Today is exciting. Today we are going through the door at the end of the passage and into the front part of the house. You see Grandad and Grandma just lived in the back of the house not the bit where the posh people would have spent their time. Go through the door and you enter an elegant hall with a curved staircase of shallow steps. But we’re not going upstairs yet. There are things to be seen still downstairs. First a bit of background.
During the Second World War Lincolnshire was known as Bomber County because the county had so many RAF bomber stations. About eight miles from my grandparents’ house was one such base. One day a lady came to ask if grandma had any rooms available for rent. Her husband was the adjutant at the station and she wanted accommodation for herself and their two sons. She moved in and so a lifetime’s friendship was born being maintained by regular letters for well over thirty years.
She had the use of a sitting room and what had been a butler’s pantry. We’ll call her Mrs Beamish as I never use real names on this blog. She was a very fine needlewoman but she was somewhat deficient in housewifely skills. Grandma and Mrs Beamish held each other in very high regard. Each opened new vistas for the other. Grandma had come from a background of poverty and hard work, Mrs Beamish’s background, although not wealthy, was rather more genteel. Her rooms I am told were always in total chaos, but the needlework she produced was exquisite.
By the time I was born in 1951 the Beamish family had been moved out for some time but the room to the right of the front door was still known as Mrs Beamish’s room. It was basically an elegant room with classically proportioned widows and a Victorian marble fireplace.
But the furniture was old, shabby and uncomfortable. There was a chaise longue which had definitely seen better days. Nowadays there would be a queue of people wanting to restore it but Grandma had no time for such fripperies with furniture which was never used. There was a round mahogany table and some rickety chairs. In one corner was the very old pram which all of us had been put in when we were small.
But the enchantment for us was the toys. Trust me no child would call them enchanting now. There were two or three jigsaws of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Each had at least six pieces missing but they served on a wet afternoon. There was a magic question set in which there were quiz cards and a wizard who would “magically” find the answer. There were playing cards both of the usual four suits and of the happy family or snap sort. When the adults were having a snooze after Sunday lunch this was the escape for the children.