The Services expected in a modern house

The hamlet near the Clissold Arms, a beer house and brewery with a long history, and the small cottages around them, housed carpenters and gardeners and other modest people. Anyone who has canvassed along that road in an election will know how difficult it is to find the houses. Narrow lines of cottages, at right angles to the road, are tucked away in hidden corners, with small cottages slotted into the back entrances to fields, and behind shops. Early Fortis Green cottages would have been very different from modern houses. The two illustrations above show how great the change has been. A description of life in a Sussex village in 1912, written by Leonard Woolf in 1972, comes as a shock today.

`In the fifty years since we had Asham House, the physical basis of life in the English countryside has been revolutionized. Conditions in 1912 were pretty primitive and our daily life was probably nearer to that of Chaucer's than of modern man, with water from the main, electricity, gas, motor buses, telephone, wireless. When we went down to Asham, [their country house in Sussex ] for a week-end we sometimes got a fly, which the dictionary tells us correctly was a 'one horse hackney carriage', from Lewes: but more often than not, wet or dry, we walked the four miles along the river bank and across the fields with knapsacks on our backs. All the water we used in the house had to be pump from the well. Sanitation consisted of an earth closet. We cooked on an oil stove or a Primus: at night we used candles and oil lamps. Even in 1919, when we bought Monk's House and moved across the river to a house in the middle of the village, conditions were just the same, no buses, no gas or electricity and the only ‘scanitary convenience'an earth closet discretely, but ineffectively hidden in a grove of cherry laurels in the middle of the garden.'

From Growing, by Leonard Woolf, written 1972.


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