A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 36




A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 36

Before we leave George Mitchell’s kitchen and all its memories behind us, we’ll take a moment to look over into the corner where the scullery is and behind the door are the vestiges of the stencilled pattern on the wall that have been replicated in the Levy’s house.

But, now we’ll now start our ascent of the staircase in this house and make our way up into George’s first floor room.

Turning left at the top of the stairs we find ourselves in his bedroom, which is mainly filled with his bed. 

Beds – made from metal of course, were a major industry in Birmingham. We may use the term “brass bed”, but the best ones, like George Mitchell’s, are made from steel with brass ornamentation. In fact, you may say “with brass knobs on”. Now you can tell your friends where the term came from! It is said that in some households, thrifty housewives would unscrew the knobs, and put left over coins into the hollow uprights in order to keep them, so their husbands wouldn’t be able to find them!

On George’s bed we will find an earthenware bottle, which is in fact a bed warmer. It would be filled with hot water before one went to bed – it would at least keep parts of the bed warm, for a while. The earthenware bed warmer was the forerunner of the rubber hot water bottle that many who lived in homes without central heating may have been more familiar with years ago. Some folk thought a large dog was a better bet to keep you warm at night!

George, as we know was a bachelor, so he had no offspring and lived alone. He probably enjoyed the attention of other ladies in the court who would keep an eye out for him, do his shopping, make him an occasional stew (a casserole if you’re posh!), and mop his fevered brow if he felt unwell.

But, George had some little visitors, and we will go on to meet them!

George Mitchell’s First Floor bedroom
George Mitchell’s bed
Doulton’s Improved Foot Warmer