Phillippa and Henry’s cosy home

The features of the house Phillippa and Henry lived in was very much like what we live in today, with a few exceptions.

The best bedroom had a double bed with a canopy, watch pockets and valances and cedar chest drawers. Phillippa had her cabin trunk from her voyage out, along with a dressing table and mirrors. This was complimented by a washstand with a water set which included a jug, bowl and his and her chamber pots. These days its the master bedroom with a King size bed, a tall boy or chest of drawers, walk in robes and an ensuite, if we’re lucky.

This wonderful home that Henry built had two distinguishing features, it had a different underground tank where as most other cottages/homes didn’t. The other feature was the kitchen, see Henry was very observant, he’d seen and fought many house fires, he’d seen the loss of life, the horrific burns and the loss of all possessions. Majority of these fires started in the kitchen and he had noticed on his travels from Adelaide to Burra and then on to Moonta, that the squatters and more affluent farmers had detached kitchens from the rest of the house. When he asked as to why this was he was told “so that if there is a fire only the kitchen is lost”. This was good enough reasoning for Henry to do the same when he built his house.

So Henry went and built a detached kitchen which was quite large, it had a large open fireplace, on one side there was a wood stove, and on the other a hob and swing out irons to hold such things as hot water fountains and camp ovens, a brandis, an iron stand with four legs on which was placed a large cast iron cauldron used for boiling the clothes on washing days, coking puddings, brewing swanky etc. Swanky for those who don’t know was a brew of hops, malt, yeast, ginger and wheat. Methodists were teetotal of course but swanky didn’t count. Ginger beer was made in the summer, complete with sultanas and currents. It was put away until the corks popped. Then it was ready for these teetotallers who stated “never a drop of alcohol did touch my lips”.

The fireplace took up just about took up the whole one end of the room. The kitchen was warm in winter, airy in summer with lots of room and became the family centre of activity as this is also where you would find the main dining table. There was also another small building between the kitchen and the main house, this was the cabin in which the grandchildren stayed in when they came. There was a detached wash house out in the yard, this was also because of the fire risk, from the copper when lit for washing day.

(I did have a lovely picture to add to this post but unfortunately it is uploading on here sideways instead of the correct way up)

Remember in the previous post where I mentioned that Henry was not musically gifted as he was tone deaf and could not hold a note, the family had a harmonium which was initially used for sing song when visitors came by who could play it. I’m not sure if either Henry or Phillippa were able to play the harmonium or not. The Cornish were born choristers and a surprising number of miners with no tuition at all could play tunes on the harmonium, accordions, fiddle and brass instruments. It is known though, that in the next generation of the family, music played a large part and some of their grand children were especially talented. There was an enjoyable custom which lasted three generations where they had Sunday night singsong after church. When TV came along though, the tradition was lost.

In their yard they kept fowls, geese and pigs, the day of the pig kill was an occasion for all of the family. There was enough land for all these animals to be kept in hygienic conditions which was unlike many of the other families and their houses around where they had so little land that they had a pig sty right at the back door. When the children grew up and started earning their own salary, they could provide better for their farms, they could provide hay, chaff, a cow and a horse too. It was with these animals that Henry won some awards, he raised poultry and won several prizes at the annual Agricultural and Horticultural shows.

Next I’ll tell you what clever things Henry did to keep his family healthy without knowing it.

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