Consequences - Chapter 16-17
Charles’ Diary – May continued
Such wonderful people the Gaskells; we much enjoyed their wise advice & good humour; Mrs. Gaskell told about meeting Harriet Beacher Stowe; her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin – sold more than a million copies in England 10 times more than any other book except bible. William Gaskell was made visitor at Manchester New College in London.
Very early start today for our canal trip to Marple; Mary is dreading it I know; I think she will come around; She feels we should be going to Church on our first Sunday of married life, but I know there is a church in Marple not far from the canal & we may well get there in time. If all goes to plan, we should arrive in Marple by 11, so might work.
Exploring Manchester today with a concert at Free Trade hall with the Gaskells to follow. Canal trip was wonderful – crowded boat, but very efficiently run; boat cost 1 d per mile and it was seven miles to Marple. The boat was 75 feet long and 6 ft 6 inches wide and was drawn by two horses. Most beautiful scenery. Mary most impressed after her reluctant start.
Wonderful concert; Enjoyed every note; so pleased to have made friends with Gaskells.
Plan to go to Mechanics Institution to see Exhibits today. Play this evening.
Play rather disappointing; Actors rather wooden; Weak plot; But Mary enjoyed it. Palace Theatre full of plush velvet & gold paint, very ornate. Leaving for Liverpool from Victoria at 10.10 today, and will arrive at Liverpool Lime Street by 11.20.
Enjoying being back in Liverpool after 10 years. Walked up to Uncle Cox’s for dinner. Good service & friendly host at our Inn by the railway; Mary fascinated by the sea. Wish we could have more time here & might have gone to proper seaside resort. Home tomorrow. Mary opted for an extra day in Liverpool which means a very convoluted journey home tomorrow. We must take the ferry to Birkenhead from the Landing Stage which departs at 8.30. Then our train from Birkenhead to Chester departs at 8.50 and after changing, we depart for Wolverhampton at 9.50, where we arrive at 1.05. Then the Worcester Scrub Hill train doesn’t leave until 4, so we have time for lunch at the station. We will finally be back in Worcester by 6 p.m.
And so Mr. & Mrs. Charles Simpson Walker are taking up residence at Rainbow Hill Cottage. All in good shape; Mary very impressed.
Back to work today & very busy. Mary much pleased with house & excited about exploring Worcester. She is hoping to make friends, but with the Wilsons & the various other relatives around, she won’t be short of company.
Invited Jones over in the evening for tea. Don’t want him to feel excluded now I am married. He has been so much a part of my life.
CHAPTER 15 – Mary’s Journal
We arrived at our new home late last night, and Charles picked me up and carried me over the threshold. I laughed so hard because I though he would drop me, as I now feel so big and I’m sure I weigh more than he does. But he is much taller than I am and quite strong.
It was quite late when we arrived at Shrub Hill Station, but my first impression of Worcester was one of delight. It is a very green area with gentle hills. The city itself is not large, not nearly as big as York, but you see the proud spire of the Cathedral and several other churches sticking up amongst the densely packed houses and shops.
We hired a cab to take us to our new home. Charles knew the driver by name, Mr. Robert Smith, since with it being his father’s profession he takes an interest in seeing how others run their cab companies. Mr. Smith was very polite and congratulated Charles on his fine new bride and wished us well.
From Scrub Hill Station, he turned left into Scrub Hill Road. Then he went left into Lowesmore Place, and Charles pointed out to me the house in which he had lived for the past 10 years, owned by Mrs. Griffin, Mr. Griffin having died four years ago. Then we took a sharp right into Lowesmore Terrace. We were driving northeast, always climbing steadily upwards, and we passed over the Worcester and Birmingham Canal which is very important to Charles in his work. We drove on Astwood Road which is also called Rainbow Hill which is a sizeable slope. There are very few houses around ours but Charles tells me that the water storage tank takes a huge plot at the end of the road. However, I will not complain, as it will be so wonderful to have water piped into our house and not have to depend on a pump in the yard.
There are about 20 houses on Rainbow Hill Road and the terraces off it. Ours is the first cottage you come to, with the larger and costlier houses farther up the hill. The driver helped us to the door with our bags, and Charles gave him a 3d tip.
Our house which is detached, is of stone, built on two floors, with a slate roof. The only decoration on the front of the house is the white dripstone around the windows and doors, where there is a diamond pattern in the centre of the stone. The cottage has a small garden all around it, but much of it is needing attention. We can see the very ornate back gardens of the homes on Rainbow Terrace from the street that runs just above us called Terrace Walk. Those big houses on Rainbow Terrace have gardens that run the entire length of the block, so all we can see are the back gates into the gardens.
Our new home is delightful. Charles had arranged for John from his work who helps him in his garden, to come in and light the coal in the stove, so we would have hot water on our arrival. He put a bouquet of freshly picked tulips on the table. The house was obviously recently cleaned, without a speck of dust in sight. It seems very small in comparison to our Inn, but it is cosy and has a very homely feel to it.
