Although sitting doing nothing isn’t normally in my nature ( I drive Colin mad by endlessly compiling and working my way through self-inflicted lists of ‘things-I-just-have-to-do’) I did spend some time this Christmas just kicking back, reading books, catching up on interesting websites I’d bookmarked about the local area and I fell to pondering.
This will be the ninth house I have bought and lived in since moving out to go to uni, cough-cough years ago. Although they have all (eventually) been lovely homes and I’ve many happy memories from each, I’ve realised that there is something a bit different about taking on an old place. And I don’t just mean the woodworm or ancient plumbing! Taking on an old property and lovingly restoring it is quite a responsibility and it doesn’t even have to be a national treasure to make you feel that way. There’s something about being a just a small jigsaw piece fitting into the history of the place, respecting that your house is also part of the local community’s history and memories, that gives you roots in the locality.
When we first came to view Moulin de la Roche, the then-owner had spent several years gutting the original building, removing any original features in his mission to create a ‘modern’ home. He told us that there had been a mill on the site for many years and showed us a photo taken around 1913, which shows a dilapidated building in a bit of a sorry state, with a mishmash of bits tacked on over the years. It’s true to say that it was never a lot of people’s romantic, chocolate-boxy idea of a water mill. It was and always had been a working factory.
I found a few old postcards of the mill which all showed a slightly different layout of the land, different outbuildings and additions to the main mill and even different courses of the water.
I’m fascinated by the organic way this place has developed, including it’s recent history which is all part of it, and I’ve decided to try and find out a bit more of the history of our mill. So you may see the occasional post on here whenever I find out a bit more.
If you have renovated in France, have you done any research into the history of your place? Where did you go to find information? I must admit that the task is a bit daunting, language-wise. I struggle with modern french, let alone archaic language but I really need to make the effort. I’d love to hear your experiences and tips – leave me a comment.