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Was this a Gran thing, or a Welsh Gran thing?

(26 Posts)
phoenix Fri 21-Dec-18 20:15:21

Evening all, and the usual good wishes!

Mr P and I have been reflecting. (Bit of background, second marriage, been together since 2001.)

However we both had Welsh grandmothers, who were an important part in our lives.

We both remember them having the "front room" home to the china cabinet, the 3 piece suite, the anniversary clock, ,a no go zone, only used when the Welsh relatives came to visit.

How I remember those visits! Aunt Clarice would say "You know her next door? Well...." and after that it would all be in Welsh!

However, it was also used as a depository for Christmas goodies!

Matchmakers, boxes of Turkish Delight, Twiglets (when they used to be long!) Newberry Fruits, those orange and lemon slices that no one ever seemed to eat.

As children, we would peep through the door only to be told " don't touch that, it's for Christmadr! "

By Boxing Day Afternoon, it was a case of "Isn't anyone going to eat any of this?"

So, Gran thing, or a Welsh Gran thing?

PS Note for anyone concerned, this post is not intended to be sexist, ageist or racist in any way whatsoever.

So there.

Jalima1108 Fri 21-Dec-18 20:25:32

Newberry Fruits, orange and lemon slices - that's a blast from the past.
My English mother used to always buy those at Christmas.

the china cabinet, the 3 piece suite, the anniversary clock
sounds like our house tchgrin although we do use the 'front room' every day (which is at the back incidentally).

And I am learning Welsh courtesy of DGD2.

I'm looking forward to a cinio Nadolig
I'll be a Welsh Grandmother before I know it!

Anniebach Fri 21-Dec-18 20:28:25

Many homes in the South Wales Valleys were 3 up 3 down.

Down stairs kitchen, middle room and front room. Middle room was the living room, the front room was home to the best 3 piece suite, the piano and china cabinet , it was used Sundays, Christmas Day and Boxing Day and a rest room if a family member was ill.

Jalima1108 Fri 21-Dec-18 20:39:04

There's posh for you Anniebach
we only had two down, three up.

M0nica Fri 21-Dec-18 20:46:03

I think that this pattern was quite common. My London born Irish Grandmother had a front room like that, china cabinet, piano and three piece suite complete.

A lot of it had to do with small incomes and home heating. My grandmother could only afford to heat one room in winter, so that was the backroom, meant to be the dining room because it was smaller than the front room. The wireless was in there and two comfortable chairs each side of the fireplace. The rest of the house was unheated, including the bedrooms.

paddyann Fri 21-Dec-18 20:47:11

We only had a living/dining room and kitchen downstairs but 4 bedrooms and bathroom upstairs.Our living spaces were in constant use,no room kept for best . After the war granny had us living in one room and assorted aunts and uncles living in other rooms until they managed to get their own homes. Then she sold up split the cash between her family and moved in with my parents and us until she died in the 1970's

Anniebach Fri 21-Dec-18 20:52:21

We had three up and four down , Grampa built an extra room next to the kitchen, view from the middle room was the extra room with glass roof, didn’t matter because the house backed onto a coal tip, supper was cooked in the fourth room with light from the middle room window !

annodomini Fri 21-Dec-18 21:02:10

My Scottish Granny's house had a front room, known as the drawing room which was used, in my experience, only when the minister came to visit. We usually sat in a cosy room in the back of the house which was called the parlour. In my other Granny's house, the front room was mainly used when the family came round at Christmas and Granny played carols on the very out-of-tune piano.

Jalima1108 Fri 21-Dec-18 21:06:00

My Granny's house didn't have a toilet in the house, it was down the end of the garden.

phoenix Fri 21-Dec-18 21:06:35

My much loved Welsh gran, married to a Yorkshireman, living in Malvern! (My bedroom had a wonderful view of the Malvern Hills)

The house was 3 bedroom, detached, built in 1903, no "proper" bathroom, difficult to describe, but sort of attached? You want out of the kitchen door, through a short covered passage, then there was the the bathroom and toilet.

The bath (cast iron, claw feet) had to be filled via buckets of hot water from the boiler in the shed! The only lavatory was there too, chamber pots in the bedrooms for any night time needs.

The other thing I would like to ask, and again is this a Welsh thing, my Nan always referred to the "back kitchen" tchconfused She was in service, perhaps that might be something to do with it?

Anniebach Fri 21-Dec-18 21:14:22

Phoenix, the back kitchen would be a small room off the kitchen , usually with a sink

kittylester Fri 21-Dec-18 21:34:06

My Lancashire Nan had a front room like that but it also had a complete set of encyclopedia in a special piece of furniture all of their own.

