Monday, July 26, 2010

By the Pricking of My Thumbs...

My Wordless Wednesday choice (seen at left) seemed to have teased several of you last week. You were of the opinion that this house could tell a story or two. It undoubtedly could, and I thought it deserved to have a little more said about it.

In April 2007, Denis and I rented a beautiful place just past the outskirts of the lovely village of Riseley in Bedfordshire, England. The location was ideally suited because it was close to several family members. For the week we were there, we drove along the High Street through the village at least twice each day, and I fell in love with the homes I could see. One day, I spent a good portion of one afternoon walking up one side and down the other of the High Street taking one photo after another and wearing out a set or two of camera batteries.

Of all the wonderful houses along Riseley's High Street, this one-- the "Orange House"-- spoke to me the most. I don't know anything of its history, but I thought you'd enjoy seeing more photos of the place. As always, all you have to do is click on each photo to view it full size, and I hope that you do, or you'll be missing tons of details.

The first photo of the Orange House you see at the top is the way it looks as you're heading out of Riseley toward Coldham Farm where we were staying (in cottage #5). In this next photo to the right, you'll see that it looks almost completely different as you're driving into the village. In this photo, it looks like a group of several separate buildings, and that's exactly what it is.

As you walk into the village, one of the first of the buildings you can see is half-timbered and looks as though it might have had something to do with stabling horses, with possibly a hayloft above. You can see a glimpse of another building behind it and to the left. In front of it is a good-sized thatched cottage, and although I know the place has to be dark inside, that new window just doesn't look right on that outside wall. What do you think?

As I continued to walk up to the front of the Orange House, I was trying to get photos from as many different angles as I could. Sometimes this involved walking back and forth across the High Street. Since I did this the entire length of the street, I just might have been the topic of conversation at the Fox and Hounds that evening.

The front of the Orange House shows you the different buildings and differing roof lines: brick, half-timbered, thatch, tile. Since a brick and tile works was in Riseley from the sixteenth century, I can't help but wonder if this place is made from local materials.

There was no help for it but to walk back across the road and go up to the gate. It was April, flowers were beginning to bloom. An area of old cobbles separated the two buildings in the front and led almost all the way to the building in back, which from its style was probably stables for horses. I loved the decorative pattern in tiles on its roof. The materials may be plain, but what is built from them doesn't have to be. All that's needed is a bit more time, the skill and the desire.

You can also see from this picture the lovely little stained glass window on the wall to the left. You can also see something else that just isn't common in the United States: when you live in a house that's truly old, none of the walls are straight and true. Time and gravity take their toll. The thatched cottage to the left has a wall that looks very bowed, and it's not a trick of light or angle. No matter how crooked, I never once had the feeling that this building would topple down.

Something that can't be seen in the photo above is the window to the left. You can see the merest hint of the windowsill just above the ivy, but that's it. In that window was an old blue glass bottle with a cork stopper and a very attentive black cat. I looked at the bench and the bird feeder outside. I looked at the blue bottle and the black cat.

Instead of walking through the gate and knocking on the door as I'd originally wanted, I came back to the pavement and walked past the house. There was a lovely wattle fence and flowers in bloom, and perhaps the most interesting elevation of the Orange House.

Look at that beam separating the first and second floors (or ground floor from first floor... this having one foot in the USA and one in the UK can be tricky once in a while). Not the straightest thing you've ever seen, is it? And those old windows with the small leaded panes-- and how about my favorite? See that door that goes to nowhere? Come home from the pub a bit worse for wear, and it might be a tad dangerous to leave the lights off while flinging open a door and stepping outside!

I hope you agree with me that the Orange House is a fascinating collection of old, old buildings. I would certainly love to learn its history. It's right on the edge of town and with the back buildings looking so much like stabling, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was originally a coaching inn.

Now... you may still be wondering about something I said earlier. If I wanted to walk through that gate and knock on the door, why didn't I?

Because I suddenly began feeling very uneasy, and the hairs on the back of my neck began to stand up. I can't help it. When something tells me to walk away, I do.

Was the trip back to the Orange House worth it? Would you like to see my journey down the rest of Riseley High Street?


  1. Cathy - Those are great 'photos - Thanks! And I like the story behind them, too. A really fascinating look around : ).

  2. Thank you for this marvelous story and trip to a wonderful house (with a slightly sinister tone)

    Actually I have just finished a story about an old house and a black cat. Could I borrow one of your photos for my post tomorrow? (with a proper link back here, of course).

  3. Oh thanks for returning to the orange house. I loved the story. And you know, I believe in listening to your instincts. It was time to to leave and you did.

  4. Lovely....just lovely.

    It is my dream to visit a portion of the Cotwolds and I imagine seeing many of these kinds of houses along the way.

    It would have been nice to hear the "true" history of the house, but I totally agree with following the leading of the inner voice.

  5. This was fascinating! I'm really curious about the house now. I can understand your feelings though. Once, when we were house hunting, a house made me feel the same way. I barely walked in the front door and told the realtor I'd seen enough and that we had to leave. I think she thought I was odd, but there was no way I was going farther into that house.

  6. Thanks for telling us more about the orange house and for more pictures. It does look like the perfect setting for a mystery novel, doesn't it? Especially since it gave you a good case of the willies.

  7. Margot-- I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Dorte-- Yes, of course you may! :)

    Beth-- I don't know why I started feeling that way, but I wasn't going to fight it!

    Molly-- I may learn more about the house yet. I've been Googling up a storm and slowly finding out bits and pieces about various houses in the village.

    Kathy-- I wouldn't care if the realtor thought I was odd, and I imagine you didn't either!

    Barbara-- Now that you mention it, it would make an excellent setting for a mystery!

  8. It looks wonderful...looks like there are a lot of stories regarding that house.

  9. What lovely photos and a great story! Now I want to go on a trip :)

  10. Cathy...I love that you posted the badge without the link; you go girl...LOL

  11. Oh, I love your story! Thanks for sharing it, feel free to tell more :-).

  12. Kris-- I'm going to Google around a bit to see if I can discover more of its history.

    Dorte-- You're welcome! I loved the story!

    Leah-- Wouldn't it be great if we could all travel whenever and wherever we liked?

    Diane-- ;)

    Laura-- Thanks! Sometime in the near future, there will be another installment on Riseley.

  13. I really liked this story and all the extra pictures. I know what you mean about some buildings. Some of them feel like they are trying to talk and tell all the secrets that have gone on in them. Nice and creepy sometimes but also other emotions.

  14. Margot-- Yes! I've walked into houses that just make me smile and smile and smile. I can't help but think that there must've been many happy memories stored in that building!


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