Monday, 16 June 2008

Vintage...visiting Grannie

Here's a little bit of my family've heard me talk of Little Grannie, this post is about Big Grannie and her beautiful house.

I adore this wedding photograph of my Grannie,taken in Paris in the1930s

Big Grannie, or Grannie and Grandpa Bunch as we knew them, (Bunch being the name of their dog) lived in a beautiful stone manor house, with large formal gardens ,a paddock, a rotating Victorian summer house and resident ghostie, who searched at night for her string of pearls that had broken and dropped to the floor. An old house that was slightly frightening with its creeking and dark corridoors but also overwhelmingly pretty.

I was only young but I remember this house so well, the smell, the flowery curtains, window shutters, the dark wooden paneling on the walls and the pretty pale blue painted windows. I also loved the gardens, the willow tree,box hedging and endless flowerbeds of English can you get!

I was doing a bit of research to find a photo of what the house looks like today and found to my surprise their house was up for sale again. After my grandparents moved away to a more practical bungalow in the 1970s, it was sold at auction and later became one of the Daily Mail dream homes in the used to have to save tokens out of the newspaper to enter the prize draw to win a 'dream house'.. The Manor house as it is today

The house and 3 acres of land was divided up by the new owners and the outbuildings sold off and re-developed into barn was such a shame and although the front is still the same thanks to a grade II listing, if you've clicked on the link,you'll see that the inside really isn't!
For some reason I'm now the keeper of the old sales brochure from that auction (Oh how I wish the photos were in colour and there were more interior pictures!) I love the descriptions of the rooms which sound vintage even for the mid 70s....'wash house','garden room','pantry' and'dressing room' all conjure up images of English country living to me and the description of the formal gardens and paddock bring summer memories flooding back. I also have the pink striped rosy curtains that hung in the front bedroom..I had them in my first rented house along with the matching fitted bedspreads, they are still as bright as they were in the 1940s. my grandpa

There is a story as to how my grandparents came to live in this wonderful house,having fled from occupied Paris with nothing but a suitcase and with my mother as a French speaking 5 year old, they came to England and lived in the tiny cottage along the road eventually inheriting the beautiful Manor house that belonged to an Aunt, from the Wicksteed great grandfather was Charles Wicksteed...inventor, founder of the first public leisure park in England that was over in the next field from this house of which many a fun afternoon was spent during a visit to Grannie and Grandpas.

Charles was maker of swings and slides and playground equiptment..If you take a look at the swing seats you may be pushing your little ones on at the park...they might just say 'Wicksteed'!


  1. What an amazing story and a truly thought provoking account of your grandparents and their beautiful home.It must be bittersweet memories for you .. painfully nostalgic.
    It is funny to think that I could have won that very house as I was a fan of the Daily Mail Dream Home comps..


  2. Hi, What a lovely story but I also found it rather sad. What a shame the house couldn't of been kept in the family...the benefit of hindsight. I know the Wicksteed company as when I used to the village clerk we purchased pay equipment from them! Kathy PS Lampshade!!

  3. Wow - how wonderful to have that history you should write it all down and make sure you save the copies of the modern details as well. Like Kathy I agree its sad it went out of the family but I suppose it was big and expensive to run for them when they got older and they would need the money ot buy a bungalow etc. Got the modem for 02 in the post yesterday - all we need now is the Broadband connection then Yippee. I have to keep my comments down to one blog when I am at work as tis just my lunch break.

  4. Loved reading your post today, very interesting. Tomorrow I will have to check out the parks swings.

    The house looks gorgeous!

    Vanessa x

  5. A wonderful story!
    I entered one of those dream home competitions years ago!
    I am attempting to trace my family tree (or part of it) for my dear mum, who has no internet.It is so time consuming though!

  6. The house looks gorgeous I agree theyve not been sympathatic to it's age on the inside.It's a shame the land got divided up and they had to sell it. Your grannie looks beautiful in her wedding photo that's a lovely item to treasure and your Grandpa sounds like a interesting chap next time I take Emily and Elliott to the park I shall have to inspect the swings people will think what is that women doing?!!

