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What do you remember about how your grandma used to live?

(110 Posts)
MaryTheBookeeper Sun 21-Jun-20 21:47:53

This is a thread for reminiscing.. I love hearing about how life was in times gone by. I'll start the ball rolling.

She lived in a northern terrace, Coronation St style. I used to love sliding down the bannister as a kid. There were individual light switches that dangled down from the ceiling over the beds, so you could switch the light off after reading without getting up. She had all the servants bells above the kitchen door. The back door was wooden tongue & groove with diagonal bars, a metal latch & giant key. Her enamel sink stood on iron legs & there was a rise & fall cupboard I think they call a 'silent butler' that went up to the 1st floor by pulling on a rope. The back bedroom was bitterly cold in winter with ice inside the window. Out the back was a communal walk-thru area where all the women hung their washing.

When she went to the market, she'd buy a bag of broken biscuits for us kids. Sometimes, she'd give me some money to go & buy her ciggies from the corner shop! 20 Silk Cut, the whole house reeked of them.

She was very happy my gran. She'd been a dancer through the war & entertained the troops. She's long gone now but there's so many questions I wish I'd asked.

SueDonim Sun 21-Jun-20 21:59:28

One of mine died when I was four and the other more than 35 years before I was born, so no memories here, I’m afraid. sad

Chewbacca Sun 21-Jun-20 22:02:26

My granny and grandpa lived in a stone cottage that had a toilet that had to be accessed by going outside, down a path, over a stream and then back up another path to a row of outdoor privvies. Getting there and back when the streamwas full was interesting. Their was a hook with newspaper squares threaded onto string hanging on the back of the door.

Their house was immaculately clean and all of their very dark heavy wooden furniture was polished every day. Their front room was never, to my knowledge, ever used and was saved "for best". They had polished wooden floors with rugs on, which were absolute death traps and I remember skidding on the landing carpet and falling down stairs when I was about 6 years old.

Grandpa kept a pair of lovebirds in a cage that hung from the ceiling in the kitchen. The kitchen had a black cast iron range stove that was lit summer and winter, day and night and all cooking and baking was done on that.

My bed there was so high that I needed a step to climb in. There was a tiny leaded window that had a cord wound around the latch to stop it being opened too far. They had no bathroom.

EllanVannin Sun 21-Jun-20 22:09:54

All dead before I was born, so I grew up with no grandparents.

Great aunts---yes. All dressed in long black dresses.

What do I remember ? Being scared stiff grin

jeanrobinson Sun 21-Jun-20 22:16:02

i am very old now, so the Granny I remember had gas lights, which she used to light with a match or taper She always cooked in big iron pots, and no-one suffered from anaemia in pregnancy, because iron leached into the stew.

vampirequeen Sun 21-Jun-20 22:31:11

My grandma lived in a pre war council house in an area known as Corn Beef Island. They reckoned this was because the rents were so high the residents could only afford to eat corned beef. She had a porch outside her back door with the toilet leading off it and she had an indoor downstairs bathroom. Our house had a toilet down the yard and no bathroom so the novelty was amazing. Her kitchen was always warm and humid even if the rest of the house was cold and smelt of carbolic or sunlight soap. Upstairs she had three bedrooms each with a light switch on the wall but also had a cord switch over the bed so you could turn the light on and off either way. She only had lino on the floors upstairs with bedside rugs to stop you putting warm feet onto a cold floor when you got up. It didn't work because you had to step off the rug at some point sad. Her living room had a coal fire with it's obligatory rag rug, armchairs, a massive square table that I used to sit under and ….a television!!!!. Black and white with a 12 inch screen but it was a miracle to us. We didn't know anyone else who had one.

All in all my memories of Grandma's are the smells of carbolic and sunlight soaps, Domestos, soap powder, burning coal and frying sausages. The sounds of the coals cracking and sparking and the sausages sizzling. The different feeling in each room.....warm and damp in the kitchen when she was doing a boil wash, the heavy heat of the living room with it's coal fire and thick/solid furniture and curtains, the coldness of the rest of the house as it had no heating (even the bathroom). The sight of her in her flowery wrap around pinnie, gray hair and stern face. Why did all old ladies look stern in those days grin?

