Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Doors And Windows in our Fisherman’s Cottage

It’s time to revisit our fisherman’s cottage in Fleetwood, on this occasion to check out the bedroom door and window.
Let’s just wait for the thunderous retreat of most of our readers to die away before continuing, shall we?
All done? Excellent. Time to crack on.
This is a photograph of our bedroom door, taken in extremely low light with an extremely naff camera. (It’s quite possibly the worst photograph we’ve ever posted on this board, in fact, even if I am wearing an expensive genuine yak wool cardigan.) Michelle thought the bedroom door might be boring on its own, so she asked me to add a bit of interest by standing in front of it.

And with that the rest of our readers take to the hills looking decidedly nauseous.
Over the years our Victorian cottage has undergone some extensive renovations, not least of which was the removal of the stairs from the kitchen, their replacements running up from the living room, and the creation of a small landing in the process.
Originally there wouldn’t have been a bathroom. A cast iron tub in front of the range, a kettle full of hot water, a block of carbolic soap and the sort of scrubbing brush that’d give its owner an unhealthy red glow, was all that was required back then. With the advent of indoor plumbing, however, it became customary to convert the small bedrooms at the rear of such cottages into bathrooms/bogs.
Exactly where our bathroom and bedroom doors came from it’s difficult to say, (they’re both the same incidentally…‘buggered’, I believe the technical term is) but they’re Georgian in style. That’s not to say they’re Georgian in age. The Victorians made doors to the same design, and considering that when the cottage was converted there’d have been a couple of doors left over, no doubt they were reused with the customary cheapness associated with your average Fleetwood property developer.
The doors themselves consist of four interior panels each set into a mortise and tenor framework with a large wooden separation between the upper half and the lower half, the lower panels being of a smaller stature than their counterparts above.
See…typical Georgian design. (Is there anybody still reading this?)
To be honest, as already hinted at, both our bathroom door and our bedroom door are totally knackered. I gave them a coat of paint recently and almost instantly regretted it. Not only are there numerous filled in divots and holes where various handles and hinges have been attached, unattached, reattached and, finally, wrenched off with a crowbar and thrown in the bin, over the years, but the panels are outlined by a series of holes where tacks were once hammered.
We read somewhere recently about Georgian doors in manor houses separating the servants’ quarters from the gentry’s. These doors had covers panel-pinned onto them to make them blend into the wall. Aristocrats wanted to disassociate themselves with the staff, and a hidden portal to the realms of said unwashed urchins seemed a suitable arrangement by which to keep the psychological horror of such people at bay.
So did our doors originate in some splendid Georgian manor then?
No, probably not. During the latter part of the twentieth century panelled doors became unfashionable. Regarded as tired, dated and drab they were covered by sheets of hardboard, which after a few decades became tired, dated and drab themselves. So the tacky faux-wooden sheets were wrenched off again, leaving a series of little holes around the outside of the door.
Still, they might be tatty, but at least they’re original features.
Enough about the door. Let’s move on to the bedroom window.

(Sounds of the last reader of all waking up from his forty winks with a splutter and quietly shuffling off to put the kettle on.)
What’s probably not immediately apparent in the photograph above (because, let’s face it, it’s almost as naff as the other one) are the textured Art Deco panes that make up the window. Our living room window’s the same. Worth a fortune! Well…no, not really, although they’d cost a fortune to double glaze so they’re staying like they are for time being.
Art Deco originated in France around 1900 with a gang of artistic types known as ‘La Société des Artistes Décorateurs’ (otherwise translated as ‘The Society of the Artistic Decorators’). In 1925 the ‘Société’ organized the ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’ from which the name Art Deco derived.
The style was influenced by Cubism, Constructivism, Futurism, Neoclassicism and Art Nouveau, although when the fashion caught on in Britain it developed its own vernacular brand of...well…Britishness.
It wasn’t particularly long lived however, and by the 1940s windows such as ours were either being chiselled out and replaced with something altogether more modern by fashion-conscious house owners, or blown out at random into the streets by inconsiderate Nazi bombing raids.
Some of our readers -- what am I talking about? There can’t be anybody left reading this by now. On the chance that there is however, just bear with me – some of our readers will have realised by now that, what with our cottage being of Victorian construction, and what with Queen Victoria kicking the bucket in 1901, it’s highly unlikely that our own Art Deco windows were originally supplied with the house.
It doesn’t matter. We’re fond of them.

