Friday, 24 December 2010

The Garden

We have a small, walled courtyard garden. In one corner there is a well, underneath which is a large underground cistern with a vaulted stone roof. Water is pumped up from the cistern through a lion's head fountain.


Because the garden faces south and west, and is completely enclosed, it is sunny and sheltered and plants grow well. They need a lot of water, which is provided by the well.


In the centre of the garden is a raised bed with stone walls. It has been planted with a mixture of spring bulbs, summer bedding plants and evergreen shrubs.


Because it is so warm and sheltered, the garden is ideal for barbeques and parties in the summer months. The back door from the kitchen opens directly into the garden, making it easy to carry food and drinks in and out of the house. It is also convenient for picking fresh herbs for cooking.


Saturday, 18 December 2010

House History 1:1690-1790

We are very fortunate to have a complete set of deeds dating back to 1751. The earliest deed gives the name of the man who built the house, Francis Cross, and of the owners and tenants who came after him. In amongst the deeds there are also wills, letters and other documents relating to the ownership of the house.
House front
As a keen genealogist, I have enjoyed researching the people associated with the house. The following is a chronology of the owners and tenants for the period 1690 to 1790:

circa 1690

Francis Cross built the house. He was from the parish of Horton, Gloucestershire. He was born circa 1640 and married Margaret Higgs at Horton on 19 March 1665. They had 5 children baptised at Little Sodbury between 1669 and 1684.

unknown date

Henry Wickham was the tenant. Henry was baptised at Chipping Sodbury on 8 May 1670, the son of John Wickham, a woollen draper, and his wife, Edith.

Unknown date

John Clark bought the house from Francis Cross.

Unknown date

David Clark, a Quaker, bought the house from John Clark. David and his wife, Mary, had the births of 4 children recorded at the Quaker Meeting House, Chipping Sodbury, between 1699 and 1707. David paid 2d in the pound Poor Rate in Chipping Sodbury in 1727 and was one of the town bailiffs in 1731.
Quaker Meeting House, Chipping Sodbury
Quaker Meeting House, Sodbury


Unknown date

Nicholas White bought the house from David and Mary Clark. Nicholas was born circa 1677 and married Jane Hillier at Yate on 18 January 1704. He was a mason at Rodford in the parish of Westerleigh, Gloucestershire. He paid the Poor Rate in Chipping Sodbury in 1727. He died on 28 January 1750 and was buried in the nave of St John the Baptist, Chipping Sodbury.

5 December 1751

John Boddily bought the house for £58 from Nicholas White's widow, Elizabeth. John was born about 1704 and married Elizabeth Roach. He was an Innholder.
The tenant was James Taylor.

20 February 1764

John Boddily died and the house passed to his nephew, Thomas Boddily.

29 September 1764

Elizabeth Boddily, widow of John Boddily, bought the house back from his nephew, Thomas, for  £113. Elizabeth was born about 1710.

15 April 1777

Elizabeth Boddily died and the house passed to her brother, William Roach, and sister, Ann Cornwall. William Roach was a grocer in Chipping Sodbury, with a wife called Elizabeth. He died on 27 August 1798.

Friday, 17 December 2010

All dressed up like a Christmas tree

One of the joys of owning an old house is how beautiful it looks when dressed up for Christmas. I thought I would share some pictures with you.


Our old, stone inglenook fireplace, full of antique copper.


The inglenook looks magical at night, when all the candles are lit.


I decorate every available door with wreaths

Christmas window

And the window with cards, candles and ornaments

Card & candle

Christmas cards look beautiful illuminated with candles


And the finishing touch is the seven foot high Christmas tree

Monday, 29 November 2010

Two for the price of one

Our house actually consists of two separate buildings, which were in joint ownership for many years but only combined into one house in the 1920s.

This is the architect's drawing of the front of our house:

House front

It is a three storey house, built around 1690. It originally had a typical 17th century gabled front but was remodelled in 1812 when a flat front was added, with three sets of symmetrical sash windows. The windows on the ground floor were removed in the early 1980s and replaced with Queen Anne style bow windows - a style which is a century too early for the 19th century frontage.  These windows completely destroy the symmetry of the front elevation.

This is the architect's drawing of the back:

House rear

On the right can be seen the rear of the three storey house, which extends backwards to form a short L-shape. It has a 17th century gable end, containing the huge chimney for the inglenook fireplace on the ground floor.

On the left is a two storey building dating from around 1620. It was probably built as a stable but was later used as a workshop. At some point a one storey extension was added behind this building, incorporating an outside toilet. The bite out of the left hand side is where there used to be a stone staircase, which was moved into the house in 1975 to form the an internal spiral staircase.

The resulting building has a higgledy-piggledy internal layout and very few right angles:

Floor plan


1st Floor


2nd Floor


whilst the complexity of the roofline has to be seen to be believed:


Thursday, 25 November 2010

If I wanted to get there, I wouldn't start from here

There's an old joke about the man who asks for directions and is told "If I wanted to get there, I wouldn't start from here."

I mentioned it to our architect this afternoon, as we tried to make sense of the tangle of beams, supports and odd bits of wood which is currently holding up the roof over our staircase, and investigated the changing levels and voids of the staircase space.


How on earth she will turn all that into a workable new staircase design is beyond me, but I'm jolly glad we've hired a professional to take care of such headaches for us.

I hope the old joke won't be a metaphor for the project, which is an ambitious and exciting one. We're planning to do major restoration work on our home, which dates back to the 17th century and is a Grade II listed building. It was modernised in the 1970s, in a way which was unsympathetic to the building's character and damaging to its fabric, but fortunately almost all its period features survived.

Our plans include rebuilding part of the kitchen, replacing windows, removing rendering and pointing which is preventing the building from breathing, and turning two attic rooms into a new master bedroom suite.

This blog will record our progress as, hopefully, we "start from here" and do indeed "get there". We'd be delighted if you'd join us on the journey.