In these days of rapid changes and improvements, of universal education, and of ever-increasing facilities in the means of transport and communication, in even the most remote country districts the old order is rapidly changing and giving place to the new, and all things old are being ruthlessly swept away, and are disappearing one after another.
Although at the present time a considerable number of old farm-houses are still standing in Devon, much (at least as regards their outward appearance) as they stood from one to four or even five hundred years ago, yet in every year that passes one sees a marked decrease in their number, either from accident or by design. For on the one hand, owing to the dryness of their thatched roofs, their cob-walls, and their well-seasoned and often worm-eaten timber-work, they fall an all too easy prey to the demon of fire. While, on the other hand, many are yearly being condemned by the Medical Officers of Health, and rightly so, as “no longer fit for human habitation”, owing to the wilful neglect in some cases, and the inability through lack of means in others, of their owners to keep them in habitable repair.
Full title: The Old Devon Farm-House. Part I. Its Exterior Aspect and General Construction. by Charles H. Laycock.
(Read at Totnes, 21st July, 1920. Year published: 1920; Origin: DA Transactions; Pages: 158-191)
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The Old Devon Farm-House. Part II. (1922)
In this present Part II I propose to deal with its interior arrangements, giving a general plan of the house itself, noticing the furniture and utensils found within it, and finally giving short descriptions of various customs and practices connected with Devon farm-house life, some of which are quite obsolete, while others are now rarely met with.
I had hoped to complete the subject this year, but when I came to tackle it I found that there was so much to be dealt with in giving a thorough survey of the interior of an old Devon farm-house, that it has been necessary further to subdivide my paper.
Before proceeding, I should like to warn readers of my paper not to be disappointed if they fail to find a farm-house with all its interior arrangements as I have described them. For, just as I found it impossible to obtain a photo of an exterior which contained all the typical features of the old Devon farm-house in one and the same building – the cob walls, the thatched roof, mullioned windows, Jacobean porch, etc. (though I feel sure that some examples do still exist, if one only had the good fortune to come across them), I think it is very doubtful indeed if a single example could be found of a farm-house with its interior arrangements exactly as described in these pages.
Full title: The old Devon Farm-House. Part II. Its Interior Arrangements and Domestic Economy. by Charles H. Laycock.
(Read at Crediton, 10th August, 1922. Year published: 1922; Origin: DA Transactions; Pages: 224-270)
The Old Devon Farm-House. Part II continued (1923)
In the first portion of Part II of my paper, dealing with the interior arrangements of the old Devon farm-house, which I read last year, I completed my survey of the front or best kitchen. We will now pass through the door leading into the back kitchen, which will be seen figured on the Ground Plan, which I again reproduce, to facilitate reference.
It must be clearly understood that the back kitchens of these large farm-houses are by no means merely sculleries, or, as we term them in Devon, back-‘ouzes, which the term “back kitchen” usually implies in the case of a town house. They are kitchens in every sense of the word, equally as much as are the front or best kitchens. Indeed, if anything, more so, for the front kitchen is really almost a semi-parlour, all the rough work of the house and the greater part of the cooking being done in the back kitchen, with the exception of the Sunday roast joint and the baking of the bread, there being no turn-spit or oven in the back kitchen.
Full title: The Old Devon Farm-House. Part II (continued). Its Interior Arrangements and Domestic Economy. by Charles H. Laycock.
(Read at Salcombe, 12th July, 1923. Year published: 1923; Origin: DA Transactions; Pages: 154–181)