Build Day #101 – and an anniversary

Friday was both the 101st day of the build and the one year anniversary of moving in!

IMG_4324It was a bricks and mortar day, so there was a lot of repointing of brickwork by A and A.

IMG_4326This was done the other day but it’s a good shot of the repaired cast iron downpipe. JB found an exact match of the one that was stolen by the metal thieves. Even the brackets are the same. Note that our house is now looking smarter than our neighbours!

IMG_4327The downpipe has a new gully trap too.

IMG_4328Around the side where the door and window were blocked up. Note all the new gutters and downpipes too.

IMG_4331Looking up at the freshly painted windows.

IMG_4335Around the other side the french doors have been repaired, refitted and repainted.

IMG_4336New handles.

IMG_4337Looking up to the top window, the scene of Rose’s fall.

IMG_4341The dining room is taking shape.

IMG_4340I excavated the hearth, removing the old tiles and breaking up the cement. Underneath is the ash and rubble base. The tiles were definitely not original. They were from the 1930s and had the maker’s mark of Sherwin and Cotton. I will need to think about what we do with this fireplace when we have some money…IMG_0944A before shot for you, taken the day we lifted the peach coloured carpet. I must reattach that servant bell.

tilesOnline I found a smaller version of what the 1930s fire might have looked like. These are the same Sherwin and Cotton tiles. I would say the fireplace was the work of Martha Baxter.

IMG_4343Oliver spending some important upside-down time in his new breakfast room location.

IMG_4348He reminds us that it’s important to look at the world from a different perspective. He is happy to spend the night in the breakfast room and kitchen with his sisters but is very keen to come straight out in the morning. I don’t think he likes the neighbour’s cat Albus peering in through the doors.






Build Day #100

Well, we have reached 100 days of building!

2014-06-03 09.38.44First, Miss Rose and her adventures. Archive shot here – the top floor dormer window. A the carpenter was building the internal frame for the new window the other day when he left them open. Each day at the end of work I thoroughly check the house for open windows, doors, or any potential danger to the cats. I think that because this work was done in the ‘safe’ area for the cats on the top floor I wasn’t as vigilant as I should have been, plus I was focused on how we could re-hang the curtains to notice that the windows were open wider than usual.

IMG_4795Another archive shot. Rosie decided to explore the outdoors through that top window. My guess is that she lost her footing on the steep roof tiles and fell to the ground. It was only when I was closing the windows on the dining room ground floor that I spotted a shocked Rosie outside the doors. She was very unhappy and bleated at me through the glass. She is an indoor cat and has never, ever, been outside. She was very happy to come back in.

IMG_4895The view before she must have fallen. They don’t call them cat-slide roofs for nothing.

Photo on 12-09-2014 at 08.10Miss Rose with her grazed chin – luckily this was the only injury she sustained in her fall.


On Day 100 the Great Wall was dismantled, reuniting the top floor with the rest of the house.

IMG_1657The Great Wall on the day of construction.


IMG_4280Now removed – the view from the top floor. All three cats are in this picture if you look carefully.

IMG_2698 - 2013-06-11 at 17-12-00We also moved into the new kitchen. Before shot.

IMG_4285And after.

IMG_4291I have already baked bread and cakes and prepared more fried food that I care to admit (the burners on the top floor kitchenette cooker would always cut out if they got too hot!).

IMG_4300We have also moved the cats down into their new room.

IMG_4304Cat show ribbons and the dresser.

IMG_4305Oliver and Ruby’s ribbons are on the far left. The rest belong to Rose, including her Premier medal and ribbon from the Supreme Show (the cat version of Crufts).

IMG_4302Ruby on the relocated cat tree surveying her new domain.

IMG_0840How it looked before.

IMG_4310The view though the kitchen.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 19.33.49A before and after shot of the breakfast room.


IMG_4313Externally, T the painter has almost finished. JB replaced the cast iron downpipe too.

IMG_4316You will also notice my colour choice for the front door – gloss black. I am very happy with it. It reinforces the Edwardian fascination with Tudor black and white architecture.