The dining room was much smaller and had in it a three piece suite and a drop me at table, 4 chairs and the television.

kittylester Fri 21-Dec-18 21:43:47

My nan had a back kitchen which was at the side and she had never been in service. confused

downtoearth Fri 21-Dec-18 21:56:22

My nan had a kitchen to the side,the copper and a sink in it off the main kitchen,she called it the scullery,she had been in service

sodapop Fri 21-Dec-18 22:06:37

My parents in Yorkshire had a front room which was only used at Christmas or if we had important visitors. It never really warmed up even with a big fire. The leather suite always felt cold and slightly damp.
I remember the Newberry fruits, box of dates, Black Magic chocs, oranges and nuts.
Heaven help us if we spilled anything on the best carpet.

cornergran Fri 21-Dec-18 23:51:02

My Essex born farm dwelling Nan had a back kitchen. She also had an always cold ‘front room’ kept for best with china cabinet in pride of place. After a house move away from the farm there just was one living room, it took a while for her to get used to her ‘best’ things being on show all the time. She did however love the inside toilet and bathroom with proper plumbing. The electric lighting scared her as she had always had gas lights. Christmas was the time for special food, mostly home made, there was always something special offered to visitors, especially grandchildren smile.

Chewbacca Sat 22-Dec-18 00:17:57

My Welsh granny had a two up/2down and I can never remember ever setting foot in the front room. That room was only ever viewed from the window; looking in, or from the back kitchen doorway. I can remember that their was a sofa and an armchair, but I never saw anyone sat on them. A china cabinet that was crammed with china figurines, that were never, ever touched. And the floor was polished wood with a rag rug in front of a fire that I never saw lit. The back kitchen was crammed with a huge table that was permanently set for a meal; a large dark oak Welsh dresser and a several large overstuffed chairs that were so high I needed help to climb on. There was very rarely any sweets or chocolate available but there was always home baked pies and cakes that she made in a black range oven, which burned furiously 365 days a year.

phoenix Sat 22-Dec-18 00:19:24

Thank you for the responses!

There was only a single room kitchen, could never work out why it was always referred to as the "back" kitchen!

BBbevan Sat 22-Dec-18 06:49:25

I had a bedridden aunty who lived in the 'room' She could see across the valley and up and down the street. We sat beside the fire or on the floor when visiting. And a lot of neighbours popped in. The middle room on had a black leather and horsehair suite plus China cabinet. The kitchen, with a walk in pantry was where we ate. My grandmother didn't have much money so I don''t remember any sweets kept for Christmas. She gave us a selection box which we looked forward to.

MrTumble Sat 22-Dec-18 07:44:05

My Dear Gran, who was from Buckinghamshire , always said the front room of her house was for visitors. As family we we not really visitors. ( I thing you had to be from the Church or W.I to count as a visitor). The funny thing is that's where the television was, so when we went to visit Gran and Grandad we were not allowed to go in there to watch it.

Phoenix post not taken as any sort of ist. smile

MrTumble Sat 22-Dec-18 07:47:13

Oops that should be. I think not I thing.

dragonfly46 Sat 22-Dec-18 07:55:40

My Grandma had a large kitchen where they did everything, my Grandad, Aunt and Uncle, even washing in the sink. A bedroom downstairs, a bathroom downstairs which was very cold and rarely used and two bedrooms upstairs. There was also the sitting room which was very cold and never used.

Nanabilly Sat 22-Dec-18 09:15:29

Same here in the East Midlands too . The orange and lemon slices always ended up on the top of the trifle for new years eve/day.
I can remember only once being invited into the "best room" and it was for my gp's 50th wedding anniversary celebrations. A great big overstuffed suite dominated the room.

starbird Sat 22-Dec-18 09:33:10

Same at my childhood home in Surrey - three bedrooms, (no bathroom) upstairs, downstairs a kitchen, back room with dining table, sideboard, two armchairs near fireplace for parents, we sat on hard dining table chairs once we outgrew a lap! Front room with piano & 3 pce suite was only used for visitors/ Christmas until we got a tv when I was about 13, and there was only room for it in there. The thing was the front room was not normally heated and it was a big event for the fire to be lit eg at Christmas. The tree, presents fruit, nuts etc were all put in that room - when I was about 6 I was given a china doll which had been hidden in a doll’s pram under the bay window behind the curtains, but the face had cracked from the cold ( frost on inside of windows in those days).

trisher Sat 22-Dec-18 10:06:55

My gran had a front room that was never used, a big room with a fireplace, table, armchair and horse hair sofa, where everything was done, and a tiny back kitchen or scullery that held the gas cooker and the sink. The scullery was only lit with gas light as the landlord wouldn't extend the electricity there. At Christmas the children were sent to play cards in the front room (which was freezing) while the adults played cards at the big table. I didn't know the sofa was horsehair (my mum told me) it was black and shiny and I was allowed to stand on it and look in the mirror which had a fault in it and distorted my face. My gran would never have managed to keep sweets put away for Christmas, she was one for sneaking you things you weren't supposed to have.