The Baker's Cottage
Baker's Cottage was a chance find. Driving back from another location I happened to glimpse from the corner of my eye a door, paint peeling and a broken window. After parking up to investigate I wandered around the overgrown gardens and peered inside the dirty and broken windows and realised it was perfect for photographing. The owner of the cottage lives next door and came outside - probably disturbed by his dog barking at me - and I introduced myself and luckily for me, Jonathan was a charming man only too happy to allow me inside to photograph what I decided to call The Baker's Cottage. There was time for a quick look round inside, guided by my host and then arrangements were made to go back the following day to be allowed inside for a full day's shoot.
Jonathan filled me in on the cottage's history and the life of the lady who last lived inside there, valuable history to add to the visuals awaiting me inside.
Photographing inside was not easy due to the lack of windows to filter the strong sunshine that day, a dull day is always preferable with intermittent sunshine but that day I was fighting the extreme light in some of the rooms.
The last owner passed away in 2003 aged 91. Since then the cottage has been pretty much left as it was aside her family visiting to remove some items personal to them. The lady spent her life baking - hence the name of the cottage - and was well known in the area for delivering freshly baked cakes and buns to friends and locals in the area. In the kitchen were a mountain of baking products, some she'd probably bought in the 1950's judging by their design and packaging. One could almost smell the cakes in the small kitchen at the rear of the house. Some of the house is in good condition but other parts are quite badly decayed especially the side where the roof has crumbled letting in the rain. The back room with the piano seems to have taken the brunt of this.
There also seemed to be a link with Holland although in what way I am not sure. The lady travelled there with the ticket stub still attached to the old suitcase in an upstairs bedroom. Also there were a collection of empty bottles in the cellar, some of drinks of Dutch origin. Maybe she had relatives over there?
The most interesting find in this cottage was an old box full of her certificates. There must have been over 50 in total. At 18 years old she passed exams in practical cookery in 1930, so she was obviously keen on cookery and baking from an early age. Most certificates were for the many competitions she entered at shows in the 1940's and 1950's, it seems she was a frequent winner of such competitions judging by the 1st prize certificates found. Every year she seemed to win awards at various agriculture shows in the north of England!.
After photographing the house I chatted some more with Jonathan and he showed me a framed photograph of the cottage as it was, with its gardens full of herbs and vegetables as can be seen in the gallery.
Permission visits mean a calm and relaxed explore inside an abandoned building free from the stress of non-permission visits. Sometimes it also means you meet thoroughly interesting and kind people such as Jonathan. Baker's Cottage turned out to be a lovely find with it's history of cakes being baked in a village where the people's stomachs were always full.