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Archaeology of domestic life in early 20th century Britain

The aim of this blog is to publish data on early 20th century buildings, whilst this is still accessible. Much material of interest to the historian is being destroyed through 'home improvements' and DIY, and objects are increasingly being divorced from their context through dispersal after the death of their owners. By creating an easily accessible contextual record of material culture, it is hoped that those interested in this period of history may have a resource through which the details of domestic life might be studied.

If you have any artefacts of interest, or make discoveries during the process of your own investigations that you would like to share, please contact me!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

New case study: late Victorian terraced house - decor

Really pleased to get my hands on another standing building, in a short inner-city terrace within the East Midlands, close to an iron foundry and railway goods yard. Though built during the late 19th century, there are signs of post-Victorian decor; the wall colours below may be original.

I began the survey today (but was unable to complete this, as I ran out of light), and will post the reports, and more photos, in the near future. For now, here are a few images of the visible early paint and other decor, such as floor tiles. The colours are accurate representations through my monitor, but may not be through yours - I'll post Munsell codes ASAP

Found much more than I thought I'd find on a preliminary survey! The colours are great - the usual drab, dark colours, but also some vibrant tones. The common arsenic-green type colour was found in the old scullery, as might be expected; but also in the small 'dressing-room' / nursery / bedroom off the back bedroom. Found a small fragment of wall-paper, too (in the 'parlour-cum-front-room'), which I'll post soon. The ceramic floor tiles in the original kitchen and scullery were a surprise - quite different to the usual terracotta 'quarry' tiles: in both rooms, larger (9" / 23 cm), with a narrow decorative border - in the old kitchen, pale clay, with terracotta / 'quarry' border; in the scullery, the colours are reversed; it's possible that these are later additions (possibly 1930s-60, as a slight marl is perhaps detectable? I'll know more if / when I get in to clean one).

Early powder/ corn-flower blue wall distemper: front room, ground floor; visuallysimilar to paint in back bedroom
Remains of early mid-dark buff paint or varnish on door of ground floor front room
Early drab green / olive and dark brown paint on corner of stone fire surround in original kitchen (back room, ground floor)

Floor tiles, in original kitchen (back room, ground floor); reversed colour-way to those in scullery (modern kitchen)

Floortiles, in original scullery (modern kitchen); reversed colour-way to those in originalkitchen (back room, ground floor)

Early arsenic-green coloured wall paint / distemper: Early arsenic-green coloured wall paint / distemper: original scullery (modernkitchen). Visually similar to paint in first floor annex. Also very similar to the paint within 'Lymehurst' kitchen

Early paint on door-frame: original scullery (modern
Early arsenic-green coloured wall paint / distemper: annex, first floor. Visually similar to paint in scullery.
Early powder / corn-flower blue wall distemper, inside cupboard within back bedroom; visuallysimilar to paint in front room, ground floor
Early paint on skirting board in front bedroom; mid buff, below green, below cream, below modern (1990s) grey
PS: a photo of the skirting board in the right fireside alcove of the ground floor front room. The early dark paint (and possibly an earlier wood stain?) can just about be seen beneath the later off-white paint (sorry about the in-shot spider: was reluctant to encourage this massive beast to run about in this enclosed space!):

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