Everyman’s Castle by Philippa Lewis

Everyman’s Castle by Philippa Lewis was first published in 2014, and it’s subtitled The Story of our cottages, country houses, terraces, flats, semis and bungalows.

This is such an interesting and informative read, but it references quite a lot of other books, mainly novels which of course I’ve taken a note of – it has bumped up my book list considerably! It also has plenty of lovely illustrations, and obviously there’s quite a lot of social history involved too.

I had always wondered why a great-uncle of Jack’s had insisted that his house was NOT a bungalow. They were the kind of house popular in colonial India amongst the Anglo Indians or ‘ex-pats’. But the early UK versions were often little more than wooden shacks, often built by soldiers after the end of WW1 when decent housing was difficult to find. Then after WW2 the prefabricated bungalows erected to try to alleviate the housing shortage tended to be despised, although they were loved by the people who actually lived in them.

I was surprised to discover that people in England were really reluctant to live in flats, so they were difficult to sell or let when builders first offered them. Eventually service flats became popular among the wealthy in London, it must have seemed like living in an hotel as meals could be sent up from the kitchen or you could go down to the restaurant, but there would have been more privacy than in an hotel. But flats have always been very popular in Scotland’s cities, they tend to be roomier than the narrow terraced housing on offer in England, but even those tiny houses ended up being split up into bed sitting rooms with kitchens being shared as the housing difficulties got worse.

It’s not all about grim housing problems though, having said that the ‘nobs’ who lived in country estates had problems of their own as new death duties took effect, and some were just abandoned and demolished but others such as Longleat took on the challenge and made a successful business out of the estate. It’s the suburban villas and semis section that I enjoyed most, and it was interesting to read that people in privately owned homes were building walls to separate themselves from newly built social (council) housing nearby.

This book has all sorts of interesting bits and pieces in it about old places such as Edinburgh and Bath as well as information about the ‘garden cities’ that became popular.

So this was a really good read, and I love the cover too. I really like those 1930s art deco homes – Crittall curved windows and all.

Glasgow Scotland Street School

We managed to fit in a visit to Glasgow just at the end of the school holidays here. My husband is a teacher so he will be back at the chalk face on Monday.

We drove over The Squinty Bridge for the first time. I really like it, I think it’s quite elegant. They’ve been doing some radical road tweaking recently (as usual) so it was all a bit confusing.

Day 330/366 - The Squinty Bridge

Eventually we got to our destination which was the Scotland Street School. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1905 and used as a primary school until 1979, it has now become a museum of education. The building is really stylish and very different from the very plain Victorian school which I went to.

It must have been nice to have some lovely coloured tiles and windows instead of the very utilitarian design of most schools.

They still had the belt (tawse) for punishment just like the rest of us, until it was banned in 1982 or thereabouts. They have one on show but I have one hanging up in my dining-room. It is quite a talking point as younger folk can’t believe that you could get ‘six of the best’ from such a heavy, thick strap of leather until fairly recently.

I can hardly believe it myself really, although I witnessed it plenty of times. I always managed to avoid it but lived in fear of it. Sometimes if a teacher couldn’t get someone to own up to a misdemeanour – the whole class ended up getting it.

Teachers must have had plenty of stamina then, anyway I digress.

If you are into Rennie Mackintosh architecture and design you will enjoy a visit to this school.