My 12th C house

My earliest memories are, of course, those of my family and friends. During my childhood, we lived in a two roomed cottage, made of wattle and daub. The building was twelve paces across the front and six paces deep. The roof was thatched with reeds and inside, at its highest point, was twice the height of a man.
The house was coloured a pale green on the outside. The inside of the walls were a pale shade of yellow and were hung with several of my mother’s tapestries and drawings.
Within the cottage, the small bedroom, just large enough for their bed, in which my parents slept occupied one end, separated from the rest of the house by a wooden door contained within a very thin wattle and daub wall. My brother and I had our own beds, small pallets of straw, in the main room. They were set on a small shelf, running along one wall inside the house, near to our parents’ room.
During the day each of these mattresses was rolled up and, with thin cushions on it, the low shelf was put to use as a long bench. In this main area, there was a table on which we took our evening meals, with our family sitting on the bed shelf and one other bench, on the opposite side of the table.
In one corner of the room a drop loom leaned against the wall. This was used by my mother for weaving some of her fine tapestries, when she could get the wool. There were stones – about the size of a man’s hand – with holes through them, used to keep the warp threads straight and taut to make the weaving easier.
When the weather was fine, mother would paint or embroider or do some other craft work outside, to make use of the sunlight. If the weather was either too cold or too wet to work out there, the table and bench would be moved nearer the door, so that they could serve as a covered work area for my mother.
At various points around the house were two or three bench seats on which my father and mother would occupy their spare time in art work and crafts. My father built his own tools and furniture, outside most of the time, and the wood chips were cleaned up for later use, for example, as kindling to light fires.
Located in the centre of the room was a sunken fire pit, for food preparation and also for light and heating. To contain the flames, the fire place was surrounded by large stones, which were replaced if ever they cracked.
Starting the fire was easy, using a flint and steel. With flint being plentiful in this area, due to the chalk hills, and a small piece of steel obtained from the blacksmiths, every person in the community had easy access to the materials needed to make a fire. We all knew how to light a fire with this method. Almost as soon as a child was able to walk, he learned how to make fire.

My 12th C house

Roy Worrall

Brisbane, Australia

  • Artist

Artist's Description

Part of a larger work, which I one day hope to publish as a book. It all came, almost unbidden, from a small paragraph.

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