Saturday, 14 January 2012
About 15 minutes walk away from where I live, there is an old house called Little Monkhams. When I was little, I used to walk past it every day to get to school, as I do now to get to my current school. It was a gorgeous old white house, apparently dating back to the 16th or 17th century, and the scene of many a local ghost story. Once I could swear I saw an old rocking horse in the window, but the next day it was gone...
However, a lot has changed since I was at primary school.
I was unable to find any pictures of how it used to look, but this is how it looks now:
About 4 years ago, a developper whose name shall not be mentioned applied to turn Little Monkhams into a block of flats.
I'll let that sink in. A BLOCK OF FLATS.
Obviously such a suggestion provoked a strong outcry among its neighbours; directly opposite is a small part of Epping Forest, and a block of flats would just not be right, quite apart from the fact that the house itself was such a gorgeous piece of history. The council refused his request.
He then replied he would "rub their faces in it properly", essentially because he planned to build some flats that were completely out of keeping with the aesthetic of the area.
A few months later, the house caught fire at 2.00am after a week of heavy rain, and could not be put out until a substantial amount was destroyed. The cause of the fire was said to be a fault with the wiring. This is in a house that was not connected to the mains. The developper's application was to be reviewed the very next day.
What makes me sad is that I could find no pictures of this house as it used to be. All of that history, the lives of people who had lived there - gone. This is my poor attempt to do justice to this once-beautiful building.
The old house groaned, creaking out of years of slumber. Bricks heaved, rooms expanded, a rigid structure made soft by oncoming warmth. It remembered.