c. Chapter 3 : The house at Truro Grove

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Written 12/03/1013

It’s been interesting trying to piece together the history of the house at Truro Grove.  There are a few clues lurking around in the shape of titles, architectural features and stories told to both Rainee and Mum.  Rainee thinks the two room section seen on the right of the above photo was part of the original skillion home on the property when Margaret and Charles Hicks moved in as newlyweds in 1893. The stumps were certainly more unstable in this section and the verandah built in a different style, indicative of the Victorian era (1860 – 1900).   I would imagine the room as you walked in on the right would have been a lounge and to the left a bedroom with maybe another bedroom at the back and kitchen, dining and utilities off to the right.  At that stage plumbing wasn’t even in existence as far as taps and sewers and drains were concerned but as it was the area that later became bathroom and kitchen in the “second build” it would make sense to that people would rebuild utilities in the same area and this was also the “back” of the house.  The cellar may actually date back to the early homestead as a way to keep food cool and this would also make sense to rebuild the kitchen there to have access to that.    I have some vague memories of being able to peer into the cellar from the laundry that was there when I was a child.  Nothing so tempting as a place one is told to stay out of by grown ups!

Rainee: “… they had the cellar under the house, which was nailed down by Dad, as he was worried about us kids meeting snakes down there. It didn’t stop us, we all used to crawl under the house to get into it anyway ! ”   

Rainee was obviously braver than me – or maybe led astray by her big sister?

Rainee thought it likely the “second build” occurred in the late 1800s – particularly as the date 1897 was found on her refurbished fireplace which was part of the formal lounge of the large extension.   Rainee reasoned that Charles’ father William Charles died in 1901 and was probably part of that rebuild prior to his demise from “Bright’s disease” (a Kidney infection).

For my part I’m thinking that as Margaret and Charles’ second child (William) Billy was born in 1898 they were simply running out of room and I’m tipping that pregnancy galvanised the rebuild.

The area under the new roof line comprised two new bedrooms, a huge hall and two lounge areas.  Then under a separate roof line kitchen, bathroom and laundry.  The kitchen and laundry were also rebuilt at some later stage due to termite damage,  this involved bringing toilets indoors,  indoor showers and no doubt plumbing and electricity – during the time of ownership of Roy and Edith Hicks (my Grandparents).

Barbara: “Gran [Edith] stuck to her guns and had an inside toilet installed in the new bathroom off the side of the kitchen, as well as another bath shower.”

My sense,  and Rainee’s too is that Margaret would have had major input into the design features of the new home.  I always adored those high ceilings,  the pressed tin walls and the front formal room with the bay window was magic to me. There was a grandeur, particularly in that front room with it’s elegant two level fireplace,  the red velvet curtains under their pelmets and the stained glass panels of the bay window. Many of the rooms in the new extension had walls of pressed tin.

Apparently the ceilings were also pressed tin earlier on.  It became the fashion to collect seaweed to insulate ceilings.  Of course the tin then rusted!  This was replaced with a kind of pressed cardboard called “Canite”.

Rainee told me via email: “Also another thing I recall quite vividly, and I guess Mum would to, was the Attic. Especially on a windy night, there was a howl that used to go through the cracks and crevices. Growing up, it was quite creepy, at times – as a Child’s imagination can run riot! I was relieved that the loo was IN the house, in the old bathroom as you remember – once Ethel Fegan’s room (Niece to Margaret) used to stay, as a maid/domestic help to her.

I did go up with Duncan into the Attic, but we had to crawl very carefully on the beams, as much as possible. I remember Duncan put his foot through the softer ceiling over his room, and Gran went beserk at us! Barb might have gone up too – you would have to ask. Duncan and I got an old wooden ladder out and went up into the manhole between my room and Duncan’s original room, before he decided to sleep out on the verandah. He got sick of everyone tramping through his room as a shortcut to the loo, and wanted more privacy – fair enough.

Architecturally the extension is  “Federation” – 1890 – 1920 and is this is seen in the curvy bits on the ends of the ridgeline of the roof which I have discovered are called “goose, necked finials”, wooden fretwork as seen on the bullnose verandah posts and as I remember, in the hall between the two rooms of the original cottage and the “new build”, and  bay windows. { http://www.customroofing.com.au/heritage.htm }

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The front hall at Truro.  Pressed tin was often used on ceilings.   I am now the custodian of the hall stand on the right. Photo by me circa 1996.

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  The faded grandeur of the formal lounge – Photo by me Circa 1998.

The house,  was purchased and moved, to Bagshot near Bendigo.  Mum and Gran  visited there a year or so later and tell me how lovingly and faithfully it has been restored.  One day soon I hope to be able to pay it a visit myself.

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