This afternoon Jan and I cycled to a neighbouring village to experience a taste of how life was over a century ago. A rectory built in 1851 has been preserved as it would have been in 1900. It opened its doors to local people for the second time in five years this weekend.
The house still has its croquet lawn, immediately bringing back memories for me of my late uncle's vicarage in Swinton, Manchester.
Inside, actors in period costume welcomed us visitors and gave us snippets of "news": the rector's daughter's imminent wedding; the son-in-law rather too fond of his drink; the maidservant worried about losing her job through pregnancy; etc.
In the drawing room another "daughter" was entertaining herself on the piano, inviting us to join in the chorus of whichever song she was singing. Somehow Jan found herself playing the violin to the "daughter's" accompaniment!
The dining table was laid for the evening meal...
... while the butler was in his pantry polishing the silver.
The rector himself was in the study writing his sermon (on Daniel's prophecies, referring to a book on the subject by Isaac Newton of all people); the cook was gossiping in the kitchen; the scullerymaid was using the wringer; and the lady of the house was guiding us guests through the various rooms. Oh, and the stable lads were enjoying a beer in the stableyard (but they might have been gardeners as we didn't spot them).
A cup of tea and a large slice of Victoria sponge (what else?) rounded off the afternoon nicely. The whole place took me back to my childhood (although my uncle and aunt didn't have quite so many servants!)
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