  7. Golly what a small world, I know this house and I know Wicksteed Park indeed my own Great Grandother, whom sadly I never knew, is buried in the cemetry a little way down the road.

  8. What an amazing post ! I really enjoyed the story and the lovely photos. The photo of your Grnadmother in her wedding dress is one of th most beautiful family wedding photos I have ever seen!
    How lucky to have been able to share that wonderful old manor house with them...

  9. Wow - I want to go and watch 'a room with a view' immediately!
    We have a lovely country, and some amazing history for a little island!


  10. Your grandmothers wedding photo looks absolutely wonderful.
    It’s a shame how your grandparents house seems to have been butchered by the current owners – I mean laminate flooring !!

    Family history is so fascinating. I have a friend who’s grandfather was a human scarecrow.

  11. what a wonderful story, but an awful shame about the house xxx

  12. What a beautiful house they owned. It reminds me of the house in the novel "The Lion the witch and the wardrobe" so intriguing and full of mystery....
    What a shame it couldn't be kept in the family. Oh to turn back the clock and have it back again!

  13. what a beautiful and dreamy story,your grandmother looks stunning and what a fabulous picture to have in the family...i agree with everyone about the house...really sad..i find change like that hard to accept but at least you have memories and those lovely pink stripey rose curtains to keep that lovely house alive.
    love Kristina XxX

  14. What a lovely story, and such a beautiful phorograph of your grandmother on her wedding day. It look such a lovely house, it's a shame it couldn't stay in the family, I'm sure you would have loved to live in it!

  15. We used to travel from Hertfordshire for day trips to Wicksteed Park! Wonderful place! And yes, until very recently and the introduction of modern plastic health and safety parks, many many slides still had the distinctive 'wicksteed' pattern cut out on every cast iron step! WOW! What a pedigree! Wonderful story. So sad that the house has been fully modernised. All that glossy white paint and laminate flooring breaks my heart! How wonderful that you have the curtains! And aren't they beautiful! t.x

  16. beautiful pictures and what a wonderful family!
    love the picture of your Grandpa - he looks like such a sweet, happy chap x
    t x

  17. Lovely post (:)
    Your grandparents and their home wowow fab home ..she was a beautiful bride too..
    hugs Patty

  18. Completely fascniating and the most wonderful photos to accompany it, epsecially your Grannie in her wedding finery. Pure elegance. Thanks for sharing.

  19. This is most definitely material for a book. I really enjoyed reading your post. Your grannie looks absolutely stunning in her wedding photos, tres chic. What great memories you have of their lives and lives gone before with the history of your great-grandad's inventions. My grandparents moved from their pretty little period cottage to a more practical 1970s bungalow too! x

  20. What a beautiful story - and a lovely house, though sad to see it's changed in line with general changes. I'm particularly interested in your story as my other half is from French grandparents. Sounds so much more romantic than my mostly Irish lot I always think.

  21. I just found your blog and I loved reading this story. What beautiful pictures and great memories.

  22. The internet is an amazing invention and your family story is FABULOUS! Where else could a NY vintage girl such as myself learn about Wicksteed Park, view your grandparents lovely estate and learn this great history? All I did was type in Shabby Chic on my blog and off I went on this adventure! I have never been to the UK and have always wanted to visit. It was so much fun looking up the exact location and viewing the property on WikiMapia. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I simply love your blog!

  23. I agree, that was a beautiful post with pictures that seem too perfect to be real! Your grandparents lives were like a fairy tale, you were so lucky to grow up in such a glorious place!

  24. my name is shane wicksteed, im trying to track my family history prior to john tylson wicksteed moving to new zealand in the 1860s. if anyone can help i can be contacted at


Thankyou,thankyou,thankyou for being so lovely as to leave a message!..I try to reply to your messages on here,so check back if you dont hear from me..but please dont be offended if I dont get time to respond, each one is totally appreciated. They make my day. x

PS. Advertising messages automatically get deleted...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...