A truly lovely thing happened the other day, so unexpected for all concerned that there were tears and I am so pleased I can make it fit Beating the Bounds.
It was about 11am and we were all out in the garden. I was pottering, Bookhound was mowing, and the Tinker was tickling his tomatoes with a brush which seems to have gained him at least a truss ( as I gather they are called, tomato ones, not surgical) if not two, in the contest that he and Bookhound are having to see whose plant yields the most. It's all very secretive, mystery feeding solutions being added along with covert observation of the opposition, with any threat of storm or gales seeing the pair of them rushing out to make sure all is well staked and sheltered.
Anyway, there we were a picture or rural contentment when a car pulled up at the gate.
Now on an average day maybe three or four cars go past. If anyone stops for any other reason than visiting us, or delivering a parcel, it is usually via the postcode on a SatNav which brings them to our gate, but we share the postcode with two other properties and invariably redirect. But no, it was obviously our house they were interested in as the car slowed to a crawl.
'Can I help,' I inquired, leaning over the gate whilst wielding my secateurs.
'I was born here in 1950 ' said a very excited voice from the back seat.
Now I can't tell you the hours I have spent wondering who may have lived in our home in the past., I think we talked about it on here recently so I know I am not alone. We only have the deeds dating back to the sale in the 1960s, so I have ploughed through census returns and Parish registers and discovered residents various for our house in 1911, farm workers all but little else, and no photos of how the house may have looked back in the day. We only know what local people tell us, mostly that the place was dilapidated and the roof was 'off' for several years before it was renovated in the 1970s.
Well, we had that car parked in the drive, the occupants out, Mo and her brother Arthur and Mo's husband Peter, and the guided tour in progress before you could blink.
And yes Mo had been born in Tinker's Cott in 1950, back then not even called Youngcott, but Nos 1 & 2 Hardicott Cottages (which sheds new light on all those 'wrong' searches I may have been doing) and lived here until she was 14, with Arthur and their parents Beatrice and Gerald Rooke. Gerald worked in the grounds over at Leigh, the Big House next door to Endsleigh, about two miles away, and he would cycle to work each day up the steepest of hills.
This picture of Mo with her mum was taken outside Tinker's Cott...
and at a place were there was once a porch and a door but where the Tinker now has a window..
But I keep looking at that pillar, with maybe a rose growing up it, and thinking how strange that we too have unwittingly placed a post in almost the exact same spot to support the veranda roof which Bookhound built. Mo was born in December 1950 and I reckon this picture is probably taken in spring 1951, and that rose is just beginning to sprout.... wonder what it is??
Mo's bedroom was the one the Tinker sleeps in now, whilst Arthur's is now a bathroom. We did a grand tour and Mo was moved to tears when she looked out of 'her' bedroom window and saw the familiar view, and there was so much that she and Arthur were able to tell us in response to my daft questions...
Did they have a cat... yes, a white one called Snowy.
What colour were the walls .... they were painted with green distemper, and we have found traces of that.
This hook in the beam... that was for the oil lamp.
Mo noticed it instantly....the same door latch on the bedroom door...
What did they grow in the garden... apparently Mo's dad would turn in his grave if he knew what we pay for rhubarb in a shop now. There was more rhubarb than they knew what to do with, along with raspberries and lots of flowers, antirrhinums a speciality.
We are about to plant rhubarb again and have some Timperley Early ready to go in.
And how on earth did they keep warm, because we have to work hard at it...
Mo didn't remember it being a particularly cold house though agrees it must have been, especially given that they had no electricity until 1960, just a range for cooking in the kitchen which was also used to heat the flat irons. I wonder if it resembled this range we came across in Truro Museum. I took pictures at the time just in case they came in handy one day...
Where the Tinker now has a woodburner, was once an open grate and fender. When the fire wouldn't draw Mo's mum always blamed the wind, as do we. If it's from the north we struggle, and that is usually when you need the fire the most, we always joke about it.
As we had guessed, the wood shed at that end of the house was the privy, and I'm mighty glad we have that better sorted now.
Milk was delivered and there was a mobile butcher, and a fish man, otherwise it was a two mile walk across to a shop in the neighbouring village, and also to school, with a bus service into Tavistock once a week for the Friday market.
The bus service hasn't improved a jot, in fact almost non-existent now. We joke that if you get the Thursday bus to Launceston you can't come back until the following Tuesday when there seems to be another one.
Interestingly Mo talked about being a child here, and how self-contained they had to be. To get to a friend's house was a long walk, almost time to come home by the time she arrived, but of course she knew of the woods, and the holloway and walked them often, and for all the seeming deprivations she never remembers being bored, there was always something to do.
When Mo's father Gerald died in 1964 they lost their right to live in the house (more of this in another post to come) Beatrice took a job as a housekeeper and moved with Mo and Arthur to the outskirts of Whitchurch near Tavistock. But in a nice moment of serendipity Mo told us that her mother had left school at fourteen and gone into service at the Manor House in Tavistock. Well our first house, the one we left to come here, was one of the terraced worker's cottages right opposite, so what a lovely sense of continuity that gave everything.
Mo has often passed by this way since 1964 for old time's sake, but this was the first time she had been able to see inside the house...her email afterwards said it all really...
"We can’t thank you enough for allowing us into your homes yesterday. It meant so much to me and it was quite emotional to step back into my childhood home. I know Arthur was as appreciative as me. It is just wonderful that such lovely people live in our childhood home and care so much about it and and love it...."
And me so overcome with excitement I completely forgot to take a picture of them, never mind, next time.