We are not qualified to remark on the architectural features of the fascinating building that is Fairfield House in Castle Street Thornbury. The house is a listed building and the details have been recorded by English Heritage an organisation far more able than we are to make such comments.
The owners have taken care to retain many of the more interesting features such as the wooden ties in the wall.
One of the previous owners, Mr De Salis, made some interesting notes on the features of the house. One comment he made was about two plaques one on each side of a door in one of the sitting rooms. He suggests that these may have been made by an artist with an earlier connection to the house, Edward Mathew Pearce, but at this time we have no further information.
The house had at least two pumps; one in the yard at the front and one in the laundry room.
We were interested to hear about the water cistern which collected the rainwater from the roof and is situated underground in the garden near the back door and the coach house. Water from here was pumped by hand into a lead lined tank in the loft and used for bathing and to flush the toilets. The house had two indoor toilets at a particularly early time by Thornbury standards. A lady who was born in the house in 1910 remembered that one toilet was upstairs for the ladies and the downstairs cloakroom was intended for use by the gentlemen. Cisterns were commonly used in Thornbury to supplement the water supply from wells and streams before the piped water came to Thornbury. We have written about cisterns and piped water elsewhere on the website. Click here to read more
Elizabeth Cochrane (nee de Salis), one of the later occupants of Fairfield House has given us a very detailed description of it during her time there during and just after World War Two.
“It was a large house with a drawing room, dining room, sitting room and cloakroom. Beyond the green baize door was the kitchen area consisting of pantry with a whole wall of fitted cupboards and a sink, kitchen with a built in dresser, sink, and Aga cooker which my parents had put in, and a Beeston boiler which did the central heating installed by us, and burned all the rubbish. There was also a small room which the cook had for her sitting room, a larder and a lobby with an airing cupboard. A back door here led into two more rooms, a washhouse with a pump for water, and a laundry which had lots of old flat irons. The back door proper to the right of the kitchen had a row of old-fashioned bells on the wall, but I think the only one we used/worked was that by the back door. This door led into a small paved yard, in which was another pump, and a small conservatory, and off this were a whole row of coal sheds etc. and from thence a passage led to the stable yard. This was cobbled and on one side next to the house was a stable with loose box, harness room, and a garage. For ease of access from the house, a door was made from the washhouse through a cupboard at the back of the harness room. Above the stables were three rooms, one of which was a workshop. On the other side of the yard was a potting shed, a row of woodsheds and two compost pits.
Upstairs on the first floor were seven bedrooms, five were doubles, one small single and one enormous room which later had a bathroom made at one end…… At the other end of this room a lift was installed for my paternal grandmother, which came out on the ground floor in the sitting room. It was actually sited in the small conservatory in the back yard. There were also two bathrooms, one with a large roll top bath, basin, linen cupboard and lavatory, and the other had just been a lavatory but a modern bath was added. There was a flight of back stairs to the kitchens.
At the top of these stairs was another flight to the top floor, and what had been six servants’ bedrooms, and a box room which gave on to a further unfloored box room. My parents had the wall taken down between two of these rooms, on the road side of the house, in order to create a large playroom. The cook slept up here, and during the war so did all three of us children, as the Paying Guests all slept on the first floor. After the war this floor was let as a flat, with a kitchen being made in one of the bedrooms, with a bathroom in the box room. All the bedrooms had basins put in when we first lived there, including two of those in the attics.”