WARE HALL HOUSE, NORFOLK, U.K.
TO THE MOVING TRUCK
(Doesn't she remind you of Tasha Tudor?)
By now, everyone with a TV or computer knows about the amazing story of British (Scottish) opera singer Susan Boyle, who has wowed everyone with her appearance on Britain's Got Talent. She's been lauded by critics and viewers alike for her pluck and determination.
Thanks to Annie at "Bimbimbie", I have learned about another amazing British woman - albeit from another era. Meet May Savidge, who single-handedly dismantled her 15th Century home, had it trucked 100 miles from Hertfordshire to Norfolk and rebuilt it brick by brick! She did this in defiance of developers who wanted to demolish her house for a road project.
"I just won't have such a marvellous old house bulldozed to the ground," she once said. "I've got nothing to do all day, so I might as well do the job myself."
Accompanied only by her beloved dog, Sasha, May spent 23 years on the project, moving oak timbers and ceiling beams, hand-cut floorboards, roof tiles, Tudor fireplaces, Elizabethan leaded glass, and all. May began her project circa 1969 and worked up until her death in 1993 at age 82. Sadly, the house was still not finished. In tribute to May, her niece, Christine Adams, finished the house and turned it into a bed and breakfast called Ware Hall House.
May was also a collector extraordinaire, and Adams was able to finance the completion of the restoration by selling May's belongings and memorabilia.
Adams has now written a book about May called "A Lifetime in the Building: The Extraordinary Story of May Savidge and the House She Moved" (by Christine Adams with Michael Mahon, Aurum Press May 2009).
The book is not just about brick and mortar. It also details May's life, including her two tragic love affairs - the first ending with the death of her fiance and the second with her being jilted after a 17-year courtship by a man whom she believed would marry her.
I plan to purchase this book as soon as I can find a used copy. I truly admire this woman. She puts lazy ol' me to shame.
In 1971 she told an English woman's club: "My mother brought us up on the maxim that there's no such word as can't." Talk about British pluck and determination!
Here's a link to a feature story about May Savidge:
NOTE ADDED LATER:
This book has just been published and may only be available in the U.K. at this time. Amazon.com has listed it but it is out of stock. (PS - They list it as "Lifetime in the Building..", not "A Lifetime in the Building."