The Washerwoman

The Washerwoman

Sunday, 25 August 2013

..Who lived in a house like this?


During our most recent trip to France we were fortunate enough to attend an auction. This was nothing like any auction that I have been to in the UK as this one took place in a small Château in the depths of the Normandy Countryside.
We arrived, shocked to find dozens of cars lining the surrounding lanes. After gingerly edging  into the hedgerow to park we set off with the crowds in the direction of the sale.


We all had to squeeze past parked vans in the narrow overgrown driveway before emerging into the garden. The house was nestled behind hydrangea bushes, most of the shutters were closed.





In front of the château a crowd had gathered, while a steady stream of people shuffled into the open front door. We joined the queue and were soon enveloped in the gloom, very few of the exterior shutters were open on the ground floor and there was no electricity, so most people were viewing the house contents with the aid of torches.
Having squinted our way around the ground floor rooms we set off up the rickety looking stairs. The first floor was easier to negotiate as more light was coming in through the thickly cobwebbed windows.


It was obvious that nothing had changed for many years. The interior was dilapidated and neglected. The painted panelling was rotten.


This bedroom was wallpapered with 20th century paper but with a patch of delicate blue and white floral paper from a much earlier date. They must have decorated around a piece of furniture for it to have survived so well. The curtains were mid 20th century floral and I hoped the auctioneer would include these in the sale.




Cupboards were full of dusty clothing, left undisturbed for decades. In one very dark bedroom there was a box of hats on the floor, I could see old lace and sequins glinting in the dusty gloom...


Along the corridor in total contrast was a room decorated with lurid Orange floral wallpaper and thickly applied orange paint. Shelves were littered with  old toys and ornaments.


The next challenge (apart from navigating the narrow corridors with the posse of locals who were obviously just there for a good old snoop) was to find the stairs to the attics. Sure enough a distressed panelled door revealed the tiny winding staircase to the top of the house.


The attic was strewn with discarded toys, chalky religious figures, dusty books and broken furniture. The windows were almost obscured with cobwebs.



A detail of the wonderful wallpaper in the attic and this pretty border.......


One of the windows, looking out onto the roof turrets.



 Religious figures waiting for a new home....





With slightly less people around me I was able to play with my camera and managed to snap a few black and white images....look away now if you don't like spiders! The window sill was covered with dead flies and spiders.



After exploring the attics, I was able to make my way into some of the other bedrooms on the first floor.


Most of the rooms were sparsely decorated with very little furniture, but fabulous floral fabric lined the walls... over mantel mirrors were speckled and very shabby.




There were 2 bathrooms on this floor, one decorated in hideous orange marble, circa 1980's, the other of a slightly earlier date comprising of a full-on palette of purple and pink!


Downstairs – the crowds had thinned out, so that we were able to make our way to the kitchen and scullery.  
Whoever lived in the house, based their catering in the tiny kitchen with 1970s décor.


 A drying area – complete with indoor washing line. As you can see with a rather funky late 1970's headscarf has been left to dry ....



Beautiful gilt lamp fitting in total contrast to the brown and orange decor in the kitchen



The atmospheric rambling, overgrown garden had some wonderful statues.



Lastly, we were able to explore the outbuildings. Most of them full of discarded furniture, and this fab skiing poster from the 1950's.




Hope you have enjoyed the "tour". In the next few weeks I will be listing French and English Vintage items for sale on my new blog here http://lacamionettebleue.blogspot.co.uk/ Hope to see you over there!

18 comments:

Mrs Black the shoppe keeping cat said...

A hush always falls over me when I find an old house like this. I cannot help but feel a little sad and wonder how/why it was left this way. But, it is exciting that items will find a new home! x

Lazy Daisy Jones said...

Liz...
OMG how ab fab...how dreamlike and amazing!! lost for words really...did you ever find out who lived there...?
heading over to your new blog right away...see you there..
bestest daisy j x

BusyLizzie said...

Thank you both for your comments, it was very exciting! I have tried to use google to find info, but drawn a blank so far.... Have a lovely weekend. x

Porcelina said...

What an exciting place to explore! My imagination would have been running wild, the history of the place must have been hinted at by all of those finds, and how could you resist trying to piece them together into a romantic yet tragic tale? Amazing. P x

Fenela said...

What a fabulous glimpse into this stunning house! Thank you for sharing with us!!

the woolly dog said...

It looks like a house version of the Marie Celeste with tea towels still hanging up and toys on the shelves, very strange. You wonder why it was left to get into such disrepair, where were the relatives that usually descend on houses like vultures?

Sowy Stitch said...

What an adventure - a house lost in time. The line of washing never taken down brought a lump to my throat. Pam x

nilly said...

Fabulous - it's ages since I went to a sale in a house decorated like that. I sometimes imagine the day in the future when strangers will be wandering around my own be-cobwebbed rooms, marvelling at the bizarre heaps of stuff! It's bound to happen...

ted and bunny said...

it makes Dukes Salerooms in Dorchester look a tad boring doesn't it!

A Mermaid's Tale said...

I'm so jealous Lizzie! Just a dream to be able to go into a time-warp like that and discover all sorts of dusty treasure!

hellish designs said...

really enjoyed reading and exploring Liz, but did you buy? Heather x

Shrimpton and Perfect said...

Oh Lizzie such an interesting post. I feel intrigued and a bit sad about the house and the life once lived there. But it reinforces my belief that we should all make the best of life and enjoy as much as we can as all things pass. On a brighter note at least the once loved items will be used and enjoyed again.

Jean xx

Streetcomber said...

It is amazing, a lost chateau, and it reminds me of a haunting book, Le Grand Meaulnes, by Alain Fournier.

The Vintage Knitter said...

OMG - what an amazing and beautiful place, you lucky thing being able to wander around like that. I'll go and check out your new blog at once!

Vintage Jane said...

What a find but so sad that it was just abandoned like that ...
M x

Jelly Jam said...

Hello! Just catching up on blogs and loved this read. When we've been house hunting in the past I've loved looking round houses that have fallen into disuse but never still full of 'stuff'. I was going to ask the obvious question 'why?' but see everyone else has asked and there is no answer. Love the look of that ride on toy in the attic!
Ellie x

christine said...

we used to come across deserted houses like this years ago, but nothing this grand.. very poignant... xx

BusyLizzie said...

Thank you Christine. Have visited your lovely blog and will follow your dolls houses musings..Lizzie