Thursday, 15 December 2011

Another old Village Charactor old Mrs. Blakmore.1948

She was the last to live in her old cottage, thatch had rotted away,
Half timbered filled in with brick, they were built that way,
Wattle and daub up the chimney breast, above the inglenook,
Cast iron range and chimney crane, hang kettle to boil on hook.

Churchyard Cottages.

The old thatched half timbered cottage that used to stand not fifty paces west of St Chads Church tower, was occupied by Mrs Blakmore. In my earliest memories her husband was still alive, but retired. Her front wicket was opposite the rickyard gateway of Church Farm. This ran straight up alongside the high hedge bank of the Church Farm garden, to her front door. The front door was the only door to her house, with a window to the left of it, letting light into the sitting room.

A small window to the right just round the corner let light into the scullery, where there was an old brown sink mounted on two pillars of bricks. Here the washing was done in her "Dolly tub", and the old "Mangle to squeeze the water out, before hanging it out on the line in the garden. The only other window was above the front door, to the only bedroom she had.

The old oak front door, made heavy by layers of paint, had a door latch that you gripped, and pressed the catch with your thumb, to open. On the inside it had a large bolt to secure the door; it did not seem to lock when you went out.

A new Yale lock was fitted, and it took the old lady some time to get used to it, in fact she walked out to fetch some coal one morning, and it blew too. She had locked herself out, my father who was working across the road, at Church Farm, fetched me from school, to squeeze me through the scullery window, to unlatch the new Yale lock.

On entering the door, you would notice a thick heavy beam, which stretched from the middle of the inglenook, to the left of the front door. Another equally large beam, which stretched all across the fire place to form the inglenook.

  Almost the length of this inglenook beam was a mantle piece shelf.  This had a strip of material fastened to the front edge like a pelmet, it was dark red velvet, edged with tassels, but in the dimly lit room, it was in fact very smoky light red. But it looked very impressive to my young eyes.

Other smaller oak beams stretched the other way to carry the floor boards of the bedroom. It had a cast iron open fire place, which had an oven to one side of it, and a chimney crane that swung the kettle over the fire to boil. In the left far corner, concealed by a door, to keep the draughts out was the stairs that twisted up round a single post directly into the bedroom.

In the bedroom, was a huge chimney breast, constructed of oak frame, filled in with wattle and daub. You certainly would not want to have a chimney fire.

Mrs Blakmore herself was a wiry and tough old lady, always very busy round the house, keeping it spick and span. Always a very alert and keen to talk to visitors, although she got very deaf in later years, and raised her voice to make sure you heard.

She wore her hair swept back over her ears to a bun at the back, and only wore her hat if she left the front gate. Every house wife of that era wore a pinafore, loop round the neck, and tied round the waist, usually of a floral pattern.

Among her regular jobs outside, was to chop the sticks, ready for fire lighting the next morning. This was OK until she started to loose her sight, then her daughter came every weekend, to chop a weeks supply for her. Another regular job was to fetch her milk, each evening, from Church Farm, soon after we had started milking.

A little bit of pacing up and down, if we were a little late, then we would send her home, [thirty yards] and ten minuets later take it over for her. At times, if the weather was bad, we popped over and got her coal in, and take her milk. Of course there was the standard outside loo, with the little job of maintenance that her daughter did at weekends; this was standard in all cottages.

The right hand half of the house is the cottage I have described, and the small brick and tile loo is bottom right of the picture. The two cottages were tied cottages, for the farm workers in the village, in this case Green Farm. The big tree on the right over hangs the lyche gate. The thatch started to rot away round the chimney and let rain in, and no concerted effort was made to repare it. The old lady died and when the new Council Houses were built in 1948, the house was pulled down. It had the very old "ships timbers" as the main frame in an inverted U, the oak was that black and hard, some was cut up years later with a chain saw, it made sparks come off the blade.

I Remember Old Mrs Blakemore

She was the last to live in her old cottage, thatch had rotted away,
Half timbered filled in with brick, they were built that way,
Wattle and daub up the chimney breast, above the inglenook,
Cast iron range and chimney crane, hang kettle to boil on hook.

A long shelf across the beam, above the fire place,
This was trimmed with a pelmet, with tassels there to grace,
Rich dark velvet it seemed to me, laced with smoke and dust
Ornaments of every size, for a house that's fit to bust.

Behind the only door she'd got, a round table made of oak,
Very old by the polished in stains, made it look bespoke,
One the shape of her door key, where it had been placed for years,
Cast its shadow from the window, it permanently appears.

Her stairs were in the corner, behind a curtain and peg for coats,
Went up steep, almost vertical, round a central post,
Into her bedroom by chimney breast, one rail to stop her fall,
In her only room upstairs it looked, just like a hole in the floor.

Had a scullery to the right, the side of her main room,
Had a brown sink on two brick pillars, small window mid the gloom,
Big old mangle to ring the cloths, dolly tub n' posher as well,
A greasy old drain to take waste, this was how she dwell.

Water was carried from the pump; up on the village green,
A couple of buckets a day, at times some in between,
A tap on the mains came late in life, brass one over the sink,
Now getting blind and losing her sight, not far go for a drink.

Out at the side a little brick closet, under an elder bush,
This was the loo with a wooden seat, old news papers used at a push,
Had to be emptied every week, deep hole in garden latrine,
That soiled over after a month, this was an old routine.

When she passed on, a chapter was gone, house roof fell apart,
It was pulled down to clear the ground, new house then to start,
All mod cons nothing left out, even the drive was paven,
Grass it round, plant some trees, it's now named "Glenhaven."

Countryman (Owd Fred)

Old houses mended,
Cost little less than new before they're mended.
Colley Cibber (1671 - 1757)

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