August 19, 2013 posted by littlewhitecottage

10 things I love about living in an old English cottage… (come and have a nosey around where I live!)

I was listening to the radio the other day and someone said that they couldn’t live in a house that has straight lines and having lived in both a straight lined (new) house and a few with decidedly bent lines I have to agree. I love the different, the quirky and the downright ‘Why is that there???’ when it comes to houses. I like to read a house to try to see the history of what was before what is now and where I live at the moment has had my brain tickled on more than one occasion as it’s made up of 3 (I think 4) tiny 1 up 1 down workers cottages. So far I have found 3 of the 4 doors, 1 of the 3 staircases and only 1 cellar in the kitchen -there should be 2 more at least. This old English cottage is a secret waiting to be unlocked and I’m not sure I am the one who will ever unlock them all…

So let’s start with the lack of straight lines.

house 3

 This is no 3 son’s bedroom and he’s lucky to have the original thick beams running through his room. We use them as shelves and put special things on but because they are curved it is all a bit of a balancing act. I love the curves, the cuts and the colour (though not original as they have a varnish on) and the touch underhand though dusting is a nightmare.
Old houses are very dusty and this one excels in that department!


This is the bathroom door and it’s so small that I have to bend down to get in the bathroom. I have banged my head so many times I couldn’t honestly count getting the boys out of the bath. This, to me, shows that the cottage was never built to have this bathroom extension on and the only way to get into the new bathroom was to cut away under the large beam that supports the roof of the cottage. Yes it could be remodeled but it would take a lot away from the character plus you can only take some many beams away or cut through them before metal joists have to be put in to take the strain and that’s not really what an old cottage should be about I think.

house 5

I love the shape of the doors. They are all different sizes and are cut to different shapes to fit the door frame that was cut away for them. All the doors are kept open in this cottage though as we like the feel of light flooding in rather than shutting the rooms away. This doorway is like a couple of others in that it was cut out of the beams to open up into a newer extension. I say ‘newer’ but this was done probably 100 years ago!


I really like that there are little steps everywhere to get into and out of rooms. The floors aren’t level as additions have been made over the years and as the ceilings were raised and floors were lowered to create rooms that had more light and headroom this has left a higgledy piggledy feel to the cottage.


The views are spectacular. From Hen’s bedroom we see the deer out the front of the cottage, the snow stretch out for miles in the winter and the tractor cutting the grass for hay in the summer. We’ve also been treated to 2 wasp nests again this year that are either side of this window in the eaves. This makes story time interesting as the odd sleepy wasp falls out of the light in his bedroom and wriggles around on the floor. We are waiting for the wasp man to come and sort them out again!


This is a huge talking point when people walk into the cottage -the trap door. This is now the entrance into the cellar though it isn’t the original one as once you’re in the cellar you can see the steps coming down the corner where the door and entrance must have been. I think there must be a cellar in the middle room and sitting room as they would have been the main downstairs rooms of the original workers cottages when they were all separate. I think this is something to find out one day…

Here is my favourite reason for living in a cottage; open fires…


Now we’ve had making fires, falling asleep with the fire going, poking fires, burning boxes on the fires and we’ve especially loved snuggling up to the fire and then moving slowly back as we get a little too warm. We love chopping the wood and stacking it in the outhouse and we love the sound of crackling wood snapping away as the flames lick through the spaces. I love the smell the next day as you walk into a room that’s recently had a fire as the wood smoke hangs around for days, months even and it really makes you want to light another.

There are downsides though to living in an old English cottage. We get cut off in the snow so have to stock the cellar up with essentials. Hubbie could easily walk across the fields to the local town but we choose to be cut off as we actually quite like it. The lane is quiet, the fields are eerily quiet and, for once, this could be any time in history. We ran out of oil this winter and the truck couldn’t get up the lane to deliver the oil so we were very cold for a few days. When I tuck the boys in bed and say ‘Snuggle down I think it’s going to be cold tonight…’ they look a bit worried and say ‘Have we run out of oil again???’ I think they will remember running out of oil for the rest of their lives!

The cottage has been here for at least 200 (our neighbour says nearly 300) years and it will be here for many more years to come long after we have gone. It’s bedded itself into the landscape over time and the animals now take no notice of it as they walk through the garden nibbling at the trees and shrubs. For as long as I am here I will love the higgledy piggledyness, the dust, the curves the view the wasps the snow and the fires. And the total darkness at night where you can’t even see your hand in front of your face; that’s when I really feel I’m being watched by those of the past who’ve lived here before me and I know they are smiling…

1 Comment

  • When I was 6, we lived for a time in a cottage very like this, and – like you – I loved the higgledy piggledyness of it. All those open fires, uneven floors, tiny windows and massive beams. It was called Winston Cottage, and it was in the village of Winston, albeit right on the edge. And yes, we foraged for wood in the fields – I once tried to drag an entire tree home, as I had not realised my branch was still attached! When I was 18 or 19 (in the 1980s), I persuaded my boyfriend to drive through Winston on our way back to university. What a disappointment. It was no longer a village, but had been turned into a commuter town, full of Executive Homes. I did eventually find our old home, but it had been renamed Rose Cottage. 🙁

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