A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 8



A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 8

Maybe you think that this room looks a little “nicer” than we were expecting for these tiny back-to-back houses. Well of course, we are actually in the back room of the house that John Wilmore originally built for his family. It’s larger than in most back to back houses and this one even has an Inglenook fireplace – something you wouldn’t normally find in a back-to-back.

Over in the corner by the door we came in through there is a scullery that is attached to the back to the original house. It even has a small sink that, although there is no piped water or drains, would have made food preparation and clearing up afterwards easier.

If you look at the walls you may think that it has been wallpapered. However, this is not the case. Up until 1836 there has been a tax on printed or pattered wallpaper for over a hundred years which had risen to as much as the equivalent of four pounds per square metre. So, anyone decorating a room back then would have stencilled the pattern onto plain paper or directly onto the walls. This pattern was quite common in London, however this is a rare example in Birmingham which was discovered in one of the other rooms that we will visit.

But we have another job for Adelaide to do. If you look at the fireplace you’ll see it was not a cooking range. It is just an elaborate hearth. Every day Adelaide would go with her mother to the markets at the Bull Ring, buy some meat & vegetables and return home to prepare the meal. But there is not an oven to cook it in, so very often Adelaide would take the pot to the local bakers where the ovens are still hot. She’d return later and collect the cooked meal. Slow cooking – nothing’s new is it?

The Levy’s ground floor with the Inglenook on the far wall


The Levy’s Scullery


The stencilling on the walls in the Levy’s ground floor room


The fireplace in the inglenook
Close-up of the stencilled walls