Build Days #97, #98 and #99

2014-09-11 12.25.58Things have been very busy here so this is  just a quick update with more to follow in a day or so. Electricians, carpenters and painters have been in attendance this week and we have moved to the new kitchen! I have baked cakes and bread and cooked proper meals. We are also preparing the cats for their big move downstairs. We are just waiting for the Great Wall on the top floor to be dismantled so we can move key items such as the cat tree downstairs to their new room. I have been hanging their ribbons in anticipation – most of them belong to Miss Rose (Oliver and Ruby’s are the ones on the left). Much more to tell, including Miss Rose’s fall from the top floor window. Don’t worry, she is fine apart from a slightly grazed chin – not bad for plummeting three stories and being outdoors for the first time in her life.

Build Day #96

IMG_4222Oliver and Ruby spending the evening on the sofa together – a rare occurrence (Oliver on the right with his usual slightly worried look – and gorgeous chubby cheeks!).

IMG_4251A the carpenter was back today and he began fitting the new ironmongery to the front door. The letter box is the original one but I have given it a good polish. I think it will all need to come off again though when T the painter comes to give the door the final coat. T was here today doing some decorating work on windows around the back of the house.

IMG_4250The new back plate for the letter box was fitted too.

IMG_4244The main news today however involves electrics. We have lights downstairs for the first time in over four months!

IMG_4262Lights! And Ruby.


IMG_4233Lights!!! The chandelier is still covered as the men have not yet stopped making dust.



IMG_4261Lights!!!!!!!! Can you tell I’m excited?

IMG_4242Not only lights but full power to the kitchen! An oven!

IMG_4259A microwave!
IMG_4243And – our favourite object in the entire house – the dishwasher!

IMG_4235Lights outside too!

IMG_4246And out the front! A bit crooked though – needs to be straightened up.

IMG_4237Did I mention over counter lights?! Still being installed.

IMG_4255Upstairs there are more lights but no electricity yet. Master bedroom ceiling light.

IMG_4253Master bedroom wall lights – they’ll look better once the room has been decorated…

IMG_4252The electricians will be back to finish tomorrow. Not sure about this light for my study – I bought it before we decided to fit the ceiling roses and I don’t think it’s big enough.

IMG_4258Main bathroom ceiling light, wall light and extractor fan.

Electricity on the ground floor is a major milestone. It means we (humans and felines) can move into the kitchen and breakfast room. It also means I can unpack more of the kitchen and dining room – I was holding off in case the electricians needed to move the large dresser or the china cabinet to get to sockets.


House History #7 – The Harrisons

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 11.56.30The 1916 Kelly’s Directory for Leicestershire and Rutland shows John Harrison Jnr. living in this house, Mostyn, 3 years before he purchased it, so he must have been renting the property from Thomas Cawdell at the time.

7125947869_75b2ba9059_zJohn Harrison was one of the “Sons” of Harrison and Sons, seed merchants and owners of the Royal Midlands Seed Warehouse. The building still exists today and is featured here on the website Derelict Places.

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 16.44.29

On 26th September 1919 this house was sold by Thomas Cawdell, a draper,  to John Harrison.


The house sold for £1440 with Harrison taking out a mortgage of £1000.


Harrison owned the house throughout the 1920s and sold it on 16th March 1931, having lived here for at least 15 years.

IMG_4091The newspapers I found the other day from 1928 would have been his.

IMG_4083I wonder if he drank Beefex (The Best of the Beef) to ward off flu.

John was born on the 6th of August 1878 to parents John and Sarah. He was one of 12 children. He entered the family business and married Elsie Edith Bruce in 1903. Elsie was born in Malden, Surrey, in 1877.

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 12.12.37John was made a Freeman of the City of Leicester on June 2nd, 1905.

John and Elsie’s first child, Donald John Bruce Harrison was born in 1905 and died at the age of 5. Their daughter Margaret Elsie Harrison was born in 1907, followed by Rosemary Vera Harrison (born 1909) and Kenneth Bruce Harrison (born 1912). When John bought the house in 1919 he was 41, Elsie 42 and their children Margaret 12, Rosemary 10 and Kenneth 7.

John’s father died in 1929 leaving an estate worth £27,442.


In 1931 John sold this house to Ronald Beresford Weston-Webb.

fcff9265-6e55-4dac-8552-2f978beb1795In 1932 John bought The White House in the village of Scraptoft, just outside of Leicester. The house was built in the late 1920s by Tom Crumbie from stone salvaged from Normanton Hall in Rutland. John was responsible for laying out the gardens, orchard and paddock. They must have had quite comfortable lives. In the summer of 1934 the family travelled first class to Rangoon, Burma on a steam ship called The Chindwin.


