Sunday 4 November 2018

This Old House

Today's post was prompted by a question from a recent visitor who was intrigued to know if our home had any stories to tell. 
When we purchased the house over 20 years ago the seller didn’t really have very much to tell us about it's past.
Over the years I've done the occasional internet search but have yet to find anything relating to the house. 
I did discover in the Rumsey Historical online map collection "The Carte de France 1750"which was published by four generations of the Cassini family from 1750 to 1815, it consists of 185 separate pages joined together to form a physical map measuring 39 feet by 38 feet. 
By zooming in and looking closely I found St Marcouf with a drawing of a church!
Carte de France St Marcouf.
All we really know is that it is a former Presbytere, it's origins date back to circa 1600 and through the ages a succession of priests from the Church of St Marcouf du Rochy have lived here.
The floor of one bedroom in the original part of the building has a handmade terracotta tile floor and we were told that the Bishop of Bayeux slept there whenever his travels brought him this way.
Whilst renovating that room we discovered the numbers "1787" chiselled into the stonework surround of the ancient doorway which leads to the newer 18th c part of the house.
We have over the years made some enquiries into the origins/history of the house and heard from one elderly lady who remembered that during WWII the village children were gathered together for safety and slept on makeshift beds in “la chambre ancient avec le sol en terre cuite ancienne" - the bedroom with the old terracotta floor. 
We've also been told that the house was occupied by Germans soldiers for a period of time and indeed it is well documented that during the weeks following D Day there was much fighting in the area as the Allies pushed inland, from the landing beaches, towards St Lo.
One mystery we have yet to solve is why there is an unmarked grave in the garden? We discovered the base and cross, overgrown with brambles and weeds, whilst clearing flower beds when we first moved here but no-one has been able to tell us who is buried there. One neighbour suggested we excavate the site but we decided to leave whoever is buried there to rest in peace.
Perhaps it was the final resting place of our resident ghost ? 
That's right, we believe that the house is haunted and know when he’s around because we can smell the smoke from his cigarette. Several visitors have been aware of his unseen presence but everyone agrees that he’s a friendly ghost. 
In 2011 I took part in a Room By Room meme that was great fun, click on the link below to see a little bit about how we brought love and life back to This Old House.
I so wish that walls could talk, I would love to hear it's stories.
Joining Angie @ Letting Go of the Bay Leaf
as she hosts Mosaic Monday
for the first time today.