Monday, August 25, 2008

Three Grand Well Spent

It was 1959 when my parents bought this house, which you can see peeking out behind the overgrown trees and the fence which Gareth painted and which turned out more orange than expected. There used to be railings in front, but the Government took them in the 1940s, apparently, to help to defeat Hitler. And it worked!

Yesterday, sorting some ancient junk, I found the original information from the estate agent.

The property is L-shaped, but it is admitted that the front of the house is very plain and IT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO GO INSIDE THE HOUSE TO APPRECIATE THE DELIGHTFUL CHARACTER.

Not, perhaps, the most eye-catching leaflet, but the house was an interesting mixture: built in 1896, it had been modernised in some ways: ATTRACTIVE MODERN FEATURES, INCLUDING CENTRAL HEATING. The central heating was powered by anthracite (tiny pieces of coal) and the Communist used to spend every Saturday afternoon, after finishing work in his chemist shop, "shovelling anthracite" as he used to term it, to make sure that there was enough heaped in the coal cellar nearby to power the boiler - which was down in the cellar - for the next week.

The cellar was always, therefore, lovely and warm, and washing hung down there dried really quickly. The heating didn't work so well in the rest of the house though - I notice "try sash windows" in my mother's writing on the leaflet. And they were lovely old windows: it's just that they let rather a lot of air in, even when they were closed.

The house was crumbling in a rather genteel manner, even then, and we spend a lot of time - and money - trying to prevent it from doing so, even now.

But my mother knew what she was looking for - she likes Outside in general, and gardens.

THE PRIVATE WALLED GARDEN TO THE REAR SOME 800 SQUARE YARDS IS A DELIGHFUL VALUABLE FEATURE: attractive lawns, 8 apple tres, 4 pear and 1 cherry, sundry trees and shrubs and for the children plenty of jungle (or vegetable space) and also SPACE FOR SOME POULTRY IF REQUIRED.

Where are my poultry? I've wanted some ever since!

And both my parents like plenty of light:


The directions for how to get here sound like something crafted by Charles Dickens:

TRANSPORT: No. 31 Gledhow bus from Tatler Cinema in Boar Lane or in Vicar Lane near Bradbury's Pork Butcher shop, and alight at the Terminus.

The asking price was £3,600 which was a lot then. My parents couldn't afford it but after a few months, when the house hadn't sold, the sellers came back to my parents' lower offer. They managed to buy it because my grandmother sold her house in Barrow-in-Furness and came to live with us, because my grandfather had died.

It's never been smart, this house. We've never managed to get it to look stylish in any way at all. My parents got rid of most of the original Victorian fittings - which upset me even at the time - because that was what you did in the Sixties. They built on two more rooms, with a glorious Sixties flat roof which is a bit of a pain to maintain.

The whole house always looks as though, if someone were only to spend fifty grand on it, it might look rather swish - it does have lovely high ceilings and the original plaster decorations on some of the ceilings - but, actually this is a myth. We have spent lots on it, since we bought it from my parents in 2000. It's had a new kitchen, a new bathroom, new central heating, double glazing, the outside re-coated, plenty of decorating, lots of new shelves (thanks John). And it still looks - well, a bit scruffy. Perhaps it's just us.

But, there is one crucial thing that I notice in the estate agent's blurb, and it's this. After the bit about IT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO GO INSIDE THE HOUSE TO APPRECIATE THE DELIGHTFUL CHARACTER, it says:

It is a very intriguing house, with definite character and interest and a happy atmosphere which is very rarely found.

Now that, I think, is absolutely true. It's strange how a house can have an atmosphere - but this one does and always has done, and I think many people would say so. I've always loved it, and I know I've been lucky to spend so much of my life living here.


Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Great idea for a post and great writing, Daphne! But I wanted to see a photo of the there one earlier on your blog somewhere?

1:31 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

This is the best one I could find, Bob - when (if) the weather improves I'll take some more!

1:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am always grateful to enjoy the happy atmosphere of your house and every time I go in I appreciate the delightful character (not just meaning Stephen). But I also wonder about the lack of poultry, not least because the fresh eggs would come in handy. Mind you over the years you have nearly made up for it with sundry other creatures.

By the way, I am sorry for your loss of Kellogg (don't think I sent my condolences after your previous post).

6:38 pm  
Blogger Debby said...

3,600 pounds for a house near a pork butcher shop? I'd have been running around saying "where's my check book????!!!!!"

1:35 am  

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