On a lovely sunny morning in May we arrived at Brownhill House on The Brownhill, Ruyton XI Towns and collected the house key from the seller`s parents who lived in the house down the lane.
I have people staying for B&B who literally take years to search for the right house in Shropshire. Brownhill House was the 4th house we looked at. Roger`s new job was at RAPRA in Shawbury so we went to all the estate agents in Wellington and Shrewsbury and listed all the things we did and did not want – no new houses, old house any condition, with space round it. Brownhill House had it all and we bought it for £4,650.
We were now the proud owners of a large ramshackle building with an old stone cottage somewhere in the middle. There were two sitting rooms, two large, and one small bedroom and an extension, comprising a bedroom, sitting room and kitchen, had been built on. Along the back wall of the cottage was a large corrugated iron WWI tin shed which was the kitchen. At the end of this was a room with a bath in it, the waste from the bath and the kitchen sink found its way through plastic pipes to somewhere down the hill. There was no connection to the mains drains so the only lavatory was in a spanking new brick privy in the garden. We loved it all.
The first two jobs were to get connected to the drains and install a bathroom and the second job was to do something about the kitchen. There was a small Rayburn, on the outside wall with only a sheet of tin to keep the cold out, and the heat in, and if I put my twin tub on the opposite side of the room, it rolled down to meet the Rayburn. But first I had to get pregnant – perhaps the first night in our new home.
We had the bathroom put in by Bradleys of Baschurch, thanks to a grant, but it was the only one we ever applied for. Roger jacked up the main beam supporting the tin shed with two car jacks and put in footings, we lifted up floorboards and threw down buckets of hardcore until we could make a yard of concrete floor all round the kitchen.Miranda was born on 1st March 1970 and we spent that summer rebuilding the tin shed into the kitchen we enjoy today. We never stopped using it as our kitchen and living room, even without windows, floor or heating - cupboards were cardboard boxes on the floor.
We could not have done it without help from Richard, who we met when we lived in a caravan near Wellington, and then Sue and Jim, two hippies who lived in a tent down by the river.
In 1986, with the help of our friend Brian, we took the roof off the cottage at the centre of the house, built up the walls and put on a new roof. Then in 1996, when we had a bit more money, the extension was built above the granny flat, but we did all the finishing.
We could never have loved a new house as we love this, the house we virtually built ourselves – not to mention the garden, which was so overgrown when we came here that we could not reach the river, until we had hacked a path down the hill.
Nearly 49 years later we love not only our very special house but also the village which has been so good to us, never taking it for granted as perhaps those who are born and bred here might do.
I hear stories of young mums being lonely when they find themselves with a new baby with family and friends a long way away. With no car, I walked to the village shop and chatted to everyone I saw. Before Miranda was born I walked all the footpaths round the village marked on the Ordnance Survey map and later, walked for miles pushing the pram and feeding my baby behind hedges!
Roger and I became regulars at the Bridge Inn – my baby sitter for my Friday night out was sacred. In those days the pub was where one went to meet local people, young and old and to learn about the village where we had to come to live.
Jean Rolfe who kept the shop in those days, introduced new people like me to other customers and it was she who suggested I join the WI. In no time at all I had friends throughout the village and through them, I acquired my interest in local history.
You could say our family have been full circle as Hugo, born 3 years after Miranda, has returned to live in Ruyton XI Towns with his family.
|The new privy built when the mains drains came to Ruyton!||All hands to build the new kitchen||Brian trusts his chainsaw weilding friend Roger|
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