Monday, 12 December 2016

Rare pictures of an Edwardian sitting room in Chorlton

It is rare to see the inside of a Chorlton house from the beginning of the 20th century and so I am grateful to Mr Ray Jones for sharing this one.

What is all the more remarkable is that his family lived in this house on Maple Avenue from 1895 through till 1997.

It had been bought for the sum of £550 by his great grandfather and in the course of the early decades of the last century his grandfather took a series of photographs of the house, some of the family and the surrounding roads.

And of course it is the detail of the room which draws you in from the huge collection of pictures, vases, and books to the embroidered cushion.

But for me what stamps the room with its period are the gas lamps either side of the fire place and the bell lever for summoning the servants.

Like many homes back then Mrs Jones employed the one servant often known as “a maid of all work” who did pretty much everything from the cooking and cleaning to turning down the beds and much more.

And the house was a big one with nine rooms and the needs of Mrs Jones and her two grown up children to look out for.

In the April of 1901 this was down to Miss Edith Ashworth who was twenty-one years old.

She was from Northenden in Cheshire which was not that far away and ran counter to the usual practice of employing servants from further afield.

In the course of time I think I will go looking for Miss Edith but for now all I know is that by 1911 she had moved on and her place was taken by Bernie Hicks Jones who had been born in Plymouth and was 35.

Her daily routines may have been a little easier given that by then there was only Miss Edith Mary Jones to look after.

That said there was a fair amount of dusting to do in that room alone and as someone who doesn’t dust well I feel for her.

And that brings me back to the room.  On one level it is typical of its time and similar ones can be seen in history books and contemporary furniture catalogues but what fascinates me is that I know the house and have stood in front of it on Maple Avenue.

Not that I knew the treasures that one were on display on the other side of the window or that the fine marble fireplace was stolen when the house was empty in 1997.

But the picture along with the census returns offers up a glimpse of life in Chorlton-cum-Hardy a century and a bit ago.

Location; Maple Avenue, Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; sitting room Maple Avenue early 20th century, from the collection of Ray Jones

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