Slum Dwellings of Yore
Oh ~ five-to-one and time for lunch ~ see you later ~ after my flop . . .
Something bad happened in the yard yesterday that I feel I have to mention though as it was not my drama there is no more I can say ~ however it has left us all feeling sad and depressed. Let me see whether, ignoring that, I can think of anything else to write about. A glorious sunny day again andall our small plots are looking good, mine particularly is a green dream in a green glade though purists might say it is overgrowing and eeds a visit from Richard to prune everything back. Mainly because I have some wrinkled lemons, I've mixed batter for pancakes tonight ~ can't understand why so many people only make pancakes on Pancake Day when they are so delicious and nourishing as long as I don't drench them in sugar along with a whole lemon for each pancake.
Diana comes again in the morning and I think I'll get her to tackle the sitting room which is so cluttered there is scarcely room to weave between chair, table, bureau and sofa with hoover ~ heaven knows how they went on in bygone times when there would be a family here, sometimes a family plus lodgers ~ certainly I see from the Census returns for 1881 that at that time there were 13 people living here, among them our famous life boat man, Henery Freeman ~ blows your mind, thinking about it. And of course this house is twice as big as most of the other dwellings on this side of the river, certainly the others in this yard which are all built to a similar design : three floors with one ropom on each floor ~ and most of them would also house a family or two ! Although we know that my house was built in 1750 by Jonathan Sanders of Sanders Yard, this was his home while along Church Street was his business premises, Sanders Sail Cloth Factory ~ interesting that that yard still carries his name : Sanders Yard, the workshop now a whole food cafe (of high renown). However all the other dwellings in this yard are a good deal older than this, alm ost certainly dating back to 1605 or thereabouts following the great landslide which brought mud and rock down from the Abbey Plain to completely smother most of the dwellings below ~ evidence of this can be seen in the cellars of many properties ~ cellars which originally were ground level kitchens ~ for example, number 3, Johnny's place, has recently been done up ~ in its cellar are scars of windows and a door that must have been at ground level but are now eight feet down. It was in that cellar that John Gaunt clearing it out for Johnny (yes ~ too many JOHNS ~ all very confusing) found the skeleton of a dog apparently built into the wall and other bones (possibly human0 too. It does make sense ~ why would theseinhabitants of Clarks Yard , for instance, inwhat were little better than hovels, go to the trouble of digging out cellars ~ there are sceptics who say this is rubbish, but it does seem to account for cellars with the scras of doors and windows. This house has no cellar (thankfully) but then it is higher up the yard, above the level of those earliest dwellings ~ almost certainly, however TWO humble cottages were demolished by Jonathan Sanders to make room for this "gem of a modest early Georgian double-fronted town house," as the Architectural experts describe it ! And until the first slum clearance in the 1930s there was a facing terrace of similar cottages, three floors with one room on each floor, but they were demolished leaving us with a pocket handkerchief garden each ~ gardens are rare among Whitby's old yards where the cottages were packed so tight ~ I think apart from this yard, Blackburns Yard is the only other one with gardens ~ two out of something around 190 old yards # many of them medieval in origin like the bottom ones in this yard, ovrwhelmed by the landslide of 1604 though still evident in their cellars.
There ~ I've cheered up a bit telling you all this, and so taking my mind off this morning''s communal sorrows. Time for a bath before I get going on the pancakes !
Thursday morning : Diana did a brilliant job on the sitting room including dusting the alcove shelves which I am no longer able to reach ~ Diana is a treasure ~ new rug came ~ a glorious soft green but too big for the sitting room ~ ot is perfect on this lower landing (see picture) Realise hip pain has eased off considerably so that's a blessing ~ had something dislocated and now popped back in place ? Thank Gawd !