Monday, July 17, 2006

The house where I was born ...

Not strictly true, as I was born in a nursing home in Birmingham, but this is the house I was brought home to as a new-born infant in 1927. It was known then as The Corner House, in Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire. By the time I was born it had been converted into a garage and repair shop, The Newcombe Garage, and my father was running it as a business. I inherited a number of postcards, photos and artists' impressions of the house and the village, and I recently acquired some more, thanks to my sharp-eyed friend Pam Archer scanning the offers on eBay.

This picture was taken prior to 1907, and is the earliest I have. Its arrival brought to light an interesting discovery. Note the position of the first floor windows over the grocer's shop, and the appearance of the front of the building. Then compare with the next picture.

In this picture taken in 1925, when my parents were living there, the upstairs windows have moved together, and there is a lot of timbering that was not visible before. I reckon some restoration work must have been done, perhaps stripping off some plaster work to reveal the timberwork. But I wonder if the 'new' windows were really restored, or were a modern addition.

A big leap forward here to the 1960s. We were forced to leave the house in 1936, when my father's accountant made off with all our money, so we moved to Birmingham to live with my mother's father. Many years later I was astonished to see this picture in a magazine, showing that my old home had become a branch of Lloyd's Bank.

In the 1980s I found myself driving through Henley and decided to stop and visit. The bank staff welcomed me most kindly and gave me a tour of the house. Always a mixed pleasure visiting an old home which has been converted, and there was little left of the bedrooms upstairs which were now offices. The original staircase was still there however, and I was able to recall how, as a small girl, I would run along the landing and leap into my father's arms as he sat on the top step.

Below is a much-faded picture of my father outside the house and shop with three of his staff. He was a tall man, over 6', but I am surprised how small the mechanics are.

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