I’m a lucky pup. I live in a house that’s old enough to be protected by law. I love this house, it’s very much part of our family. But there are parts of it that are just… weird. They don’t work well for our needs. We need to change them. So we need to persuade the brilliant Listed Buildings team that these changes are right for the character of the building, as well as for the 3 (soon to be 4.. yes really…) of us living here.
Happily for us, a little research has demonstrated that they are, in fact, hideous 1980s additions to our beautiful 18th century farmhouse. The breeze blocks and rubbish stud walls were clear signs of modernity. Then, when we spoke to neighbours who knew the house, they expressed their shock and surprise at the presence of these “features:” namely, a half timbered ceiling and weird half timbered stud walls, a funky staircase and odd upstairs room at a different level to the rest of the house. Apparently, up until the 1970s turkeys were raised in this room which was then double height, and open to the rafters with raw stonework on display. So the half timbered stuff is a total pastiche.
That was a relief, but other discoveries were far more gratifying. For example, on an 1826 plan of the local church pews, our farm had its own pew in a prominent position, and a few years later the family built two large stone farm buildings. They seemed to be doing well. But the previous owners of the house had left us a record of a property auction. This family who seemed to be so prosperous had to sell their land only a short time after all this development. I’d love to know what happened, what went wrong. This glimpse into the house’s history is fascinating to me, and I’m grateful to that horrible staircase for leading me here.
I spend a lot of time thinking about past lives hundreds of miles from where I live and thousands of years ago. It’s a pleasure to think about those whose experiences mirror my own more closely. Wish us luck as things progress.