Gelisajams Sun 21-Jun-20 22:31:12

My grandmother also lived in a northern terrace, small private back yard with outside toilet which always seemed to have a burst. Newspaper sheets hung up and a tin bath hung in the yard. Don’t think it was in use as we had a bath (but not a toilet) in our bathroom so she visited for her weekly bath and I went in after her! The water was always liberally doused in talcum powder.
She had 2 paraffin heaters and one always had a bowl of senna pods stewing! I was frequently sent to a local shop to collect her gallon of paraffin.
In her kitchen, I was fascinated by her marble slab, on which pastry was frequently made, and she had a meat safe larder, a green mangle and a blue gas cooker. If I misbehaved I was threatened to have my fingers put in the mangle! The sink had a cold water tap and I remember her getting a hot water geyser installed. She had pink carbolic soap and a pantry full of the stuff which she had stashed away during the war.
Her dark bedroom scared me, gold coloured curtains hiding the contents of nooks and crannies which stored goodness knows what. How times have changed!

geekesse Sun 21-Jun-20 22:37:10

My paternal grandmother, youngest daughter of a nice middle-class family, eloped with the milkman. PG was a delightful woman, who made a fortune buying and renovating houses when her marriage failed. She lived in a string of elegant townhouses while I was growing up, later in bungalows or flats, all of which she owned. She was glamorous, permissive and taught me how to drink, smoke and live well when I was a teenager. She used to give me cocktail sobranies and martinis before dinner, and we’d push the tables back after dinner so she could teach me the foxtrot. She remarried later in life to an Eastern European refugee scientist.

My maternal grandmother, the nicely brought up and well educated daughter of an ex-soldier, married an illiterate cow-hand and produced her first child three and a half months later. MG was a sour, po-faced woman who took pleasure in stirring up ill-will between her many daughters. She used old-wives tales to terrify me and my cousins, and tried secretly to convert me to Catholicism, at least partly to get at my Mum. She lived in a Council house with the back garden entirely turned over to fruit and vegetables, with chickens for eggs and the table. Grandad wasn’t allowed in the house during the day except to eat. When he died, she moved into an old people’s flat and bullied all her neighbours until dementia disabled her ability to make others unhappy.

BlueBelle Sun 21-Jun-20 22:49:14

My maternal Nan looked after me a lot I remember my main time with Mum and Dad were Sunday’s and sleeping at home
I now live in my Nans house and still have the dangly light cord in my bedroom Nan had no fridge so everything was kept in the ‘pantry, milk stood in bowls of cold water she made her own ginger beer it was delicious and I loved hearing the corks pop off, she made rissoles I used to help with the mincing and also delicious lemon curd There was a coke burner in the kitchen we used to toast bread on toasting forks by the front room fire, our legs used to get red and a bit blotchy too
No phone, so went to the corner shop in an emergency
Outside toilet with squares of newspaper threaded on the door also outside was a mangle and her rugs would go on the washing line to be beaten
I used to help clean the brass putting the brasso on leaving it to dry them wiping it off and buffing it up
We had a flowery Jerry under the bed
Nice memories

Curlywhirly Sun 21-Jun-20 22:55:39

My Nannie (dad's Mum) lived in a rented terraced house. It had a small scullery which had a very old gas cooker, a table and a belfast sink with a cold tap and single draining board, I can remember no other furniture in the room. There were 2 further rooms downstairs - a living room and the 'best room' which had a front door, straight onto the street. The best room had a 3 piece suite and a mahogany display cabinet full of china plates and nicknacks; the room was never used. My Nannie sat everyday in the living room, on an armchair next to the black fire range and her legs were constantly mottled and red from sitting too near the fire. She seemed to constantly have a cigarette in her hand and smoked Capstan Full Strength cigarettes. There were 2 bedrooms upstairs, but I was never allowed up there. There was an outside toilet, which was freezing and I tried to avoid using it. My Nannie was a formidable woman, I was scared to death of her, she never ever cuddled me or my siblings or ever spoke kindly to us. I can't imagine never hugging my grandchildren; it's just not natural and I wonder what prevented her from showing us affection, although I know that many of that generation were the same, so sad. I so wish I had asked her about her childhood, she was born in 1901 and from researching my ancestry I found out that as a child she lived in what, at that time, was one of the poorest parts of our town. She must have been tough to survive it. I also found out that her husband used to beat her and she and her 4 children did a moonlight flit to escape him. As my dad left when I was a baby, I never really got to hear much about my grandparents and their upbringing or my father's younger life, which is such a pity.

cornergran Sun 21-Jun-20 22:56:55

In my early childhood my paternal grandparents lived in a tiny cottage with gas lighting. I can still recall the smell, I loved it. No inside bathroom or toilet. A coal fire for heating. A range for cooking. A scullery not a kitchen. Immaculately clean with a huge square table and very hard armchairs. Widowed when I was 9 my grandmother was moved to a house with electricity. Pleased? Certainly not, she was terrified of it. She never seemed to change, always tiny, smiling, in a wrap around pinafore. She loved her garden, there was always something to show me and a biscuit in the barrel for me. She was close enough to visit every Sunday, I loved her.

