“Don’t touch it with a barge pole!”
A piece of advice that the Hampson family did not heed when purchasing no 8 Lansdowne Circus in 1966. Its bulging gable end wall, run down condition and an elegant two-storey staircase painted ‘fire-engine’ red did not deter us, – it was definitely a heart buy. We loved the architectural period and the location.
Little did we know how long the renovation would take. It was a somewhat daunting task, – three young children in a house that was only partially habitable. After dropping the boys off at school, I spent hours pram-pushing in Jephson Gardens, or volunteering at the nearby health centre.
However, once complete, we were delighted with the result and spent six happy years there. The central garden, an oasis of calm, was a great delight, and came into its own on bonfire night when the neighbours joined together to celebrate. My sons remember especially the wonderful treacle toffe made for the occasion by Lady Pendred. At Christmas, we welcomed the Salvation Army band, and in the tourist season, we became used to the coachloads of American visitors driving by for a glimpse of ‘Hawthorne’s Old Home.’
The large basement area in the house provided space for the boys to build a canoe, and for my husband to make a large tissue paper balloon which then sailed away majestically over the rooftops.
All good things must come to an end, and sadly we had to leave in 1972 when my husband accepted a position in Stratford-upon-Avon, a prerequisite of which was that we should live within the Borough. However, we were pleased to be invited back to the residents’ Summer Ball in 1981, and to renew our acquaintance with old friends and the ambience.