Elsie died at the age of 69 in 1946 and John sold the White House in 1950 for £14,500 to the Northampton Brewery, who turned it into a pub.

It appears that John moved to 57 Spencefield Lane Leicester, as this is the address given for his son Kenneth’s early death in 1959 as well as the address stated on incoming ship passenger lists for John and his adult children around the same time. Margaret still lived at the family home as a ‘housekeeper’ and Rosemary had married and was a school matron in Salisbury. Margaret died in 1982 but I can’t find Rosemary’s death record.

There are several possible dates for John’s death but I can’t confirm which is his unless I were to order the death certificates. He was certainly alive in 1959 at the age of 81 when he travelled to South Africa. An unconfirmed date of 1960 is given in another family tree on but the probate records from 1961 suggest this is a different John Harrison. I can only find other deaths in Leicestershire for a John Harrison born around 1878 in the years 1963 and 1974. The Will and Probate records for 1963 are for the wrong John yet again, so my educated guess is he died in 1974 at the age of 96.

Build Day #95

IMG_4209T the painter continued today, mainly working on coating the render and the bay window. Dare I say it – is the house started to gain a little ‘street appeal’?

IMG_4211The scaffolders dismanted the rest of the scaffold. On the far left at the top of the picture you finally get a decent view of the new dormer on the top floor. Must take a better picture tomorrow. The roofers repaired the tiles on the lower rear roof.

IMG_4214Discarded broken tiles.


They didn’t have quite enough reclaimed tiles to repair that broken corner tile so they will be back next week.


Build Day #94

IMG_4195Ruby watches the neighbour’s cat Albus.

IMG_4196Albus watches Ruby.

IMG_4205Most of the scaffold came down today! This means that the lower half of the house can now be painted.

IMG_4201Clear view down the side.

IMG_4203Looking up.

IMG_4200With the scaffold gone you can more easily compare the new UPVC kitchen window with the original timber bathroom window above – quite a good match visually.

IMG_4198The scaffold did quite a lot of damage to the lower rear roof. This will be repaired by the roofers tomorrow.


Build Days #92 and #93

IMG_4192On day #92 the repaired french doors were refitted. They just need a handle and latch now.

IMG_4194More downpipes. This one looks a little bendy as it passes this piece of timber.

IMG_4193The roofer was here replacing the last of the missing roof tiles on the main roof.

IMG_4189We started unpacking!

IMG_4190I also cleaned the fridge.

IMG_4191Things always look worse during the unpacking for a little while.

Today the scaffolders were meant to dismantle the scaffold but they are coming tomorrow instead. This meant that T the painter couldn’t get on with his work, so he will be back tomorrow.



Build Day #91

T the painter was here today painting a few parts of the exterior. He is now waiting for the next layer of scaffold to come down before he can continue.

Today was a momentous day for us as the rest of our furniture and belongings were delivered from Liverpool. They have spent 350 days in storage.

IMG_4170Ruby making her inspections.

IMG_4188Rosie was trying to open this box by tugging on the loose tape.

IMG_4172A concerned Oliver spooked by yet more upheaval.

IMG_4178The dresser took its place in the breakfast room. I had been worried that the cream colour might clash with the yellow but it doesn’t at all.

IMG_4181Ruby agrees. It also provides her with a new vantage point. As the men were lugging the dresser in they uttered, dejectedly, ‘there’s no Ikea flatpack stuff here to make it easy for us!’.

IMG_4175More furniture was deposited in the dining room. The beauty of things having been in a storage container all this time is that they are still beautifully polished, shiny, and free of building dust, unlike everything that was here during the works.

IMG_4184Oliver and Ruby amongst the dining chairs. The most difficult part of the delivery was the carrying and positioning of the piano, which is terribly out of tune. I don’t have a photo of it but will post one tomorrow. The movers did such a good job, especially considering they had to negotiate, in the front garden, a tree stump, an uneven crazy-paving path and scaffold posts obstructing the front door.

IMG_4183Fridge, with many fingermarks, in position and ready for docking. The fridge was already here but it was moved into this position today.

IMG_4173Miss Rose on the landing.

IMG_4174I wish I had a video camera for when Oliver rediscovered his sofa. He immediately laid claim to it and leapt on. He proceeded to get very excited, crouching with his ears folded back, glancing around wildly and leaping about on the cushions and back, fighting off his sisters if they even thought about hopping on.

It feels nice to have all of our belongings back under one roof almost a year after we moved. Another step closer.