Monday, 31 August 2015

Borrowed homes...new outlooks...


 As you'll know if you read this blog regularly, history is one of my pet subjects....it never ceases to fascinate me. I love to learn about and imagine different times, who came before us, what they saw and felt. A wonderful way of experiencing this is to stay in historic places. And a few weeks ago we did just that...and spent a weekend here, in gorgeous Lynch Lodge, one of the Landmark Trust's amazing properties.
 The Trust buys and restores historical places of interest, many of them (like this one) quite quirky and different...and then rents them out as holiday homes for short or longer term breaks...
 We only spent a long weekend here, but for those 3 days it was our own! Gazing through the mullioned windows at a different view as we ate breakfast...
 Climbing steep stone steps to the light-flooded bedroom at the top of the tower...
 ...catching the evening rays in the impressive porch....Alice was allowed to come too...(many, but not all, Landmarks accept well-behaved dogs!) Sipping a gin and tonic here made us feel like the Lord & Lady of the manor!
 The Lodge is very close to wonderful countryside and we did lots of walking in the warm August sun...watching the narrowboats traverse the locks...
 Fascinating to see the water gush in and raise the levels, to enable the boats to continue on their journeys...
 Hard work, though, when there are a few of them in a row!
 But worth it to be on the beautiful River Nene and see views like this...

 The glorious English countryside at its overblown late Summer best...
 On the way home, we stopped in Stamford...an ancient place with so many interesting features..
 ...and more tranquil sights...
 ...as well as echoes of the past, everywhere...
 As we reluctantly left to drive home, we came upon this glorious, beautifully-restored old coach...


Like something from a 1960's Carry On film!


And even further back, we were privileged to stay in a restored early 18th century weavers house in Spitalfields, in the heart of London's East End...

 This is a part of London that we are very connected to...ancestors who lived here can be traced back to 1695....many of whom were silk weavers, Huguenots who had fled from France in fear of their lives...
 ...so benign ghosts were all around us in this amazing place...
 ....living here as though it were our own....
 ...going out, and then coming back and putting our key in the front door was incredible...
 ...the stairs were worn and had a gentle patina from the hundreds of feet that must have laboured up & down them so many times through the years...
 The kitchen retains the original features, but has been brought fully up to date for modern use (thank goodness!)
 What tales could these floorboards tell? I imagine children pushing buttons, coins, anything through these little gaps...
 ...and at the very top of the house is the weaving loft...the ceiling very high to accommodate the huge loom that was the livelihood of those that lived here...
 ...this was the only window they would have had for light for many hours of every day...a cramped, overworked and underpaid existence for these migrants who have enriched our land so much...
 The bathroom was one of my favourite places...sitting at the window, looking out over the courtyard below, and into the windows of other nearby houses...
 ...the whole area is steeped in history...
 ...relatives lived here, on Sclater Street, for many generations...what did they see, feel, hear?
 ...Some fabulous shops in the area...one of my favourites is Labour & Wait which sells practical, simple and very beautiful hardware and homewares...
 The area was heavily populated by the Jewish community in the 19th and first part of the 20th centuries...migrants again, from pogroms and poverty in their lands of origin...although their numbers have dwindled as they became prosperous and moved to other more affluent boroughs, there are still many influences visible...


This soup kitchen for the 'Jewish poor' was in use up until just over 20 years ago...
 ...probably the best beigels I have tasted...
 ...chewy, crusty, absolutely delicious!

The impressive and stunning Christ Church presides over the heart of Spitalfields...designed by Hawksmoor, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren...
 Many ancestors married, baptised and buried within these walls....

Despite the heavy bombing of the East End by the nazis during World War 2, and the subsequent regeneration of the area (it is at the heart of the commercial and banking centre of London), an amazing number of original buildings remain...like this former silk dress shop in Raven's Row...

 ...and although there's a change of use for it now, this was the former workhouse...with separate entrances for the desperate men and women who sought refuge here (as an absolute last resort)
 Artillery Row still has the cramped feeling of an overcrowded and poverty-stricken population...
 ...but, like so many other places, the regeneration has hiked up prices and the area is now incredibly popular and expensive...

