A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 22




A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 22

We’ve gone down to the first floor of the second house on our “Virtual” Tour. The Oldfield family’s house. After the two double beds upstairs, there are three beds in here! The double bed is Herbert & Ann’s, each of the single beds would have been occupied by one of their daughters.

Ann gave birth to no fewer than 11 children! Back in the 1870s, it was not unusual for half of children to die before the age of five. Large families were an insurance against the loss of the blood-line. As it happened, the Oldfields fared somewhat better as they only lost one of their 11 children. Mathew, their third child died at the age of 2½ years.

So, eleven children were born and one died, leaving ten. We’ve counted four boys and two girls, making six. So, what happened to the other four? Well, by the 1870s they would have got married and left home.

The eldest child was Mary Ann who was born in 1839. The youngest was Alfred, who was born in 1862, so he would have been 8 years old at the start of the 1870s.

In 1870s there were no babies living in the Oldfields’ house, but where would Ann have put her babies to sleep following their birth? Well, it was normal to use the bottom drawer of a chest of drawers to put the child to sleep.

You may notice that this bedroom has wallpaper. The wallpaper tax has long gone so the landlord would put a new layer of wallpaper on to freshen up the rooms each time a tenant left. But they never bothered to remove the old paper – they’d probably succeed in removing the plaster as well. In fact, when the restoration took place it was found that in some rooms there would be as many as 20 layers of wallpaper. This could not go on indefinitely – the rooms would have got smaller & smaller!!! 

Oldfields’ first floor bedroom – with 3 beds
Oldfields’ first floor bedroom – the fireplace and chest of drawers
The Oldfields’ dresser drawer
The Oldfields’ First Floor – the wallpaper