My maternal grandmother seemed less accessible somehow. She was kind, portly, patient, also wore a pinafore but seemed distant. An inside toilet and electricity. The first tv in the family, we all congregated to watch it, there was a piano, lots of singing. My maternal grandparents moved to a seaside town when I was in my early teens, I’d go and stay, enjoyed it but remember my grandad being with me, not my grandmother. I never felt close to her, no idea why, she was always kind and thoughtful. She died when I was 15. I suspect had been unwell for years, her illness kept from everyone. I loved her too, but in a different way.

Memory can be strange, I wonder now how it really was and how it was for them.

paddyanne Sun 21-Jun-20 23:03:08

My gran,the only one I knew,was raised on her Grandfathers farm in Donegal .She wasn't born there but her mother took her and her siblings home to escape a violent marriage ,It should be said she asked her priests advice and he said she should leave while she was able .They moved back to Scotland when she was 20 ,after the death of her older sister and she met my grandpa here .She was a strong willed opinionated woman who was politcally involved from a young age ,a sufragette and one of the first women to join the Labour party .
She also had a heart of gold and they would take in people who were struggling until they found their feet ,A young couple with twins lived in one of their rooms during the depression .Grandpa was a tailor so they were comfortably off . Grandpa died during WW11.When I was small we lived with her and then she moved in with us when my parents got their own home ,she was with us until I was 18.She was my hero,my inspiration and I still miss her almost 50 years since she died ,#
I always say if my GC have a fraction of the happy memoriesof me that I have of my granny I'll be delighted .Thankfull that she was in my life

tanith Sun 21-Jun-20 23:04:17

My maternal Nan came up from Wales to London after my Grandpa was seriously hurt in a mining accident. He was no longer able to do manual work so they ran a cafe together in London. Later he got a job as a civil servant and she worked in a shop making glass animals they were so cute I often wonder what happened to her collection. They had a two up two down house in Ealing, no inside toilet and she grew Vegs in her tiny garden. Sadly she died when I was 10.

GagaJo Sun 21-Jun-20 23:09:59

I have a vague memory of one of my granny and grandad's houses. A big old Victorian house. So old the gaslights were still on the wall although I assume they had electricity by then.

Their next house was a lovely big house. It had a walled kitchen garden which my grandad spent a lot of time in. I liked being in there with him. I used to be allowed to pick and eat the peas.

I remember going to the shops with them. Very old fashioned places, like something out of a film. A fancy grocery shop with displays of delicious foods in glass cabinets. I remember grandad selecting cheeses.

After that house it was a modern bungalow. Still lovely granny and grandad, but no more 'romantic' memories. Lovely family ones though.

My other granny lived in a big house on the village green. I stayed with her sometimes but it was a spooky old house. It was once the village workhouse. Glad I didn't know that as a child! No inside toilet LONG after everyone had them. A guzzunder instead. I hated it.

Luckylegs Sun 21-Jun-20 23:13:26

I only knew one grandmother, all the others died before I was born and this one hated me. I was the only girl, the baby and she was jealous. Me and mum used to visit her by coach/bus once or twice a year in a poverty stricken little place in Yorkshire. A one up, one down rented back to back house on an unmade street, no toilet or bathroom. Just the living room with a sink in one corner, a couple of gas rings, a gas poker to light the fire (a hazard if ever I saw one), a cellar below for the coal and a bedroom above. I had to sleep in the same room obviously in some kind of put you up and mum and grandma shared the bed. The shared toilet was behind the houses, don’t know how many shared it, squares of newspaper and all that.

I didn’t think it was odd although we had a bathroom etc at home, it was just different. What I do remember was there was a park very near which I could go to and a sweet shop with all sorts of sweets we didn’t get in Lancashire. No other children to play with, nothing to do except the park swings or hobble on the unmade roads to a shop that sold warm jellified pork pies which I didn’t like, still don’t like the jelly.

I find it odd now thinking about it but there was no alternative, I couldn’t stay at home as dad was at work I suppose. She came to live with us later and made my life a misery. No love lost I’m afraid!

