It might only be 22nd September, but there is a chill in the air and the day will soon return when the temperature in the unheated rooms of our house will be in single figures. The house was built in the days when the resident cleric would have been a member of the gentry and would have had servants to see to everything, now it’s a shadow of itself. It’s not possible to keep the place warm on a clergy stipend and the parish has not money to pay for such expense when most people are struggling to make ends meet – and if there was money, would it be the right way to spend it?
Looking for a postcode for the house in order to fill in a passport renewal application form brought a description of the place in which we have to live:
Detached five-bay two-storey over raised basement deanery, built 1729, on an L-shaped plan on site of earlier deanery, pre-1614, with five-bay two-storey return to east. Renovated, 1755-84, with entrance reoriented to return. Renovated. Pitched slate roofs on an L-shaped plan with clay ridge tiles, rendered chimney stacks, and cast-iron rainwater goods on rendered eaves. Unpainted rendered, ruled and lined walls with sections of unpainted replacement cement rendered, ruled and lined walls. Square-headed window openings with cut-limestone sills, six-over-six and three-over-three (top floor) timber sash windows having three-over-six timber sash windows to top floor to return. Square-headed door opening reoriented to return, 1755-84, with flight of seven cut-limestone steps having unpainted rendered parapets, cut-limestone block-and-start surround having double keystone, and timber panelled double doors. Interior with carved timber lugged architraves to door openings having timber panelled doors, timber panelled shutters to window openings, and plasterwork cornices to ceilings. Set back from road in own grounds with grave forecourt, and landscaped grounds to site having random rubble stone boundary wall to perimeter of site with rubble stone piers having replacement iron double gates.
An elegantly-composed large-scale house incorporating Classically-derived proportions with the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor enhancing the formal quality of the composition: however, some of the balanced appearance of the house has been compromised by the reorientation of the entrance bay. A simple doorcase exhibiting good stone masonry enlivens the external expression of an otherwise sparsely-detailed house while the retention of most of the early fabric both to the exterior and to the interior heightens the positive contribution the house makes to an historic setting. Occupying the grounds of an early seventeenth-century counterpart known as the Dean’s “Manse”, thereby continuing a long-standing occupation of the site the deanery remains an important addition to the architectural heritage of the locality.
Very nice, I’m sure, and I’m also sure that the writer lives in a comfortable home and doesn’t have to walk through a semi-derelict basement to reach the back door of his house.
The reason I was searching for a postcode in order to fill in a form to renew my passport was in order to travel to Rwanda where the money spent on a single fill of the oil tank here would pay a teacher for a year. People will come out with responses to such questions along the lines that it’s not either/or but both/and; that it’s not a question of one thing or the other, that it’s a question of having money for both doing things here and supporting work in Africa – the responses are patent nonsense. One of the basic concepts taught in secondary school economics was that of “opportunity cost”, that if you chose to spend money on one thing that decision was not cost free, it meant that you had to forego the opportunity of spending it on something else. Both/and is not an option; you cannot spend the same sum of money twice, spend it on filling a tank with heating oil and you have foregone the opportunity to pay the year’s salary of an African teacher.
The time of the church spending huge sums to maintain substantial clergy residences needs to pass. If people are concerned with architectural heritage, then let them pay the cost of it.