Thursday, 10 February 2011
One more non-fiction.......
In the late 1940's, May Savidge bought half of a 500 year old house. The other half had been a bakers for many years, but was now empty. She tried to buy that other half but the local authority bought it instead because eventually they were doing to demolish the whole building to make way for a ring road and a roundabout. She battled for years against this decision, and eventually the ring road was not to be, and in 1969, having acquired the other part of the house, took it apart, almost single handedly, and had it shipped to Norfolk where she had bought a building plot. And then, from 1969 until her death in 1993, she attempted the impossible - to put the house back together again.
She may well have been the last of her kind. A single lady who did so much for others, but without blowing her own trumpet. A fantastic story of her war efforts would have made another book but are only lightly touched on, but then this is the tale of the house, rather than Miss Savidge herself. She never quite made it. Indeed, the author, her niece by marriage, took over the job as she promised, and it took another eight years of her life. Truly eccentric, May Savidge saved everything, cereal boxes became filing systems, their tops cut off for use became available for shopping lists and notes to self, diaries became notebooks, the ephemera of everyday life was put aside but never thrown away. She didn't ask for much help, and when she sought to employ carpenters, bricklayers, etc, they so often let her down, and so she soldiered on alone, except for the odd cat and dog. She became famous for a while, appearing in newspapers and on documentaries. But it doesn't take long for people to be forgotten - and she shouldn't be. This is a gem of a tale, a little glimpse into a tiny bit of history.