Thursday, 27 March 2008

Fit for Purpose

Having mentioned Fitton Hall in my last blog, I thought it would be churlish not to show it. At first glance I did think it was a derelict railway station, until I realised there was no sign of a platform, no sign of a dismantled line on my map, and in any case no earthly reason why there should be a station of this size here. No, it's just a simple Victorian house, not particularly pretty, but with some attempt made to liven things up a bit with courses of blue brick layered into the stock red. There's also been an attempt to produce a little bit of grandeur with the porch, into which is set a stone roundel with the name and date- 1869. But I think it has immense charm, possibly because of its comparative airy isolation, and because the cart horses and orange slurry tank lend it a certain Animal Farm ambience. The name Fitton comes from 'fit' meaning grassy banks on a river, and 'tun' for settlement. It's perhaps interesting to note that the River Nene is only a short distance away, but before the great reclamations of land around here nearby Wisbech was a port actually on the coast, (there's a section of old sea bank in the next village of Leverington). So previous manors here at Fitton End would have looked out on to the muddy reaches of The Wash, now over ten miles away.

14 comments:

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

This place reminds me strongly of the mysterious 'Seafield' perched right on the edge of the cliffs at Westward Ho in Devon. It was built in about 1860 and has been variously a home, B&B and billet for wartime officers. It's still inhabited, but doesn't look as if it is. The exterior is strewn with the sort of pleasing junk that these places always seem to have.

Here's a photograph I took last year with a pinhole camera.

http://tinyurl.com/yvgyfv

Peter Ashley said...

Great picture, and all that light through a pinhole. Photography like this reminds me of an accidental camera obscura image that appeared on my cottage wall once, another story, another blog perhaps. Thankyou for it, I can't wait to see which of our fellow commentators identifies the car.

Ron Combo said...

I can't believe I'm first, but I think it's an Austin Allegro Estate. Am I right? Am I right?

Peter Ashley said...

You may be right Ron, I haven't a clue. Voice through tin megaphone: First positions please, CUE: Diplo, The Savage Bros, Mr.Dudley, Tommy 3 Jags, Alois, Phil if he's got back from Czechko,etc. Camilla. But if you're right then I'll agree a prize with Ten Inch Wheeler, who probably doesn't know what it is either.

Diplomat said...

sorry can't help here - can't get to the picture, probably something to do with highly sensitive security systems at the Diplo I.T. department.

Diplomat said...

ooh - meant to say - what a corking house, particularly keen on the brick tumbling at the little porch butresses, very handsome. We all know that this is the correct level of maintenance for a country seat and I'm glad the incumbant is wise to this - many are not !

Toby Savage said...

I'm with Ron on this one. As soon as I opened it (lapse IT security here) I though 'Gosh, there's an Allegro Estate.' They were never popular and suffered very bad publicity when someone jacked up the rear end and the tailgate flew open. Something that would happen to most cars now and go unnoticed.

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

It's an Allegro 1500 estate. on our visits to Devon I've seen it go from just-parked to SORN to garden feature in the last 15 or so years.

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

Oops - should I have kept schtum for now?

Peter Ashley said...

No, you're alright. Just got to think of a suitable prize for Ron Combo. Probably a new Apple laptop, as I think he's just thrown his off a convenient Combian ravine. Followed by Ron if an electronic letter I received at Ashley Towers this evening is to be taken at face value.

Fred Fibonacci said...

What a lovely house; and how nice to see it not restored to death, with a deep-pile drive and other inappropriate nonsense.

Unable, like Diplomat, to view your photo Ten inch wheeler. Would the Allegro have had the legendary 'Quartic' steering wheel?

I ran a brand new, white, Marina half-ton van around the same period. It spent it's whole working life with me carrying, yes, half a ton of TG Green's pots in the back. These I flogged on Leicester market.

When that particular career drew to a close I emptied the van, for the first and only time, and set off on a day trip to rural Essex. There used to be a hump-back bridge on the road from Ibstock to Markfield. The van would take this, flat out with the half-ton of crockery, and barely lighten its springs. Going straight at it, at about 70, with no weight on board, produced a thrillingly spectacular take off.

As I hit the top of the bridge the van soared effortlessly into space, its rock-hard springs providing the perfect springboard to the stars. All I could see was white bonnet. Happily, eventually, self and van landed four-square with an almighty crash. No warning lights came on so I kept going.

Much later, when I sold the van, I discovered two neat holes punctured in the top of the transmission tunnel where the gearbox had tried to force its way into the interior of the cabin.

My other abiding memory was the look of stark terror on the faces of the family coming the other way. 'Badly shaken, we are' they would have said, to a roving TV reporter, had they been asked.

Peter Ashley said...

Be quick if you want to see it Fred, I talked to the girl in the 'lighthouse' cottage nearby who told me it had just been sold. I can hear the architect now: "I think if we knock this through here they'll be just enough room for the SurroundSound Aga here..."
I hope I'm wrong. I usually am.

Diplomat said...

peter - as a custodian of our built environment, it falls upon you to monitor progress at Fitton. The log may make a book - The Loss of Decay, The Rape of the Fen.

Peter Ashley said...

You're quite right Diplo. The only problem is that if you make too much of a fuss out on the flatlands you get a shotgun poked through your quarter-light. As an old fen boy said to Iain Sinclair in Edge of the Orison "Don't want to take no bugger by stealth, boy, not out in the fens".