Walk into our cottage kitchen room where we invite you to handle the many objects on display. Sit in the Windsor chair and listen to the beat of the grandfather clock. It feels as though the occupants have just popped out for a few minutes.
This is a living room of the late nineteenth century. It is where most of the domestic work was done, and the housewife spent her day looking after a hard-working husband and numerous children.
There were five essential pieces of equipment; the cast-iron fire range, a scrubbed deal table, a linen press, a large bowl and a bucket or two and a small galvanised bath.
The range was the only source of heat. It consumed coal brought up the valley to the railhead at Stanhope, peat off the moors and firewood. It warmed the cottage and dried out the damp rising through the stone flag floor. lt baked food in the oven, boiled water on the hob and heated the built-in tank for washing up and bathing. It also provided a focus for the family at night.
The living room contained furniture, mainly chairs or benches for a large family, and often a nice, expensive piece of furniture such as the grandfather clock and ‘press' (for linen) crafted by local carpenters. The upper cupboard (as in this example) housed the best china, with the best linen in the lower drawers.
The small galvanized bath was used for ablutions or washing the smalls. The heavy wash was done outside using a cast-iron boiler (set pot), a wooden poss stick and large mangle.
The buckets were used for carrying in clean water from the river, well or pump, and for taking out the dirty water to be thrown away.
The scrubbed deal table standing in the middle of the room served as a dining room table, work bench and washing up place. The large bowl usually stood on the table when it would be used for mixing food (bread for example), preparing vegetables and washing-up.