Saturday, 16 June 2012

People and Families Born in this House.

Going back 150 years, if walls could talk. In twenty two years the family had eighteen children.
Its always a mystery how people lived years ago, particularly in the house that you live in. Our house in its present form was built around the first half of the 1800's.

But there is evidence of a previous house. It must have been taken down to door top height ( or did it burn down around then) as it has narrow two and half inch bricks on some of the outside walls, then when a larger foot print built it was with larger standard three inch bricks.

When the house was extended, the "new" back kitchen where the washing and laundry was done was built over the old well, a well that served both the house and the farm and livestock. In dry summers it ran dry and another well was dug in the 1930's deeper about five yards just outside of the house.

Our house is right next to the village school, the old farm buildings at the top of the picture are now redundant.
Two tractors are in the picture and a blue stock trailer by the house  

The back is the older section of the house





Under the floor boards of the older section we found they were supported on fir poles cut directly from the local spinney, cut to length and dropped in place with all the bark still on. The same up in the roof void, the joists and the perlins are ‘bark on' fir poles, then in one fairly long room where the joists wanted supporting half way along there is a pair of old bowed ships timbers part of which are exposed in the bedroom, these are of very old and very hard oak still with the evidence of sawn and chopped out joints with peg holes for fixing. These are likely to be part of the old timber frame from the previous house.

The family who I took over from had lived in the village for three generations, starting with William F-----e born in 1828, he did not marry until he was in his mid thirties, his wife being some fourteen years younger. Over the next twenty two years they had eighteen children. William, Edward, Ann & Mary twins, Cecilly, Earnest, The seventh child Charles (1872) was the one who took over the farm at the age of twenty three when his father died in 1895, then Ellen, John, Walter, William, Horace, Florence, Arthur, Eleanor, Dora, Arnold, and last one Frank.

One of the lads from this eighteen, eventually became a notable judge in the law courts of London, some went out farming to South Africa, and others spread out all over the world to make their fortune.

Over the years that we have lived here, we have had overseas visitors/relatives who are descendants of William (1828) wanting to look round the old house, and look where and how their grand parents lived and how they were brought up.

I know the family had a reunion a few years ago, with family members flying in from South Africa , Australia and all point of the globe, with, in the region of a hundred members turning up. On the family tree that I have to hand drawn up in 2009 by a descendant living in the north of England, a retired vet, there are over four hundred names of relatives stemming from William at this house and farm, it is thought that there are still some of whom have not traced.

As I said the seventh child Charles (1872) took over the farm on his fathers death and eventually married and they had five children. Marion who worked in the house and no one ever saw her, Ruth who worked in the farm dairy cleaning the dairy utensils, but if anyone came in the yard she would scurry round the back way and back into the house, Earnest who eventually took over the farm in the 1950's when his father died, and Frank who did go in the air force during the war, then worked on the farm. And Margaret who worked at the milking and rearing the calves, it was said the she did have an admirer at one stage in her younger days, but he was sent packing when her mother judged him to be "not good enough" for her.

None of these five ever married and so there were no grand children for Charles (1872).
Earnest was trained as a chemist in his younger days and then came back to the farm taking over from his father and stayed tenant until 1983 when he retired due to ill health, that is when I moved here and took the tenancy..

One interesting item we found in the garden was a huge pestle and mortar, we think it must have been the property of Earnest, it was in good condition and would hold I would think two gallons in capacity, the mortar was made of turned elm wood and starting to decay with age, but the stone/marble mortar or what ever its made of is as new and stand high on a shelf in our kitchen weighing a good quarter of a hundred weight (13.5 kg to them's who need to know).

Their mother Elizabeth, Charles's wife, was very dominating; the children went to school next door but were not allowed to play with the other village children. At play times every day, mornings and afternoons they had to return to their own front gate and wait for the bell to go, before returning to their studies. The children never got to handle money, and had not got any grasp of its value until their parents died.

That was when the brothers started to buy machinery, after a short while they bought a David Brown Cropmaster which had two seats so the brothers could work it together. Then they went on to have two Ferguson Massy 35's, one each, and the matching equipment. The biggest snag for them was that they had no idea of maintaining or repairing machines, all repairs and adjustments were made by the local machinery dealers, they being more stock men.

One of Earnest's early purchases was a bunch of very fine Hereford cross steers for fattening off on grass, he had not been used to bidding at market and his excitement of the day, which was quickly picked up by the auctioneer and the seller of the cattle, he paid well over the odds. When the same bunch were sold some twelve months later they fetched less than when he had bought them. This trend of not knowing the value of money dogged them all the years the brothers farmed.

The same went for the three sisters, it was said that they went into a milliners in town on what must have been their first ever shopping spree free from their mother's domination, and bought five splendid hats each. Not for any special occasion as they never ventured out very often, but just to feel the power of spending money.

The eldest daughter lived in her bedroom for the last twenty years of her life, no one in the village had seen her in all those years. The second daughter worked hard in the house and dairy and fell down the back stairs and broke bones, being old she had never been away from the house and was admitted to hospital, the shock of other people working round and on her killed her. The last sister and two brothers were not able to continue farming, as age was against them and they retired to a house in the next village.

Margaret died partly from the stress over the previous few years, and partly from not being able to cope with a small house, the furniture they took with them filled the house as if it were warehouse and they could not move around. The two brothers could not cope on their own and went into a rest home together. This did not last long as they kept falling out, and one of them moved to another home, they visited each other on a regular basis when they too died after some years in care.



Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.