Txquiltz Sun 21-Jun-20 23:15:30

My grandmother had a first class green thumb. Her garden was filled with hundreds of colorful blooms and smelled incredible. Every year at Christmas the local news paper took pictures of one wall of the house that was covered with poinsettia blooms. Inside she had lovely African violets. She had 11 children (2 died within a few days of birth). She was also a great cook. She taught me "the basics", but always with sweet encouragement. She also taught me to love a cold glass of buttermilk!

harrigran Sun 21-Jun-20 23:20:19

My paternal GPs lived in a detached house within a market garden. The house had gas lights and an outside ash midden. Apart from the crops there was a stable for the horse because it was pre-motor transport and a pigsty where they reared pigs for food.
My maternal GPs lived in a large house in a mining village with indoor sanitation and electric lights.
Both sets of GPs cooked in coal fired ovens and with kettles over the open fire.

Grannynannywanny Sun 21-Jun-20 23:36:55

My maternal grandparents lived in a rural farmhouse in Ireland. We spent every summer holiday there and loved it.

There was no running water/bathroom/toilet in the cottage. Water had to be drawn from a well half a mile away from the house. A novelty for us holiday makers bringing back buckets of water but hard work all year round in all weathers. No floor coverings, stone floors were swept out several times a day.

Cooking was done in pots hung over a huge open fire and a big black kettle was always on the boil hanging on a hook over the turf fire. Beautiful soda bread baked in lidded pots in the fire.
Cows were milked morning and evening. Some milk kept for family use and surplus sold to the creamery. My Gran made her own butter in a large wooden churn and we all took turns to wind the handle.

Potatoes, cabbages, onions, carrots, spring onions etc picked daily from the field behind the house. Homemade black pudding was made from oatmeal and pigs blood 🤢

Laundry was done in a stream 500 yards from the house. Rainwater was collected in a barrel and not a drop was wasted.

Lovely fresh eggs daily from the hens. Flour was bought in a large cotton sack and fresh bread baked daily. My Mum was one of 9 children who grew up in that house. She said as a child when the cotton flour sacks were empty they were made into vests for the girls!

Fuel for the open fire was turf which had to be cut manually from the farm’s bog and left to dry in the sun. Then brought into the house by the sackful.

crazyH Sun 21-Jun-20 23:42:48

My maternal grandma lived in the annexe of my Aunty's house - she was blind and we used to call her "blind Nana" (for obvious reasons)

crazyH Sun 21-Jun-20 23:50:07

Sorry, my Mum and my Aunty E provided all her meals. The annexe had one bedroom, Bath and toilet facilities. We loved visiting her and listening to her stories, most of which I have forgotten. She was a kind old lady, with grey hair twisted into a bun at the nape of her neck. I can't remember how and when she passed away, isn't that strange?

rosecarmel Mon 22-Jun-20 05:32:46

My grandmother withstood too much shit from my grandfather which set a dysfunctional family pattern-

Aside from that, she lived a very simple life, didn't hesitate to jump on a plane and travel alone- She grew herbs beside her kitchen door, had an infectious laugh and beautiful smile and sapphire blue eyes- She loved soap operas and saying the rosary-

She drank tea (bagged..sorry) and saved the tags because they had quotes from Confucius printed on them- She wore dresses most of her life-

I wish she'd of left my grandfather-

Calendargirl Mon 22-Jun-20 07:03:05

All grandparents dead before I had any memories of them. Maternal GM died when I was 3. So just black and white photos of a tiny, crabby looking old woman, with sparse grey hair in a bun, round spectacles, on a little walking stick which I still use if we go brambling.

My own dear mum looked like her in old age, but not at all crabby, with modern specs and hair that saw a hairdresser every week.

Grandma brought up 8 children, ran the house and did much work on the family farm. I should think her life was very hard, so no wonder she looked tired and crabby in old age.

Blinko Mon 22-Jun-20 07:09:56

I was lucky enough to have all four GPs around when I was growing up, plus four of my eight GGPs.

We lived with my maternal GPs till I was six. Granddad was a wonderful gardener so we had home grown vegetables daily. He would take me round their large garden, pointing out the different veggies and flowers. He was a great walker.
On Sundays, he and I would don our Sunday best and go visiting one or other of his seven siblings who lived within a bus ride locally. I am still visiting their extended families.
Or we would take a walk over the open area of common land opposite their house, and he'd buy me an ice cream on the way home.

Grandma was a tailor and made all our clothes, together with her sister, my Gt Aunt who was a splendid knitter. So we were well supplied with some lovely unique garments all of our young years.

Naturally, we longed for things from shops in the town...and coloured hair ribbons. I was only allowed brown ribbons and blue for best.

My paternal GPs lived the other side of the same Black Country village. they both went out to work. Grandma was a secretary at a large steelworks and Granddad was a civil servant. Their garden had an arrangement of privet hedges that we kids used to think of as a maze. Many a happy hour was spent chasing one another round this 'maze' till Granddad would call us in for tea.