...as one man told me 'my grandparents moved away from here when they made enough money to leave, and now my son can't afford to move back!'

But we felt what it was like to live here, for one glorious weekend....and it felt fabulous!

Hoping you have a great week...it's raining as I write, on the last Bank Holiday of the year...and the schools go back on Wednesday...the year is turning again! xx

14 comments:

  1. I enjoyed seeing through your eyes more lovely places in your beautiful England, Rachel. How wonderful to stay in such places that your ancestors inhabited. I too love history and am facinated by the determination of humanity! Enjoy your Bank Holiday! xo ♥

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  2. I felt swept through the corridors of your history and the absolute beauty of the English countryside, the lovingly restored villages and historical burroughs of your city. How lyrically you describe it all, Rachel. I can hear the love of place you have for this very wonderful part of the world. I am always impressed with what dignity and charm these places are handled. I love it, too. Going back, so much of it is in my DNA, too. Thank you for connecting me to it! Enjoy these wonderful, exhilarating days of changing season! ♥ xo

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  3. Gorgeous pictures! I am a bit of a history buff myself and I often feel the same when I visit old places. I was like a kid in a candy store during my recent trip to York.

    Oh, but the Montrealer expat I am I can only tell you that the best and true bagels you can taste can only come from my city.

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  4. It is so exciting to visit historic places,

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  5. This was such a lovely and enjoyable post, Rachel. How wonderful that you were able to stay in that gorgeous old home! Your photos of the places you saw and the things you experienced have really helped me "be there" all the way from Texas! I love history, and I love all things British, so I will be rereading this post often. Thanks for the time and effort you put into sharing this with your readers. And I think my favorite pic is the one of Alice. She looks quite beautiful and happy. :-)

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  6. What interesting history and beautiful locations. History of our ancestors leaves so many questions, sigh. Living in California we don't have many old buildings and I find old architecture so much more interesting. The internet is so amazing, just this morning I had an order from someone living in a place with my maiden name in England. Naturally I had to look at Google maps and saw the old farm house and wondered if my ancestors may have at one time lived there.

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  7. Oh, Rachel, I just love that house in Spitalfields! <3

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  8. Hi, Rachel ... I confess to not having cared much for history as it was taught to me during my school years. Family recollections of 'the old days' went in one ear and out the other. Only as I've grown older has my curiosity piqued, and I've recently become enchanted with Ancestry.com and other such genealogical sites. When I 'find' a heretofore unknown relative, my mind is transported back in time and I want to know more about where and how they lived. I'm especially excited when I discover some came from England! Thank you for every photo and detail you share of your homeland, as they provide me with additional food for thought.

    Sharon in Alabama

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  9. Hello,
    I love history as well. I enjoyed your post today. I love the photo of Alice.
    Carla

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  10. Oh, this was so much fun to see! Thank you for taking so many wonderful photographs- really felt like I was there!! Somehow I'm missing your posts, so I apologise for the late reading of this- extraordinary!! I'm tickled you got to get away and renew for a bit. Just wonderful!!!

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  11. Oh, what a beautiful, fascinating post!
    My husband's father is from Holburn, but when he returned from World War II, his home had been bombed and his parents lived elsewhere. They were okay but their home was destroyed.

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  12. Hello dear Rachel! Today I'm playing blog catch-up. My goodness! Lynch Lodge looks like a glorious place to call home for a few days. And how wonderful that Alice was allowed to stay, too. Thanks for the virtual tour. I can imagine you had a grand time! Love and hugs...xoxo

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  13. Love the history too...what an amazing weekend you must have had! Love all the old buildings etc. our historical buildings, graveyards etc. are old, but not like yours.

    Good to see your adventure!

    Blessings,
    Gert

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  14. What a charming blog you have, Rachel !
    I love England and, as a teacher of History, I love everything talking about the past, so I'm truly fascinated by this last post of yours, actually I feel breathless :) !
    I'm going and follow you with so much joy, have a blessed New Year

    Daniela

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