How the Upstairs with no Downstairs are strugglingOctober 9, 2012 - 7:00am
It was a case of high class problems being solved on Antiques to the Rescue on BBC 2 as we saw the series helping families retain heritage houses.
Last week saw John Foster in Lincolnshire, England, in the last of the series and it was heartbreaking to see the family trying to keep a house that had been in the family for 700 years.
Of course this was pure escapism in the context that most of us are struggling to keep on top of our utility bills, let alone find €100,000 to keep a mansion from crumbling to the ground.
I am a sucker for this type of programme (where we see the ‘upstairs’ family without any downstairs staff and trying hard to make ends meet in their vast, damp, draughty homes) because it gives us an insight into how the other half is trying to live!
In this episode, the family was struggling to retain a house because of its connections to the past (it had survived an attack from Cromwell) but by the end of the programme it was hard to understand how much money and energy they were putting into the house that had come to them through inheritance. Neither the couple nor their two children, now in their twenties, had lived there until they were left it. Apparently it was in a very bad shape when they took it over but it now constantly needs maintenance work. Most, if not all of these old houses, were built directly on the ground, without any solid foundation, so the efforts required to save these heritage buildings are quite admirable.
It was hard not to feel sorry for them having to part with heirlooms (paintings and furniture) to raise much needed funds while at the same time thinking they were bloody lucky to have them in the first place to sell!
Most of these families are now opening their houses and gardens to the public, in some way. This family was trying to convince the local council they could host weddings though they were meeting opposition from their neighbours, which shows that at the end of the day, good relations with your neighbours is more important than the age of your mortar!
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.