As you come in the front door, you see the large fireplace on your right, with no mantelpiece, but a surround of lovely stones. The front wall in fact has been left as untreated stones, and makes a wonderful feature. The front window is not large but has a magnificent view over the town below. The ceiling has the beams exposed, and it is much higher than I thought it would be, since I have been in many very tiny cottages where I nearly bumped my head on the door frames. The ceiling slopes downwards towards the kitchen area, and when I went into that room, I realised that that door frame was just high enough for my head to clear. Charles has to bend his to get through. It is a mystery to me why the two doors should be so different. I expect Charles will be able to find out more.
There is a winding wooden staircase to the upstairs, which looks to me to be dangerous, especially in candle light. The steps are angled and quite rough. The upstairs has two substantial rooms, with a small section off one, which could be used for storage or perhaps for a servant when we can afford to have one. There is also an attic space, accessible by ladder, which will be invaluable for storage. All the windows are reasonably sized and the views from upstairs is wonderful, looking over the city. The windows worry me a bit as in the winter we will have to prevent drafts. I can easily make heavier curtains, and Charles can find someone who will fix shutters inside if we feel the need.
We unpacked as much as was necessary the first night for life to continue but I must do it properly later on. I will spend some time today going around the neighbourhood and seeing what's available in the shops. Charles works long hours, and the time will hang heavy at first, but I am sure that I will soon make friends.
My first job this morning is to go through the inventory, left us by the owners, and see what exactly we have in the house. There will be items we will need to buy to suit our needs and I can make a list of those and discuss them with Charles when he gets home this evening.
The house is much as Charles described it. The kitchen has a flagged floor, and the iron stove has a flat apron in front for keeping things warm. The sink with its wonderful water tap drains into the cesspool in the back yard. This area does not yet have sewers provided for houses as they do in the city centre. There is an adequate larder for keeping things cool. Outside in the back yard there is a special hole cut into the hillside which has been lined with stones with a fine mesh door, and it makes an extra larder for keeping things cooler in the summer. It will also be very good for preserving things for longer when the outside temperature is lower. The back garden itself needs quite a lot of work. There is a shed for storage and a privy. We do have an indoor water closet, and the night soil buckets are collected each evening from the front road.
There is also a pump in the back yard, so we can water the plants without needing to go into the house. There is a bench for sitting out, and a rickety table, which I shall sit at when I am shelling peas and dealing with the runner beans and gooseberries.
I have placed our silver candlesticks (another wedding present) on the table near the fireplace. We have a globe lamp that uses whale oil which makes the room quite light and cosy. There is gas lighting in most streets in Worcester now, but our part of town is almost in the country so we don’t have it yet. We have many lovely candle sconces which will serve the purpose.
The settee is quite small and upholstered in purple velvet and there is a brown leather covered wing chair. The table is gate-legged, and the chairs have seats made of woven reeds. There is a looking glass above the fireplace and a small table in the corner where I shall keep my sewing box. Charles’ book closet fits in the alcove.
Our bedroom has a large canopied bedstead and my pieced quilt which is of a pattern called The Tree of Paradise, which is meant for a marriage bed, looks very smart upon it. The large dressing table has two long drawers and two shorter ones, with two small ones each side of an oval mirror with the wash basin and jug in the centre. Our mahogany wardrobe is carved and overly ornate. I’ve placed some early roses from the garden in a bowl on the dressing table.
The smaller bedroom which will be for the baby once he or she arrives in a year’s time, if our plan works out, has only a small cot with a straw mattress, and a tiny dressing table with an octagonal mirror and one drawer. There is a wicker-seat chair which is low and is intended for nursing a baby. There are fireplaces in each of the larger bedrooms.
I am used to hard work, having helped in the inn for the past four years, where my main jobs were making beds and serving at tables, but here I have to do the jobs that were done by the servants at the inn. I need to lay and light the fires. The stove needs to be cleaned and polished. I need to wash and starch the clothes and iron Charles’ shirts and handkerchiefs and the bedding and the table linen. The dining table with a blanket on it needs to serve for an ironing board as well, as the kitchen is too small to support a table. I will need to clean the carpets and scrub the floors.
Another job will be to polish our silver things. Charles inherited many from his mother when she died and his Father has now given them to us; his silver brushes and mirror need to be kept shining.
I need to do the shopping every day. The vegetables we get from our allotment which you can see as you walk down Rainbow Hill, and those in excess I must preserve and need to get some jars and covers for that purpose. I must make some jam and marmalade too which I know that Charles enjoys with his toast in the morning.
The allotment garden has a small shed that Charles keeps locked, containing the gardening tools, but also is used for storing the trays for pricking out new plants, and also the excess of production beyond our daily needs. I was amazed at the range of vegetables and fruits available. Of course this is the time when the red currants, black currants, raspberries, gooseberries and strawberries are all coming into their own. We have far more than we can eat, even with having them for three meals a day. As for vegetables, he has planted lettuce, celery, asparagus, kale, peas, scarlet and dwarf beans, cucumbers, potatoes, parsnips and carrots. There is a huge laurel tree in the garden which provides welcome shade. Convolvulus grows on the bordering fence and there is a bower of canariesis. The roses are just coming out and are glorious and I do so love seeing the hollyhocks. The vegetation is about a week or more ahead of what it would be back home in York. I must remember to pick some roses for the purpose of making fresh rose water. It goes so well in making pastry.
But back to the house. Our parlour curtains area dark brown brocade and the carpet is Turkish. I feel the parlour is rather dark and as soon as I can will attempt to make it more cheery.