Once upon a time, the Castle Estate comprised of a number of staff cottages, including smart accommodation for the housekeeper and butler, now privately owned houses on Lower Green Road. A track ran from the Castle’s garden to these homes, making the walk to work, avoiding what must have been a very sleepy main road through the village, very discrete.
Two of the cottages closest to the main house do belong to us though (I will blog about the Sloop Cottage next week) , thanks to our rather voracious programme of property purchasing last year. The gardener’s cottage, Castle Lodge, attached to the potting shed, will revert to its original purpose, as we are renovating it for Alasdair to live in. It is a pretty two up, two down, with original stone floors in parts, and simple Victorian staircase and sashes. Paint flakes from the fascia boards and guttering show that it was once painted a vibrant purple and before that a bright green, a far cry from todays choice of slubby chalky greens and creams and I am tempted by the green. Russell tells me that at one time there were a number of MOD bases around the outskirts of St Helens (now caravan sites with varying degrees of charm) and that this paint was standard issue. The colour reminds me of wartime Hornby trainsets. Moons ago, in another life, I valued these for an auction house, so I have seen my share.
On the whole though, I am not going for immaculate renovation here. I have left stone floors covered by modern boards, knowing I can unearth these, and a can of worms, at a later date. Elsewhere the needs of a gardener are low maintenance and Alasdair won’t mind me saying, I am sure, that his housekeeping is a tad patchy.
Inside though, it does have these marvellously dated doors (1950/60 ? See below and send your verdict) that lead from what was once the dining room to a very chilly lean-to kitchen. Good taste had them stored away in the potting shed, but they are shortly to be re-hung. I admire their period look, even if it is a period that strikes a rather incongruous note here. They are in situ in a number of photos I found in a desk drawer, together with other elements we all remember: kidney shaped dressing table with matching stool, slightly too brown furniture and that kettle with the patterns on. I am absolutely not casting aspersions on the person who designed this house, or even my own grandmother, whose home was similar. This is how we used to live, be thankful for Ikea.