mainly because of the way the story would flip between 1968, 1987 and 2010 – 3 different, unconnected families but all living in the same house. The décor, fashion, etc was of course dramatically different during each period in time, and I enjoyed the way the story would interweave from the family sitting down to breakfast in 1968, then forward in time to 1987, a different family, again having breakfast in the same room, but changed somewhat to reflect the decade, 20 years on – it was also a great dollop of nostalgia of course, having been a child of the 80’s! Watching a repeat of this series recently, lead me to imagine what it must have been like to live in our own house throughout the last century.

The husband it’s safe to say, does not share my interest and only slightly looked up from his laptop when I came in excitedly exclaiming that I’d not only found out who lived in our house, but that I’d also found photographs of some of the occupants from 100 years ago! Oh how excited was I!! (Hmmm note to self;…perhaps I should get out more!) I must get this interest from my mother, who loves nothing more than to delve in to the past, be it our family history, or indeed local history, so she was even more excited than I at my discovery, and over the last few weeks we have pieced together quite a substantial history of our house. * I’ve decided after writing this post to publish it in two parts as it’s quite long! This first post will concentrate on the people who lived here and their lives. The second one will focus more on the house itself, with some photographs, how it has changed over the years and what we hope to restore – an exciting project which we plan to do gradually (time and money permitting) over the next few years!

In 1905 a Mr John Francis, builder, submitted the plans for a "pair of villas" each a mirror image of the other. These said plans now hang in our hallway (kindly left to us by the previous owner), and I have photographed them as best I can here;

You will see the house not only had an upstairs bathroom with WC, but also a downstairs WC - pretty unusual in those days, i'm sure that most houses still had an oustide loo! The first bedroom was listed on the plans as being downstairs,I wonder why this was? Making a total of 9 bedrooms,two of which are now no longer used as such.

John planned to live in one of the houses and rent the other, our house, to his childhood friend James Bufton, his wife Mary, and their 3 sons Percy, James jnr and Vincent. The two men had grown up on neighbouring farms during the late 1800’s so had known one another from a very early age. James senior was a Ladies Tailor, and Mary a dressmaker, and together they worked from home until the early 20’s, when they expanded their business and opened up a shop in the town. They had a lodger who worked for James as an apprentice up until the War. Coincidentally, the family moved to this house from the very small street (just 10 houses) where we ourselves lived until we bought here - in fact they occupied number 8, just 4 doors away from our old house.

In 1914 Percy, their youngest son, joined the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry, and they are pictured here in the fields right behind our house, Percy being one of them, before they left for War;

Can you imagine his mother Mary, perhaps sitting in the house at the moment that photograph was being taken, and the anxiety she must have felt at the thought of her son going off to War. I can’t even imagine it! We don't know if Vincent or James joined up, we haven't found any information to date.

Percy came home on leave at Christmas 1915 and was photographed in the town wearing a German Spiked Helmet;

A month before this James senior, obviously having prospered in his business, purchased the house from John for £700! Quite a sum in those days!

During the War, Percy was photographed again home on leave with a young woman, which we must presume (from the amount of photographs she is in) was his fiancé, Eveline Lewis.

Percy and Eveline married in 1921 and had 3 children between 1922 and 1927. They all lived in the house until moving out to a neighbouring village at some point, from records we have found they were certainly living there as a family in 1924 with James and Mary. Percy served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force.

James died in 1950 age 86, and his widow Mary sold the house in 1952 to the Baptist Corporation, where the Minister of the local Baptist Church and his family lived until the mid 1960’s. Mary lived with Vincent and his his family until her death in 1955.

Percy died just 6 years later aged 70, and he and Eveline are buried in a village churchyard in the parish of where they must have moved on to in later life, just a few miles away from here.

They had occupied our house for almost half a century, through two Wold Wars and seen the world change dramatically in that time. All of the other families since, have stayed no more than 15 years. Hopefully we will stay for longer. I love it. It’s somewhere I feel I belong, and I hope that we will be as happy as obviously James and his family were!

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Pen-Pal Pairs!!!

Hello all!

Well finally here I am with the pen-pal pairs as promised! I've really enjoyed looking through everyone's blogs and trying to pair everyone up - I hope i've done a good job!

Thank you again to everyone who has taken part, I was really thrilled with the amount of interest, and we actually ended up with 11 of us so I have paired myself with two of you - I hope you won't mind!! (I'm more than happy!)

So here we are;

Jill at Homespun Seasons;
and Jean at Rowan Trees and Bumblebees

Tracey at Mad About Bags; and Millie at New World;

Karen at Me, My Camera, Eye; and Joy at Welcome to Daisy Row;

Busy Little Chicken; and Miz-bag at Sidmouth Poppy;

Sue from Vintage from the Village; and me at Evelyn May

Laura from Domestic Doris; me; at Evelyn May

I've been through the list carefully but if i've forgotten anyone i'm so sorry and please let me know!!

Now that i've announced the pairs it's down to you, I invite you to contact your pan-pal via their blog and arrange to swap addresses, etc, via e-mail and then you can get started! I will really look forward to hearing how everyone gets on - a year from now I will do a blogpost update :) As I said in my first post, it's up to you how often you write, and some of you might agree this with your pen-pal before you begin.

Who knows...perhaps 20 years from now some of us will still be writing..isn't that a lovely thought!

Good Luck xx

Friday, 8 February 2013

Penpal Pairing Update...

Just a very quick post to thank all of you who have signed up to my pen-pal pairing, I had intended to announce the pairs tomorrow, but unfortunately i've come down with the flu and have spent the last couple of days in bed :( - i've therefore decided to keep it open until next Wednesday 13th Feb, this will give any last minute takers the opportunity to sign up, and hopefully i'll be on the mend by then too. It has been lovely to read your comments and enthusiasm as to begin with I hadn't been sure how popular the idea would be, i'm really looking forward to matching everybody up! For now though, if anyone else would like to sign up, just leave a comment here or on my previous "Pen Pal" post before the 13th February :)

Marina xx

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Sign of Spring...

Just a quick post, I hope you are all having a nice weekend, unfortunately the husband and Mia have been ill most of the week with the flu, the husband in particular has been really ill and in bed most of the time. Baby Boy & I have (touch wood) so far escaped...lets hope it stays that way!

Today the sun shone and was weather-wise the best day by far that we've had since moving to the new house, until now i'd never seen the garden draped in sunshine. I'm sure we haven't seen the worst of the wintery weather just yet, and only a week ago all was white with snow, however a sign that Spring is on it's way slowly..our first Snowdrops under the old apple tree in the garden;

They remind me of my Grandma, she used to love to find the first snowdrops, Spring was her favourite season.

Baby Boy was not a happy bunny that i'd left him in the pushchair while I went to photograph the snowdrops, just look at the face!

Aah that's better...

It's been an unsettled week, I hope we get back to normal very soon when everyone is on the mend, I've kept busy researching the history of our house, many nights i've been up until the early hours searching the net, it can become totally addictive but i've found out so much in such a short time, i'm in the process of writing a blog post about the family who lived here 100 years ago, I find it facinating.

Also a quick reminder that in my previous post I mentioned a pen-pal pairing, a few of you have left a comment to say that you'd like to take part so i've decided to go ahead! if anyone would be interested in taking part then here's the link to my last post with all the info;

I will keep it open until Friday 8th February;

Marina xx