Rainshore Project Update 0.3

posted in: WIP (work in progress) | 25

I mentioned that we were planning to name our new home Rainshore, and one reader mentioned having a name for a house is very uncommon in the US. I have nothing to report on the build at the moment as the drawings are now with the builder for costing and the planning department.

In the meantime I thought you might be interested in a little bit of family history.

I managed to get a few photographs of the original Rainshore. It was built by my Grandpa in 1929 and we spent lots of time there as children. It had some really nice features, and it seemed very grand and magical. These pictures were taken after my aunt Beryl died at the age of 90. She had lived there for around 80 years! Nothing much was changed.

The front door (first left picture, painted white) was never used. We always went in through the back door, which was effectively next door to the outside toilet. If you have never had the pleasure of sitting on a freezing loo seat, in winter, and then having the advantage of “hard” toilet paper then you are a youngster, and very lucky.

Entering the back door, you stepped into a large hallway with a parquet floor. It had a nice carpet and matching runners on the stairs. It was very woody and old fashioned. Half way up the staircase was a large stained glass window (second picture). There was a sitting room that was just about never used, and the same with the dining room – we went in there, once a year, for Christmas lunch. Most food was eaten in the breakfast room which used to have a large pine table (third picture). Table tennis was sometimes played on it. Grandma cooked everything in the Aga. There was a big wing chair in the corner by the left hand window and she used to sit there as it was one of the few warm places in the house. The Aga was powered by coal. The big chest of drawers and cupboards had crockery in, and in the drawers were recycled items like wrapping paper and string from parcels. My Auntie was known for her “thriftiness”. She cut bread very thin and scraped butter on it. In one of the drawers she kept things for visiting nieces and nephews – glue, coloured paper, scraps of fabric and wool. She and her mother were both keen knitters and dressmakers.

I remember having baths there when we stayed – Auntie Beryl put in just an inch or two of warm water. The room itself was freezing cold as its only source of heating was towel rail that was never on (fourth picture). In fact apart from the Aga and the fire in the “drawing room” there was no heating. The sheets felt so cold when you got into bed. The bedding was heavy blankets and eiderdowns, and a hot water bottle if was winter. The bathroom tiling is rather nice and reminds me of public baths from the 1930s. Just next door to the bathroom was a lovely linen cupboard – all built-in – that I would love to have in our new house. Maybe…

The house was set in its own grounds with a vegetable garden (we used to pick peapods and eat most of them raw), a tennis court and lots of places to run around and hide in. I found two photographs from my Mother’s album. One of Rainshore from the side, and the other of my Uncle Teddy (who was married to Trixie, one of my father’s sisters) and his three children, my cousins Clive, David and Jane, standing outside the unused front door of Rainshore.

I often try to remember the houses I lived or stayed in when I was young. I would love to revisit them in reality. But now I just have to visit them in my imagination.

25 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing your memories. I remember visiting my grandmother in the 1970s and those freezing cold beds with lots of layers topped with a candlewick bedspread. Sadly Grandma loved those horrible polyester sheets and the static was something terrible!

  2. Sounds very similar to my Gran’s house. I remember the horrid hard loo paper! The garden was huge and amazing and we spent lots of time there with my cousins playing games. I also loved picking and eating the raw vegetables with my grandad. My Gran was always cooking, sewing and knitting. I finished an embroidery sampler that her mother had started with blue tits on it. She was also very thrifty. Her lunches were amazing, but as kids we were not so impressed with the homemade lemon curd sandwiches and out of date crisps. Thanks for evoking the memories!

    • Mine made “Lemon Cheese” too. And I remember my Grandpa giving me “a toffee” which was a horrible boiled sweet that had gone soft it had been in his bedside drawer for so long. Looking forward to your next blog post Lyn!

  3. What a beautiful house – and I’m sure your new Rainshore will be equally lovely – it must be exciting to design your own. I take it you will be building an outside toilet for the nostalgia ?!? Yep, I’m old enough to remember outside toilets and hard paper. In fact, I must bear that in mind next time I say I’d like to go back to the fifties. Good luck with your plans xx

  4. That toilet paper was also used as tracing paper for embroidery, crafts and school homework projects in our house. I found such a tracing of an embroidery motif in my mother’s hand with her other embroidery stuff.

