One of the things I miss the most now we no longer live in an older house is that sense of connection to the past, that sense of fitting into a continuous story. To walk into a room in the company of ghosts. So many lives, so many hopes and dreams and fears written into every fibre, every brick.
Our former home was built towards the end of WW1 and stood through the Spanish flu pandemic, women getting the vote, the world going to war again, and humanity learning how to eradicate itself and every other form of life from the Earth. There was an area of ground at the bottom of the garden where a large hole had been filled in with rubble and grassed over: the Anderson shelter once stood there, and I could never help thinking about the people who had lived in the house then, how scared they must have been, huddling in the shelter as death rained down from above. Two of the houses on the road were destroyed in WW2; an unexploded bomb supposedly fell in the front garden of our old house.
There were changes, of course. The iron railings that once proudly decorated the front of the garden were taken for the war effort: you could see the stubs still embedded in the brickwork where they’d been cut away. Over the years successive owners added central heating, double glazing, and an indoor bathroom. Somehow the beautiful Edwardian fireplace in the front room had survived intact.
She was doing pretty well for an old lady, our house. I like to think we treated her kindly. She had her quirks, her creaks and groans and the icy draughts we could never quite eliminate, but that was all part of her charm.