Erdigg House

Good morning all. It’s time for Rambler5319 to take over with a guest post. Enjoy!

 

You may remember I went on a two day break to Llangollen a while ago. On our way back home we did call in at this place and as usual the National Trust didn’t let us down. It’s called Erdigg House and was down quite a long stretch of narrow lanes. Its distance away from other houses is probably the reason why the servants all lived in – it was just too far to commute in and out every day especially with the long hours of work expected of them. Built at the beginning of the 18th century it passed into the ownership of the Yorke family in 1733 and remained with them until 1973. It was then given to the National Trust and celebrated 40 years under their control this year. It has won a number of awards over the years and I think it’s worth a visit if you’re around the area. The NT had a special offer on membership so I decided to take the plunge and go for a 6 month trial. I have to visit just 3 places to get my membership cost back so it seemed a good deal.

First place we came to was the bee-keeping section. Not a very posh sign but there was the obligatory grey protective suit hanging on the opposite brick wall.
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And a pic of a volunteer keeper “marking the queen”
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Next is a water purifier.

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The tap is missing from the bottom where there’s just a hole. You should be able to read the manufacturer’s name – Lipscombe & Co and their address 233 Strand (London). I checked up on the company and they seemed to do quite well for a time with branches in a number of UK towns. However in The London Gazette (16th April, 1889) there was a notice of a hearing to take place on 16th May 1889 for bankruptcy. Things had obviously gone bad for them.

This next item is quite interesting as it’s an early form of fridge.

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Here’s a close up of the sign pinned to the inside of the lid

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Have a read about how you had to use it. No opening a door & putting something in and closing it again like we do today. What a rigmarole!

Then there was this. Any ideas?

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It is a knife cleaner. That’s right not a sharpener – a cleaner. You might just be able to see the manufacturer’s name in the largest lettering – VONO. Now if you’ve ever had one of those beds with a metal frame and a metal lattice with springs stretched between the edges they were often made by Vono. There is special tool for screwing & unscrewing the ends of the bed from the metal frame called a “Vono key”. It’s really just a chunky spanner but made especially for the size of the hexagonal bolt heads.

Here’s another interesting photo.

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Can you see how it’s constructed? It’s a sort of enclosed bell shape but the bottom has a hole in and it’s pushed up inside the bell. Apparently it was a Victorian idea of a fly/wasp trap. You put something to attract the insects in the area between the rim of the hole and the side of the bell. The insects fly in but can’t fly out again. Well that’s what they told us. It looks a good idea but it obviously never caught on. I guess it’s the cleaning which is difficult. How do you get whatever you put into the trough area out? Definitely looks tricky to me.

This next photo is really interesting but you might not see why at first.

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There a number of folks stood in front of the window. They are all servants belonging to the house. However if you look at the open window just behind the back row of two people you can see more figures. These are actually the master, mistress & children who owned the house. Quite a reversal of prominence to let the servants take centre stage and have themselves just looking out of the window. The year is 1852.

60 years later in 1912 the then owner re-created this photo with his own family & servants. Great idea! Here’s his version. Did you count the servants – I make it 15 in each pic. One of the notes said there was a servant who was present in both photos but I can’t remember which one except that it was a lady. I reckon the family got their money’s worth out of her!

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Next is another water filter, this time made by Cheavin’s.

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The company was founded in the late 17th century by John Dwight who, with Robert Hooke, had worked in the laboratory of Robert Boyle. Hooke was a natural philosopher, architect & polymath. He also did many surveys in London after the Great Fire (over half). Irishman Boyle is most famous for Boyle’s Law (PV=k) but he was also a natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and writer in theology. (He was the 14th child born into his family!)

Cheavin’s and their relatives & descendants remained in control of the company until 1864 when it was sold and went out of the family. Then in 1889 it went bankrupt. 1889 was not a good year for water filter manufacturers was it – remember Lipscombe’s?

The whole water filtering idea is a reminder to us of how risky drinking or even just using ordinary water could be in days gone by. Today we think nothing of turning our taps on and drinking it. We no longer fear infection & disease coming to us that way. Our cleaning and treatment of water before it gets to our homes is a tried & tested & trusted method. Just think of how disconcerting it would be if you had to filter all the water that comes out of your tap.

Another name in the water filter market was Doulton; many UK residents will know that name from their manufacture of domestic toilets! (We definitely had one when I was younger). Their motto “Making Water Fit for Kings, Queens & Presidents Since 1827. Isn’t it Time You Had One?” And they’re still going today selling over a million filters a year around the world.

That’s a good place to stop. Part 2 next week.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] is the second part of our visit to Erdigg House which I began last week […]

    Reply

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