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A 500 year old farmhouse filled with French brocante

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This is an Elizabethan farmhouse set in the glorious hills of Lincolnshire that my Husband and I were privileged to call home until November 2012.  It dates from the early 1500's and retains many of it's original features, many of which we uncovered during it's restoration.

The Entrance Hall

I adore long curtains that 'dribble' over the floor, they also help keep down the drafts in the winter! I made these from decorators dust sheets for a rustic texture (and to keep the cost down!) and lined them with a thermal lining. The curtain tiebacks are suede and pale wood.
The candles in the hurricane lanterns are set into white stone gravel from a builders merchant - far cheaper than florists stones! The hall is painted in Farrow & Ball Pointing No: 2003
A vintage French stool helped our cat negotiate a rather high catflap in the back door! 
We used a mixture of both light and dark wood throughout the house. Vintage baskets held newspapers and magazines in the summer and logs in the winter. With 5 open fireplaces we used to get through a lot of wood!

The Kitchen

We replaced fitted kitchen units with free standing furniture and open shelving. The walls are painted in Farrow & Ball Off White No: 3 with the larder, dresser and sink stand painted in Stony Ground 211
A carved and linenfold cupboard set into what we think was an old window or doorway
My favourite 'pineapple' chandelier light above the range cooker!

The main oak beams are of unusual length (over 20 foot) and a local buildings historian suggested that they may have been recycled from an earlier building. The painting is one of mine.

The cupboard to the left of the range cooker my husband made from old pine doors found at a local reclamation centre. The large slate top was salvaged from a Victorian dairy. The dishwasher is hidden behind the curtain and microwave is in the cupboard!

The fireplace in the kitchen is of unknown date but in constant use in the winter! The larder door to the left is made from a painted MDF panel backed with linen. The settle bench again made by my husband is also a storage box.
Some of our many brocante finds and inherited pieces!
The kitchen table was found at the Newark Antiques & Collectors Fair. The equestrian painting is another one of mine. 
The Belfast sink was again a reclamation find and originally from an old dairy. It is wider and more shallow than most of this type.
The chairs are all mismatched and flea market finds collected over the years.

The dresser was also built by my husband (a hobby when he gets the time)! I painted it in Farrow & Ball Stony Ground and we fitted white porcelain and brass knobs on the doors
My favourite china collection - Asiatic Pheasant by Burleigh purchased from Lovers of Blue and White

The teal green cupboard is a French antique complete with the original paint (the inside is a deep red!) We built the cupboards and shelves to the left of it, in what we think must have been a doorway (previously blocked up). Our (enormous) cat Fingle is sitting on an old pine table that luckily withstands being scrubbed!   
We installed the flagstones throughout the kitchen and hall which make cleaning easy for a kitchen - out with the mop!
All images: The Paper Mulberry 

The rather varied History of the house:
From 1550 to 1609 the house was a 3 Bay Farmhouse
From the internal layout and construction it is thought to have been built around the mid to late C16th (although it may well have been earlier) and typical of farmhouses of that period. The indications are that it was originally thatched with the Collywestern slate roof and stone frontage, windows etc being added later possibly in 1788. Constructed of wattle and daub (see photo' below) with accommodation over 3 floors. It still retains 5 working fireplaces with examples of C18th hob grates. Of particular interest are the unusually long oak spine/main beams, each running over 20ft in one single length and almost a foot in width, perhaps recycled from an earlier building, may be from the remains of the Norman castle. Also of note are the many marks made in the plaster and carved into the beams thought to ward of evil spirits.  The graffiti on the external rear elevation of the house is dated from the period when it was used as a prison! The porch was added in the early part of the 20th century.

From 1609 until 1808 the house became The First House of Correction (prison)! 
Extracts from a book about the history of our village features an account of our home when it was a prison (Addresses have been removed for security reasons):-
"The next place of confinement was that of a large house, on the east side of the square. In 1609 it was used more as a workhouse, its purpose to hold able-bodied vagrants. Persons, male or female, traveling through the area without a relevant pass obtained from the parish constable, could be apprehended on sight and detained until bought to the courts. They could be then sentenced and perhaps suffer other punishment for, from the Poor Act, wardens had to provide stocks and a whipping post for each parish. These were given over to the care of the constable.
On the eastern side of the square was an exercise yard for the 1609 Prison which extended outwards.
The prison was really contained beneath the gaoler’s house and consisted of four cells and a day room for the males and two for the females. The former were about 10 feet square and were provided with straw for bedding. Three of the wooden doors had iron gratings for light and air but the fourth, a veritable dungeon, had only four small holes some 1/2” in diameter in the door. To further its loathsome task, it had the walls painted black. All four opened out on to the living room which was about the same width as the cells but was twice their length. It was provided with a glazed, but bared window, looking out on the rear wall. Its other amenity was a small fireplace for which wood was supplied. The separate quarters for women were of small size only 8 feet square, one containing a window and fireplace.
Early references speak of it (our house) as the House of Correction but with its “black hole” it was more of a prison. “On 6 January 1626, Christopher Marsh, a lunatic, was buried here (within the gardens!) in ye House of Correction as was Elizabeth Cartnell, committed for bastardy, on 18 March 1639.” Joan Varley wrote that in 1758, a soldier’s widow, her eldest daughter and two other children, were summoned as vagrants.  At the Magistrates Court for mid summer 1680, Daniel Douglas preferred a bill to prosecute Ann Dover and Dorothy Carrel for 'stealing lynnen clothes if him.' The first named was said to be a servant of John Redshaw. Earlier, Christopher March had been confined here as a crazy person in 1627.
Howard, who conducted a Midland Court Circuit of Prisons in the 1700’s, called it a Bridewell. In this prison under the Keeper’s house, he said, were five damp rooms, two of which were used for a lunatic, confined here for some years. A trapdoor in the floor of one room leads to a dungeon down eight steps (we may have discovered the entrance but it has been filled in). The prison had a small courtyard but no pump or sewer yet a woman with child at her breast was sent hither for a year and a day; the child died.
Conveyance to the Quarter Sessions was at the Keeper’s expense. His salary being then £36 per annum, out of which he also had to allow each prisoner six penny worth of bread a week. In October 1774 there were four inmates but by May 1779 only two prisoners plus the lunatic.
The Parish Poor Book contained many items concerning the Prison. Book No.2 said that in 1765 on January 9th, 6s 0d was spent chasing a highwayman.
The prison fare was sparse and monotonous, consisting of 10 pounds of bread a week for each prisoner with 2 shillings’ worth of oatmeal. The latter was boiled in water and the whole meal made into a thick porridge with some of the bread. This was served twice daily in tin pans holding around two pints. The records for 1802 showed five prisoners there, two men and three women."
In 1808 the prison moved to the newly built House of Correction within the remains of the Norman castle. It was perhaps at this time that the house returned to its former use as a farmhouse.
From 1919 the house then became the village Post Office and the first telephone Switchboard in the area. In 1966 the post office moved and once again it became a private dwelling. The outline of the postbox can be clearly seen on the far left of the front elevation and there is a niche indicating its location in the sitting room!
As you can imagine with such a history we have found many artefacts such as old bottles, smoking pipes, many pieces of pottery as well as a small dagger to name but a few! This picture below shows the modern electrics within the original wattle and daub of the walls, yes a previous owner had set within a toilet roll! The yellow paint is an early distemper found beneath the wallpaper which also covered the beams. This restoration has so far taken us 12 years as we are completing as much of it ourselves during weekends and holidays. It is an adventure we are thoroughly enjoying and hope to post more updates again soon!

To be continued.....in the meantime a few more pictures can be found here:

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