Harris and Hughes Guided Cottage Tours for the Terminally Bored. Book now for your own five-minute visit to our fisherman’s cottage (bathroom admission charged separately) followed by coffee and hobnobs on the front doorstep and a quick stroke of the cat’s head. Only £45.99 (not including V.A.T.)


Anonymous said...

Liking the Moderne window patterns! I'd say about 35% of 1930s residential housing still retain them - which is cool!
I've noticed many Moderne and Streamline Moderne buildings around the Fylde, some are wonderful pieces of architecture. (joe,25,bispham)

Andrew said...

Like to see more of the windows. I don't recall seeing similar here. One Victorian house we lived had very old glass that gave a very distorted view. Another, built in 1930s had the most beautiful leadlight windows with some of the glass having prism edges which caused little rainbows inside the house.

Ann ODyne said...

Gee Hughsie you look really tall in that door frame.

Leadlight windows always tip real estate into a better asking-price range, lucky you; and yes I have renovated places with panels nailed over lovely old doors. My favourite evil is the transom light painted over. Hours up a ladder with scrapers to get it off again *sigh*.

Brian Hughes said...


The number of houses in our end of Fleetwood (most of which are Victorian) with 'windows moderne' is very few now. I remember as a kid almost all the houses round here (well, round Stanah and Thornton) seemed to have them, but they were going out of fashion at the time. Ours are the only ones left in our street these days, mainly because everybody else has opted for double glazing. I believe that the flat above the White Tower (at least I think that's what it's called) at the entrance to the Pleasure Beach is completely kitted out in the same style, furnishings, fittings the lot, because apparently it hasn't been touched inside since it was built. People ought to leave these things alone I reckon, even if they have gone out of style, because, sooner or later, like my cardigan (perhaps...although not my haircut) they will come back into fashion again, but probably won't be as good as the originals when they do.


We get little rainbows cast on the walls in our house. Mind you, it helps to see 'em if I've had a few pints.


Our kitchen door is made up of little glass panels bolted together by a wooden lattice. It's great on a summer's evening, because the house is flooded with soft light, but they're an absolute bugger to paint.

Jayne said...

Love the window, lift the curtain, please, could entice more readers...or encourage your passing neighbours at any rate :P

Brian Hughes said...


Come summer I might take one from the outside for you. It'd probably be a bit clearer. Can't be bothered at the moment'd mean having to take my slippers off and put my boots on.

Anonymous said...

love the chunky knit very you Brian. Have been nursing sick hubby but thought AI needed to nip in see what you are all up to?? Visited a brill terraced house (Queens Terrace) and was full of nostalgia in the cellar. What space will have to call again. Shirley best to my mate x

Brian Hughes said...

Happy New Year, Shirley.

Michelle's been nursing me and the cat this New Year. (Over indulgence in Christmas edibles on both our parts, I'm afraid.)

"...was full of nostalgia in the cellar."

Most of them round here are just full of damp.

Don't be stranger. As soon as we can lay our hands on some working geophysics we've got a long lost tunnel to rediscover.

Oh...and congrats on getting the Sam Fletch sorted. There'll be a blog about that appearing here at some point over the next few weeks.

Brian Hughes said...

Sorry...just read that back through. For 'Don't be stranger' read 'Don't be 'a' stranger' -- you can be as strange as you like if you want.

John said...

happy new year, Brian!

And with this post, may i please say "You have GOT to get out more!"

There, I've had me say.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

PS Out meaning 'in the field', not in the Pub... gorsh knows you'll be talking about Georgian pub stools and art deco beer mugs next!

Brian Hughes said...


I'm banned from discussing current digs, so it wouldn't matter if I was out in the field more or not. Not that it matters, because it's bloody freezing out there at the moment and, all in all, I'd rather be at home with a warm mug of cocoa in front of the fire.

Anonymous said...
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John said...

"I'd rather be at home with a warm mug of cocoa in front of the fire"

can you tell us about the mug, Brian? Is it old and historic? Made from local clay?

And how about that cocoa? Is the recipe Victorian, by any chance?!

Please, tell us more!

JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


The mug has Snoopy on it and the cocoa is made by Cadbury.

John said...

That mug is probably a collectible! Should put it on a shelf to be admired, otherwise the cats will knock it out of your hand one day and pffft!

You know how Snoopy and cats get along...

Brian Hughes said...


Collectible or not I've got quite a number of Snoopy of which is used by one of my cats as a drinking bowl because he can't be bothered using his proper bowl downstairs.