Saturday, 15 October 2011

Dan Cruickshank and the House That Wouldn't Die

My own family home in England was an 18th century farmhouse built in 1740ad. There was a cellar, ground floor, first floor, second floor & attic. My bedroom was on the top floor. To get to the top floor there was a very narrow steep staircase flanked by a baggage slide to enable one to get heavy items up and down the stairs. We stored our potatoes on the top floor where it was cooler & cold in winter. Only the master bedroom on the first floor had an open fireplace.
Downstairs we had the typical large kitchen where we also ate our meals and just outside was the house coal yard where coal & fire wood was stored. The garden was very large, we grew our own vegetables & fruit and we kept chooks for eggs & meat. Growing up in this environment it is no wonder that I developed a strong interest in the 18th century.
My days as a child were spent playing in the fields & woods behind our house. As I grew up I had a strong desire to provide for the family through hunting & trapping, and at the age of about 8 years I became blodd brother to two Sioux/Ojibwe brothers who's Father had emigrated from The Great Lakes area in Canada. By the time I was 14 years of age I was in full time payed work. By the time I was 19, I started to feel  hemmed in. My fields were now housing estates & I had to travel further afield to enjoy the countryside. Aventually I decided to leave England for America.
But I was not a scientist, and America would only let me emigrate if I was of some scientific value to them, so I applied to go to Australia. Australia welcomed me with open arms & did not even ask me for any qualifications.  Almost my entire time here in Australia has been spent in the country, except on those occasions when my work was in the city. I survived cyclone Tracey in Darwin in 1974, just! Then I purchased property out bush.
Aventually I could see no value in living in the Territory tropics and moved to New England & bought a forest. I rebuilt an old cottage in the forest. No inside bathroom, no inside toilet. No water on tap & deffinately no electricity. I was married by now with one son & another on the way. Aventually we had three sons who grew up in this simulated 18th century environment. We lived that life for 20 years not including a similar lifestyle for some years in the Territory.
We grew our own food & kept chooks for meat & eggs & I hunted to put meat on the table.  We still live here in Wychwood Forest, but now we have a new colonial style looking house with 240 volt solar power & we still grow our own food. The video below in part prompted me to write this short biography, that and a post made at "18th Century Life" http://groups.yahoo.com/group/18cLife/  today. It refered to experiencing the 18th century lifestyle & how few can manage that to the full. I totally agree with that statement, but I think that all of us 18th century Living Historians do have the ability to experience a part of that lifestyle to the full & the more we can experience the more fun it becomes.
Fortunately & unfortunately for me I have experienced some of that lifestyle which is not so appealing, the danger from other humans & wild animals, & the loss of friends & family of the same age as myself. But as they say, what does not kill you makes you stronger. Well maybe a little wiser & more experienced anyway. Whatever, I think I can understand why Mr Dennis Sever decided to do what he did with his house at 18 Folgate Street in London.

© Keith H. Burgess.

No comments: