Just like the Mounce Mansion for sale across the river in Avondale, whose real estate listing recently went viral, every old house has a story.. a history.. hidden deep within it’s bones.. A mystery waiting.. revealing little bits of a time gone past as you strip down the walls of paper, or tear up that old linoleum flooring only to find a beautiful hardwood hidden underneath. While a new house may have it’s benefits.. I have always loved the older ones. Our big old historic homes have a beauty that only comes with age.. their character is etched into the floorboards.. the stairs are worn in just the right spot, and the doorframes have a groove perfect for your hand while you slide your barn boots off.
Last year, shortly after the maze was planted, we finally moved into a house we had been restoring for years. We started working on it when the Littles were really little, one so wee, she was still being incubated. We peeled back this Old house to it’s bones, building it back up again, with a little help from some friends and family (Thank you!!!). Now it’s a beautiful new’ish old house.
During the years while we hammered away.. we wondered.. finding a penny in the floorboards from 1921 .. or the old school project on Automobiles shoved in the wall in the pantry.. a single worn cadet button.. bits and pieces of pottery everywhere.. Or looking at the brass on the doors, and the design in the hardwood floor which is not simple.. nor basic like the ones in my mother’s old home.. which was an upper middle class turn of the century home. Someone had money when they built our house to spend the extra on the finishes. Who were they? Where did they come from? Did they have a connection to the Dakeyne Lad’s Club?
Walking through an older home… doesn’t it make you wonder? Was it someone’s dream home? Why did they choose those colours on the wall.. or cover the floors? Why does every door have a lock? Who fixed that door handle with two spools of thread and a copper pipe? So many questions.. I wish I could open a door in this old house that would let me walk into the past. A door that lets me into Mrs. Rowes kitchen to ask her a million questions over a cup of hot tea, and a piece of homemade pie, while we watch the boys from the school down the road walked up the hill every morning with their lunches and tools, ready to learn so many new skills by building a model dairy farm. The old milk separator complete with it’s book still in the shed… waiting for me to pull it out and give it a try.
When we acquired the property, it’s last squire was Warren… He bought the place built for the Rowe’s and raised his family here.. but because we were knee deep in wood trim, and wall plaster, I wanted to know more about the people who built this homestead.. the original owners.. and what.. if any..their connection was to the Dakeyne Farm. Luckily for us, our neighbors from Oak Hollow Farm at the bottom of the hill had the answer tucked away. Warren’s Daughter had given them a copy of the property survey… their house is included on it, next to the old quarry, as in the past the property had been subdivided into two parcels. (If it was listed as ‘Old’ in the 20’s.. how old is it?)
The property named St. Brelades was purchased as several properties over the years.. from 1920 – 1926 to be combined into one large property neighboring The Dakeyne farm. Not much has changed on the land.. The garden on the map.. is still the garden.. we still use the pasture as pasture.. and if you look hard, you can find remnants of the orchards long since mowed down. A few varieties of apples and pear trees scattered here and there on the outskirts of what is now pasture and woods. The survey came in handy this year (Can’t thank you enough Jan & Anne!!), when we dug up the old waterline to replace our broken line to the well.. Our house was once connected to the cistern and windmill on the hill across from the maze, meaning it had running water pumped to the barns, house, and carriage shed. (and after this past year of no water while Kennie fixed the water line… I can’t imagine how happy Mrs. Rowe would have been to not have to carry water up hill to the livestock everyday.. I know I did a little dance for joy when we finally fixed ours) I even found the 16′ double maple listed on the survey with it’s monster mushroom still growing.. standing up against high winds, and cold nights for over a hundred years watching the fields around it change.
Our property was bought by Sir Jesse Boot & his wife Florence for Florence’s widowed sister in law (also named Florence) and her two boys Ernest and Colin. We have records at the farm along with photos of the boys time at the Dakeyne Farm.. Ernest is the one with the dog in the photo on the right standing in front of the porch at Dakeyne Farm. They came all the way from Jersey, which is where we get our property’s name St.Brelades.
Sir Jesse Boot, 1st Baron of Trent and his wife Florence (pictured below) were well known philanthropists in the Nottingham Area.. which is most likely how they met Oliver Hind and his Dakeyne Lads Club. Sir Jesse Boot was the Chemist to the Nation, and she was the daughter of a bookseller in St. Heliers, Jersey.. they married in 1886.
Together, they grew a large chain of chemist shops that still exist today, Boots. Sir Jesse Boot was knighted in 1909, and given the title of 1st Baron of Trent in 1917. His wife, Florence, took a great deal of interest in her husband’s business, created a lending library in all the Boots stores (at the back.. so you had to walk by all the merchandise to borrow a book), as well as taking care of her employees welfare, providing breakfast to their staff when she found out they were coming to work hungry every morning. She even took a large group of women employees to see the newly built Eiffel tower as part of one of her grand birthday celebrations.
Maybe, at a fancy dinner party, like the ones portrayed in the fictional T.V series Downton Abby, they had a converstation, over cigars and expensive whiskey, about a little farm school in Nova Scotia Oliver was building to help the boys in his club who wanted to farm and emigrate to Canada. Maybe.. a little later in a bedroom chamber on a large English Estate , Sir Jesse Boots mentioned his conversation to his wife,
who thought it might be a great new start for her brother’s recently widowed wife, and two growing boys while at the same time helping Oliver Hind grow his project, and teach the boys how to build a model farm. Don’t you wish you could go back in time and find out? Be a little bee on a flower arrangement nearby? Maybe while she was visiting her nephews and their mother back home in St.Heliers, she passed along this conversation.. testing the waters to see if it might be something she would be interested in.. If only we could go back…
This little video is the best i can do.. to take a step back in time to visit with the character’s who build our house.. I imagine they were all present at this opening.. Oliver & Mary Hind, Alfred Davidson & his wife, as well. Titled ‘Nottingham’s New University, presented by Sir Jesse Boot at the cost of nearly 1 000 000 opened by H.M. The King in 1928’
Our house has three bedrooms.. one large Master, and two smaller.. perfect for Mrs. Rowe and her two boys. Ernest was the Older brother.. his name on the wall in the shed still. Colin the youngest.. I found the trunk he used to come over not far from Ernest’s graffiti. According to a post on NSRoots, Florence Boots gave our property to Ernest when she passed… another property in Middleton name St. Heliers was given to Colin. I have not found St. Heliers.. yet. All we know is that it was in Middleton. I’m sure if I sifted through some papers in a dusty basement somewhere near Middleton I would find it.. someday.. when I have more time. It would be interesting to compare the properties.. are the buildings similar? is the set up the same? was it a dairy farm? (If you know.. please feel free to message me)
We have a Record of Mrs. Rowe in our Dakeyne Farm Ledger from 1921.. (Dr = Debit & Cr = Credit)
She had Guernseys as well… a little reminder of home? With the little I know of her.. as a mother myself.. I admire her quite a bit. After losing her husband, she left everything she knew and everyone she knew, packed up her two boys and moved across the ocean to start a brand new life.. a life that wasn’t going to be easy.. farming is hard work.. harder, I’m sure back then, then it is now.. with our new fangled automatic tractors, and pull behind potato diggers. She did not do this for herself.. she moved to give her boys the best chance she could. Oh the things Mother’s will do for their children.. I can see her sometimes.. in the field with her cows at the top of the hill, looking across the river thinking about a home she will never see again. I think she would have loved to see the farm now… the house restored, animals back in the barn.. chickens laying (we put the hen house in the spot on the survey that says Hen house.. guess we picked the right spot)., and roosters crowing. We’ll have to get a couple Guernseys for her.. and if we ever make the visit across the pond to see Nottingham, and Oliver’s old home.. a trip to St. Brelades & St.Heliers will have to be on our list of things to see and do
The Inside shortly before we finished:
The house is now filled with our love and stuff.. Maybe one day I’ll post some photos of it all complete.. just as soon as I finish unpacking. Have a story about this house, or even the farm? I would love to hear it.. Email me (Jen) @ Sunflowers@DakeyneFarm.com or, if you are local, drop by for a cup of tea and a chat.. and maybe some eggs and honey too 🙂
Edited to add: this is not the big house at the Dakeyne farm.. but one just before on the corner.