We've put it off for far too long. It's been 12 years since we last had Stonecroft's exterior painted and it is looking distinctly shabby around the edges. We've had a decorator out today and, hopefully, weather permitting, before too long we should have a much more respectable looking house.
|Stonecroft from the avenue, 1952. Previous photo taken today.|
You probably already know our house originally belonged to my maternal Grandparents who, together with Mum, moved there from Birmingham in 1952. When Grandma's Alzheimer's became too advanced for her to continue living independently (she was widowed in 1984) she had to move into a nursing home. Neither of us could bear the thought of someone else owning Stonecroft so Jon and I put our Victorian terraced house up for sale and bought Stonecroft to help fund her care fees. Thinking we'd have months to get the house habitable, our place sold to a cash buyer within an hour of the For Sale board going up. We had to move in six weeks and lived in chaos while we did Stonecroft up ourselves, room by room. We've lived there since May, 2005 and it's still a work in progress.
Built in 1750, Stonecroft was originally three conjoined, single storey labourer's cottages on Snake Farm, land forming part of the Earl of Bradford's estate. Over the centuries the farm vanished and a second storey added to the house (if you look closely, the bricks are completely different) and walls removed to form a single dwelling.
Same wrought iron gates. Me today and my Mum (then a 17 year old girl) in 1959.
Stonecroft is quite odd with its mono pitch roof and single row of rooms, each leading through to the next. Inside the skirting boards are made of limestone, there's no cellar and the attic is just big enough to crawl in.
As I child I remember the house next door being a single dwelling. These days its been divided into sections with a double fronted house at the front and the back sold and divided into four self contained flats. As we have no windows to the side of the house and the doors open up into the garden we rarely see (or hear) our neighbours.
This is Stonecroft circa 1945. We love the porch surrounding the front door - it would be brilliant for growing tomatoes! As we're in a conservation area we can't change any external feature without seeking permission from the town's planning department but, as we have proof of once having had a porch, we can ask to reinstate it.
Stonecroft in 1954. The porch has gone, the kitchen window replaced by a smaller one and one of the entrances has been bricked up.
Stonecroft went all Southfork in 1980. My Grandparents had the shutters added in the 1970s. Grandma rescued the glazed Victorian lamp above the front door from the now defunct Highgate Brewery at the end of the avenue, when it was refurbished in the 1960s.
Stonecroft today - with the addition of a fleet of VWs. The windows remain the same (minus the shutters, removed in 2006 as they were beyond repair). We installed the stable door when we moved in but it's knackered now and needs to be replaced. The chimney pots were taken down in the 1960s although my Grandparents never had central heating installed.
Back in 1966 Grandpa's choice of motor was British and a little more sedate.
Behind those doors are the coal cellar and the garden tool store.
Mum and Dad bringing a newly born me to meet my grandparents in December 1966.
Like mother, like daughter - big hair and an orange dress on the front step. We had those steps rebuilt when we moved in. My Grandpa was a wheelchair user had a concrete ramp installed - it was a nightmare to drill out.
Unlike us, Grandpa was a keen gardener and kept Stonecroft's lawns and borders in immaculate condition.
Same garden but these days the planting is a lot less formal.
See the saddle stones? They're by the front door.
Groovy dress, Mum! Back in 1969 you could see the rest of avenue from the garden. I'm the one in the long socks. My brother is still camera shy almost half a century later.
No self respecting dove would move into that coop. Look at the state of it!
Don't ask me what's in that tumbledown shed, we daren't get too close in case it collapses.
Last week's balmy temperatures seem like a dim and distant memory. No chance of doing The Guardian crossword in the garden this week (unless I wear waterproofs and thermal knickers!)
Keep your fingers crossed for a return to good weather - we'll be trading our first festival of the summer in less than 48 hours time!
See you soon.