Both sets of Gt GPs had those huge black ranges to cook on, with a toilet down the yard and a separate wash house.

I have loved reading this thread. Happy days indeed!

Grandma70s Mon 22-Jun-20 07:18:01

My maternal grandparents retired to a little seaside town in Lancashire. To us children the house was magical. We lived in suburbia, but this was country. There was a cornfield (wheat, I suppose) right next to it, and the sea was a short walk away. We had to drive for a couple of hours to get there, and most of our wartime and postwar holidays were spent there.

Thre was a deserted blackbird’s nest, with eggs, in the shed, and behind a wall my grandfather grew something mysterious called shallots. There was a pair of bellows by the kitchen fire. The bathroom intrigued me. It smelt of coal tar soap, and the loo seat and bath panel were mahogany, which seemed very grand.

The milk didn’t arrive in bottles like ours. A jug was left on the back doorstep, to be filled by the milkman from a churn.

I don’t remember my grandma ever going out. She was always in the kitchen, cooking marvellous suet puddings full of fruit. I would sit at the kitchen table drawing. I had a cousin, John, who was very good at drawing, and she would pin up his drawings in the kitchen. Not mine, though. The earliest feelings of jealousy I remember stem from that. I was about six.

There were intriguing things in the attic. I would clatter up the bare wooden attic stairs to play with the bead loom, the Japanese paper sunshade, the Edwardian dolls’ china tea set, the ostrich feather fan, and wish I was allowed to use the oil paints. My grandma had been an infant teacher, and was very artistic.

TerriBull Mon 22-Jun-20 07:47:12

My maternal grandparents lived in Bromley Kent when we were very little and then they retired down to the Sussex coast where we spent bucket and spade holidays until grandad died. My mother always said it was a mistake going to the Sussex coast to retire, as there was an inevitability that the men died first and there were a multitude of widows. Then many years later, what did my parents do when they retired, up sticks to go and live on the Sussex coast, although when my father died my mother stayed there because she'd put down a lot of roots. My grandma went back to Bromley for a while to live with her two sisters who didn't marry because like many women of their time lost their young men in the Great War. After a while we sold our house in Surrey, she sold hers in Sussex and we bought a larger house in my home town and she came to live with us. She had her own part of the house my brother and I often spent time with her in her living room because we found that we could watch tv unrestricted a lot of half hour situation comedy if I remember rightly, our parents were quite strict with our tv viewing when we were junior school age. I wish I'd listened to all of my grandparents when I was younger and asked them more about their lives but somehow you don't when you're a child. That grandma was half Irish which was why my mother's side of the family were catholic and my grandad was half French, but protestant to my surprise as I'd spent much time piecing together family history, particularly about the French side. My great grandfather's father was somehow involved in the Franco Prussian war and lost a lot of money at that time. Going back to my grandma who was living with us, most of all I remember her steamed jam puddings, they were to die for. She was around for us a lot in the school holidays, my mother had gone back to work by the time I was eight or so, then when I was twelve nana had a series of strokes and eventually died, she wasn't really that old only early 70s but she did seem quite old. My grandparents lost my uncle to cancer when he was still only in his 30s and my mother was of the opinion that she had bottled that grief up and possibly that affected her health. Lives were quite different then.

My paternal grandparents lived in Wimbledon before we had a car we took the train there it was a direct line from where we were living and didn't take long. They lead different lives from my others grandparents, my grandad was an immigrant of Sicilian/Maltese parentage and my grandma although English had spent time in France because she had siblings that had settled there as did her daughter, my aunt who married a Frenchman and then had grandchildren there as well and that was where my grandparents met before they came back to England. So from an early age I was always aware of the comings and goings at their house of the French family arriving and departing. Grandad was very loud and foreign and a bit scary to me, but my mother later told me he shouted not because he was angry but because he was deaf. He kept rabbits which I often thought "how nice he has so many pets" but I was later to find that they were there for another purpose shock My grandmother was overly religious and I remember them always being there for rites of passage like First Communion and Confirmation. She was very well spoken and although a Francophile overwhelmingly English and had quite a posh upbringing until her mother died and then her father dragged the entire family off to France where his sister lived. We got told off for not using the correct grammar, or nonsense like wearing jeans hmm she was always telling grandad off for being too loud, which he was. When she was a widow she spent quite a bit of time travelling to extended family particularly in Canada who I was also lucky enough to meet when we went to Vancouver ten or so years ago. My cousin who I met on line doing ancestry sent me loads of pictures of nana when she was a young woman and really beautiful.