Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Roots part 2

So, we went on the house-hunt today. It was really exciting, striding off to find actual houses built by an actual ancestor hundreds of years ago! It felt like a really wonderful treasure hunt.
As I said (pay attention), my great-etc grandpa William Osmund built two houses in Bath, not far from the Royal Crescent (la-di-dah!) so off we went to seek them out, A-Z in hand. It was so exciting, thinking about family members walking along those very same pavements, horses and carriages trundling along the cobbles, back when the city was coming to life.

We went to find the house where William and Jennie had lived first, with their four children. We'd looked at the map and wondered if it might be a little mews, it was such a small road. As we turned the corner though, it didn't feel right. There was a school there. A modern doctor's surgery. No lovely old houses.

"They've gone and knocked it down!" my dad said. We felt outraged on behalf of William. Cheated. We'd never got to see it!

We all stood and glared at the surgery, really disappointed. It was all very well being there, on the actual spot, but I'd really hoped to see the Osmunds' front door, look up at their windows and imagine them peering out at us. (And what am I going to write in my blog?, I thought. I've gone and told them all now, what a let-down if the search comes to nothing!)

We went to find the second house anyway. It had probably been turned into a burger bar, we joked as we walked. The second house was close to where the first had been built. They had probably backed on to one another, we guessed, looking at the map. We rounded the corner and counted off the house numbers...and there it was. Beautiful.

Built around 1800 my dad reckoned, in the mellow honey-gold Bath stone, with a gorgeous curving doorway and old sash windows. It stood (stands!) on a steep hill, fab views over the city. There must have been a lot of land around the street when it was built, fields or woodland, farmland perhaps. It must have looked even better in its day, no cars, no buses.

We stood there and imagined the Osmunds, William and Jennie (and their son Johnny who went on to run the paper shop nearby according to this old letter my dad had) going about their lives, right there, where we stood. It was fantastic. I could almost smell the old wood smoke lingering in the crisp December air, hear the horses' hooves, see the grand ladies and gentlemen taking the air.

A connection. Roots. It's a good feeling.


Angie said...

That sounds fantastic, Lucy. I envy you all that history. We're definitely lacking in history like that here in the US. I'm glad you're feeling connected to your roots. :)

Pacha said...

Fantastic! I could imagine it too! (Shame the first house was knocked down!)...

What a lovely adventure and home coming Lucy!

JJ said...

Oh my god, what a relief the second one was there. I was so gutted for you, shaking my fist at the computer and crying out 'Noooooooo'.

Very, very exciting.

Lucy Diamond said...

Hi Angie, Yes, the history thing is great. I'm just so pleased that there is a personal link now between me and my new home!

Pacha - it was such a shame about the first house! I must try and find an old picture of it at least somewhere. I like thinking of it as a home-coming - that's a perfect choice of word. :)

JJ, yes, it really was a relief - I'm glad we looked at them that way round!

Caroline said...

I love that sense of history, of belonging, having a right to feel cheated. So glad that you blogged this. You're creating your own history now.

Lane said...

So glad the second house was there. It sounds beautiful. Such a great story:-)

(one day you'll have to buy it!!!

Lucy Diamond said...

Caroline - that's a great way of putting it. Yes, creating a new history - and joining some dots at the same time. Very satisfying.

Lane - buying the house would be sooooo fabulous, wouldn't it? I'd love to see the old deeds. Maybe one day...