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   xoxoxoBruce  Sunday May 24 04:33 AM

May 24, 2009: Ware Hall House

May Alice Savidge bought Ware Hall House in 1947, at the age of 36, to restore.

Quote:
Number 1 Monkey Row, Ware, Hertfordshire, had been built around 1450 for a wealthy monk as a 'hall house', a medieval arrangement in which the living space is attached to an open hall overlooked by a minstrel's gallery.
A self-taught home improvement enthusiast, May exposed the heavy oak beams that bore the marks of medieval carpenters and lifted crumbling lino to reveal wide, hand-cut floorboards.
She employed a builder to repair the roof, but all the rest of the work - including brick-laying, carpentry, re-glazing and stripping plaster from the ceilings and 20 layers of paper from the walls - she did with her own hands.


But England had other ideas...
Quote:
Then, in 1953, the council told her the house was to be demolished to make way for a road - an act of vandalism unthinkable today, now that ancient properties are listed and protected.
Battle began. May dug her heels in and resolved to save the building. For 15 years, she fought the council's plans, writing to them: 'If this little house is really in the way, I would rather move it and re-erect it than see it destroyed.'
So Ms Savidge dismantled the house, mostly by herself, labeling each piece of wood, brick, roof tile and trim... all this while still living in the house.
Quote:
So began a life of hardship. She had no electricity and worked by the light of Victorian paraffin lamps. She used an alarm clock to set herself targets each day, noting how many nails she extracted from oak beams per hour, as she dismantled the house and prepared for rebuilding.
She found a site in the seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk, and obtained planning permission and laid foundations. A lorry made the round trip to Norfolk 11 times to carry every part of the house.


Then came the big job, reassembling the house.
Quote:
Two years later, the framework was fixed to the foundations by a local carpenter and May started to infill the brickwork. She had no experience of brickwork, but was determined to lay every single brick perfectly.
It would be another eight years before the roof tiles were put in place and the property made watertight.
By the time she was into her 70s, however, May had moved in and the house stood proudly in its new gardens, each old oak beam in place, the brickwork nearly complete and many of the walls plastered.
~snip~
By now, however, she was running out of steam. In 1992, she finally installed a small wood-burning stove to heat the house, but was having difficulty climbing ladders and found cement work 'a bit heavy'.
On her death in 1993, just before reaching the age of 82, the house was still not finished. 'The walls were up and the roof was on, but the place was little more than a shaky shell,' says Adams, who was left the house in her aunt's will.
Here is the house finished.


So Ms Savidge didn't live to complete the house herself, but in a way she made it happen.
Quote:
A collector extraordinaire, May had filled her home until it looked like an overstocked curiosity shop. In the garden, nine sidesaddles languished, relics of a bygone age. Boxes of unworn wartime nurses' bonnets and May's service medals lay at the bottom of heavy trunks, stacked to ceiling height.
She kept packets of old-fashioned soap powder, Omo, Oxydol and the like, alongside bottles of J Collis Browne's Mixture, the Victorian cure-all.
There were thousands of train, bus and trolley bus tickets, and even the notes left by the milkman.
In 440 diaries, she listed every action she carried out each day, revealing a Britain now lost: a world of shillings and ounces, telegrams and typewriters.
~snip~
In tribute to her stoical aunt, Adams took on the project of finishing the house, and in the end it was May's hoarding instincts which breathed new life Ware Hall House. Adams sold May's memorabilia, raising funds to renovate the house, which she now runs as a bed and breakfast.
Through her extraordinary habits, May effectively financed the final building work from beyond the grave.
I'll leave it to you to decide if Ms Savidge was a stirling example of British pluck, or a crazy old broad that tilted windmills.

link


DanaC  Sunday May 24 06:18 AM

Marvellous. And..I'd say she was probably a little of each.



Fa-  Sunday May 24 08:31 AM

flipping incredible, and all the more so in those days!



capnhowdy  Sunday May 24 09:16 AM

Phenomenal story. Great work, Bruce.



Pie  Sunday May 24 10:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
I'll leave it to you to decide if Ms Savidge was a stirling example of British pluck, or a crazy old broad that tilted windmills.
You can't be the former without having the latter.


classicman  Sunday May 24 01:05 PM

Whatever/whichever she was, she was certainly an amazing woman.



Sheldonrs  Sunday May 24 01:05 PM

Or just a broad who's brother never let her play with his legos and Lincoln Logs.



capnhowdy  Sunday May 24 01:15 PM

Did they have those back then?
If they did you prolly had to walk 2 miles thru the snow, carrying a load of firewood to get to play with them.



classicman  Sunday May 24 01:17 PM

...uphill both ways.



Griff  Sunday May 24 01:23 PM

Wonderful story. Thanks Bruce!



Hillrick  Sunday May 24 03:28 PM

Of course she did remarkable things...

She was a dog owner.



ham4art  Sunday May 24 03:45 PM

I am getting used to seeing amazing stories on this site, but this takes the cake. This coming from a person who has toiled on their own home building project for over a decade.



Griff  Sunday May 24 03:50 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ham4art View Post
I am getting used to seeing amazing stories on this site, but this takes the cake. This coming from a person who has toiled on their own home building project for over a decade.
We've got a club here for that! footfootfoot and I are in similar situations.
http://www.janpetersondesigns.com/grifftopia/

Start a thread and post some pics if you like.


dar512  Tuesday May 26 10:41 AM

Wow, Griff. I'd forgotten about your home-made home. If I neglected to say this before,



Your reply here?

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