  5. What a grand house, that entrance hall is fabulous. I can well imagine the cold rooms and heavy bedding as I our sole source of heat was in one room, and our loo was outside.

  6. It’s a lovely idea to make your new home after your grandfather’s. I just hope it won’t live up to its name!

  7. I used to visit my uncle and aunt in a house exactly like that one. Being a child I didn’t enquire about the facts but I believe they were tenants on the ground floor. The hall was just like yours and they had a large room, possibly a sitting room, which opened out onto the garden – my uncle’s passion. I can still remember rows and rows of chrysanthemums and a greenhouse full of tomatoes. I was brought up in an inner city so it was a great novelty for me. The house stood on a top of a hill which sloped down to the river Mersey and I loved those views. I also had two great aunts who lived in a little cottage in Wales with only an outside privy and ice cold rooms. I have only fond memories though, despite the Izal toilet paper.

  8. What a wonderful house and memories. I can relate to the cold house bit, as my grandparents were always frugal about heat, even when they no longer needed to be. My mum learned that from them and used to turn the heat down at night to conserve energy. I did my homework during high school with gloves on! There was also an outdoor loo on my grandparents’ farm, though by that point they also had indoor plumbing. I always loved the outhouse as it was papered with old Eatons catalogue ads from the 1920s and earlier (mail order clothes!).

    Lovely memories, K. I am sure that yours will translate beautifully into your new home!

    • Walls papered with catalogues – you have to wonder why? Was paint more expensive than glue? Did they want some reading material when they were on the loo?

  9. Great memory Kate.
    You and I work in social housing, I started in the early 1980s at that time the Housing Corporation would allow central heating radiators on the ground floor and pipework upstairs but if you wanted radiators upstairs you had to pay for them yourself as Co-op/Housing association.
    My aunt said at the time I was living in shortly housing in Lambeth – no heat and single glazing – “having central heating didn’t mean you were no longer a socialist, just that you were no longer a young socialist!’

    • Interesting. And funny! The older generation were definitely hardier than the youth of today. Do you remember coal fires so your front was hot, but your back was freezing?

  10. It’a hard to think of such a magnificent home having outside plumbing and little heat. It is grand, however. My MIL’s home where hubby grew up had no heat upstairs as was the custom in old homes in New England. I can remember waking up, under tons of blankets, with the vapor coming our of our mouths. I bet you experienced the same.This is a fascinating post and thanks for the tour. I would love to go back and see where I grew up. How fortunate for you to have all these photos.

    • It was a grand house, and the family were well-to-do. There was an inside toilet too, but it was always cold and miserable. The inhabitants adapted by wearing lots of underwear, woolen skirts and cardigans, and just being used to it. My Grandma and Aunt lived to very old age and thought that central heating caused colds and disease! Fresh air cured most things…

  11. We took our three daughters to the house in Wales that their Great Grandma was born and raised in – Greenfields in Van near Llanidloes. The owner allowed them to wander the gardens and have their photo taken outside the front door just like Anita and her sisters some 85 years earlier. The two photos sat side by side for a few years until her death aged 103 last December. Rainshore is a wonderful name and a chance to make something live on through the generations.

  12. My bridesmaids dresses were sewn with Izal toilet paper to stop the seams puckering. My mother called our outside toilet the gardener’s toilet though we never actually had a gardener. (Posh!) She was a wonderful cook and how she managed on a Raeburn which burned anthracite I’ll never know. But look at the length of the bath in your old house! You don’t get many that length any more. Father refused to have central heating when it first came in as he thought it would mess with the tuning on the baby grand. Those were the days, my friend!

  13. Esme whiteside

    Hi just wanted to let you know my family home is Rainshore house! We live here now we’ve been renovating for about 5 years now and it’s almost finished! I’m currently studying textile design at uni as well I specialise in embroidery. If you ever want some recent photos of the house just send us a quick email!

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