Sunday, 1 April 2018

Week 13 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

The Old Homestead

With a background of labourers, there is no single place that my family could call "The Ancestral Home". 
Whilst a single generation may have stayed in the same house, once they had married and had children, no property has been passed down the family.

Therefore, I will discuss the houses where my grandparents lived when I was a child.

Home of Alfred and Florence Ann (Compton) Roberts (Grandma)



Grandad in his back garden


My grandparents' house about 1935 with Nan (paternal grandmother), Dad and his younger brother.

The first picture is the house where my maternal grandmother lived when we were children. We always called her grandma. She was the stricter grandparent possibly due to her time living in the orphanage. 
The front room was for visitors and we rarely used it when we visited grandma as we were family. I do remember it was where the family bible was kept.
The bedroom above was not used though I think grandma slept there if we stayed overnight. This was the room which received a hit from some shrapnel during WW2. Southampton and the surrounding area were subjected to a number of air raids.
The rear of the property backed on to the railway line for trains to the New Forest and Bournemouth and we would sometimes go down to the bottom of the garden and wave at passing trains. The rear bedroom was where we slept if we stayed over and we would "top and tail" as it gave us more room. We also had what was affectionately known as a "gosunder" or a chamber pot when we stayed as there was no indoor toilet.


Photos of chamberpots courtesy of Pixabay 


We even had to use a tin bath (see one hanging on the fence in my paternal grandparents garden), should we want to have more than a wash when we stayed with grandma, it would be placed in front of the fire in the kitchen. This would be quite a thing, having to heat sufficient water, then a quick in and out, before the water went cold.

My paternal grandparents (Nan and grandad) also had an outside toilet which is the part of the building with the tiled roof in the first picture. However, they did have a bath inside the house. Only once did I stay overnight when my youngest sister was born.
It is not visible in the above pictures but the following 2 pictures show part of the concrete bunker in the garden.



This was the air raid shelter and was still in the garden when the house was sold after my uncle died.

My grandmother did not have any air raid shelter in her garden but the house had a large cupboard under the stairs big enough for a bed which could be used during any raids and would have protected the occupants from flying glass or other debris.

Life in these houses would have been cramped for both my parents were one of five and both of these houses had only 3 bedrooms. No central heating so you may wake up with ice on the windows in winter. When war broke out in 1939 my parents were only aged 7 or 8 old enough to realise what was happening.
We would spend Christmas with my paternal grandparents and I remember fondly the clockwork Father Christmas and the Christmas Tree on the table in the front room window. We would meet up with cousins, aunts, and uncles and have Christmas as a family. I also remember my Nan making delicious apple pies using dinner plates.

My grandma was quite frugal and had been taught how to get the most out of a loaf of bread. Once the crust had been removed she would butter the slice before cutting it from the loaf. She also would not allow us to eat sweets before our meal.

Growing up at a time when there was no rationing it is difficult to visualise the impact this had on the lives of our parents and grandparents but some things did have a hangover effect. 


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